Stranger Things director and executive producer Shawn Levy recently claimed that “there aren’t many accidents” when it comes to the show, meaning that, if fans spot something or pick up on certain vibes, co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer very likely meant for them to do so.
In the Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab) interview, he was being asked about Will’s sexuality, which has yet to be made explicit, following heavy hints he’s into his bestie Mike. But he could have quite as easily been talking about an Easter Egg involving Max and Billy that eagle-eyed – or eagle-eared, more accurately – fans have recently noticed.
*Spoilers for Stranger Things season 4, part 1 below*
Since Stranger Things 4 – Volume 1 landed on Netflix, much has been said online about its fourth episode, ‘Dear Billy’. The installment sees new big bad Vecna, having already murdered Chrissy (Grace Van Dien) and Fred (Logan Riley Bruner), set his sights on Sadie Sink’s Max Mayfield. The antagonist breaks his victims down by getting inside their minds, much like Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger, and plaguing them with increasingly terrifying visions.
Once weakened, he sends their consciousnesses to the Mind Layer, an Upside Down dimension based at the Creel house, the delipidated dwelling the youngsters investigated in an earlier episode. When Max is forced there, she is tormented by a vision of her abusive stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery), who sacrificed himself after being manipulated by the Mind Flayer at the end of season 3 – an event that has left Max traumatised.
Now, viewers have taken to Twitter to point out that Billy’s return was hinted at in the season premiere, when Max prepares to feed her dog. In the background, a character on an unseen TV show can be heard saying, “But this is your old friend Billy talking,” to which another replies: “I’m trying to be normal, Billy.”
Episode four’s title refers to a letter Max reads aloud to Billy’s gravestone, just moments before she’s mentally overcome by Vecna. In the note, she mentions how challenging it’s been for her and her friends to lead normal lives in the six months since Billy’s death, so the audio was undoubtedly a hint as to what was to come.
Stranger Things 4 – Volume 1 is available to stream now. If you’ve already binge-watched all seven episodes, fear not, Volume 2 is set to arrive on July 1 – check out our Stranger Things season 4 release schedule for more information.