Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Netflix Original, Stranger Things, is the newest series to take the Internet by storm. Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, the show follows the story of a group of boys: Will, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin. A mysterious disappearance shakes the normally quiet town. It soon becomes clear that there may be more to this disappearance than meets the eye. This sci-fi drama is set in the early 80s and is sure to keep you on your toes!

The first season is divided into eight chapters (episodes), and we’re recapping each one!

Warning: Spoilers below!

Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Recap 1

Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers

The date is November 6th, 1983. In your typical horror story fashion, it’s a dark and stormy night. We’re shown the exterior of the Hawkins National Laboratory – U.S. Department of Energy. Inside, an alarm blares and a man bursts through a door and runs down an abandoned hallway with flickering lights. He’s clearly running from something, turning to check over his shoulder. Finally reaching an elevator he frantically presses the call button, the doors finally opens. He rushes inside only to hear growling overhead. The man slowly looks upward with a look of horror on his face. The door closes and he is pulled upward by the source of the growling.

Across town, Mike Wheeler is in the middle of a 10-hour Dungeons and Dragons game with his three friends, Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair, and Dustin Henderson. It’s Will’s turn, and he must decide a course of action against the evil Demogorgon (Just Google it. We did!). He chooses to attack, but the game is interrupted by Mike’s mom, Karen. Mike’s sister, Nancy, is introduced. Will, Lucas, and Dustin head home on their bikes. Flickering lights seem to be a recurring theme as Mike’s outside light goes on and off.

Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Recap 2

Parting ways with Lucas, Will and Dustin race home. Will takes off, leaving a breathless Dustin behind. As Will rides past the aforementioned lab, his bike light goes out. At the same moment, a figure steps into the middle of the road. Veering into the forest, he falls off his bike. Leaving it behind, Will takes off running. He comes home to an empty house. While calling out for his mom and brother, Jonathan, he looks out the window and finds the same menacing figure standing in his yard. He runs to the phone to call the police but hears static which turns to screeching. A shadow is looming at the front door, the chain lock, which can only be opened from the inside, unlatches. Running to his backyard shed, he grabs and loads a rifle, aiming at the door. Will looks upwards after hearing growling.The shed light interestingly shines brighter and the growling turns into screeching- almost as if the noise is coming from the light. The noise cuts off and Will is gone.

The next day, the morning newscast is reporting power surges during the previous evening, leaving many in the dark. The Chief of police, Hopper (David Harbour), wakes up as this news plays and gets ready for his day. After two cigarettes and also washing some prescription meds down with beer, he heads for the station.

Over at Will’s house, his mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder), is about to leave for work. Jonathan is making breakfast for them. After reprimanding Jonathan for not waking Will up, Joyce goes to Will’s room only to find an empty bed. Jonathan confesses that he picked up an extra shift at work and wasn’t sure if Will came home last night. Joyce immediately phones the Wheeler’s. Karen tells Joyce that all he left around eight last night.

The boys show up to school, worried that Will is absent. The trio is bullied by two boys before going inside the middle school.

Nearby at the high school, Nancy is talking to her friend Barb about a boy. Nancy assures Barb that she and Steve are just friends, though they have made out a few times. Nancy opens her locker to find a note from Steve to meet her in the bathroom. Cue makeout session in the bathroom. The pair agrees to meet later that night to study. Though their conversation makes it clear that Steve has other plans on his mind.

Back at the station, the chief walks in- late and finds Joyce waiting for him in his office. He tries to calm her down, saying that Will is probably just playing hooky. She assures Hopper that Will isn’t like that. He’s kind, though kids are mean to him. Hopper asks about Will’s father, Lonnie. Joyce tells him that she last heard from him a year ago, and she’s sure he has nothing to do with this.

Three men in suits show up at the laboratory and meet up with a grey-haired Dr. Brenner. A scientist leading the group through the lab, informs them the east wing will be evacuated within the hour as they are following quarantine protocol. They dress in hazmat suits and take a ride down an elevator- presumably the same elevator where the man was attacked at the beginning of the episode. Stepping out of the elevator, they walk down a hallway filled with sludge on the walls. What looks like alien tentacles (we’re getting major War of the Worlds vibes) have formed a wall and something behind the tentacles is glowing. The wall appears to be breathing and growling can be heard. The group talks amongst themselves asking if this is where it came from. Someone inquires about a girl and Dr .Brenner responds that she couldn’t have gotten very far.

A young girl sporting a hospital gown and buzz cut emerges from the woods barefoot. There’s a diner nearby and she sneaks in. The owner, Ben, chats with customers in the dining room, while the girl eats an order of fries in the kitchen. She gets caught by an angry Ben who mistakes her for a boy.

At the middle school (lots of jump cuts to different scenes!), the boys and their science teacher Mr. Clarke make up the school’s AV club and try out a new radio system that can supposedly contact Australia. Their fun is cut short when the chief pulls them out. The boys all talk over one another as they try to describe what happened that night. After a Hobbit reference, we’re 100% sure we’d be BFFs with these boys. Hopper warns them not to go out looking for Will and to go straight home after school.

In a flashback scene, Joyce visits Will’s hideout, a small fort made of branches in the woods. The two talk about seeing the movie Poltergeist. Flash forward and Joyce and Jonathan are at the same place searching for Will.

At the diner, Ben tries to coax the girl into talking. He notices a small tattoo on her left forearm. It read: 011. He asks what it means. The girl points to herself while repeating “eleven.” Eleven eats while Ben phones social services. A fan in the diner is making a loud rattling noise. Bothered by the sound, Eleven looks intently at it, and the fan shuts off.

Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Recap 5

Hopper and his men search the woods at the suggestion of the boys. After taking another pill, Hopper finds Will’s bike.

Multiple people fill a room where they listen to phone calls taking place. Joyce is heard calling Lonnie. A woman answers the phone and soon hangs up on an angry and distressed Joyce. Meanwhile, Jonathan makes a missing child poster. Hopper shows up with Will’s bike and takes a look around the house, suggesting that maybe Will came home. Hopper makes it outside to the shed and turns on the light. He finds the box of bullets that Will used to load the rifle. The light goes off and Hopper uses his flashlight to search a corner. The same squelching noise heard in the lab sounds again. The light flickers loudly. Clearly spooked, Hopper orders a search party immediately.

Sat at the dinner table, Mike and his mother are arguing about going out to search for Will. She is adamant about the kids staying home until the situation is resolved. This, of course, interferes with Nancy’s plans to go out and see Steve (though she told her mother she wants to go see Barb). Nancy storms off into her room after Mike reveals her plans with Steve. Aren’t siblings great?!

During the night time search party, Mr. Clarke tells Hopper that Will was especially bright. We later learn that Hopper had a child of his own, a daughter named Sarah who passed away a few years prior.

Mike radios Lucas from his bedroom. He tells Lucas that he’s worried about Will. Mike thinks back to their game. He notes that Will could have cast protection during his turn last night, but chose to not play it safe for the sake of the party and the campaign. With this in mind, Lucas is inspired by the analogy and tells Mike to meet him in ten minutes. Hello, friendship goals! As Mike sneaks out, he sees Steve sneaking into Nancy’s bedroom.

Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1 Recap 3

At the diner, Eleven eats ice cream while Ben cleans. A woman knocks on the door announcing herself as social services. Ben warns her that Eleven is skittish. As he turns around to face the woman, she shoots him. Seeing this, Eleven turns to run out the door and is blocked when two men come in the back armed with guns. Dr. Brenner enters the diner and makes his way to the back where he finds the two armed men on the ground with blows to the head, and Eleven nowhere in sight.

The boys return to the place where Will’s bike was found. It starts to rain as they begin their search. At the same time, Nancy and Steve study in her bedroom and end up kissing before going back to studying. Joyce and Jonathan choose a photo for Will’s missing child poster. She tells him that she can feel that Will is close. The phone rings and at first there’s just static which turns to breathing, a muffled voice, and growling. Joyce cries out asking if it’s Will. The phone surges with electricity and shocks Joyce into dropping the phone. Joyce claims that she could tell it was Will by his breathing.

Back in the forest, the boys continue the search for Will. It’s a full-out storm at this point, and Dustin is apprehensive about being in the same place where Will disappeared. There’s a rustling noise behind the boys. They turn and shine their flashlights on the new arrival. Guess who? Eleven.

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We’re hooked! Attention to detail is crucial when watching this show, so we’re definitely taking notes. We’re loving the nostalgia of the 80’s, seeing the pop culture references, and also noticing parallels to classic horror films. This is the kind of show that makes you take advantage of Netflix’s autoplay option!

Are you as obsessed with Stranger Things as we are? Let’s talk about it @CelebMix!



Written by CelebMix