“Chapter 4: Dear Billy”
What an episode.
This was the best episode so far of season 4 of Stranger Things, by far. Every ne so far had had some issues for me, but “Dear Billy” was just intense and totally compelling with every plot piece to every story beat.
Easily the most emotional part was the whole Max section as she went around delivering letters to the people she loved in expectation of her dying at the hands of Vecna. This led to the best sequence of the series so far with Max in another dimension, confronting Vecna while Steven, Dustin and Lucas desperately try to snap her out of the the trance that she was in.
Tie that sequence in with the excellent use of Nancy and Robin confronting Victor Creel (played by the iconic Robert Englund) and finding a piece to the puzzle that could possibly help prevent Max’s death.
This entire act was just breathtaking and steeped in character. Sadie Sink is just an exceptional actor and she nailed this scene.
Then, the agents arrived at Joyce’s house, guns a blazing, killing one of the two cops assigned to protect Mike, Jonathan and Will. The second cop took out a bunch of the government agents in a fire fight in the house in an impressive one shot. He took a bullet trying to save them, but they all found themselves in Argyle’s pizza van. Mike, Jonathan and Will had already planned on ditching the cops and finding their way back to Hawkins before the strike team struck.
What has been my least favorite part of the season so far has been Hopper and the Russians, because it feels like such an outlier to the story. It’s last season’s leftovers. However, this episode’s Hopper scenes were just fabulous, exciting and just a thrill a minute. I did not think about a betrayal from the pilot, Yuri. I do remember that the Russians have a Demogorgon so perhaps that is how this aspect of the plot will tie in and make it feel like a Stranger Things element. Still, Hopper’s escape, eating peanut butter to recapture was just beautifully done.
No Eleven in this episode(outside of flashbacks), though her presence was felt.