Stranger Things Recap: Episode 1 “The Vanishing of Will Byers”

Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix (screengrab)
Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix (screengrab) /

Recapping the first episode of the Netflix Original series Stranger Things.

Stranger Things promised supernatural forces and a government conspiracy in the lead up to the series premiere on July 15 and the pilot episode “The Vanishing of Will Byers” delivered as much.

The show takes place in 1983 in Hawkins, Indiana where the opening scene sees a scientist running for his life through the halls of the city’s energy building. He’s deathly terrified of this presence that we do not see. We hear the growling, screeching and other ominous tones before this unknown creature or presence sucks up the scientist after he got in an elevator.

Good start to the series because now the viewer is hooked and has to find out what that thing is.

The viewer next sees a group of four boys Lucas, Michael, Dustin and Will playing dungeons and dragons and having a fun time but on the bike ride home, Will heard those same sounds the scientist heard and crashes his bike. He races home, locks the door, calls 911 but there is too much static on the line that he can’t be helped. He scampers to the shed behind his home and loads a shotgun. Lights flicker and suddenly Will has vanished without a trace. Further, there were power outages throughout the town and the reason remains unknown.

His mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) and brother Jonathan realize he’s missing the next day and she goes to the police station to file a missing person’s report with Chief Hopper (Daniel Harbour) and it seems like the two are at least familiar with one another or have a pre-existing relationship. He tries to convince Joyce he’s just playing hooky from school and not to worry. But a mother can’t stop worrying about her missing son.

Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix (screengrab)
Credit: Stranger Things – Netflix (screengrab) /

Transition to the energy building where Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) is investigating the events that led to the scientist running for his life in the opening scene. He also references a girl who couldn’t have gotten too far away.

Cue the girl who couldn’t have gotten too far away.

A young girl shows up at a little diner in a hospital gown, looks completely disheveled, abused, tortured, can hardly speak and is starving. She eats as much food as the diner owner, Benny Hammond will give her. She got caught stealing his food but he’s trying to help her and find out what happened to her. He suspects her parents hurt her until he sees a “011” inked on her wrist. He tries to find out what that means, but this girl only repeats 11.

When Benny leaves the room, Eleven is eating when she we see her turn off a noisy fan from across the room with her mind. Suddenly, the fan turns off. Eleven did it with her mind. She has some sort of superpowers from the energy building.

Chief Harbour finds Will’s bike in the woods and goes to the Byers home where he investigates the shed where Will vanished and there are some weird squelching sounds and something eery is happening but we don’t know what exactly. We learn Harbour had a daughter who died a few years earlier. Could his daughter be 11?

Back to the diner where 11 is eating ice cream and smiling. Benny lets in a social services worker to meet her, or so he thought until she shot him dead and Dr. Brennan’s crew stormed the diner trying to capture 11. She ends up killing two men as she flees.

Joyce and Jonathan are putting together signs asking if anyone has seen Will when they get a phone call that is all static and breathing. Joyce is convinced it was Will calling, from somewhere, but a jolt of static electricity shocks her and the phone disconnects.

Will’s friends are out in the woods looking for their missing friend when they see 11 standing in the middle of the woods as rain pours down over her.