Chapter Four: Dear Billy
Episode 4 of Stranger Things Season 4 starts with those in California learning that El is off training to get her powers back. For now, Agents Harmon and Wallace are going to keep them safe, as they’re warned that opposing government branches are trying to take down Eleven and work against her.
They need to keep quiet and not arouse suspicions. So naturally, they decide to sneak out and get themselves a ride out to Hawkins.
Unfortunately, the place is invaded by agents before they can do that, who show up all guns blazing. The two officers do their best to protect the kids, who are eventually forced to flee as Argyle drives them away.
Over at Hawkins, she warns the others that she’s suffering the same curse (Vecna’s Curse) that Chrissy and Fred suffered from. It would seem that the timeframe is 7 days, with all symptoms (headaches, nosebleeds and hallucinations) leading toward her approaching death.
Victor Creel is the only one who has presumably survived all this. But how? Why? Well, time for some investigative work to find out how.
Thanks to Nancy’s ties at the newspaper, the gang manage to bag themselves a meeting with the Director over at Pennhurst Asylum. And guess who’s on babysitting duties? Yep, it’s Steve!
Robin and Nancy intend to show up and act like academic scholars, so while they play dress up and leave, Max writes out letters “just in case she doesn’t make it.” She also implores them not to read their letters. With time of the essence, Max has the others drive her out to the cemetery so she can pay her respects to Billy.
Over at Pennhurst, and it’s actually Robin who manages to convince the Director, thanks to an impassioned speech about her heroes – including a certain professor. It works too, and they gain 30 minutes with Victor.
It’s Silence of the Lambs time, as Robin and Nancy head in to see Victor. With some alone time, we see Victor has actually lost his eyes; a war wound from his fight with Vecna.
Victor soon reveals that al of this started when he returned from the war. He was able to buy a brand new house as part of a lucrative settlement amount and it seemed like a dream come true.
Unfortunately, this magnificent home holds magnificent evil. Victor’s daughter, Alice, believed it to be something out a fairytale but Henry knew something was wrong with the house.
A month of peace was shattered by a number of horrible goings on. Dead animals at their house; “encounters” by this demon coming in living nightmares; and even Victor saw a baby burning in a crib in the fireplace.
The demon took pleasure in tormenting them all, eventually having its way with them all. It left Victor with his nightmares from the past. He even tried to commit suicide, but unfortunately the demon seemed to keep him alive.
Over in Alaska, Joyce and Murray show up at the meet with the money for Yuri. With the cash as promised, Hopper puts his plan into place. After an explosive exit, he manages to grab a snowmobile and take off, evading gunfire and defying the perceived 100/1 odds from his crooked guard to safety.
Hopper makes it into the nearest town and seeks refuge in an abandoned church. There’s a bed, food and lots of VHS tapes too. It comes just in time, as Yuri rings Enzo and tells him there are a change in plans.
Unfortunately, he’s been offered a better deal by the prison warden and has double crossed him.. and he’s also outed Enzo in the process as a corrupt guard too. Not only that, but he’s also given them Joyce and Murray, who he has drugged.
Back with Max though, and Vecna attacks. She slips into a comatose state by Billy’s grave. Vecna shows up and taunts her about Billy. Dustin desperately tries to get through to Robin in order to help, but they’re currently in a spot of trouble themselves, given they lied their way into Pennhurst and have now been found out. Thankfully they manage to drive away before they’re stopped by police.
With Vecna closing in on Max, Dustin finally gets through to Robin. She gives him some solid advice on stopping this dark wizard. It appears the key to saving those lost is to play their favourite song. It’s that absolute banger, Running up that Hill again.
As Max levitates into the air, she remembers all the happy memories with her friends, clinging to that for dear life. Max manages to save herself, stabbing Vecna in the process and diving through a portal, narrowly missing falling debris. Max is saved.
The Episode Review
The ending to this episode was super tense, especially as falling debris looked set to take out Max as her life hung in the balance. That’s one thing this season has managed to do well, although it’s clear by now that none of our main characters are actually going to die.
Given Hopper has survived too, it seems like the show is unwilling to pull the trigger, which is a bit of a shame in many ways.
However, we do earn a bit more about Vecna courtesy of Robin and Nancy’s side quest, while the shootout over in California is a nice way of crescendoing out their story.
At the same time, everything over in Alaska feels really dragged out. The escape plan has gone awry, it seems we’re going to get another escape on top of the botched original and all of this just feels like a way of keeping Joyce and Murray busy for the time being.
Given the long run-times for these episodes, it does make sense in a way for all these characters to be off galivanting away, but at the same time some of these scenes feel unnecessarily dragged out for no reason.
These later chapters have definitely been a step up from the meandering opening and it looks like we’ve got plenty more drama to come in the future.