July 18, 2016


‘Stranger Things’ Season 1 REVIEW

I got my binge on and finished the first season of “Stranger Things”.

The show hits all the right notes. It’s populated with good characters and, most importantly, it contains a sci-fi mystery that didn’t leave me scratching my head or trying to make excuses for it as I sulk over the comfort of a bowl of ice cream… because…

Disclaimer: even though there have been so many terrible endings to potentially great stories, my desperation for sci-fi has me more forgiving than with any other genre.

So I began my binge praying to the God of sci-fi,

“Please, be good… please, be good.”

I’ve lost count how many times a great sci-fi concept trips over itself with a clumsy finish. Not to say that I’m 100% satisfied with “Stranger Things” because there’s a cliffhanger part I could have done without, which I’ll complain about later.

Truth is, the actual conclusion to the season worked for me.

Let’s talk characters

Will Byers: The missing kid of episode 1. The McGuffin as it were.

Joyce Byers: Will’s mother
Jonathan Byers: Will’s brother

There’s a lot of pain here and it brings to life the emotional resonance of the story—a child is missing and his mother is broken up. She refuses to believe he’s dead and she will do whatever she has to do to find him, even if it means having others think she is going crazy. Nothing will keep her from finding him.

Jonathan goes on his own mission, tracking his own clues which will tie into other subplots.

Chief Hopper

Joyce calls Hopper in when her son goes missing. And he investigates, expanding his search to that secret facility that resides in the town.

But he’s not just a detective. He has his own personal back story that makes him understand Joyce’s pain.

Lucas, Mike and Dustin

They bring the charm. It’s fun watching them search for their friend, Will. They represent the underdogs, the bullied nerdy kids. Yet, they risk danger to find their companion.

Eleven: mystery girl

She meets up with the three boys and they form a team. And the charm just multiplies. Every scene they’re in is a winner.

There’s a tenderness with her and a sense of hopelessness that makes you feel empathy. And it’s clear that she needs these boys and what they bring to her life, as much as they need her to help them find Will.

Nancy: Mike’s brother. Jonathan has a secret crush on her
Steve: Nancy’ boyfriend

After watching the first episode, I was weary about this storyline. I’ve never been a fan of the teenage love story… the “will I, won’t I have sex” plot point.

But thankfully she becomes much more than that and has her own goal which coincides with Jonathan’s search for his brother. It’s this moment, when they team up, that her story comes alive.

Also, Steve was on the verge of getting on my nerves but he stepped up. Thank you for not making him totally worthless and not making him a complete jerk.

1st Ending: plot closure

I appreciate that the writers don’t hold back. Eleven will do what she needs to survive and protect her new friends even if it means killing.

And the ending is satisfying. We see the creature. It acts as it has been hinted to act—it follows the smell of blood. Even if we don’t know much about it, we are given the type of closure that makes sense—even if it feels a bit too quick and neat.

What about…

Barbara. I have to say, I don’t feel all that satisfied here. Please, tell me her body was brought back so that her family can find closure. The government could burn her body, make it look like something other than some alien mystery.

As it stands, it feels as though she is totally forgotten. Sure, Barbara was Nancy’s McGuffin, but Barbara’s ghost seemed to vanish once Will was found.

2nd Ending: aka cliffhanger

This is where things get a bit suspect. Two scenes are tacked on in what can only be a hint to season 2:

1) Will is having dinner with Joyce and Jonathan when he goes to the bathroom. He spits out a worm like thing and flashes between worlds. This was fine… however,

2) Chief Hopper drives out to the woods, opens up a box and puts the following in it…

Clearly this is a signal that Eleven is alive and well in the “other world” because she likes eggos.

But how does Chief know this?

What we do know is that Chief Hopper made a deal with Dr. Brenner to keep  what he knows a secret.

“We came to an agreement…look everything that’s happened here and everything that’s gonna happen they don’t talk about. You want Will back, this place had nothing to do with it. You got it?” - Chief Hopper (to Joyce)

Later we see Eleven with the boys (Lucas, Mike and Dustin) and she disappears. Now it’s very possible that she went into the “other world” as a matter a fact, it seems likely.

But how does Chief Hopper know this? How does he know it so strongly that he’s sending food to her?

A possible answer is that he heard her voice calling from the other side. But is he the only one that knows? What about the boys?

Hmm… It just seems like a tack-on that doesn’t need to be there. Will Byers in the bathroom was sufficient. This just feels clumsy. You can always start season 2 with this scene.   



About Lisa

Passionate about movies and writing. Hopes to someday be a published writer. So when she's not staring at the tube, she's spilling her imagination onto a blank page.

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