BETH NETHERCOTT is bushed after the most intense Stranger Things episode yet. Here she reviews the episode that returned Kate Bush to the top of the charts
Hands down, the most spectacular episode of the season. Sadie Sink (Max) was the star and truly owned this episode. An outstanding performance. The emotion from the characters throughout was captivating particularly with Max.
What’s in Max’s Letters?
The Hawkins gang are all aware that Max is in danger and know Vecna would be coming for her. Max tries to prepare herself for this but underneath she’s terrified. Max writes letters for her family and friends. Obviously, Max is fine for now and nobody knows what she wrote. I’m definitely hooked, but it’s unclear whether we will find out or not.
Lax or Mucas!
In previous seasons, Lucas has been immature and made silly jokes, but this season shows him growing up. He demonstrates he still cares for Max, but she is still pushing him away. It may take time for her to open up. Hashtag Lax or Mucas? Maybe they shouldn’t have a ship name!
TWO WORDS… BAD ASS. He really kicked some ass. He finally had the energy to fight back. THREE WORDS… WHAT A MAN!
Nancy and Robin are heroes
The duo team up again and of course, Steve isn’t happy babysitting again! They go to convince Dr Hatch to let them see Victor by pretending to be psych students with outstanding grades. It’s completely unrealistic, of course, that they get this much access to a criminal with so much blagging. Spoiler alert - Stranger Things doesn’t pretend it’s the real world and it’s an enjoyable scene. Usually, Nancy is the one in control but here Robin steals the scene with an unexpected speech that wins the initially gullible Dr Hatch over. Before they are rumbled, they discover Victor has juicy information about Vecna and has escaped Vecna himself using music. It was also nice to see that these two female characters are bonding and slowly becoming friends.
California and Eleven
I have to admit, I am more invested in the more exciting Hawkins storyline than the California one. Argyle’s humour is the lynchpin of these scenes, and necessary in this intense episode. While it might not be as gripping for now, I can’t imagine Eleven spend the rest of the season getting humiliated by high school bullies. The escape from the Californian home signals the possibility that Eleven’s powers could be on the way back.
Maaaxx – imagine Vecna’s Voice!
The final scene where Max is trapped in Vecna’s visions has become iconic. Dramatically insane! Vecna was close to taking Max she was saved by…. Kate Bush! We discover that music enables a person trapped in Vecna’s world to return to reality so blasting ‘Running up that Hill’ in Max’s headphones gives her the strength to escape along by visualising memories of her friends, courtesy of an of an excellent flashback montage from previous seasons. A great idea reminding us how much Stranger Things viewers, including myself, have grown up since then. It’s a pivotal moment for Max as she realises the importance of friendship, using all her strength to run to reality – running up that hill! An edge of the seat, “Come on Max!” moment.
My favourite episode so far. Everyone has played a massive part for it to be this good. Thank God Max is still with us.
Slowing the pace down, the episode ends with a calm piano outro while Max, Lucas, Steve, and Dustin try and come to terms with what they’ve just experienced. An incredible ending.
Note from the Editors
You can read here how Stranger Things music supervisor, Nora Felder was tasked with finding the perfect song for Max’s escape: “It immediately struck with me, with its deep chords, of the possible connection to Max’s emotional struggles and took on more significance as Bush’s song marinated in my conscious awareness.”
As Running up that Hill is re-charting around the world Kate Bush has this to say: “It’s all really exciting! Thanks very much to everyone who has supported the song. I wait with bated breath for the rest of the series in July.”