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"Chapter Four: Dear Billy" is the fourth episode of the fourth season of Stranger Things and the twenty-ninth episode overall. It premiered on May 27, 2022.

Synopsis

Max is in grave danger... and running out of time. A patient at Pennhurst asylum has visitors. Elsewhere, in Russia, Hopper is at hard work.


Plot

SPOILERS AHEAD

Agents informing Will, Mike, Jonathan of the situation

In California, Will, Mike, and Jonathan are informed by the agents about the recent killings that had been happening in Hawkins. As a safety precaution, the agents refuse to reveal Eleven's location due to other factions of the government who are working to find her; contact may jeopardize her life as well as those of everyone else. Until Eleven's training is finished, agents Harmon and Wallace are assigned to protect the boys. This information overwhelms and infuriates them but the agents assure them they are friends of Sam Owens. Mike receives El's letter from one of the agents in which she proclaims that she will become a superhero again.

In Hawkins High School, Nancy and Robin eventually arrive and join Dustin and Steve. Max informs the others that she saw a vision of the grandfather clock while she was in a trance-like state, similar to that of Chrissy's in her final moments of life, per Eddie's words. Max further elaborates that both Fred and Chrissy died less than twenty-four hours after their first hallucinations and hypothesizes that she will die the next day after seeing the grandfather clock. The group later meets Lucas, who learns of Max's impending fate while informing Dustin of Jason's intention to capture him for information on Eddie's whereabouts.

After Jason and his lackeys find no trace of Eddie and discover Lucas's disappearance, they pay a visit to the Sinclair residence. Erica answers the front door, and through her, Jason discovers that Lucas has been in league with Dustin and had tricked them into searching Hopper's cabin. Meanwhile, Steve, Dustin, and Lucas have been taking refuge in the Wheeler's basement. Steve points out how Vecna could have possibly existed back in the 50's, thirty years before their first encounter with the Upside Down. Dustin explains that the Upside Down could have existed since the dawn of time while Eleven only opened a connection to the dimension. Steve and Lucas further question where the Gate had been during that time and how Vecna was able to get through, a point which also confuses Dustin. During that time, Max had been writing letters to all of her loved ones in case she does not live through the curse. In order to learn more about what happened during the night of the murder, Nancy and Robin disguise themselves as criminal psychologist students named Ruth and Rose from the University of Notre Dame. They are able to score a 3 o'clock meeting with the director, and hope to sway him over with their charms in order to let them speak to Victor Creel. Sometime after their departure, Max hands Steve, Dustin, and Lucas her letters alongside Mike, El and Will's, should they ever be contacted again.

Hopper destroys the cabin

In Kamchatka, Hopper is forced to do more labor work on the railroads. During the prisoner's escort, Dmitri Antonov tells Hopper to find a church with a grey roof to meet the smuggler and informs him that Joyce had arrived in Alaska the night before. Their interaction attracts the attention of a Russian guard, and Antonov reluctantly punches Hopper in order to avoid suspicion. While working on the railroad, Hopper intentionally breaks his sledgehammer and uses it as an excuse to go to the supply shed where he is stopped by a guard. The guard is momentarily distracted by Hopper, who uses the opportunity to knock him unconscious. The nosy guard from before notices the missing American, and goes to the shed to retrieve him. Hopper engages with the guard and manages to snap his neck with the chain that had once shackled his feet. However, their fight had already drawn the attention of other guards when the first guard managed to to shoot his gun in distress. Realizing his time is limited, Hopper sets a flare near the explosives, makes his getaway through the roof, and escapes in a snowmobile with the other prisoners looking on in joy and Antonov impressed by Hopper's escape.

Back at the Byers residence, Harmon and Wallace are still keeping watch over Mike, Will, and Jonathan. In order to escape, Jonathan calls Surfer Boy Pizza, where his friend Argyle works. During this time, Mike and Will open up to each other with Mike revealing his concerns for Eleven. Will reassures him that they will meet again, and then reveals that he does not trust Owens. He admits that Owens had tried to protect them, but ultimately failed, leaving the rescuing up to Mike and the others. The pair jokes that it's up to them once more, at which point Jonathan enters the room and agrees with their assessment. Assuming the agents are telling the truth, Jonathan wants to drive them back to Hawkins in order to save their friends. The trio plans to hail a ride from Argyle under the guise that they are hungry and want pizza.

The group leaves for East Hawkins

Not willing to spend her last day of life in solitude, Max tells Steve, Dustin, and Lucas to drive her to East Hawkins where they can contact Nancy and Robin at the Pennhurst Asylum. Steve initially refuses but relents upon hearing that she is willing to go alone. Stopping by her home, she gives her letters to her mother and asks her to deliver them to the rest of her family in the event that she is murdered like the other teenagers. She tightly embraces her mother, but as she holds her, her surroundings suddenly change and Max realizes that she is embracing Vecna, who taunts Max about her impending death. He tells her that her time is almost at an end, and Max struggles in his grip before she snaps back to reality. Knowing that she does not have much time left, she decides to visit Billy's grave to read her letter to him.

At Pennhurst Asylum, Nancy and Robin meet with the director of the institution, claiming to be scholars with a letter of recommendation from professor Brantley. They try to acquire permission to see Victor Creel but are told that a certain protocol is involved when it comes to seeing patients in the high security section. The process involves placing a request and receiving an evaluation from the board committee. Nancy tries to convince him to no avail until Robin speaks up and gives a passionate speech about why they need to see Victor. In the end, she persuades the director to give them ten minutes with the patient.

In Alaska, Joyce and Murray manage to find Fish n' Fly and its pilot Yuri Ismaylov. They hand over the $40,000 that was agreed upon and Yuri proceeds to check it carefully, counting the bills while insisting they drink some of the coffee he has available. Afterwards, Yuri calls Antonov to check on Hopper's status before extracting him.

Nancy and Robin in Pennhurst Asylum

Wandering through the asylum's courtyard, Nancy and Robin are given a tour by the director Anthony. When they reach the criminal ward, the girls ask to question Victor alone, and the director reluctantly agrees. However, he tells the guard to watch the pair closely. Outside Victor's cell, Nancy and Robin request his help, stating that they believed the culprit that had killed his family had returned. After describing the symptoms that Max had, they ask how Victor had survived the demon's attack. He then describes to them the events that transpired in 1959.

Receiving an order from the Byers residence, Argyle heads out in his pizza delivery truck. Meanwhile, in the house, Will and Mike rekindle their friendship as both acknowledge their flaws in the way they handled things at Rink-o-Mania and during the aftermath. Hearing a car arrive, Will, Mike, and Jonathan prepare to leave while agent Wallace opens the front door only. Instead of receiving pizza, however, the man is shot in the stomach by a US soldier. A gunfight soon erupts with the trio escaping with the surviving agent and making it to Argyle's van. While Harmon is seriously injured after being shot in the stomach, the group ultimately makes the getaway.

After traveling for a while, Hopper arrives at the designated location and temporarily takes shelter. During this time, Yuri calls Antonov to let him know that there has been a change in the plan after receiving a call from the warden. He reveals that he has disclosed Hopper's location, informed the other guards of Antonov's betrayal, and spiked Joyce and Murray's coffee, making them pass out with the purpose of gaining more money by turning them into the KGB. Hopper tries to escape through the window of the church but fails as he is overwhelmed and knocked unconscious. Meanwhile, Antonov is detained for his role in helping Hopper escape.

The Creels moving into their new house

In 1959, Victor Creel returns to his family fourteen years after participating in the war and gains an inheritance after his wife's uncle passes away. He buys his family a new house with the intent of starting a new life. After a month of peace, however, things take a dark turn when his daughter, Alice Creel, discovers a mutilated rabbit near their house. The local police assume that it's an attack by a wildcat, and Victor stays up and actively searches for signs of the predator. However, he quickly comes to realize that the culprit is an otherworldly monster of some sort. He believes the demon has begun playing tricks on his family, the first of which occurs when his wife, Virginia Creel, experiences a hallucination of the sink filling with black widows. Alice begins to have constant nightmares shortly afterwards, and Victor himself sees a crib lit aflame as a baby wails in pain. One night, the Creels are eating dinner when the lights begin to flicker, and the radio abruptly turns on. Virginia is suddenly lifted in the air, and as Victor watches, her bones snap and her eyes are gouged out. Victor tries to save their kids by attempting to leave the house, but he is transported to a traumatic memory of him ordering a bombing of an innocent French village that he had presumed to hold German soldiers. In his vision, he watches as a baby dies in a crib which has been set on fire. During the hallucination, Victor hears his favorite song and interprets it as the voice of an angel. He snaps back to reality to discover that Alice has been killed and that Henry was in a coma; the boy dying a week later. At his time of incarceration, Victor attempts suicide by gouging his eyes out as to be reunited with his family, only for the attempt to end in failure. After hearing his story, Nancy further questions him about the identity of the angel, but is interrupted by director Anthony who has discovered the truth about the girls.

Max suffering under Vecna's curse

Stopping at Roane Hill's cemetery, Max visits Billy's grave but not before she is stopped by Lucas. He tells her he knows she had experienced one of Vecna's hallucinations back at the trailer park and implores her to open up to them. She shakes him off, however, and leaves him at the car. At Billy's grave, Max reads him her eulogy letter and expresses her guilt, her grief, and how she had hoped for a chance of reconciliation with him as true siblings. After Max finishes reading the letter, the surroundings begin to shift once more into one of Vecna's visions. In the vision, a blood-stained Billy suggests that part of her was relieved when he died, and that another part of her wanted to die with him as Max tries to ignore the vision. Vecna then begins to pursue Max as she tries to escape. Back in reality, Steve eventually realizes Max's trance and orders Dustin to contact Nancy and Robin immediately. During their escort out of Pennhurst Asylum, Robin realizes that the voice of Victor's angel was in fact a song, based on his humming of "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" by Ella Fitzgerald. She further remembers how Hatch had said that music could reach parts of the human mind that words couldn't and realizes that music could act as a lifeline back to reality. Nancy and Robin both run to their car and escape. Able to reach Dustin again, Robin informs him of her discovery.

Max running away from Vecna

Stuck in the Upside Down, Max stumbles on what seems to be an old wrecked house with Vecna's victims put on display. Vecna expresses displeasure as Max stumbles upon his lair and eventually captures her. Back in reality, Dustin gathers Max's Walkman and cassette tapes and frantically asks Lucas for her favorite song. Lucas eventually finds her favorite song to be "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush and plays it, placing the headphones over Max's ears while she is stuck in her trance. The music opens a portal back to reality for Max, who is trapped in Vecna's grip. As the monster looms over her, preparing to gouge her eyes out, Max recounts all her happy memories of her time with Lucas and Eleven as well as the rest of her friends.

Her life flashes before her, which gives her the strength to escape Vecna's grasp by ripping out one of his tentacles. Free at last, and with the beat of "Running Up That Hill" throbbing in her ears, Max frantically runs towards the portal while Vecna attempts to stop her, throwing rocks and rubble in her path. He fails, however, and she reaches the opening, reuniting with her physical body. Waking up from her trance and collapsing back to the ground, Max tearfully embraces Lucas and the rest of the group as she successfully breaks Vecna's curse.

Cast

Main cast

Also Starring

Co-Starring

Music

Soundtrack

  • "Legless" by Hipbone Slim
  • "Moscow Defender’s Song" by The Red Army Choir
  • "Hard Feelings" by Al Kerbey
  • "Minuet in D Minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • "Pass the Dutchie" by Musical Youth
  • "Bond Street Bounce" by Len Stevens
  • "Dream A Little Dream of Me" by Ella Fitzgerald
  • "Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy
  • "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush

Original Score

  • TBA

Notes

  • The title of the episode was revealed on November 6, 2021, on the occasion of Stranger Things Day.
  • This episode is nominated for "Outstanding Directing For a Drama Series" at the Emmy Awards, alongside "The Massacre at Hawkins Lab."[3]
    • This episode is also nominated for "Outstanding Cinematography For a Single-Camera Series (ONE HOUR)" at the Emmy Awards, alongside "The Massacre at Hawkins Lab."[3]
  • The will be the third episode in the series to be named after a character within the series, following "The Vanishing of Will Byers" and "Suzie, Do You Copy?", though this is the first episode to be named after a deceased character.
  • Eleven's absence in this episode marks the first time since "The Spy" where she does not make a physical appearance, though she appears in Max's memories through archival footage.
  • While Erica paints at her desk, one of her paint cups is a recycled Scoops Ahoy cup.
  • Dacre Montgomery could not travel to the United States to film his scene, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. He filmed his scene remotely from Australia, with Shawn Levy directing via video-link. Footage of Dacre was then merged with footage of Sadie Sink to create the completed scene.

References

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