What Does That Final Season 4 Scene Mean For The Future Of Stranger Things?

Warning: Major spoilers ahead for both volumes of "Stranger Things" season 4!

The fourth season of "Stranger Things" ended on a rather catastrophic note, with Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) successfully opening four gates to the Upside Down and unleashing hell on Hawkins. This is a significant development in terms of the direction the show seems to be heading towards, as previous incursions were more or less manageable for the central group as they kept the Upside Down at bay. But this development ushers in horrors that are unavoidable on a large scale.

Although Vecna is grievously wounded (after being psychically attacked, shot, and pelted with Molotov cocktails), he is still alive and will not stop until he remakes Hawkins his own vision of a "perfect" world. The final scene offers us a glimpse of what's to come: Will (Noah Schnapp) senses it before everyone else, looking up at the sky, as ashy particles from the Upside Down float in the air like ominous snow.

Furthermore, the landscape of Hawkins is being altered for the worse at an accelerated rate, as the high-magnitude earthquake as the result of the gates opening has left the town looking like a hellscape. Smoke is billowing out of the crevices, plants are slowly shriveling up, and there's a lava-like substance visible just below the surface. So what does this exactly mean for the final season of "Stranger Things?"

Fulfilling the Montauk storyline

Before the Duffer Brothers conceived the core storyline for "Stranger Things," they created a sci-fi horror concept called "Montauk," which was their original idea for the show. "Montauk" was supposed to function as a pitch book to better convey their vision for the show, replete with a 20-page pitch booklet and a mock trailer, both of which drew heavy inspiration from Stephen King novels and Steven Spielberg's sci-fi films.

According to the pitch book for "Montauk," the story follows a basic outline of Will's disappearance in season 1, leading to the town of Montauk being ripped apart due to another dimension merging into that of the town:

"The 'tear' or 'rip' that separates their world from ours will begin to spread across Montauk like a supernatural cancer. This cancer will manifest itself in increasingly bizarre paranormal ways. Electrical fields will be disrupted. Strange fungi will grow on structures and people. A heavy fog will drift in from the Atlantic. The temperature will plummet. Food will rot. Gravity will fluctuate. People will glimpse bizarre entities in their homes and businesses. There will be an escalating number of 'vanishings.' The entire town will become 'haunted' – and in grave danger. If people can disappear... can an entire town?"

This is pretty much what happens to Hawkins at the end of season 4, with flora disintegrating, the weather conditions changing for the worse, and the town losing electricity after the earthquake hits. This could also provide a hint as to what could happen in the near future: the town could soon be swarming with creatures from the Upside Down (also prophesied by Dr. Brenner) and the missing cases mentioned above could be people either being whisked off to the Upside Down or being killed by the creatures in hideous fashion.

Unsavory reveals for the citizens of Hawkins

Up to this point, the townsfolk at Hawkins had a faint idea that something was not quite right with the town, thanks to the occasional missing persons and publicized events that were packaged as accidents (such as the events at Starcourt Mall in season 3). However, after the gruesome deaths of Chrissy, Patrick, and Fred (technically Max also counts, but she is alive), and the Upside Down bursting into our world, the townsfolk definitely understand that there's something bigger at play here.

However, given the town's willingness to blame Eddie (Joseph Quinn) and the Hellfire Club for the events, it is likely that most folks will give into moral panic in the face of what they do not understand. While the government and the federal agents might attempt to cover up these events as environmental disasters, the situation at Hawkins is far graver than that. While some of the population might take the "satan worshipper has opened the gateway to hell" route, others might be able to garner an understanding of the true nature of events.

No matter how they choose to react, it is easy to see that Hawkins is not safe anymore. As the vegetation of the area will soon be morphed, it is possible that the government might cut them off from the rest of the world to mitigate the situation. With nowhere to go, the town might have to band together to fight evil of a grand, terrifying scale.

Everything circles back to Will Byers

Everyone in the core group of "Stranger Things" is indispensable, as each character has a key role to play in terms of the narrative. While Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is clearly the one doing all the supernatural heavy lifting, it is Will Byers who, despite not having any powers, always had an unfortunate connection to the entities of the Upside Down. The series kicked off with his disappearance, and Will has always been perceptive and sensitive since he was a child, leading to a strong psychic link with the shadow in the Upside Down after the particles invaded his body in season 1.

Will clearly has a connection to Vecna, despite never facing him one-to-one, and the latter might end up exploiting this connection in the final season to hurt Eleven and the others. Conversely, Will might prove to be a great weapon against Vecna, as he can clearly sense his thoughts, which might come in handy during a battle against him. Will's residual psychic link is a double-edged sword, for sure, spelling both potential hope and destruction for Hawkins at the same time.

Max and the power of love

While Max (Sadie Sink) had been clinically dead for over a minute (which is why Vecna's plan succeeds), her resurrection by Eleven creates an anomaly of sorts when it comes to the opening of the portal. Although there's no turning back time, there has to be a good reason why the show chose to keep Max alive, and she might prove instrumental in closing the portal for good, with the help of Eleven and the others. It is love that brings her back. More specifically, it is Eleven's love for Max, and the beautiful memories they have together as friends that help trigger her journey back to life, although the cost of such an act is yet to be revealed.

Volume 2 highlights this trope of "victory, but at what cost?" Max is in a coma, Eddie is dead, Hawkins has fallen, and the tearful reunions, no matter how lovely, are definitely short-lived. The battle is far from over, as fresh hells await the group — both personal and otherwise — with Vecna waiting to exploit their pain, and twisting the metaphorical knife further. However, will love be enough to save everyone at the gates of hell? The group's strength lies in their unflinching bonds to one another, but given the dire nature of things, we can probably expect some major deaths in the final season and a bittersweet ending.

The Battle of Hawkins

One cannot help but evoke comparisons to the Battle of Hogwarts in this case. While Vecna isn't quite on par with Voldemort, he is obviously quite dangerous, as he hates humanity and wishes to obliterate mankind and create hell on earth. "Stranger Things" has always been about Vecna, as every event in Hawkins has been orchestrated by him from the start, from Will's disappearance to the creation of the Mind Flayer, which took the lives of countless people. There must be a way to defeat him, as everyone has a fatal flaw, and this means delving deeper into how Vecna came to possess his powers and how he can be defeated for good.

"Stranger Things" season 4 is currently streaming on Netflix.