Stranger Things Season 4, episode 7 recap – the ending of volume 1 explained

By Marc Miller
Published: May 27, 2022 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
View all
Stranger Things season 4, episode 7 - The Massacre at Hawkins Lab -- the ending of volume 1 - netflix series


Season 4, Volume 1’s mind-blowing finale may be the best episode of television the Duffer brothers have ever done.

This recap of Netflix’s Stranger Things season 4, episode 7, “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab,” — the ending of volume 1 — contains spoilers.

Access the archive of news, recaps, and reviews of Stranger Things.

Stranger Things season 4, episode 7 recap – the ending of volume 1 explained

If you are a fan of massacres, this is the episode for you, since there are two and one huge reveal that I will gladly admit I was wrong about. Let’s pull the band-aid here. Peter is not imaginary or the subconscious of Eleven. He is a far more prominent character than anyone can imagine. Peter is Vecna.

I am relieved to tell you that Hawkins Team A saves Steve by showing up in time to beat the Demobats back to hell with two paddles and pure will. (I will politely point out that when Nancy, Robin, and Eddie dove into the water to save Steve, they left the paddles there). If we have learned anything from Stranger Things it’s that anything can be turned into a demon (dogs, bats, and I am assuming because of Vecna, humans), and you can grab anything you need in the Upside Down that you had in the, I guess, Right Side Up? The older ones go to Nancy’s home to grab guns.

Except when they get there, Nancy’s guns are no longer located in her shoeboxes. She checks her diary, and the last entry was in 1983. They are now in the past, the day Will went missing. She doesn’t have her guns yet. Except, even stranger things (aha!) are happening because Steve hears Dustin behind the walls. Just like Will, they try to communicate with him because they figure out Dustin must be in Nancy’s house in the present day.

Meanwhile, Hawkins Team B is interrogated by the cops and their parents. They want to know why they went to the lake, a site of a murder, and where Nancy and Eddie are. (We have not heard from Robin’s parents yet in the series). As Max is being questioned, Dustin and Lucus figure out that Vecna must be powerfully tapping into each victim’s psyche and leaves a gate opening every time he does. That’s when they see Eddie’s SOS in the lights. Dustin grabs the Lite-Brite Magic Screen, and the 25 watts machine has a sensory effect that the older ones can see. They communicate the multiple-gate theory and head over to Eddie’s trailer.

Then we have the cases of Eleven and Hopper. The eight prisoners are about to be fed to the Demodog, including Hopper and Dmitri, while Murray and Joyce watch with the warden. (Their plan to enter the prison with Yuri gagged and dressed like Murray works). They are given the rules that they cannot move to grab weapons until they hear the buzzer go off. Dmitri holds the key and unlocks the box where they are kept when it does. Hopper arms a spear with a piece of cloth and soaks it in Russian vodka to light it up like a Christmas tree. The Demodog comes out fast and furious, killing the other six quickly. While Hopper holds the demon at bay, Murray pulls a gun on the warden, and Joyce opens up the door for the two to escape. Hopper is then reunited with Joyce, and she embraces him.

Eleven is told by Peter while playing chess that Two and three other kids will be let out of their rooms to kill her. Brenner knows, and he has been lying to her. They are mad because Brenner zaps Two with an electric neck collar to admit he attacked her the day before. Peter slips a keycard underneath the table. She escapes later by telling an orderly she had headaches so takes her to the nurse. She is about to escape when Peter tells her he cannot go with her because he has a tracker in his neck and Brenner will find them.

El can pull it out of his neck by brute telepathic force. Once she does, they are about to escape when a half dozen military police show up and chase them. Once they are cornered, Peter tells El she no longer has to be afraid. He holds his hand and sends five of the six guards against the concrete walls. The last one? He snaps his neck by cracking his own. When they hide in the janitor’s closet, he reveals to El that he is like her and shows her his wrist.

He has a tattoo that reads 001.

Finally, Team Hawkins A and B meet at the trailer gate. In an impressive scene, you have both sides looking up at each other. Dustin creates a pillowcase rope and throws it into the entrance that is on the trailer ceiling. It floats straight into and between both worlds and somehow holds tight as if it was tied. Robin goes first. As she enters the Right Side Up, she falls onto the bed the kids placed to break their fall. Eddie, showing no chivalry, goes next. As Nancy climbs through, she turns to fall, but instead of Eddie’s stained bed, her back crashes into Steve’s pool. The one in the Upside Down where Barb was killed.

We now see Nancy in a trance, next to Steve, and she has not crossed to the other side yet. Vecna appears, and Nancy sees Barb’s corpse. Vecna accuses Nancy of killing Barb because instead of accompanying her home, she had sex with Steve. This seems to be no sign of being guilty but Nancy’s guilt she is carrying, which Vecna is exploiting. So, can Nancy defeat Vecna if she convinces herself Barb’s death was not her fault?

The ending

This is where it all ties together. As Nancy climbs out of the pool, Vecna explains how this all came to be. Vecna didn’t kill Victor Creel’s family. They had been murdered by the young Creel boy, Henry. His mother made him see a doctor who was Brenner. Afraid of being taken away, he worked on his powers, controlling animals with his mind and playing with his favorite black widow spiders. He killed his mother, and sister, and set up his father to take the fall for the murders. When Brenner took him in he told everyone Henry had died in a coma and he was branded 001.

It was Peter/Henry who left Eleven in that closet and murdered the entire lab, except for Brenner. When he wants to take El with him, she refuses. She is not evil. She is good. They square off. One has the upper hand, but Eleven channels her mother, overtaking One, throwing him through the two-way mirror and keeping him pinned against the wall.

Eleven then is responsible for what is happening all over Hawkin. She begins to destroy One by practically separating him atomically. His center starts to become red, and we now realize what is happening. Eleven, by killing him, led to the unintended consequence of creating the first gateway to the Upside Down. When it is over, the vines and the gate is all that is left of One. However, we see him floating through the Upside Down place, and he slowly turns into Vecna.

The last shot shows Vecna with the tattoo on his left wrist that reads 001.

What did you think of Netflix’s Stranger Things season 4, episode 7, and the ending of volume 1? Let us know in the comments below!

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Recaps
View all