Stranger Things Review: Did Vecna Claim Another Victim?

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Poor Max.

Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 4 focused on her fight to free herself from Vecna's curse. It's been a rough season for the youngster, so it was a surprise she made it into Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 5 in one piece.

For someone of Max's age, it must have been harrowing to consider the fact that Vecna can strike at any moment. Writing those letters to everyone wouldn't have been an easy task, but Max soldiers on, despite the odds stacked against her.

Dear Max

There is still much we don't know about Vecna, but knowing Victor Creel survived left us with two scenarios, and thankfully, it sounds like we have a pretty solid solution to save people... for now.

The events in the cemetery were nail-biting because it was the perfect opportunity to kill off a beloved character, and honestly, I figured Max would be hit by a bit of the house as she was running through the portal.

Floating Max - Stranger Things

While it sucks that she almost died, it was nice to hear her speak to her brother. Say what you want about Billy, but he was still her step-brother, and she felt a strong connection with him following his death.

Max will never get over the events that have played out in Hawkins because they have been so traumatic. My heart broke for her when she thought she was talking to her mother.

That could have been a beautiful scene, but it devolved into A Nightmare on Elm Street levels of horrifying pretty quickly.

Vecna's determination to terrorize his victims is horrible, but there has to be a much more significant connection to the villains from the history of the series.

Nancy and Robin - Stranger Things

Robin and Nancy's trip to Pennhurst was another solid moment because these two just work very well together.

There was awkwardness initially, but they've built a certain rapport in which they mutually respect one another, and it all comes down to the way the latest mission was handled.

Dear Billy, I don't know if you can even hear this. Two years ago, I would have said, 'That's ridiculous, impossible.' "But that was before I found out about alternate dimensions and monsters, so... I'm just going to stop assuming that I know anything. So much has happened since you left. Your dad was a total mess. He and my mom started getting into fights. Bad fights. I don't think he could stand being here without you. So he left. And he didn't leave Mom much. She's taken an extra job, and we moved to that lovely trailer park off Kerley. Basically, ever since you left, everything's been... A total disaster. And the worst part is, I can't tell anyone why you're gone. I can't tell them that you saved El's life. That you saved my life. I play that moment back in my head all the time. And sometimes I imagine myself running to you, pulling you away. I imagine that if I had, that you would still be here. And everything would be... ( sobs ) ...everything would be right again. I imagine that we... That we could've become friends. Good friends, like... like a real brother and sister. And I know that's stupid. You hated me.I hated you. But I thought that maybe... Maybe we could try again. But that's not what happened. I just... I stood there and I watched. For a while, I tried to be happy. Normal. But I... I think that maybe a part of me died that day too. And I haven't told anyone this. I... I just can't. But I had to tell you. Before it's too late. If you can even hear this. I really hope that you can. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry, Billy. Love, your shitty little sister, Max.

Max

Robin wearing the uncomfortable clothes and buttering up the asylum boss made for good TV. You could tell Nancy was shocked, but she also admired her one-time rival.

The meeting with Victor was chilling, to say the least. Getting Robert Englund to play the role is a stroke of casting genius.

Victor Creel

He was perfect as Victor Creel, a man who has seemingly been wrongfully locked up for years.

His tip about his survival allowed the team to save Max, but there has to be a reason why Vecma hasn't come knocking for him again.

Does he still get to listen to the music, or is Vecma at ease with the fact someone else has taken the blame for its crimes?

Eleven being back under the eye of scientists isn't the best of viewing. Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 5 was a slower installment, but it didn't stop Millie Bobby Brown from delivering another nuanced performance.

Making a Plan Again - Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 3

I wish I could say I cared about Brenner's return. It was inevitable he would pop up at some point, and with Stranger Things Season 4 heavily focused on what really happened in Hawkins Laboratory, he needed to come back.

When she realized he was alive, the sheer terror on Eleven's face was hard to watch. It brought back some of the memories she'd rather forget.

I'm surprised Owens agreed on bringing Brenner back into the mix because he's awful. Owens is straddling the fine line between good and evil.

Yes, he's been vocal about Eleven saving Hawkins, but he also tried to tell her she was a celebrity in the base.

Fiery Encounter - Stranger Things

Eleven wants to live some semblance of an everyday life, but she also wants to keep everyone safe. The way Brenner and Owens both spoke to her was manipulative.

Reliving the past appears to have helped bring her powers back, but it's also bringing back some repressed memories.

What are you doing here, Max? Would you like to join them?

Vecna

The Russia storyline is starting to drag. It should have been completed during the first few episodes of the season because much of it feels like filler.

Yuri being a villain and taking Joyce and Murray over to hand over to the authorities wasn't that much of a surprise. He struck me as the kind of person who would go to extreme lengths to get what he wanted.

Joyce Takes Aim - Stranger Things

His obsession with peanut butter is hilarious, so it was comical that it was his undoing.

Hopper's introspective moments as he spoke about his past highlighted his inability to move on from the past.

How do you move on from the death of your child and the breakdown of your marriage?

When we met Hopper on Stranger Things Season 1, he was very much a broken man, just trying to find a way to keep things going.

Hopper in Russia - Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 3

He's racked with guilt that he's probably sent Joyce to her death.

I suspect there will be a big battle in the final few episodes to really set the stage for what's ahead.

What did you think of Max's survival?

Do you think she'll be able to outrun Vecna?

Hit the comments below.

Chapter Four: Dear Billy Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 4 Quotes

Dear Billy, I don't know if you can even hear this. Two years ago, I would have said, 'That's ridiculous, impossible.' "But that was before I found out about alternate dimensions and monsters, so... I'm just going to stop assuming that I know anything. So much has happened since you left. Your dad was a total mess. He and my mom started getting into fights. Bad fights. I don't think he could stand being here without you. So he left. And he didn't leave Mom much. She's taken an extra job, and we moved to that lovely trailer park off Kerley. Basically, ever since you left, everything's been... A total disaster. And the worst part is, I can't tell anyone why you're gone. I can't tell them that you saved El's life. That you saved my life. I play that moment back in my head all the time. And sometimes I imagine myself running to you, pulling you away. I imagine that if I had, that you would still be here. And everything would be... ( sobs ) ...everything would be right again. I imagine that we... That we could've become friends. Good friends, like... like a real brother and sister. And I know that's stupid. You hated me.I hated you. But I thought that maybe... Maybe we could try again. But that's not what happened. I just... I stood there and I watched. For a while, I tried to be happy. Normal. But I... I think that maybe a part of me died that day too. And I haven't told anyone this. I... I just can't. But I had to tell you. Before it's too late. If you can even hear this. I really hope that you can. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry, Billy. Love, your shitty little sister, Max.

Max

What are you doing here, Max? Would you like to join them?

Vecna