[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Stranger Things Season 4 “Chapter Four: Dear Billy.”]
Kate Bush is a cheat code. It doesn’t matter what number of occasions “Running Up That Hill” is utilized in movie and tv; as soon as these opening synths kick in, it’s sufficient to raise even essentially the most mundane of scenes. That’s to not say the closing scene of “Dear Billy” is mundane — removed from it. Max’s (Sadie Sink) brush with demise and eventual escape from the Upside Down is one among Stranger Things‘ greatest scenes to date and is only enhanced by the theatrical pop perfection of Bush’s magnum opus.
This complete episode is Stranger Things working on the peak of its powers, which is considerably shocking provided that Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) herself doesn’t seem. Eleven has been ushered away to coaching camp to regain her superhero talents, leaving everybody else scrambling to outlive. This results in what the present does greatest: heartfelt group camaraderie within the face of hazard. From Hawkins to California to Alaska to Russia, our heroes are attempting to carry agency in opposition to more and more insurmountable odds.
Let’s begin with the occasions in Hawkins, which see Max take heart stage as she turns into the most recent sufferer of Vecna’s curse. Seeing Max in such a pivotal function is refreshing, as typically it could actually really feel just like the character will get the quick finish of the stick. Sink is so good at portraying that vulnerability masked beneath a tricky exterior. Max doesn’t need to present weak point or discuss brazenly about her emotions. That’s simply not her type. She can’t even carry herself to inform her family and friends how she actually feels, as a substitute selecting to put in writing her ideas in a sequence of farewell letters to be opened ought to she not survive the curse.
The one individual she does confide in is her deceased step-brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery); it’s a lot simpler to put naked your soul to an engraved gravestone. Max reveals that she replays Billy’s demise again and again, questioning what would have occurred had she’d stepped in and saved him. “We could have become friends, like a real brother and sister,” she says. But she didn’t. She simply stood there and watched him die. And as a lot as she’s tried to be glad and regular, she is aware of issues have modified. “I think maybe part of me died that day too,” she confesses.
This guilt and remorse permits Vecna’s curse to burrow its method into Max’s psyche. “Part of you wanted me dead,” says a bloody apparition of Billy as Max falls right into a trance. “That’s why you hide… that’s why late at night you think about following me into death.” Max is consumed by these evil ideas as she’s sucked deeper and deeper into the Upside Down, stalked by the Dark Wizard. All the whereas, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve (Joe Keery), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), who rejoins The Party to warn them in regards to the soccer jocks’ “freak hunt,” attempt to carry her again to actuality.
Max’s destiny is left within the palms of Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Robin (Maya Hawke), who embark on a mission to determine a approach to elevate the curse. Posing as analysis college students from the University of Notre Dame, Nancy and Robin go to Pennhurst Mental Hospital below the aliases of Ruth and Rose. This pairing continues to be a winner, particularly with Nancy forcing the grungy Robin into her ill-fitting garments, trying like a punk rocker in Stepford Wives fancy costume.
While Robin struggles in heels and a good shirt, she provides a passionate speech about how ladies are missed within the discipline of psychiatry and earns the best to interview Victor Creel (performed by Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund — an excellent contact given Vecna’s Krueger-like dream invasions).
There are additionally some Silence of the Lambs vibes happening as Nancy and Robin stroll down a corridor previous the cells of the criminally insane. The scraggily-haired, eyeless Victor claws at a desk as Nancy and Robin attempt to get him to open up about what occurred to his household. He appears reluctant till they inform him that they consider him. Victor begins describing as we flashback to the Fifties for some twisted haunted home horror. The Creel household was laid low with unusual happenings for months earlier than the demon took the lives of Victor’s spouse and youngsters, seemingly solely sparing Victor as he was pulled out of the trance by the voice of an angel.
Nancy and Robin make a run for it after their cowl is blown, and it instantly clicks about what it was that saved Victor. It was the music. Victor was buzzing Ella Fitzgerald. The melody punctured via the hallucination, and Victor adopted it again to actuality. The revelation comes simply in time for Robin to radio the data to Dustin, who flings a bunch of cassette tapes in entrance of Lucas and tells him to select Max’s favourite music. Cue the Bush ex Machina simply as Vecna has his tentacles wrapped round Max’s throat. She’s capable of faucet into her glad recollections with Lucas, Eleven, and the gang, permitting her to battle off the Dark Wizard and run up that hill again to actuality. It’s an epic scene.
Max isn’t the one one who comes near demise on this episode. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and the Byers boys have wound up in the midst of warring authorities factions. Put below watched guard and instructed to remain put, the trio begins plotting a approach to get again to Hawkins. They can’t precisely name and forewarn their pals as the federal government is likely to be listening in. So Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) comes up with the concept of ordering pizza after which utilizing his pal Argyle’s (Eduardo Franco) supply van as a getaway automobile. While they wait, Mike and Will (Noah Schnapp) patch issues up, confessing their flaws and Mike admitting that Hawkins hasn’t been the identical with out his greatest pal.
But earlier than the boys can enact their escape, a bunch of camo-wearing troopers ambush the Byers’ residence and begin firing off dwell machine gun rounds. They take out one of many FBI guards and injure one other. Luckily, Jonathan’s pal arrives simply within the nick of time for them to get out and into the van, with the wounded FBI agent in tow.
Speaking of escape, Hopper (David Harbour) is so near releasing himself from his Russian jail nightmare. After smashing his ankles, eradicating his chains, and preventing off a bevy of armed guards with a hammer and a useful serving to of dynamite, he hops aboard a snowmobile and makes it to his rendezvous level. Meanwhile, Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) make it to Alaska handy over the ransom cash to Yuri (Nikola Đjuričko), a legal pilot who appears to flit between jovial and psychopathic within the blink of a watch. However, as I beforehand predicted, this was by no means going to be so simple as all of it appeared.
As Hopper waits for rescue, he’s instantly ambushed by Russian troopers. It’s a setup. Yuri reneges on his take care of Enzo (Tom Wlaschiha) after realizing he could make much more cash by turning over Hopper and the corrupt jail guard to the Russians. He additionally has Joyce and Murray at his disposal, poisoning them with scorching espresso and providing them as much as the Motherland. So, Joyce and Hopper would possibly quickly be reunited, simply in a jail cell fairly than a romantic restaurant.
Other than a barely darker tone, this fourth season isn’t precisely breaking new floor. But Stranger Things is a present that is aware of its strengths, and when these strengths are firing on all cylinders, like on this episode, it could actually nonetheless be probably the most entertaining reveals of the streaming period.
Stranger Things, Season 4, Streaming Now, Netflix