Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 1, “The Vanishing Of Will Byers”

Netflix Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Boys in the rain

Welcome to the 80s in Episode 1 of Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ [Image via Netflix]

The time is November 6, 1983. The place, a secret laboratory that isn’t really so secret because it’s just there, right in the middle of a small town called Hawkins (referred to as “Spielbergian Americana” by one of the Duffy Brothers). It’s so not secret that Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) passes it on his way home from a D&D tournament at his friend, Mike Wheeler’s (Finn Wolfhard), house. As a result of this, when there is a breach and something escapes the not-secret secret lab, Will is the one that comes across the critter with big hands in the woods. It is also the reason why he goes missing. But, before that can occur, we learn that weird things happen with the electricity — and, in particular, the lighting — when the not-secret secret thing with big hands is about. Even still, Will manages to get home, load up a gun and leave just enough evidence for the police to expect foul play later on but not enough that his mother would even notice something was wrong. Because. Boys.

So, because Will’s mum is one of those poor mothers that has to work all the time just to make ends meet and her older son, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) decides to work rather than babysit, Will’s disappearance doesn’t get noticed until the next morning. At which point Will’s mum, Joyce (Winona Ryder), starts to panic. When she rings the police station though, we find out pretty quickly that Monday mornings are for stuff other than police work and Joyce has to wait around for official police business to start. By this point she is edging towards comical hysteria. The cops pick up on this and are not really interested but talk the talk anyway.

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 At high school

That awkward moment when you are pretty sure Netflix went back in time and raided your 80’s wardrobe for ‘Stranger Things’ [Image via Netflix]

While all this is going on, we get a look into high school life in the 80’s via Mike’s older sister, Nancy (Natalia Dyer). I’m not really sure why we need to follow this story when there’s a boy missing and, plus, who really gives a crap about Nancy and her Breakfast Club boyfriend that is nothing on Judd Nelson at all? But (and here’s a spoiler for Episode 2), persevere with this story line for just a while if you can. What we need to know about Nancy and her boyfriend is that she sneaks around to see him a bit, he sneaks around to see her a bit and she is more intelligent than him which just might make her do outrageous things later on.

Even though the cops are not overly concerned, they do question Will’s group of friends about the previous night and enforce a curfew. Then they come across Will’s bike in the forest and shit starts to get real. Not long after this, they discover the struggle in his home. Joyce, as a result of seeing her son’s bike, ups her hysteria a notch. Her other son admits to being a member of the guilt party because he should have stayed home with his brother. Then the phone rings and Joyce can tell from the breathing that it’s Will on the other end and she reaches bat shit hysterical levels of panic. Before she can really confirm it is Will on the line, the phone burns out.

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Joyce on the phone

“Mum, where are you?”
“I’m here, Will, at home, where the phone is.”
[Image via Netflix]

While all this is going on, the not-secret secret lab is being quarantined because not only is Will missing but they have a missing girl. This girl is called Eleven (Millie Brown) and she shows up at a burger joint as hungry as fuck. The owner there manages to get a few morsels of information out of her before he calls welfare on her.

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Eleven

Eleven is “special” in Netflix’s Stranger Things’ [Image via Netflix]

Except, even in the 80’s when the technology was all brick-sized walkie talkies and phones attached to walls, there is still people who listen in on everyone’s conversations. And that’s how the not-secret secret lab find out where Eleven is and send in an assassination group. Which Eleven TAKES OUT SINGLE-HANDEDLY. Did they not realise her strength and powers? Good to see super villains are as dumb as I remember back then. So Eleven escapes and the burger joint owner is dead.

It is at this point that Will’s friends decide they need to grow a set and revisit the spot where Will’s bike was found. After much arguing and chickening out, they come across Eleven.

80’s Rip-Off-O-Meter

Since my tits and dragons meter was so popular in the Game of Thrones recaps, Stranger Things will also get its own meter. Each week I will post all the times I saw a reference to an 80’s movie. I am sure I have missed a pile of them though, so feel free to let me know if you spot any others!

  • Michael donning his hoodie and riding off on his bike just like Elliot did in E.T.
  • Hazmat suits being donned to check out the sludgy wall monster thingy in the not-secret secret lab. Once again, a nod to E.T.
  • The young group of friends is obviously a tip off to both The Goonies and Stand By Me.
  • The high school scenes was a nod to every 80’s high school movie ever.

What did you think of the first episode of Netflix’s Stranger Things? Let us know by commenting below!

It is expected Netflix will renew Stranger Things for a second season, however this has not yet been confirmed.

[Image via Netflix]


5 thoughts on “Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 1, “The Vanishing Of Will Byers”

  1. Stranger Things is awesome, and the fact it takes place in the 80’s is TOTALLY awesome! Check out Barbs hideous plaid shirt, one thing I did not wear back then, but she also is sporting a stylish Swatch Watch I believe…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 1, “The Vanishing Of Will Byers” | Rachel Tsoumbakos

  3. Pingback: Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 2, “The Weirdo On Maple Street” | The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

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