Saturday, September 3, 2016

"Stranger Things" Are Happening to Me: Chapter 1 - The Vanishing of Will Byers

Stranger Things is a new Netflix-exclusive show that everyone’s been talking about, so naturally I had to watch it. One episode in and I understand the hype. As I was watching, I was really enjoying the ‘70s and ‘80s feeling. I was immediately invested in these characters, and I can’t wait to see what happens.

This episode is broken up into three different stories, which will ultimately intertwine by the end of the series. I assume this is going to be the format for the entire series, and I don’t hate it. Note: as it is written, the events are NOT in chronological order. I’ve added my own personal commentary in parentheses and italics. Maybe you’ll agree, maybe you won’t.

STORY ONE: Will Byers’ disappearance

Four kids are in the basement playing an intense campaign of D&D (Haha, Dungeons and Dragons, love it!). It’s a school night, and everyone has to go home (“Is it a 13?!). We follow Will Byers down a dark road heading towards the Hawkins National Laboratory (already ominous), when he sees someone...or something (WTF was that?!). It’s very tall and ominous. Will runs as fast as he can to the safety of his home, but no one is there. It follows him home. Will goes into the shed, gets his gun, and just as he’s about to fire...a bright light appears and Will disappears.

We see a man, presumably drunk, asleep on the couch watching TV (It’s Brenda Wood! [Local news reporter if you’re not from Atlanta]). He gets dressed and goes to work, which is the local police precinct. It turns out he is Police Chief Hopper. He finds the mother of the missing boy in his office, and he kind of brushes her off. As he tells his secretary. “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.” The missing boy’s mother, Joyce, is waiting for him, begging him to look for her son. Hopper doesn’t think his disappearance is a huge issue; he initially thinks Will ran away from home.

Joyce and Jonathan (her other son) later receive a weird phone call. All Joyce hears on the other end of the phone are breathing noises that Joyce believes is Will, but we don’t know for sure (Winona does a good job). All the boys are fed up with the police not really doing anything to help Will, so they go out into the woods on their own to find him. Instead, they run straight into Eleven.

STORY TWO: Eleven, the mystery girl

We see a girl with a shaved head and hospital gown enter Benny’s Diner (Weird but ok). She tries to steal a basket of fries, but Benny catches her. He tries to find information about her while keeping her calm and staying in the diner while he calls social services. He sees a tattoo on her arm, and when he asks her about it, she says her name is Eleven. While he is on the phone, Eleven stops a fan from spinning with her mind. A woman arrives, saying that she’s going to take care of the girl, but as Benny turns to face Eleven, the woman shoots him (Well that was unexpected!). The people from the underground lab come in and try to recapture Eleven, but she escapes. She starts running in the woods and eventually runs into Michael, Dustin, and Lucas.

STORY THREE: the underground lab

The show opens with a scientist running from something you can’t see (Typical scary movie/show trope at beginning). When he (and the audience) thinks he’s safe in the elevator, the creature gets him from the ceiling. We see a group of doctors examining a giant black mass on the wall (Ew...icky black goo). It looks slightly like a brain synapse. They refer to “the girl”, and the lead doctor says they can get her back. Cut to Benny’s Diner, where the woman we think is a social worker is actually working for the underground lab! They try to grab Eleven before she escapes, but she slips away again.

Overall, I was very pleased with episode one. I love the overall vibe of the show. Every time I see the kids, I immediately think of The Goonies. I’m really hoping that continues as the show progresses. It did the job of sucking you in and leaving some mystery. I feel that this is going to be a great show!

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