Stranger Things: Chapter 4: Dear Billy
May 28, 2022 6:38 AM - Season 4, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Max is in grave danger... and running our of time. A patient at Pennhurst asylum has visitors. Elsewhere, in Russia, Hopper is hard at work.
posted by Navelgazer (25 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is the one that blew me away and became immediately possibly my favorite episode in the series to date. There was just so much to love here. Turning the expectations of the very "Silence of the Lambs" asylum set-up on its head so that, indeed, the patient was a victim rather than a threat. Robin taking her frustration with her outfit and using it in the moment. But the episode belongs to Sadie Sink as Max. This season is harder to get into than the previous ones, partially because the tone is coming more from Craven than Spielberg, and mainly because everyone (except for maybe Robin and Steve) starts this season in such a relatively rough place, feeling more isolated from their friends than we're used to at the beginning of these things. This episode is what made the season click into place for me, especially that entire gangbusters climactic "saving Max" sequence. Holy shit that blew me away.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:54 AM on May 28, 2022 [15 favorites]

Yeah, that Max-escaping-Vecna sequence was great. I mean, the montage of flashbacks combined with the Kate Bush song certainly got me teary-eyed. But I also really liked that letter to Billy, that it didn't gloss over what a hateful bully he had been to her.

When all the debris was falling during Max's escape run, I honestly wasn't sure if she was going to make it out. I have a feeling that not everyone from the core cast is going to make it out of this series alive, though while I think they'll save the really dire events until the final two episodes in July, for a few seconds there I was legitimately worried for Max.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:48 AM on May 28, 2022 [13 favorites]

Mod note: One deleted; this is a thread just for this episode.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:01 PM on May 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

When they were trying to pick Max's favourite song I was yelling at the TV "KATE BUSH, RUNNING UP THAT HILL!!!!" And it was such a relief when I saw the cover of the cassette tape and they snapped it in.

Also: voice of an angel.

More to say but that's all I got right now.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:47 AM on May 29, 2022 [10 favorites]

After this episode I was like, okay, now I guess I like a Kate Bush song.
posted by fleacircus at 3:37 PM on May 29, 2022 [4 favorites]

Somehow it makes TOTAL sense that Max would be a Kate Bush fan.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:08 AM on May 31, 2022 [3 favorites]

It’s just very shouty, isn’t it? Like unfunny-80s-sitcom-with-a-laughtrack predictable beats. Yuri’s double cross speech, most of Murray’s dialog, any conversation between Jonathan and Argyle, just padding the runtime. And, unpopular opinion ahoy but Max’s very, very long letter to Billy, he was a badly developed unpopular character hastily inserted into the script when Steve proved to be too appealing to be a villain and let’s be real Max, you and Billy were never going to be friends. The show works when the gang actually gets together to investigate, right now the Joyce-Murray-Hopper arc is the least interesting and I wish they’d give Will something more to do than look longingly at Mike.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:26 PM on May 31, 2022 [8 favorites]

I'm not saying you're wrong but I'll overlook a lot of flaws to watch people being saved from demons by Kate Bush songs
posted by Gerald Bostock at 10:55 PM on June 1, 2022 [24 favorites]

My kid says this season seems to be about survivor's guilt. I'm chewing on that. Definitely an argument to be made that is right.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:12 AM on June 2, 2022 [9 favorites]

I think they missed a great opportunity to flip over the Hounds of Love cassette and get some "Waking the Witch" bell-laden chaotic crescendo going on when Max first wandered into the red fog area.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:58 AM on June 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

this episode remains my favorite so far, I love that Lucas and Co save Max by knowing her favorite song

that bit alone makes this worth it
posted by eustatic at 4:13 PM on June 2, 2022 [8 favorites]

I straight up fell to pieces during that end sequence. It was a really stark and incredibly rendered depiction of coming back from the nadir of terrible depression. Max is fighting so hard not to let it take her over, despite having completely shut down, and what pulls her out of that desperate place is the realisation that she is loved and those loved ones are fighting just as hard to keep her with them.

Running up that hill was perfect, the tension and pace was exact and I felt every step like a clanging bell sounding the way out. I remember that realisation.

RIP Chrissy and Fred.
posted by freya_lamb at 4:15 AM on June 3, 2022 [14 favorites]

It’s just very shouty, isn’t it? Like unfunny-80s-sitcom-with-a-laughtrack predictable beats. Yuri’s double cross speech, most of Murray’s dialog, any conversation between Jonathan and Argyle, just padding the runtime.

The show has always had three faces:
1. The pulp genre face
2. The wacky funtime face, described above
3. The trying, sincerely and often successfully, to deal with trauma "face

Deep down, I think 3 is the reason people come back to this show, though 1 and to a lesser extent 2 are what get them in the door.

The ratios of the 3 faces vary, as does the quality of the show.
posted by HeroZero at 7:48 PM on June 3, 2022 [5 favorites]

It seems that as this was filmed during the pandemic that Dacre Montgomery (Billy) was back in Australia in lockdown when his scene with Sadie Sink (Max) was filmed.

I admit that like many of us, I tend to think of special effects being used to put dragons and spaceships and talking badgers into movies, not to put two people in a conversation when they are actually on opposite sides of the planet.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:14 AM on June 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

A week later, Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) broke into the top 10.
posted by Kyol at 7:49 PM on June 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

I wish they’d give Will something more to do than look longingly at Mike.

Every season I feel like Will gets short-changed. It made sense in the first season but geez let the guy do more stuff.
posted by harriet vane at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Two of my coworkers are insisting that Will is straight. I have no idea how they could possibly get that from the show. They're so convinced that they're placing bets with other, correcter coworkers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:24 AM on June 10, 2022 [4 favorites]

Do they want to place bets with us here as well?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:44 AM on June 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Please, please, please let Will's hidden piece of artwork be him and Mike engaged in Robert Mapplethorpe levels of gay bondage. And let Mike dig it.

Asking for a friend?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:10 PM on June 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

The longer the montage of good times with her friends went, the more I started to fear it was a goodbye montage rather than a power-of-friendship montage and after this show asked me to imagine a baby burning to death in its crib I totally believed they would break Max too and I was getting more and more certain she wasn't gonna make it until she finally made it.
posted by straight at 10:17 PM on June 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh god, yeah. I was half expecting Max to get skewered by a chunk of falling stuff and I was cringing until she made it.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:55 AM on June 14, 2022

I was getting major Labyrinth vibes in the scene with Vecna and Max. I pulled up some youtube clips to compare, and I'm pretty sure the clock chimes are the same audio. Very cool.
posted by kitcat at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

No one's going to mention that older Creel was played by Robert Englund ("Nightmare on Elm Street")? Huh.
posted by SPrintF at 7:05 PM on June 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Jesus f'ing Christ. Late to this party and completely overwhelmed. "Running up that Hill" was already everywhere when I watched episode 1, and I thought it was weird that the one little clip vaulted the song into everyone's consciousness. But of course it wasn't that. I, like Athanassiel above, was screaming RUNNING UP THAT HILL at the tv. And I felt every second of that run from hell with the tiny part of me that is still my fucked up late teen self who loved that song very very much.
posted by donnagirl at 7:53 PM on July 2, 2022 [5 favorites]

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