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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, being the fourth episode of the first volume, and was directed by Shawn Levy.


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.


S4E4 - Agents informing of the situation

Sam Owens' agents inform Mike Wheeler and Will and Jonathan Byers of Eleven's whereabouts

In Lenora Hills, Sam Owens' trio of agents, Agent Stinson, Agent Wallace, and Agent Harmon, explain to Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, and Jonathan Byers the recent killings plaguing Hawkins and how Eleven is training to regain her powers. The boys want to get to Hawkins to protect their friends and family, but Stinson tells them that factions within the U.S. government are hunting for Eleven, and them finding her will endanger both them and their loved ones, hence why Agents Harmon and Wallace were to make sure they stayed in hiding at the Byers home. Stinson gives Mike a letter from Eleven, and when Mikes reads it alone in El's bedroom, it reads "Dear Mike, I have gone to become a superhero again. From, El".

In Hawkins, Nancy Wheeler and Robin Buckley arrive at Hawkins High. Max Mayfield explains to them, Dustin Henderson, and Steve Harrington the vision of the grandfather clock she saw from Vecna. In Ms. Kelly's office, she explains to her friends that Vecna's previous victims, Chrissy Cunningham and Fred Benson, were also seeing Ms. Kelly and were experiencing symptoms that Max has - nosebleeds, headaches, and traumatic visions from their pasts - before their untimely deaths. Realizing that they both died a week after their symptoms and within a day of their first hallucinations, Max concludes that she is Vecna's next target and her death will be within a day. Hearing noise outside, Steve instructs the group to stay as he uses a floor lamp as protection. As the group file out to the hallway, they find a frantic Lucas Sinclair speeding towards them, who informs Dustin that Jason Carver, Patrick McKinney, and Andy are looking for him since they believe he knows where Eddie Munson is. Dustin tells him that they have bigger things to worry about, and Lucas suddenly realizes that Max is in trouble.

The next morning, an annoyed Erica Sinclair is questioned by Jason at the Sinclair doorstep on Lucas and Dustin's whereabouts, but Erica only insults him before slamming the door, leading Jason, Andy, and Patrick to continue their search for Lucas. In the Wheeler basement, Dustin, Lucas, and Steve struggle to piece together Vecna's origin and why he's suddenly appeared after murdering Victor Creel's family in 1959. They notice Max sitting at a desk writing letters, staying up all night. Nancy and Robin arrive and explain a plan to talk to Victor at Pennhurst Mental Hospital; through Nancy's friends at the Weekly Streak, Nancy - who uses the false alias "Ruth" - and Robin - who uses the false alias "Rose" - are pretending to be psychology students from the University of Notre Dame requesting to meet the warden, Anthony Hatch, to use Victor for their thesis on paranoid schizophrenics. Steve is apprehensive to babysit the kids once again, but Nancy is adamant that Max is in danger and needs someone to look after her. When Steve questions if Robin gives off an "academic-scholar" vibe, Nancy puts together a formal outfit for Robin, much to Robin's reluctance.

S4E4-Joyce holding a phone

In Alaska, Joyce Byers attempts to check on her kids at a local hotel, but Murray Bauman is adamant that they arrive to meet Yuri Ismaylov on time. In Kamchatka, Dmitri Antonov instructs Jim Hopper to hide at the local church after escaping, while also referring to Joyce as Hopper's "sexy woman", though he says that Hopper's chances of escaping are slim. Dmitri ends the conversation by hitting Hopper in front of guards in order to not be suspicious.

S4E4-She's not my woman

In Lenora Hills, Jonathan grows annoyed over how lazy Harmon and Wallace are, watching T.V. instead of being the protectors Stinson said that they're supposed to be. While getting a Coke from the fridge, Jonathan looks at a picture of him and Nancy sadly, but hatches an idea when he sees a Surfer Boy Pizza coupon next to it. In Jonathan's bedroom, Will rants about how flawed the agents plans since they can't do anything without Eleven's help and how his mother is probably panicking over how she can't get in contact with them. He stops when he notices Mike sulking over Eleven's letter, and tells him it's not going to change if he keeps staring at it. Mike agrees and tosses it into the wastebasket, before explaining to Will about the fight that he and El had before she was arrested. Mike says that maybe if he had told her what he wanted to say to her, then maybe El would want him to be with her getting her powers back. Will comforts him and says that she'll be fine, and that they need to worry about Hawkins, since the agents haven't able to protect him and his family in the past, telling Mike that it was him and their friends that saved him. As they chuckle, Mike and Will say that it's up to them to save Hawkins, and Jonathan tells them that's why they can't stay here. Jonathan tells the boys that since they can't call their friends since it would put El in danger, they need to drive there instead by sneaking past the sluggish agents. Will questions how they'll do it since they don't have money or a car, and Jonathan, holding the pizza coupon, tells the boys that they'll hail a cheap ride from Argyle. Will and Mike tell the agents that they're hungry and give Harmon the coupon to call Surfer Boy Pizza, and Harmon is confused when he's greeted by an overly-enthusiastic Argyle on the phone.

S4E4 - Hopper destroys the cabin

Jim Hopper destroys the weapons shack

In Hawkins, Max completes her letters, giving a personalized one to Dustin, Steve, and Lucas, while also writing ones to El, Mike, and Will. She tells them only to open them in the event of her death. Getting an idea, Max asks if the radio they have will reach East Hawkins, and threatens Steve to take her where she needs to go. After Steve reluctantly gives in, Max hears the chimes of a grandfather clock as she climbs into the car. At Pennhurst, a dressed-up Nancy and Robin arrive, though Robin complains about her itchy dress, her shoes hurting her feet, and her bra pinching her boobs. Nancy frustratingly tells Robin that she'll do all the talking in Hatch's office. There, after inspecting their transcripts, Hatch is shown to be rather unmoved and rude to Nancy since they were rejected from seeing Victor a previous time. Robin, using her improv skills, stands up for Nancy and improves a backstory about how she was inspired to be like Hatch when she first heard of the Creel family massacre back at "summer camp". Hatch, flattered, grants the girls access, causing Nancy and Robin to secretly high-five each other.

Joyce and Murray arrive at Yuri's Fish and Fly, with Murray mentioning to Joyce that if anything goes sideways that he's a black belt in karate. They soon meet the eccentric, high-energy, and greedy Yuri, who decides to personally count the $40,000 Joyce and Murray have and offering them coffee. In Kamchatka, Hopper breaks off the handle of his sledgehammer during a work period and asks a guard for a replacement, following him into a weapons shed and beating him with the handle. Hopper removes his chains and is confronted by another guard, who he fights, but they attract the attention of the rest of the guards when his firearm goes off. He blocks the door, rigs the shack to explode, and escapes through the roof, stealing a snowmobile and fleeing into the woods. The prisoners cheer as Dmitri is smug about Hopper succeeding.

S4E4-Max out of her trance

In Hawkins, Max is driven to Forrest Hills Trailer Park, where she leaves letters for her grandmother, uncle, father, and mother inside her house. Noticing her mother hanging laundry outside, Max walks out and instructs her to deliver them. Susan grows concerned when Max attempts to explain that she wrote them out of fear that something will happen to her. As the mother and daughter hug, Susan gently tells Max that nothing will happen to her, before she distortedly says that nothing will happen "that she doesn't deserve". Max, noticing dark clouds looming over her, is horrified as Susan transforms into Vecna, who tells her that her letters won't make things right since has "broken everything" and that "her time is almost at an end". Max breaks away from his grip and falls to the ground, arriving back to reality and realizing that her mother wasn't even there. She walks back to Steve's car and tells the boys that they need to go.

At Pennhurst, Robin and Nancy are given a tour of Pennhurst by Hatch, noting the lack of fencing since Hatch says that the patients like Pennhurst and have no desire to escape. Hatch then shows them the music hall by saying that music can touch parts of the brain that word can't, but he says that patients like Victor are far from repair. As they prepare to enter Victor's wing, Robin and Nancy nervously yet successfully ask Hatch if they could speak to Victor alone. Hatch leaves, saying that he has something to check on, and allows the girls to continue onward. Inside the wing, after the security guard tells instructs Robin and Nancy not to touch or give Victor anything, he brings them to his cell, where Victor is turned away at a table.

Nancy and Robin introduce themselves and tell an apprehensive Victor that whatever had killed his family is back to kill their friend, and that they need his help. The girls are horrified when Victor turns around and reveals that his eyes have been gouged out.

In Lenora Hills, Argyle zooms through the neighborhood to deliver pizzas at the Byers. Will is almost done with packing when Mike arrives in his bedroom to thank him for knocking some sense into him regarding El's letter. Much to Will's surprise and happiness, Mike apologizes for the way he's been treating Will, saying that he's begun to notice how Hawkins doesn't feel the same without him, and that they should work together as a team, or "best friends", in order to find El. Hearing a car pull into the driveway, Jonathan arrives into the bedroom as the trio prepare to climb out Will's window, with Will secretly putting the painting he made for Mike in his pack. As Wallace opens the door, a military office shoots him in the chest and knocks him out. Hearing gunshots, Jonathan climbs up the stairs and sees Wallace shooting down agents. The boys run upstairs as officers break through the glass in Will's window, and duck for cover as the Byers house becomes a shootout. Harmon instructs the boys to run as he shoots, but gets shot in the process. Argyle, pulling onto the street, initially thinks all the military cars are for a party Jonathan was having that he wasn't invited to, but is surprised when Jonathan runs up to the window and tells him to stop the car. The boys help a wounded Harmon climb into the van and scream at a confused Argyle to drive as an armed officer approached them. Argyle obeys and slams the gas pedal as the van drives off.

In Kamchatka, Hopper escapes to Yuri's hideout, an empty church full of weapons and food, and tearfully enjoys a jar of Jif Peanut Butter and a bed. In Alaska, after Yuri finishes counting his money, he calls Antonov to confirm that Hopper is alive, but is actually calling him to inform him that he has sold both him and Hopper out, and plans to turn Joyce and Bauman over to the Russians for a reward. Guards arrive at the church and beat down Hopper, Dmitri is detained by his former comrades on the phone, and Joyce and Murray fall unconscious after it's revealed that the coffee they were consuming was drugged.

Victor Creel 1986
Creel House 1959

The Creel family moves to their new house.

At Pennhurst, Victor slowly opens up to Robin and Nancy after they explain their encounters with Vecna the past few days. In 1959, Victor's wife, Virginia, inherited a fortune from her late uncle and used it to buy a nice house in Hawkins, which she, Victor, and their daughter, Alice, fell in love with. Only his son, Henry, felt that there was something wrong. After a month, mutilated animals started to appear on the property, and the family was tormented by nightmarish visions, including that of black widow spiders. One night, the "demon" Creel suspected was haunting the house killed his wife at the dinner table by breaking her bones and popping her eyes out, and when he tried to escape with his children, he was trapped in a vision of when he accidentally killed a family during the second World War. He claims an "angel" pulled him out of the vision, only to find his daughter dead and his son in a coma, dying a week later. He tried to commit suicide multiple times in the asylum, destroying his eyes in the process, but Hatch stopped him from dying. As Victor becomes catatonic and humming Ella Fitzgerald's Dream A Little Dream of Me (the song playing during the massacre), Nancy asks him who the "angel" was, only to be interrupted an enraged Hatch, who had checked their credentials and found them to be fake.

Nancy and Robin at Pennhurst

Robin reminds Nancy of Warden Hatch's remark

As they're escorted out to wait for the police, Robin passes through the music ward and has a revelation. She tells Nancy how Victor made a specific mention of music the night of the attack and Ella Fitzgerald, "the voice of an angel". She further reminds Nancy how Hatch said that music can reach the brain the way that words can't, so music could be a lifeline back to reality and save Max. The girls then make a run for it, ditching their heels as they drive off in Nancy's car.

Dear Billy

Max has Steve take her the town's cemetery. As Max steps out, Lucas catches up to her and begs him to listen to her. He tells Max that he knows something happened between her and her mother, and asks if it was Vecna's doing, though Max lies and says that's fine. Lucas says that she knows that she can talk to him, and asks why she pushed him away. Pulling out her letter, Lucas says that he doesn't need or want it, begging her to just talk to him and her friends since they're right here for her. But Max, keeping composure, just tells Lucas to wait in the car with Steve and Dustin. At Billy Hargrove's grave, Max begins to read a letter to Billy and explain her predicament; his father, Neil, left Susan and Max, with Max believing that Neil could not stand to be in Hawkins without Billy. She says that everything has become a complete disaster since Billy's death, and laments how she can't tell anyone how Billy saved her and El's lives. Max says that she imagined what life could be like if they had a better relationship, but admits how guilty she feels for watching him get murdered and profusely apologizes, saying that "a small part of her died that day". She expresses hope that Billy can hear her. Just then, Max is transported to Vecna's mindscape where Vecna appears to her in the guise of a bloodied Billy.

Max levitating

Max rises above Billy's headstone

Vecna watches Max escape

Vecna watches as Max runs to safety

Billy claims that Max really wanted him to die and reveals that she wishes she could "follow" him. Vecna sheds his Billy disguise and begins to pursue Max through a mind-scape version of the cemetery. Lucas and Steve, having realized something is wrong, desperately try to awaken Max from her trance. Dustin calls Nancy and Robin, desperately seeking any information they might have learned from Victor Creel which could help Max. Nancy and Robin report their findings to him. In the mindscape, Max screams for Lucas and Dustin to help her, but soon finds herself in Vecna's lair, built on the remains of a destroyed house. A grandfather clock floats through the air, black widow eggs line the floor, and Chrissy and Fred's mangled bodies are embedded in fleshy pillars rising out of the ground. Vecna arrives and asks Max if she would like to join them, pinning Max against a pillar with his tendrils. At that moment, alerted by Robin and Nancy that music may be the means to fight Vecna, Lucas and Dustin put Max' Walkman on her and put on her favorite song. The song opens a portal in her mind where she can clearly see herself and her friends back in the cemetery. In the real world, Max starts to levitate as Vecna, in the mindscape, reaches for her. In Vecna's grasp, Max begins to envision her happiest moments with the Party, most of them involving Lucas and Eleven, and gains the strength to pull out one of Vecna's tentacles from his neck, distracting him.

Max breaks free and runs towards the portal, hearing her friends scream her name, as Vecna tries to stop her by sending debris flying towards her. Max escapes and arrives back in reality. Max falls back to the ground, then Lucas wraps his arms around a hyperventilating Max as Steve and Dustin hug them, all while Max reaffirms that she's still here with them.

Dear Billy - final shot



Also Starring[]




  • "Legless" by Hipbone Slim - Agent Harmon calls up Surfer Boy Pizza, and Argyle picks up.
  • "Moscow Defender’s Song" by The Red Army Choir - Enzo tells Hopper a plane will be waiting for him to escape.
  • "Hard Feelings" by Al Kerbey - The group drives to Max's house in silence as Max goes to drop off letters to her family.
  • "Minuet in D Minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach - The patients at Pennhurst peacefully listen to music as Warden Hatch tell Nancy and Robin that music reaches parts of the brain in strange ways.
  • "Pass the Dutchie" by Musical Youth - Argyle drives in the Surfer Boy Pizza van to the Byers' house. Mike, Will, Jonathan, and a wounded Agent Harmon jump in and tell Argyle to drive off as an armed army officer approaches the van.
  • "Sentinels" by Makeup And Vanity Set - Hopper joyfully finds a crate full of Jif Peanut Butter and begins eating it.
  • "Bond Street Bounce" by Len Stevens - Victor recalls the first day his family arrived at the Creel House.
  • "Dream a Little Dream Of Me" by Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald - The Creels are killed in their home and Victor Creel tries to escape with his children; Victor later hums it to himself when beginning to hyperventilate.
  • "Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy - Nancy and Robin go through the hospital's low security wing and hear the song playing.
  • "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" by Kate Bush (an orchestral mix, composed by Rob Simonsen)[3]- Steve, Dustin, and Lucas play Max's cassette and Max hears the song, allowing her to escape Vecna.

Original score[]

  • "Kills You in Your Dreams" - Max tells Dustin, Nancy, Steve, and Robin that she is Vecna's next victim.
  • "Four Gates" - Erica paints in her bedroom when her mother forces her to answer the door, and finds Jason at her doorstep.
  • "Scars" - Jonathan sees a coupon for Surfer Boy Pizza and comes up with a plan.
  • "Eight Fifteen" - Will comforts Mike in Jonathan's bedroom.
  • "Stuck in 1983" - Max leaves the Wheeler house and forces Steve to drive her where she needs to go.
  • "My BOOBS Hurt." - Robin cracks inside Warden Hatch's office and gives a long-winded yet inspiring speech.
  • "On The Bus" - Mike apologizes to Will and reaffirms that they're best friends.
  • "Barefoot in the Snow" - Hopper arrives at the church.
  • "Burning Baby", "A Nightmare Far Worse" - Victor Creel recalls the horrors he and his family faced when living in their new home.
  • "Letter to Willy" - Max reads her letter at Billy's grave.
  • "Follow me into Death" - Billy appears to Max in Vecna's realm.
  • "It's Time Max" - Vecna reveals himself to Max.
  • "Running Up That Hill (Lullaby Mix)" (composed by Rob Simonsen)[3] - End credits roll.

Influences and references[]

See also: Influences & references


  • High Times
    • Argyle has a February 1986 issue of the magazine on the dashboard of the Surfer Boy Pizza van.


  • Jaws (1975)
    • Will has a poster for the film in his bedroom.
  • Fear Street Part Two: 1978 (2021)
    • Robin specifically tells Warden Hatch a fake story of going to summer camp in 1978 when hearing of the Creel massacre; the film features a summer camp during 1978 that becomes plagued with a killer, and coincidentally had Sadie Sink and Maya Hawke a part of the franchise.
  • The Great Escape (1963)
    • When discussing Hopper's planned escape, Enzo compares him to Steve McQueen the Cooler King, a direct nod to the film.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
    • The ward used in the film was a reference for Pennhurst.
  • The Secret of NIMH (1982)
    • Erica has a poster of the film in her bedroom.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    • Nancy and Robin visiting Victor Creel in a separate wing of Pennhurst for the more dangerous patients is a direct nod to the film.


  • Duck Hunt
    • Erica tells Jason that if Lucas kept paying her to cover up his disappearance, she'd have enough money to buy the game.



  • Pluto
    • Nancy has a Pluto plushie seen at the floor of her closet.
  • "The Singer" by Wassily Kadinsky (1903)
    • Nancy has a copy of the painting on her dresser in her bedroom.


  • Tom Cruise
    • In Nancy's bedroom, Robin teasingly points out the large poster of the celebrity Nancy had, which causes Nancy to sheepishly say it was old.


  • Nintendo Entertainment System
    • Erica tells Jason that if Lucas kept paying her to cover up his disappearance, she'd have enough money to buy the gaming console.


  • CHiPs (1977-1983)
    • Jonathan compares Agents Harmon and Wallace to Ponch and John, the two main leads in the series.


View Gallery For this subject's gallery, see Dear Billy/Gallery.


  • The title of the episode was revealed on November 6, 2021, on the occasion of Stranger Things Day.
  • This episode takes place between March 23 and March 24, 1986.
  • 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.
  • This is the only Season 4 episode in which Eddie Munson does not appear.
  • The scene in which Max escapes Vecna's mindscape was originally written with a few differences. When Vecna attacks Max, his claws were intended to make contact with her, sinking into her forehead, though they don't kill her. In the real world, her eyes and nose begin to bleed, before she snaps out of her trance and falls to the ground as in the final version of the scene. [4]
  • While Erica paints at her desk, one of her paint cups is a recycled Scoops Ahoy cup.
  • When Max sees her mother hanging laundry, the red jacket she wore in "MADMAX" and "Will the Wise" and the purple hoodie she wears in "The Sauna Test", "The Flayed", and "E Pluribus Unum" are seen on the clothesline.
  • 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.
  • The shootout in the Byers' house was filmed as one continuous camera shot.
  • Billy's grave originally swapped from 'Billy' to 'William', as seen in the season's official trailer. Sadie Sink confirmed it was a production error that was eventually fixed before the premiere.