My Top 3 Favorite Chapters of Stranger Things 1
As the highly anticipated premiere of Stranger Things 3 approaches, I’ve been taking some time to rewatch the first two seasons (for the umpteenth time). It’s fair to say that not only is this one of my favorite shows of all times, but that I’m borderline obsessed with it, which is something that I can’t really say about too many shows.
Every chapter (or episode) of Stranger Things is fantastic. I don’t think there is a chapter that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. But there are a few that I look forward to the most when I rewatch a season, for various reasons, and these are the chapters that I would consider my favorite if I had to pick some.
So without further ado, here are my top three favorite chapters from Stranger Things 1!
Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers
Sometimes, it can take two or even three episodes before you can really get a good grasp on a brand new show, or to know if you actually like it or not. If the character introductions feel forced, or if the story seems to be taking off too slowly, it can make it hard to want to commit to it (especially when you could just rebinge a tried and true favorite). But while I was a few days late to giving Stranger Things a try when it first released on Netflix in 2016, when I did finally start it I was hooked within the first five minutes of chapter one.
Stranger Things comes with a lengthy list of main characters, but chapter one does a phenomenal job at introducing them all in ways that feels organic and intimate, piquing your interest about each one while still serving us suspense right away.
Who is this scientist in this mysterious lab? Where is that growling coming from? Who are these rambunctious but adorable kids that I wish I could’ve been friends with in middle school? Is the Demogorgon a foreshadowing? Where did Will go? Why does Hopper drink so much? Why is Joyce so freaked out (even though she totally has a reason to be)? Who is this Eleven girl? What is going on?
While you might have all these questions and way more when you start chapter one, you don’t have to wait long for the answers, and the answers make sense. The show has a lot to unpack in it’s storyline, but it gets unpacked at a satisfying pace that lets you savor it without getting bored.
But if the suspense-inducing peaks into the Hawkins National Laboratory aren’t enough to get you hooked, or if you don’t fall in love with every character right away, then the breathtaking aesthetics of the 1980s and the beautiful, chilling soundtrack (composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein) might just do the trick.
The Duffer Brothers have created a world in Hawkins, Indiana that is equal parts nostalgia and new wonder, and by the end of chapter one, you feel like you’ve lived there your whole life, and yet you’re dying for a chance to explore.
Chapter Four: The Body
By the third chapter, you’re finally starting to feel like you’ve really wrapped your mind around the mystery of everything that is going on, and that you get it. But then a body is found in a reservoir, and by the start of chapter four, it starts to seem like the story (and Joyce’s mental state) may just unravel before your eyes in the worst way. Hopper tries to convince Joyce that her visions are just delusions caused by her grief, and the boys are convinced that Eleven was lying about her knowledge of Will.
Eleven manages to connect to Will through Mike’s Supercom, proving to Mike (and us) that Will is still alive somewhere, giving us a hint of relief. Joyce insists that the body is not her son’s, even though it’s right there on the table on the other side of the observation glass. And then things get even more suspicious when Hopper finds out that some “state officials” were brought in to perform the autopsy instead of their usual guy.
And while Jonathan is ready to plan his brother’s funeral, Nancy is realizing that there may be more to her friend’s disappearance than people are assuming, and together the two begin to question their realities and get to the bottom of what is really going on.
As Hopper’s suspicion grows, as Nancy becomes more determined, as Joyce becomes more sure of her visions, and as the boys begin to trust Eleven again, we’re reminded that things are not as they seem in Hawkins, Indiana. And that thing that Hawkin’s National Laboratory has released (and whatever Dr. Brenner and the lab is up to) may be truly sinister.
This chapter is a whirlwind of confusion and suspicion for our beloved characters, but it’s a pivotal moment in the story that pushes us to the edge of suspicion and excitement. It’s like a drop on a rollercoaster- you know it’s coming after the first go ‘round, but it’s still thrilling to experience again and again. And that’s why it’s one of my favorites.
Chapter Seven: The Bathtub
While the season finale is fantastic, its preceding chapter continues to be one of my absolute favorites. It starts with a calm, almost intimate moment but pretty quickly escalates when the the boys and Eleven have to hop on their bikes and take off after being warned by Lucas that “the bad men are coming”. Several vans labeled “Hawkins Power and Light” and driven by Dr. Brenner’s men begin to pursue the boys, but Eleven buys them some time when she flips one that tries to block them.
While Eleven and the boys take shelter at the Junkyard, Hopper and Joyce arrive at the police station. They initially insist that Jonathan- who had been arrested in Chapter Six: The Monster- should be let go immediately, but then the arresting officer shows Hopper what they found in Jonathan’s car. Hopper demands an explanation, and at first Jonathan doubts that Hopper will believe him, but the four of them- Jonathan, Hopper, Joyce, and Nancy- quickly get on the same page about the monster and the truth about Will and Barb.
With impeccable timing, Troy (a middle school bully) and his mother are causing a scene in the station, trying to report that a girl with shaved head broke Troy’s arm. Hopper hears this and recalls when Earl had described a boy with a buzzcut trying to steal food from Benny’s kitchen (this conversation happens in Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street, when Earl comes by to discuss Benny’s mysterious death).
Meanwhile, Dr. Brenner and his agents have returned to the Wheeler’s house. While they search the house for any signs of Eleven, an agent and eventually Dr. Brenner speak to/interrogate Mike’s parents. Eventually, Karen is convinced that her son is in danger and gives them information on where he and his friends may be. (Karen Wheeler is a damn good mom and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.)
Agents soon arrive at the junkyard and appear to be ready to take these kids dead or alive. But Hopper gets there just in time and knocks them all unconscious like the badass he is. Hopper, Eleven, the boys, Nancy, Joyce, and Jonathan all reconvene at the Byers house, and the boys explain Eleven, her abilities, the opened gate, and the Upside Down.
She attempts to reach Will and Barb, but she’s drained enough as it is. She suggests that if she has a ‘bathtub’, she may be able to reach them, so Dustin makes a late night call to Mr. Clarke to get instructions on how to make a sensory deprivation tank. (“Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?” is one of my favorite lines of the season, by the way.)
In the Hawkins Middle School gymnasium, the crew assembles the makeshift sensory deprivation tank and Eleven hesitantly gets in. It is at this moment when we (and everyone else in the gymnasium) discover Barb’s fate (spoiler alert: she’s dead dead) and Will’s state, and then everyone takes their positions to save Will and take this monster down.
And just when there seems to be a promising light at the end of the tunnel, Will lays alone in the Upside Down version of Castle Byers, singing quietly to himself, when the monster breaks in.
Will Nancy and Jonathan kill the monster at the Byer’s house? Will Hopper and Joyce find the gate and find Will? Will Eleven and the boys be safe from the bad men? What’s going to happen? This chapter is filled to the brim with action, anxiety, and awesome sciency stuff, and I look forward to it every single time I binge this season.
So there you have it. My personal favorite chapters from Stranger Things 1! If you’re rebinging this season in preparation for the third season, tweet me your favorite chapters or even your favorite quotes!
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// GEEK :
(noun) obsessive enthusiast, or (verb) be or become extremely excited or enthusiastic about a subject
// ABOUT :
Morgan of House Geek, First of Her Name, Mother of a Ton of Funkos, Collector of Things, Writer of Stories, Designer of Websites, Watcher of Films, and Player of Games.
INTJ. Libra-Scorpio Cusp. Slytherin.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
// FUN FACT :
I prefer purchasing trades & volumes more than single issues. I find them to be more durable, so I can enjoy them more and they can easily stand on my display shelves without boards.