Recently surfacing in the past few months, the Netflix original series, “Stranger Things,”’ has become a viral hit for viewers of all ages. The pilot episode, “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers,” opens up on a scene in a laboratory, with a chase scene through dimly lit empty halls.
From the beginning, the audience is sucked into a setting that is dark and somewhat creepy. As the episode goes on, we are introduced to new characters, mainly four young boys- Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin. These boys are obviously casted as stereotypical nerds. The viewer meets the boys as they are playing a rousing game of Dungeons and Dragons, (which has been going on for approximately ten hours.) As the episode continues we watch one of the boys, Will, get caught up in a paranormal calamity. Getting lost on his way home, he stumbles into a grotesque, mysterious creature that follows him home. The last we see of Will in this scene is him clutching a shotgun with shaking hands as the lights in the shed he’s hiding in blow up. It is unsure what happened to him.
The next morning Will’s concerned mother, Joyce Byer, takes up the case of her missing son with the local authorities, who are none too concerned about the situation, evening blowing it off at first. The introduction of the sheriff to the audience gives them the impression that he is a drinker, waking up hungover and taking his medication with a beer. He is laid-back and nonchalant, but does eventually snap into the professional exterior when leading the investigation of finding Will.
We also get a brief introduction to a new character, a young girl in a hospital gown, head shaved, who is foreshadowed to be an important part of the story line. Back at the Byer house, Joyce receives a call which she hurries to answer. The other side of the line said nothing but uttered growling, scratching noises. As she begins to freak out, a bolt of electricity through the phone shocks her, and the call ends. She is convinced it was Will on the other end, but there is no confirmation. The episode comes to an end as the other boys decide to sneak out into the rainy night to find their friend. As they were looking in the wooded area, they hear rustling and turn their flashlights to find the same girl that was quickly introduced before, ending the episode.
This pilot episode was definitely intriguing. It reminded me of movies such as Alien, Independence Day, or Predator, which had similar themes of darkness, mystery, and suspense. The relatability factor of the characters is nice, allowing any viewer to find a person to empathize with. The boys are outcasts, the mother a figure who tries but can’t seem to be able to fix the situation, the sheriff with his vices, the young girl with her secrets, and Will who is lost and needing to be found. Through this we find that the characters are not only relatable, but they symbolize something more than meets the eye.
At the end of all this, what it really comes down to is, should you start (or continue) watching Stranger Things? Before watching the first episode, I had heard a lot of positive reviews of this show. If I’m being truthful though, the first episode alone did not entertain me enough to have me click on the next one. The episode was definitely interesting, but it did not draw me in enough to engage interest in continuing it. This being said, I have also heard that the season gets better as it goes on. If you are dedicated to watching TV seasons and have the time, then I would recommend it to you. If not, there are other sci-fi choices on Netflix. (i.e. Supernatural, Firefly, et cetera.)