‘Stranger Things’ Season 5: How Season 4 Sets Up the End of the Series

Now that everyone has had time to binge-watch the final two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4, it’s time to look ahead to Stranger Things Season 5. Here’s how season 4 sets up the epic conclusion of one of Netflix’s biggest shows.

[WARNING: This article contains detailed plot spoilers regarding Stranger Things Season 4.]

A production still from 'Stranger Things' Season 4 featuring Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair. Season 4 set up a few stories for 'Stranger Things' Season 5.
Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, and Caleb McLaughlin | Tina Rowden/Netflix © 2022

How season 4 ends

Stranger Things Season 4 ended on a big cliffhanger, unlike previous seasons. In the past, audiences watched the characters enjoy some moments of relative normalcy for a while before the next big threat arrived. Of course, viewers always get a glimpse of trouble on the horizon, such as the Mind Flayer hovering over Hawkins Middle School in the Upside Down in Stranger Things Season 2. Season 4 ended on a bleak note, and fans have years to wait to see how the story ends.

In Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 9, “The Piggyback,” Vecna targets Max (Sadie Sink) once again. This time he succeeds in his mission to kill her. However, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) uses her powers to revive her. The bad news is that she’s still in a coma. One scene shows Eleven entering her consciousness to find no sight of Max anywhere in her mind.

On top of Max’s situation, Will (Noah Schnapp) tells everyone Vecna survived, and he won’t stop until he’s taken everyone. Viewers also watched as four rifts opened up within the town of Hawkins to create what looks like a giant gate. As smoke billows from the portals, the people of Hawkins appear to be in grave danger.

‘Stranger Things’ Season 5 could begin with Max in a coma

One of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire Stranger Things series happened when Max slipped into a coma after Vecna attacked her. However, this sets up Stranger Things Season 5 in a few different ways. Creators of the show, Ross and Matt Duffer, previously said they believed Stranger Things Season 5 would include a time jump, but now it’s no longer clear if that’s still the plan. With Max in a coma and the Upside Down leaking over into Hawkins, a time jump might not work.

Max likely plays a significant role in the plot of Stranger Things Season 5. When Eleven finds no trace of Max in her mind, it hints that Vecna possibly captured Max. She could also be hiding from Vecna, which would serve as a nice parallel to Will hiding from the Demogorgon in Stranger Things  Season 1. If either of these scenarios comes into play, Stranger Things Season 5 might see Eleven and Max’s friends working together to save her.

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‘Stranger Things’ Season 5 hints and clues

One of the biggest clues fans noticed that might foreshadow what’s to come in Stranger Things Season 5 involves the book Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) reads to Max in the hospital. Lucas reads from Stephen King and Peter Straub’s book, The Talisman, which features alternate worlds. In the novel, a boy travels through an alternate dimension to find a cure to save his mother. This hints that Eleven or another one of Max’s friends is traversing the Upside Down on a mission to save Max.

It seems relatively obvious that Vecna still lurks around in the Upside Down. While Nancy (Natalia Dyer,) Steve (Joe Keery,) and Robin (Maya Hawke) lit him aflame with their Molotov cocktails, his body wasn’t on the ground when they stepped outside. The Duffer Brothers often use the “no body, no death” rule in the series, so we’ll likely see Vecna again in Stranger Things Season 5.

Stranger Things Season 4 is currently streaming on Netflix.