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A Trip Back to the Upside Down: Our ‘Stranger Things’ Theories for Season 4, Volume 2

In a (my) perfect world, Barb would be alive, Nancy Wheeler would be stuck in the Upside-Down, Eleven would kill Papa, and Hopper and Joyce Byers would get married. Is it likely that any of these things will happen in Stranger Things‘ upcoming Season 4, Volume 2? Well, maybe. The newest trailer for Volume 2 was just released, giving us a few hints and confirmations as to what’s to come. I touched on some Stranger Things theories a short while ago, but given that the new season is dropping on July 1, let’s really dig in and break those predictions down to their cores. These are our official Stranger Things theories for Season 4, Volume 2.

1. Steve Gets Stuck…

This is one of those Stranger Things theories that I realllllly don’t want to happen; alas, I must list it anyway. Listen, the writers did it just last season with Hopper—what makes you think they will hold back with our good buddy, Steve Harrington? Now, I’m not saying that Steve will die in Volume 2, but I could see him sacrificing himself and staying behind to save Nancy (ugh).

I’m not sure how this would physically go down, but since Steve and Nancy have to climb out of the Upside-Down and into reality, he could try and hoist her up and out, landing in Eddie Munson’s bedroom. However, that would leave him to take on what’s left behind in the Upside-Down. Naturally, he’d be by himself again, just as he initially entered the realm.

2. …Or Nancy Gets Stuck
Tina Rowden / Netflix

Okay, so this is basically just a flip-flop of the prior theory and I promise it’s not just because I absolutely hate Nancy (more on that later), but this is definitely a viable option.

With Robin Buckley and Eddie out of the Upside-Down lying in wait for Steve and Nancy, things are put on an indefinite pause as Nancy is being pulled in by Vecna as a result of her unintentional killing of Barb in Season 1 (RIP, Barb). Does she deserve to get stuck in the Upside-Down? Yes. Listen, she was too preoccupied with Steve to even realize that her girl, Barb, was being viciously murdered by a Demogorgon—that’s no good friend in my book.

But back to the main point: if Nancy isn’t able to snap herself (or be snapped) out of her current state of mind, it’s going to be pretty tough to get her out of there. Also, the latest trailer did reveal that the crew is still fighting in the Upside-Down, which means that Nancy being stuck could actually be true. I suppose Steve could pick her up and force her out, but that would probably prove to be too difficult to accomplish. On the other hand, we saw Robin flicking through Nancy’s music collection in her bedroom just a bit ago, so it’s possible that strapping a pair of headphones on her will be able to whisk her out. Despite all that, it might just get to the point where Steve has to peace out in order to save himself, leaving Nancy behind in the Upside-Down.

While leaving Nancy stuck is a major possibility, my gut feeling is that the writers will come up with an interesting way to finally retrieve her, even if it means Steve is leaving her behind for the time being.

3. Demogorgon Heaven

Okay, this might be one of the more unpopular Stranger Things theories of mine. The cynic in me needs to reject the fact that Joyce and Hopper can safely (and finally) be together after Hopper just narrowly escaped being viciously eaten alive by the Demogorgon. It just can’t be that simple—it can’t.

Their hug was just a littttttttle too long and they were just a littttttttle too oblivious to the fact that a Demogorgon was being held in just the next room over. Listen, I’d be happy (and relieved) if they weren’t confronted by that creature yet again, but this is Stranger Things. I’m not saying that the Demogorgon would kill them—just temporarily thwart them; you know, it makes for good television and all that jazz. While Hopper and Joyce would live, I could see a world where one of their buddies (Murray Bauman or Dmitri Antonov) dies in an effort to save the couple.

4. Barb Is Alive!

Well, at least she better be.

Given what we now know about how Vecna/Peter Ballard works, it seems like we might be getting our girl, Barb, back. Sure, she looks pretty dead at the bottom of that infamous pool, but since Peter was killed, perhaps everyone (including Barb) who had been taken to the Upside-Down will be let loose.

Honestly, if Barb is alive, I’d hope that she’d finally get her revenge on Nancy for being such a terrible friend, but the thing is, Barb is genuinely pure of heart—she’d never do something like that. That’s why we love you, Barb.

5. See Ya Later, Papa

Okay, one of the more obvious Stranger Things theories is that Eleven gets broken out of the lab she’s being held in. I’m not sure if Papa is planning on holding Eleven hostage after the insane string of events that we just saw occur (perhaps he suddenly had a change of heart?), but it’s more so in his personality to kidnap children, so let’s say he holds Eleven in the lab. With Jonathan Byers’ crew on their way to reach her, it’s safe to assume that they’re going to be the ones who finally break her out (we literally had to suffer through that plotline for the entirety of the season and deserve some sort of reward).

6. Jonathancy (Or Nanathan) Reunites

Jonathan’s crew’s plot has been fairly separate from the rest of the gang this season; saving Nancy would be the most natural way for him to finally reunite with his kind-of girlfriend. If we’re still following the theory that this crew saves Eleven, it would make sense for them to travel back with her to the Upside-Down to locate Nancy (that is, if that theory plays out, as well). After all, with the Upside-Down still being shown in the newest Season 4, Volume 2 trailer, it’s clear that there’s still some unfinished business in there.

The real question: will Jonathancy prevail? Or will Stancy take the crown? While the show has been hinting at Steve and Nancy getting back together since they’ve been hanging out more this season, let’s not forget how close Jonathan and Nancy have gotten over the past three seasons.

Nancy dropped Steve like a hot potato for Jonathan, and up until the beginning of this season, the two were practically glued to each other. Sure, maybe Jonathan doesn’t want to go to Emerson anymore, but that doesn’t mean the two will simply end things because of that. I’m going to bet that whatever reunion they end up having in Volume 2 will be enough to remind each other of what they have—and that her relationship with Steve is in the past.

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‘Stranger Things’ Season 4, Volume 1 Review

Dead, tentacled spider-humans with slimy skin and probably bad breath are pretty cute, right?

Chomping at the bit with the third season under our belts, Stranger Things: Season 4, Volume 1 took its sweet time to get us settled in with the plot, waiting until the tail end of the first episode to really give us the action.

Things were a bit more scattered this season as Joyce (Winona Ryder) moved her family (and Eleven) halfway across the country to California, leaving everyone behind in good ole Hawkins, Indiana. With that being the case, we had quite a few plots intertwining from afar:

Group 1: Joyce, Murray, and (later) Hopper

Group 2: Jonathan, Argyle, Will, and Mike

Group 3: Eleven

Group 4: Steve, Nancy, Dustin, Lucas, Max, Robin, Erica, and Eddie

For groups three and four, their main goal is to take out Vecna, an ancient human-monster who’s basically the wizard-in-charge of the Upside Down. Group two is attempting to locate Eleven and evade the armed forces that are after her, and group one travels to Alaska to figure out how to break Hopper out of a Russian prison.

Let’s get into it.

Broken Elbows…and Necks…and Legs, and…Well, Everything Else

We meet a few new faces this season, one of them being Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), head of the Hellfire Club at Hawkins High School, which is just a fierce-sounding name for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) club. Eddie ends up being the catalyst for the main plot of this entire season, which comes to a head when cheerleader, Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien), is aggressively levitated up to the ceiling to have her eyes pop out and all of her limbs broken.

As anyone would, Eddie decides to make a run for it and hide out, fearing he’ll be blamed for her death. He meets up with Dustin and the crew later on who are collectively able to piece together that Vecna is responsible for Chrissy’s death. However, when a string of similar deaths starts to surface, they have to get creative in figuring out just how Vecna is pulling his victims into the Upside Down.

This storyline is top tier—you just can’t get bored with a group like that. The squad alone is easily the most stacked with each character perfectly riffing with the others even when they’re not personally the closest with each other. After all, there’s nothing better than shoving a bunch of random people together and seeing what happens.

Eleven: Skull Destroyer, Bloody Gown-Wearer

For the bulk of the season, we observed Eleven from inside the confines of a remote laboratory run by Papa AKA Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), after having basically abducted her once again for testing and observation. However, this time around, she realized that fighting her way out of the situation wasn’t an option: her powers were needed (once again) to put an end to Vecna and his death grip on the world.

This plot was a double-whammy as the lines were constantly blurred between the past and the present, with Eleven sinking in and out of her heavily-monitored indoor pool-sleep in the hopes that she would be able to put an end to the Upside Down once and for all. And after many episodes and realizations, Eleven finally took on the person we all thought was the least likely to be responsible for all of the damage and death that has occurred in Stranger Things: one of the lab therapists, Peter Ballard (Jamie Campbell Bower), who had been helping her out while at the lab.

Also, aside from always looking like a creepily-tall medical elf, I didn’t mind Papa as much this time around, so that’s a plus.

Russian Prisons and Peanut Butter

We finally got an answer to both how Hopper (David Harbour) was somehow able to survive the massive blast at the end of Season 3 and how he landed himself in a Russian prison. We’re used to seeing Hopper in an environment where he’s in command and knows the lay of the land (curse my rhyming abilities), which makes him being a prisoner in Russia such a jarring experience for both him and the audience.

We also got to meet a couple of interesting people along the way, like prison-guard-turned-prisoner-turned-confidant, Dmitri (Tom Wlaschiha), and Yuri (Nikola Djuricko), a Russian smuggler who worked with Joyce and Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman).

Honestly, I have no notes for this plot; all around, this one was a good time. Well, except for one thing.

More Winona. I know, I know, we got a decent amount of her so I shouldn’t be complaining, but still. WE NEED MORE WINONA. Joyce has so many more layers to her than we got to see this season, so I’m going to hold out hope that they’re saving those moments for Volume 2.

Death in a Pizza Van

Honestly, I don’t even understand the point of the storyline with Jonathan, Argyle, Will, and Mike. I get it, they’re trying to locate Eleven, but being that we (as the audience) already know where she is, it’s just not the most interesting plot to watch. As a whole, it seemed like a major waste of time spent with characters who suddenly feel like shells of their former selves. I mean, Mike was always kind of a jerk to Will, but I feel like he really upped the jerky-ness this time around, especially with Eleven. He also has zero personality and isn’t super helpful with…anything?

It’s funny because last season, Mike Wheeler rudely said to Will Byers, “I mean, what did you think, really, that we were never going to get girlfriends, that we were just going to sit in my basement all day and play games for the rest of our lives?” meanwhile now, he’s literally part of the Hellfire Club, a club literally dedicated to playing D&D at high school.

On top of that, it feels extremely out of character for Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) to have given up on everything he had his mind set on (being with Nancy, going to Emerson College, pursuing photography) to instead spend time getting high with his new (and obnoxious) buddy, Argyle (Eduardo Franco). I also don’t understand a world where these two people are compatible as friends at all, so there’s that.

The only character on this crew who has any speck of a decent personality is Will, and he annoys me most of the time. At least he looks out for and genuinely cares about Eleven and finally has the guts to call out Mike for treating her like garbage.

Season 4, Volume 2 Theories

Okay, I’m just going straight into it.


Steve will get stuck and/or killed in the Upside Down in an effort to save Nancy. Listen, I’d much rather have Nancy remain stuck because she killed off our girl, Barb, but losing Steve would hurt the audience more, which is why they’ll probably take that route.


Maybe I’m just a cynic, but that reunion scene between Hopper and Joyce is just a little too perfect and easy. My guess is that the Demogorgon will come bursting through the door mid-hug and cause some chaos, most likely resulting in Murray dying.


Barb is alive. We see Barb seemingly dead at the bottom of the pool at the end of Episode 7, but now that Eleven has eliminated Peter, perhaps all of the souls that he took along with him will be released, meaning our icon, Barb, will be brought back to life—and hopefully she’d give Nancy her comeuppance. Who am I kidding, Barb is too pure of heart for comeuppance, and that’s why we love her.


Jonathan’s crew will break Eleven out of the lab she’s stuck in. Now, this isn’t a groundbreaking take or anything, but I don’t see another way for the plot with that crew to wrap up.


Nancy and Jonathan will reunite—somehow. I’m not exactly sure of how this will actually go down, but I could totally see him coming out of nowhere, jumping into the Upside Down portal, and saving Nancy from Vecna at the last possible second

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‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 Recap: Monsters, Malls, and a Whole Lot of Mayhem

We’re just about three years out from the last season of Stranger Things. Three. Years. Maybe the pandemic has made this wait feel even longer, but to me, this is like Dunkaroos being resurrected (I’m still waiting for you, Altoids Mango Sours).

If you’re like me and have spent the past three years measuring time by handfuls of salt and vinegar chips, it might take a little bit to jog your memory on what exactly went down in Season 3 of Stranger Things. Let’s hash things out.

Nerd Cliques?

The friend groups and relationships in Stranger Things seemed to play a round of musical chairs in Season 3, as just about every group or partnership encountered new or transferred faces.

For one, our main crew got a little too cool for Dungeons and Dragons along with all the old games they used to play in Season 1 and 2. The main problem with that? Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) hasn’t really grown out of the phase just yet and his friends aren’t willing to wait for that to happen. Basically, Will feels pretty abandoned for a good portion of the season, and that’s without even mentioning the fact that his mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), has decided to move her family out of Hawkins.

At the Starcourt Mall in Hawkins, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) has taken on a new job at Scoops Ahoy, slinging ice cream alongside a newcomer to the series, Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke). Joining them a bit later on is Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), as he feels a bit removed from his friends.

Within the main group of friends, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) started dating, and at the same time as that, Eleven also got closer with Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), who is one of her first female friends since hanging with the guys for so long.

Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathon Byers (Charlie Heaton) are working together at the local Hawkins Post, sort of seeing each other, though most of the time it honestly isn’t clear. Their relationship gets pretty strained after the two are fired from the Post for following a story about disease-ridden rats that seemed to be going nowhere. However, it turned out to be pretty relevant to the Mind Flayer situation, later on, forcing the two to work together again despite their current feelings for one another.

Dad of the Year

Jim Hopper (David Harbour) takes over the dad duties for Eleven, as she finally has a room of her own for the first time in her life. However, things aren’t all Eggos and rainbows for too long.

Fearing for her safety, Hopper keeps a pretty tight leash on her, questioning where she’s going constantly, keeping her from leaving the house unnecessarily, and when she’s home hanging out with Mike, he forces her to leave her bedroom door open. Now, these are all pretty normal occurrences for any teenager, but given that she has insane, supernatural powers, she doesn’t take these restrictions too lightly.

In the last episode of the season, Hopper is (supposedly) killed after he and Joyce successfully break into the Russian operation—oh, and it’s after they finally decide to acknowledge their feelings for each other and agree to go out on a date “if they actually make it out.” Sadly for her, Hopper seemingly gets obliterated by the sheer energy force that’s released after she switches the portal off.

Based on the Season 4 teasers alone, we know that Hopper somehow makes it out of the blast but is being held in Russia as some sort of prisoner. And in posts that were circulating around Twitter and Reddit, it seems like he was able to claw his way out through a small ladder near where he was standing.

Cabins and Food Courts and Monsters, Oh My!

The main plot of Season 3 is that the crew believes that Russians are attempting to interfere with the Upside Down and do a great deal of harm to the United States through the power in the alternate dimension. Seems pretty absurd, right? Well, not really.

Dustin works with Steve, Maya, and Lucas’ younger sister, Erica (Priah Ferguson), to break into the secret area they’re using for storage in the Starcourt Mall and figure out what’s really going on.

On the flip side, Hopper, Joyce, and their new Russian buddy, Dr. Alexei (Alec Utgoff), seek out more information about the Russians by paying a visit to Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) to help them both translate for Alexei and investigate the situation. With Bauman’s help, they learn that the Russians are trying to break through the barrier to the Upside Down in order to harness and weaponize the energy and creatures from that dimension. So basically, Dustin was right.

The crew comprised of Mike, Eleven, Will, Lucas, and Max realize that even though the Mind Flayer has left Will’s body, it hasn’t left the planet just yet.

Suspecting that the Mind Flayer has taken over the body of Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), the older step-brother of Max, the crew puts him to a test in order to confirm their suspicions. As the Mind Flayer hates the heat, they turn up the degrees as Billy takes a steam in a sauna, quickly confirming that the Mind Flayer has overtaken him.

They head over to Hopper’s cabin to take cover from the Mind Flayer, which then proceeds to destroy the cabin little by little as it tries to kill each member of the group. At this point, the Mind Flayer is growing larger and larger as it takes over the Flayed members of the town. While they’re able to ultimately hold their ground at the cabin, Eleven gets injured in the process.

With a good bulk of the season taking place at the Starcourt Mall, it was only right for the largest battle we’ve seen yet to go down in that very place. Following the mess at the cabin, we change course over to the mall where an even larger version of the Mind Flayer has arrived. A pretty angry monster, it kills Billy right in front of Max, who’s upset and disturbed by this despite their complicated relationship. As always, it genuinely seems like the crew is done for when Joyce switches off the portal from the Russian Operation room, thus killing the monster.

Season 4: The First Eight Minutes

On May 20, Netflix thought it’d be cute to release the first eight minutes of Season 4 on YouTube (halfway through writing this piece, it was removed from YouTube). Shockingly, we didn’t pick up where we left off at the end of Season 3, instead, we’re brought back to 1979 with the creepiest guy on the planet: Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine).

We spend some time at Hawkins National Laboratories, where he’s running some tests on another Eleven-like patient, named Ten. The patient, through his mind, is able to see that something terrible is going on in another room—it turns out that a doctor and her patient are dead, causing alarms to sound across the building.

At once, the door to Dr. Brenner’s room is blown open; he later wakes up surrounded by a torn-apart room, some facial injuries, and Ten lying dead next to him. Walking around while distant screams sound off, he notices that just about everyone is dead—except for Eleven, who’s standing around the dead, covered in blood.

Given that the first season takes place in 1983, this section looks like a bit of prequel action, yet how much of that will be included in the new season isn’t immediately clear. My guess? Probably not much.

The trailers that have been released show a Dungeons and Dragons tournament, some roller skating, driving away from zombie-like humans—so basically, the usual in Hawkins, Indiana.