Normally The Aquinian avoids spoilers in its reviews, but in this story we will be doing an in-depth recap of the first season of Stranger Things, as well as a review of the first episode of season two. This article will not go any further than episode one. You have been warned. Spoilers start now.
The first season of the Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things is set in small-town Hawkins, Indiana. It opens with the Demogorgon’s escape from Hawkins National Laboratory, a government-run research centre.
The Demogorgon is a supernatural creature from what the characters in the show refer to as the “Upside Down.” It was brought into the world by the government’s experiments on Eleven, a psychokinetic young girl.
The plot revolves heavily around the disappearance of Will Byers, who was taken into the Upside Down by the Demogorgon. His disappearance creates a lot of tension, especially among his mother and brother.
As the town launches a manhunt for Will, the government conducts its own search for Eleven, who escaped Hawkins Lab and found shelter with Will’s friends Mike, Dusty and Lucas.
While the boys shelter Eleven, Will’s brother Jonathon struggles to deal with his increasingly hysterical mother and an infatuation with Mike’s older sister Nancy — who dates Steve, a stereotypical high school jock who loves to torment Jonathon.
Will’s mother, already shaken by the loss of her son, is driven to hysterics when Will finds a way to communicate to her through the electronics in her home. Her determination drives the town’s police chief, Jim Hopper, to take her as more than a grieving mother and together they set out to investigate Hawkins Lab.
Their investigation eventually overlaps with the one being conducted by Eleven and the boys, and together they move into a final showdown with the government and the Demogorgon. Eleven uses her powers to save them all from both the government and the Demogorgon, but at the cost of her life (presumably). The heroes then manage to save Will from the Upside Down, and everyone gets a happy ending.
Just kidding. Nancy and Steve stay together, leaving Jonathon all alone at Christmas. Mike loses Eleven, who he grew close to in their time together (resulting in an awkward smooch) and Will coughs up slimy worms and has visions of the Upside Down, leaving audiences wondering what was in store for small town Hawkins.
Season two starts off just as strong as the first, with a high-speed car chase through Pittsburgh following a bank robbery.
The robbers use the powers of another psychokinetic girl, this one labelled 008, to evade the police by making the driver see a tunnel collapse that wasn’t there.
After peaking the interest for these new characters, the show returns to its old ones in Hawkins. A year has passed since the events of season one, but their effects are still felt by all the characters.
Hawkins still feels the same as before, with all the ’80s nostalgia in full swing. Classic music, such as Devo’s “Whip It” make an appearance, and amazing set design brings it all together.
Will has returned to life with his friends, although his mom is very reluctant to let him out of her sight. However, not everything is back to normal. He suffers from multiple visons of the Upside Down in this episode, which his doctors attribute to PTSD. These visions are full of even more cool effects than the first season’s, making the Upside Down even scarier.
It is also revealed that the government is still lurking around, and are now studying Will through his doctor appointments, presumably because of his contact with the Demogorgon.
Mike is still heartbroken over Eleven’s loss, and calls out for her every day on his walkie talkie. It is also mentioned that this stress has caused him to act out over the past year, leading to acts of vandalism and theft.
Eleven, as it turns out, isn’t dead, but is instead living with Hopper. Their relationship isn’t given much screen time, but he seems very protective of her.
All in all, this episode heralds the start of a season that promises to be even more awesome than the first, which is saying a lot.