Stranger Still - Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers

The Extra and The Ordinary

Beginning with a parade of 1980s tropes, Stranger Things uses its opening episode to establish the ordinary centre around which the extraordinary will intrude. Something has gone wong. Hawkins lab, normally a place of control and order is in disarray, and the short bike ride home from a friend’s house turns into terror for Will Byers.

Horatio: O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

Hamlet: And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

I doubt Hawkins is a town with a Shakespeare company but the extraordinary events in Stranger Things, being set against the familiar happenings of the everyday, recall a famous scene in Hamlet. Horatio, the friend of Prince Hamlet, must reckon with this fact: he’s seen a ghost with his own eyes.

In Chapter One of Stranger Things, the extraordinary is unspooled slowly. Will can’t tell anyone what he’s seen because he’s been pulled out of the ordinary world, but he does find a way to reach out. What does this have to do with the lines from Hamlet above? Will’s rescue depends on his friends and family’s willingness to believe there “are more things in heaven and earth,” that stranger things move and live and have being.

The Stranger Still Podcast wants to shine a light on the wondrous in the strange, to explore the metaphysical where most of us look for the physical. Because, as Stranger Things demonstrates, the reality around us isn’t always reducible to digestible facts.

Yes, the strange and extraordinary can be dangerous—sometimes there are demogorgons—but the strange can also be full of wonder, and wonder makes the ordinary anything but boring.


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