‘Stranger Things 4’: ‘This Is a Max-Heavy Season,’ According to the Duffer Brothers

The buildup for the premiere of Stranger Things 4 is at a fever pitch and the release of the full-length trailer on Apr. 12, 2022 only made fans more excited for the series to return to Netflix. When we last left the kids in Hawkins, Indiana, the season ended when the Byers and Eleven packed up and moved to California. Max’s brother Billy died when he sacrificed himself to save his sister and her friends. She seemed to be doing OK at the end of the season 3 finale, but the trailer told us a different story.

'Stranger Things 4' production still with Max, played by Sadie Sink, sitting at Billy's grave.
Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield | Cr. Courtesy of Netflix

The ‘Stranger Things 4’ trailer hints that Max will deal with her grief over losing Billy this season

The opening of the Stranger Things 4 trailer shows Max at Billy’s gravestone as she reads a letter she wrote to him. Viewers hear her voiceover for the first several seconds of the trailer.

She read aloud, “Dear Billy, I don’t know if you can even hear this. Ever since you left, everything’s been a total disaster. For a while, we tried to be happy. Normal. But it’s impossible.” 

The sounds of Journey’s “Worlds Apart” begin as her reading comes to an end. The letter alone is enough to make everyone feel for Max as she deals with her grief. However, the Stranger Things 4 trailer also shows her levitating in front of Billy’s grave as Steve, Dustin, and Lucas watch from the ground, horrified. There’s another scene of Max alone at what looks like Hawkins Middle School in the middle of the night, and she finds a grandfather clock partially encased in the concrete wall. 

All of this is to say, Max gets a lot of screentime this season, and with good reason.

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‘Stranger Things 4’ is a ‘Max-heavy season’ according to the Duffer Brothers

Creators of the show, Ross and Matt Duffer, recently sat down with IGN to break down the full-length trailer. Matt brought up the importance of Max in Stranger Things 4.

“So much of the season is about Max,” Matt told IGN. “We open the season with her struggling with [her grief] and her trying to navigate that, and Max, on the other hand, is also someone who doesn’t easily open up to people. So a lot of what she’s dealing with, she’s struggling with internally, she’s shut a lot of people out, which makes it even that much more difficult.”

Is Vecna targeting Max specifically this season?

While it’s not necessarily odd that Stranger Things 4 would focus so much on Max, it does cause us to wonder if Vecna is targeting her specifically. Her boyfriend, Lucas, joins the basketball team in high school. From the trailer, he’s riding a new wave of popularity that often accompanies being a high school athlete. In several of the scenes in the trailer, fans watched Max by herself. 

Plus, the scene of her levitating by herself also raises some eyebrows. She’s in front of Billy’s headstone, and Steve, Lucas, and Dustin are present. Does Max believe she’s somehow communicating with Billy from beyond the grave, and this was her chance to prove it to her friends?

We know Dacre Montgomery, the actor who played Billy in Stranger Things Seasons 2 and 3, appears in at least one episode, but we highly doubt he’s back from the dead. Is Vecna tricking Max into thinking she’s speaking with her brother? If so, we can’t imagine that’s a good situation for anyone involved.

For now, we only have a few more weeks to wait. Stranger Things 4 Part 2 premieres on Netflix on May 27, 2022.

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