Stranger Things returned with Season 4 after nearly three full years of hiatus, with Netflix splitting the season into two volumes for the first time ever. The record-breaking Vol. 1 was comprised of seven episodes with extended runtimes and major reveals, and now the wait is on for Vol. 2. Only two episodes are left for the fourth season, but the eighth and ninth installments will run for nearly four hours combined. While Vol. 2 won’t release until July 1, there are some new first-look images that reveal some good news for Nancy, but raise some new questions about Eleven and the rest.
Fans still have weeks left before finding out exactly what happens after the shocking reveal of Vecna’s origin story – which involved how Eleven opened what seemed to be the first-ever gate, how One caused a bloodbath at Hawkins Lab (with actor Jamie Bower Campbell transformed into Vecna via practical effects), and how Nancy seemed on the verge of becoming the next victim, shortly after Max’s narrow escape. Thanks to one image, though, there’s one storyline that we can stop worrying about.
Nancy Is Alive And Out Of The Upside Down
Admittedly, Nancy isn’t exactly front and center in this image, but she’s looking a whole lot better than she did at the end of the last episode of Vol. 1! She was stuck in the Upside Down, physically standing next to Steve on the verge of escaping that dimension, but with her eyes rolled back while Vecna took her on a subconscious journey. Things weren’t looking great for Nancy, since Max’s rescue barely came in time, and they were just lucky that she had a Walkman with her favorite song on hand. That wasn’t the case for Nancy, so seeing her alive, well, and with her eyes looking normal is a relief.
It’s also clear that this isn’t a flashback, because Steve is sporting his bloody bandage and Eddie’s denim vest. In fact, it looks like this picks up almost immediately after the cliffhanger. What’s not clear is what exactly they’re all looking at, but my best guess is that Eddie’s talking them through something related to Dungeons & Dragons. That would fit with how Stranger Things tends to tie things back to D&D towards the end of a season, and Eddie is the expert in Season 4. At least we can now speculate without worrying about Nancy!
Eddie Has A Reason To Smile
I for one am glad that we got the reassurance that Nancy survives her predicament at the end of Vol. 1, because Eddie’s big smile might be hard to take otherwise, even though he is one of the standout new characters of the season! He hasn’t had many reasons to smile ever since he watched Chrissy become Vecna’s first on-screen victim of the season. He evidently has a reason in Vol. 2!
Getting out of the Upside Down is a big reason to grin, but it looks like there’s more going on here than just Eddie celebrating that he’s no longer in the realm of the Demo-Bats. Steve and Robin look more confused than anything else – and Steve still doesn’t have a shirt – but if Eddie is smiling, I’m feeling good about the Hawkins group potentially catching a break… temporarily, at least.
Something Could Be Coming For Eleven And Brenner
Well, at least Eleven isn’t locked in a room and in the middle of a breakdown in this photo! A breakdown would be pretty justified after everything she went through at the end of Vol. 1, with Brenner showing her what she went through with One to force her to face her past and get her powers back. She’s not stuck in NINA or in a tiny room somewhere, and it looks like she and Brenner are looking at somebody or something.
As of the end of Vol. 1, the California crew was trying to find her to warn her of the danger that she’s in, so it’s possible that what she and Brenner are looking at is the arrival of her friends… or the arrival of that danger that she’s unaware of. On the whole, it’s probably safe to say that there’s still some trauma left in the season for poor Eleven, but at least it seems that she has her powers back!
The California Crew Is Getting Somewhere
The California crew was still on the road when Vol. 1 ended, but based on the look on Mike’s face, they may have finally gotten to where they were heading to find Eleven. They’re certainly in the desert, based on what’s visible outside of the windows, and it’s at least good to see that Jonathan is driving. After trying to leave a headstone for the body they were hiding, Argyle deserved to lose driving privileges on their dangerous quest.
This group arguably had the least to do in the first seven episodes of Season 4 compared to what was happening in Hawkins, Russia, and with Eleven and Brenner, but that’s bound to change in the second volume. Hopefully that’s a good thing! Eleven and Mike weren’t on the best of terms when they parted, so it’ll be interesting to see how the reunion goes, assuming it happens.
The Russian Rescue Isn't Over Yet
Joyce and Murray finally succeeded in rescuing Hopper at the end of Vol. 1 (after he and Dmitri/Enzo did a pretty killer job of rescuing themselves from the Demogorgon), but they still had to escape Russia. It’s pretty clear that the group is still there in this image, with Murray and Joyce looking fairly confused. Dmitri and Hopper look much more on edge, which could mean that they recognize a new challenge that they have to face… or are just more on edge on the whole after everything they’ve gone through.
It’s not confirmed at this point whether the adults of Stranger Things will actually reunite with the teens before the end of the season, although I for one would love to see Joyce’s reaction to what has happened. Everything was fine when she left her kids and Mike in California, and they’re definitely not fine anymore! I have to hope that Hopper and Eleven reunite, and it’s possible that she’ll find out that he’s alive soon now that she presumably has her powers back. For now, though, they seem to still be stuck in Russia.
Max And Lucas Have A Moment Alone
The last new photo reveals Max and Lucas spending some time together, seemingly with nobody else around. It certainly looks like they’re inside the Creel house, but Max is looking surprisingly relaxed with her shoes off if that’s the case. She does have her headphones that are probably playing the trusty Kate Bush song as insurance against Vecna (whose design was inspired by Game of Thrones’ Night King), so that’s something! Hopefully this is just a quiet moment alone for the two of them after everything they had to go through in Vol. 1.
For now, there are more questions than answers, even though we can rest a lot easier about Nancy’s fate after the Vol. 1 cliffhanger. That’s not to say that Nancy or anybody else is completely safe from a dark fate before the end of Season 4, but a fifth and final season is already guaranteed for Netflix subscribers.
Vol. 2 of Stranger Things Season 4 will release on Friday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m. PT on Netflix. For now, you can always watch and rewatch the earlier seasons through to the end of Vol. 1, or check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule for some more viewing options.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).