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Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – The Vanishing of Will Byers

BY Harris

Published 2 years ago

Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Recap - The Vanishing of Will Byers

The Game

The lights in the hallway of Hawkins Lab flicker incessantly. A scientist hurriedly runs to the elevator, panting as he looks back at the creature chasing him. As he finally opens the elevator doors, he hears a sound coming from the upper floor. He lets out a scream as the monster drags him to his death.

Will, Dustin, and Lucas play a session of Mike’s D&D game in his basement. The scene starts to become ominous as Mike begins to describe an upcoming threat. Dustin and Lucas argue on whether or not it’s the Demogorgon, as they would be screwed. To his friends’ relief, Mike reveals two Troglodytes. It turns out to be a misdirection as Mike reveals the Demogorgon next.

It’s now Will’s turn, and his friends argue whether he should cast a fireball or a protection spell. Mike pressures them to decide soon. Will yells: “fireball” and rolls his dice, but they fall to the floor. Everyone searches for the result, but Mike’s Mom tells them to stop since it’s a school night. Mike asks for 20 minutes more, saying he didn’t expect the campaign to last for ten hours.

Meanwhile, Will and Lucas see that they rolled a seven and decide to keep it quiet. Dustin passes by Mike’s sister Nancy, but she ignores him.

After Lucas and Dustin leave on their bikes, Will tells Mike that he rolled a seven. The Demogorgon got him. On the way home, Dustin challenges Will to a race and bets him any comic he owns. Will speeds off before they can get to terms and loses him.


Now alone, Will passes by the fence at Hawkins Lab. Suddenly he sees a humanoid silhouette, which causes him to fall from his bike and run the rest of the way home. He hurriedly locks the door but realizes no one else is home. Peeking through the back window, he sees the figure still stalking him. Will tries to call someone, but all he hears is static. Soon the lock opens from the outside, forcing him to escape to the shed and load his bb gun. It’s too late as the figure looms behind him. Will Byers disappears.

The same morning, Will’s mother, Joyce Byers, realizes that Will isn’t home. Will’s brother, Jonathan, was equally unaware after having a workday and thought he must be with Mike. Joyce calls the Wheelers household and asks for his son, but he isn’t there.

Mike, Lucas, and Dustin arrive at Hawkins Middle School looking for their friend.

At Hawkins Highschool, Barbara expresses her concerns to Nancy that she will be left out now that she’s dating Steve Harrington. Nancy thinks she’s being ridiculous, but then she makes out with Steven in the bathroom before class. He invites her to hang out for the night, and she refuses, saying she’ll have to study; Steve insists that he intends to study with her.

Hawkins Chief of Police, Jim Hopper, wakes up and prepares to go for work after having a breakfast of beer and cigarettes. He finds Joyce in her office, who had already been waiting for an hour to report her missing son. Hopper thinks Will might be with his father, as 99 times out of 100, a lost kid is just with a relative. Joyce says this is the one exception. Hopper thinks it’s unlikely, as nothing remarkable ever happens in Hawkins.

At Hawkins Lab

A group of men in suits meets with Dr. Brenner in Hawkins Lab to handle an emergency in one of the facility’s wings. They don their hazmat suits and descend to find the hallways smeared with dark, mysterious substances on the walls. Further down, in one of the walls, there’s a pulsating mass of slithering organic flesh that’s unlike anything in this world. There’s also a girl from the facility who’s missing, and Brenner thinks she couldn’t have gone far.

A young girl who’s barefoot and wearing a dirty lab gown stumbles upon a restaurant and heads straight to the kitchen. She finds some French fries and gorges down on them. The owner, Benny, chases after her but soon realizes she needs help.

Dustin, Lucas, and Mike excitedly check out the newly delivered high-tech radio for their A.V. club. Suddenly the principal comes in and asks them to meet with the police for questions about Will. The three boys offer to help look for their friend, but Hopper prohibits them.

Joyce remembers visiting Will’s wooden shack in the woods called “Castle Byers,” where she surprised him with tickets to watch Poltergeist. It’s the first place she and Jonathan went to look for Will.


Benny cooks a hamburger for the young girl, who devours it with gusto. He asks her questions about her parents and how she’s treated, but she doesn’t respond. He introduces himself and shakes her hand but to no avail. He notices the tattoo on her wrist with the writing “011”. Finally, the girl points to herself and says, “Eleven.” Benny calls social services to report the missing kid.

Hopper and his two deputies search around the area called “Mirkwood,” which the three boys say was in Will’s path. There, they find his bicycle left down the road.

The personnel at Hawkins Lab monitor every call from the area and listen to Joyce as she calls everyone she knows to search for Will. Hopper arrives carrying Will’s bike and traces back what he might have done that night. They hear their dog barking outside at the shed, and a Hopper comes in and sees the lightbulb flicker. He goes out and orders his deputies to coordinate a search.

That night, Mike insists to his mom that they should be looking for Will, but she refuses. Nancy complains that she isn’t allowed to go out either, and Mike spills that she wants to hang out with Steve, and she storms off in anger. Will follows suit, as he can’t believe his family doesn’t care about his missing friend.

The Search

Jim Hopper and some volunteers search the woods for Will with their flashlights. The science teacher, Mr. Clarke, tells him the boy is a good student. Hopper says he’s not one for science, but his daughter would have loved it. Someone from the group reveals that Hopper’s daughter died a few years back.

Mike radios Lucas to invite him to search for Will, saying their friend would instead cast fireball–even though it puts him in danger–to help the party. Mike prepares his bag and bikes away, passing by Steve, who’s climbing towards Nancy’s window. Steve barges into Nancy’s room to study and praises his ninja skills.

Benny gives Eleven a pint of ice cream while cleaning up for the night. A woman introducing herself as a social services officer asks for Eleven but then shoots Benny after she’s let in. Eleven sees this and runs for it, subduing the two shooters who tried to trap her from the backdoor.

Meanwhile, Joyce and Jonathan go over Will’s stuff so they can make missing posters of him. The two break down and cry, watching Will’s picture. Joyce gets a call and hears nothing but static, but she swears it was the sound of Will’s breathing.

Mike, Dustin, and Lucas pass the no-entry gate to descend into the woods and search for their friend. Soon it starts raining, and the three argue whether they should continue or not. Suddenly they find Eleven alone and scared.

Our Thoughts

As a Stephen King fan myself, I find this pilot amazing. Rating: 4/5.

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