Paper Girls season 1, episode 1 recap: Growing Pains

Paper Girls -- Courtesy of Prime Video
Paper Girls -- Courtesy of Prime Video /

The first episode of Paper Girls season 1 starts out with a now familiar nostalgic look at the eighties. However, the story escalates so quickly that it feels like it’s something else by the end of the first episode.

Paper Girls Season 1 Episode 1 recap – Meet the paper girls

Meet Erin, Tiff, Mac, and KJ. These four girls come from all different walks of life, but they all have the job of delivering newspapers early in the morning, in their small Cleveland town.

The story begins with Erin’s first day as a paper girl. It’s November 1st, referred to as Hell Day since it’s the day after Halloween.

The paper routes have to start before 5 a.m., which means Halloween is still going on for teenagers looking to cause trouble. Erin runs into the three other paper girls having to help KJ stand up to a group of teenagers who are messing with her.

With it looking like it’s going to be a long morning, the paper girls decide to team up to complete their routes, at least for today. This seems to be a good idea, because when Erin is pulled off of her bike by two hooded figures a bit later, (and her walkie-talkie is stolen), the girls arrive.

They chase the figures to a housing development, and then into a house that’s still under construction. This is where things start to escalate.

Having cornered the two hooded figures, they try to get Erin’s walkie-talkie back but pull down the hoods to reveal people with some sort of cybernetic enhancements, scaring and confusing the paper girls. Before they have a chance to recover, the two figures escape just as the sky starts to turn a bright pink and lights start to flash.

The four girls rush back to Mac’s house for safety, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone else around. They can’t find her father, brother or step-mother.

Paper Girls Season 1 Episode 1 recap – A possible invasion

As this takes place in the late eighties, the girls discuss the likelihood that the unnatural lights in the sky are a sign of a Russian invasion, and Mac grabs her father’s gun for protection. She mistakenly believes the gun to be unloaded, but it goes off hitting Erin, who falls unconscious.

Erin flows in and out of consciousness as the girls take Mac’s parent’s car to get her to a hospital. Tiff, who has had one driving lesson from her father in a parking lot, is the driver.

Now, remember a few paragraphs ago when things started to escalate. Now they REALLY start to escalate.

The entire next sequence is presented from Erin’s point of view. She is not fully aware of her surroundings due to her gunshot wound and blood loss.

The car is stopped by the two hooded men from before who capture the two girls and force them into an unrecognizable contraption. They then place a handful of robot bugs on Erin’s stomach that seem to fixate on the gunshot wound.

The door on the contraption opens and all six of its occupants hurry outside. The two men try to explain to the girls that they have “traveled” though they don’t seem satisfied with that word.

Before they can expound further, more people show up dressed in white and shooting lasers at the two hooded men and by proxy the paper girls. Erin, Mac, Tiff, and KJ all manage to escape, but the same cannot be said for their captors/rescuers, who are shot and killed by the soldiers in white.

The girls hide out and realize that Erin, who was dying from the gunshot wound a few minutes earlier now seems to be completely healed. It appears that the robot bugs have done their work, repairing her.

In an effort to escape from the mysterious killers in white, the four girls take off, running through the forest towards Erin’s house. They arrive, Erin quickly lets them all in and starts calling out for her mother and her sister to see if they’re all right.

However, instead of either Erin’s mother or sister coming down the stairs, it’s a mysterious woman that none of the girls recognize. To make matters more alarming this mysterious woman is claiming that the house belongs to her and that she’s lived there since she was a little girl.

As the girls look around the kitchen, it becomes clear what has happened, though it’s no less confusing. The four paper girls have somehow traveled from November 1st, 1988, to the year 2022, and the mysterious woman in front of them is an adult Erin, closing out the first episode.

Starting off with a bang…

Paper Girls is based on a comic series that was first published in 2015, about a year before the first episodes of Stranger Things were released. So, it’s not fair to say that Paper Girls is directly inspired by Stranger Things but they are both very much playing on the same playground.

Paper Girls feeds that comfort feeling of classic 1980s nostalgia, complete with a group of kids riding bikes down the street without helmets on. It’s a trend that’s become more and more popular over the years, and Paper Girls feels right at home in the trend.

That isn’t to suggest that this show doesn’t have anything new to offer. On the contrary, as a pilot, this first episode offers up a fantastic selection of potentially interesting story elements to tease for future episodes.

We have a cast of characters who instantly click together and form a core group of likable kids, something that is critical for a show like this to be able to thrive. There’s a small scene right before everything starts going wild where the four main girls discuss the Halloween costumes that they wore when they were younger.

It’s a slower scene in a very packed episode, but it immediately sets up character dynamics for the four main characters. This helps to distinguish them as four unique characters, while at the same time explores the kinds of relationships that they’re going to build with one another.

Then, once the plot hits the ground running, there’s almost too much to discuss. From mysterious lights in the sky, to everyone else disappearing, a mysterious sci-fi war being fought between two different parties, time travel, this episode packs a lot into the first episode.

It also presents a lot more questions than it bothers to answer. But in many ways, that’s the point of the first episode, especially in a world where binging is becoming more and more of the expected way to watch television.

This episode sets up everything to make you want to hit the “next episode” button as soon as it’s over.

Next. Resident Evil season 1, episode 1 recap: Welcome to New Raccoon City. dark

Who are the mysterious soldiers? How did the paper girls manage to time travel?

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You can watch Paper Girls season 1, only on Amazon Prime Video!