Warning: Contains SPOILERS for the Stranger Things season 4 finale.
Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 left viewers with many questions, one of the most prominent being why Max was missing and Eleven was alone in the void. The finale, which was almost two and a half hours, gripped audiences with intensity, drama, and twists that prove that Vecna isn’t done with Hawkins yet. While several storylines were resolved in the Stranger Things season 4 finale, the cliffhanger ending means that the fate of Hawkins’ residents remains hanging by a thread. Despite some tragic deaths in the finale, it seemed as though Eleven managed to save Max, but one final scene suggests this might not be the end of Vecna’s torment.
Throughout Stranger Things season 4, new villain Vecna has terrorized the town of Hawkins, Indiana, including Max, who had a close call in episode 4, “Dear Billy.” After being revealed to have been the mastermind behind the events of the previous seasons, Vecna’s grand plan finally came to fruition in the explosive Stranger Things season 4 finale. Meanwhile, Eleven worked to rediscover her lost abilities, believed to be the only hope against Vecna. Reunited with her friends, Eleven realized the only way to help was to enter Max’s mind at the same time as Vecna, but this was almost fruitless as Vecna succeeded in his hunt on Max, being stopped by Eleven with seconds to spare. After she seemingly succumbed to her injuries, Eleven managed to resurrect Max back to life, but she was still seriously injured, meaning Eleven’s efforts may have been in vain.
With Max comatose after her experience with Vecna, Eleven tries to enter her mind with her honed abilities but finds nothing but darkness on the other side. Her screams into the dark are haunting and leave many questions surrounding Max’s well-being unanswered. In previous seasons of Stranger Things, Eleven has rarely had a problem finding people in her void space, so Max’s absence in the void in the Stranger Things season 4 finale implies that there is something far more sinister going on that she hasn’t yet realized.
Stranger Things season 4 has revealed that Vecna’s, aka Henry Creel’s, powers can attack his victims by creating a psychic link with them, entering their minds, making them see horrible visions and twisting their reality to break them before he finishes them off. In Max’s case, she suffered this torment twice during the season. While the second time during the Stranger Things season 4 finale, “The Piggyback,” was voluntary in order to act as bait, it seemed to take even more of a toll on the teenager, especially since Vecna caught up with her and started his attack, breaking her body and leaving her to die even after his onslaught was cut short by Eleven.
In Stranger Things season 4, episode 8, “Papa,” the ill-fated Dr. Brenner states that Vecna “takes everything from his victims… their memories, their abilities,” suggesting that he doesn’t just kill his victims, but consumes everything that they are inside too. This is perhaps what has happened with Max. Vecna had already begun his attack, meaning that he probably took huge parts of her mind and only left her body behind, so even though she is still technically alive, there is nothing of Max left inside. This would explain why Eleven couldn’t find her in the void – because there was nothing to find.
Luckily for viewers of Stranger Things, a fifth and final season has already been confirmed, so hopefully, these questions will eventually be answered. Stranger Things season 4’s terrifying ending will keep speculation stirring about the fate of Hawkins and its residents until season 5 is released. With Max’s life and the lives of many others in the balance, the wait until the next season of Stranger Things will surely be a long one.
Next: How Long We Think Stranger Things Season 5’s Time Jump Will Be
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Stranger Things season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.