The premier of Paper Girls sets the show and the universe up to a great start. It introduces the characters and the general storyline, and ends on a cliff-hanger ensuring viewers want to watch on. Overall, it didn’t disappoint, and the acting is nothing short of amazing from all of the cast involved.
Erin Tieng sits alone in her room drinking from a bottle of wine. As she lies on the bed to relax, she begins to hear strange noises and bright lights emit into the room. She frantically calls someone, but they do not answer and she is forced to leave a message stating that she thinks someone is trying to break in. The scene is fraught with tension, and makes us question who could be after Erin, and whether or not she expected them.
A flashback to November 1, 1988, also known as “Hell Day”, shows a younger Erin collecting recently delivered newspapers and folding them ready for delivery. Simultaneously, scenes introduce the other main characters, Tiffany Quilkin, KJ Brandman and MacKenzie Coyle.
The episode begins to introduce the characters to one another scene by scene, beginning with Tiffany and Erin, with the former saving the latter from a heated altercation with someone over a newspaper. Tiffany introduces herself and tells Erin that the altercation isn’t worth it over a newspaper. Tiffany hands Erin a walkie-talkie and tells her that it will help them stay in touch if she gets into any more trouble. This part of the episode feels a little bit childish and something we’d see in Spy Kids, but it helps the episode fit in with the 1988 vibe; a little like Stranger Things, which one may compare this series to.
The two are later introduced to Mac, who tells them that one of their girls is being harassed a couple of blocks away. In true “girl power” fashion, they save her using a flare and are able to escape unscathed. They all become acquainted, and there seems to be some tension between Mac and KJ Brandman, the new girl, whose family is relatively wealthy. It’s seems like Mac is a bit jealous of KJ and her family, but the tension quickly subsides after a brief conversation.
Things begin to get worse for the paper girls when Erin is pulled from her bike as they are delivering papers by two hooded men. “Girl Power” seems to quickly go out of the window at this point, however, and Tiffany becomes more concerned with her missing walkie-talkie than she does about Erin’s safety. It’s comedic, but adds a sense of humour to the episode. Nonetheless, Mac quickly rebukes Tiffany and ensures their focus is set back on revenge.
Their search for the two men they believe attacked Erin brings them to a house undergoing construction. Obviously, (because four young girls alone at night make good decisions) they enter the basement in search of the walkie-talkie and enter a physical altercation with the two men, but quickly realise that the men aren’t the two they encountered earlier. They are visibly confused, but the two men quickly flee the house after the fuse box begins sparking. Mac tells the others that they need to get home quickly, but as they exit the house they find that the sky has turned purple. Mac volunteers her house as a shelter until the event passes, but when they arrive Mac is confused about the whereabouts of her family.
Mac tells the other paper girls that her parents should be around; her father never leaves the house without his cigarettes. They become even more confused when they realise that they didn’t see anyone on their way over to Mac’s house, but they attribute this to the fact that it is the early hours of the morning. Everyone decides to wait at Mac’s house until the event — which Erin believes to be nuclear — passes.
Events begin to heat up and the paper girls become restless at sounds emitting from outside of the house. Mac pulls out a gun and tells the girls that her father told her its location incase of an emergency. Moments later, however, the gun accidentally fires and Erin is shot in the stomach. Panicking, the girls put her into the car and try to drive to the hospital, but find their paths blocked by men in white outfits with large guns shooting at them. Seconds later, the two men seen earlier wearing black hoodies open the door of the car and pull Erin and the others out. Erin wakes up seconds later on a chair talking to a man about being shot. Perplexed by the events, Mac, Tiffany, and KJ pull Erin from the chair and exit the “pod” they find themselves in, only to be greeted by the two men.
The two men, Heck and Naldo tell them that they’ve “traveled”, but are ambiguous about the meaning. They have little time to explain as they are ambushed once again by the men in the white outfits who shoot at them. They are forced to flee, and shortly after, Erin realises that her wound has been healed. The men in the black hoodies are eventually killed, but not before handing a small book-like object to Tiffany and told to protect it. With this, they flee to Erin’s house, but are surprised to find an older woman living there. It quickly becomes clear that the woman is in fact, an older, adult version of Erin.
Overall, the first episode was a great insight into what this show has to offer and the universe it’s drawing on. It’s definitely going to be an enjoyable watch for all those wanting something similar to Stranger Things to binge.
Don’t forget, you can keep up-to-date with everything related to Paper Girls over at the Paper Girls Wiki — particular details about this episode can be found here.