Paper Girls season 1, episode 1 recap – the premiere explained

By Jordan Lyon
Published: July 29, 2022
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Somewhat different from what I originally had expected, but it has weird quirks, and a teenage audience may love this show. Paper Girls neither wins nor loses.

This recap of the Amazon originals series Paper Girls season 1, episode 1, “Growing Pains,” contains spoilers.

Access the recaps, reviews, and news for Paper Girls.

Paper Girls season 1, episode 1 recap

Adult Erin Tieng lies on her bed when a pink light shines through. Fearing that someone has broken into the house, she calls someone; but they don’t pick up. So, she goes to investigate. Paper Girls cuts to November 1st, 1988, which is described as “Hell Day, the end of the world as we know it”.

Young Erin starts her job as a paper girl, but as it’s her first job, her mother is very protective of her. During her shift, she receives racist abuse from the neighborhood jerk when he accuses Erin of stealing his paper. Before the situation can escalate, Tiffany Quilkin comes to Erin’s aid. Tiffany tells Erin that it was a mistake starting the morning after Halloween before telling her that she isn’t even on the right block. Another paper girl, Mac Coyle, comes and tells Tiffany and Erin that a group of lads, Wallie Becker and his pals, are threatening KJ Brandman in an underground tunnel.

The three paper girls rescue KJ from the bullies by setting off a firework in the tunnel. Afterward, the four paper girls decide to stay together and use their walkie-talkies to keep in touch. When the paper girls discuss Halloween, Mac reveals she last dressed up as a care bear, whilst Erin reveals her mother thought it was too dangerous for her and her sister to go for Halloween; when it starts to rain, against the weather forecast, some hooded thugs attack and grab Erin. Erin manages to break free, although the thugs do grab the walkie-talkie.

Mac believes it’s Wally and his buddies, and she threatens the gang over the walkie-talkie. Then, Mac takes the paper girls to a location that smells of old gym socks and barf, believing that they’ll find Wallie there. Sure enough, they then go into a creepy basement. Mac decides to “smoke the thugs out”, but the paper girls then learn that it’s not Wally and his friends. The situation becomes frightening for the four paper girls, so they run out of the building.

The ending

Once outside, the sky has turned purple, and the clouds seem to have some form of reaction. Mac leads them to her house, but the power has gone out. Tensions run high, and Erin demands to leave, but Mac and KJ won’t let her do so. Instead, Erin gets forced to wait the night out with Mac, KJ, and Tiffany. As they question whether an invasion is happening, flashing lights appear outside, and Mac grabs a gun. During a scuffle with the firearm, Erin gets shot in the stomach. 

As the sky remains purple, Tiffany drives them to the hospital. But their journey is interrupted by the madness happening outside. Two time-travelers transport the four paper girls a long way from home and seem to heal Erin. But the paper girls cannot ask many questions as the war between the time travelers continues. When one of the time travelers gets wounded, he hands the girls a device and tells them to hide underground. 

Then, when Erin inspects her gunshot wound, it’s gone. Before the paper girls can move any further, a man in a solver suit asks if they are underground. Fearing for their lives, KJ attacks and possibly kills the man. From afar, the paper girls watch as more silver suits arrive and kill the time travelers that healed Erin. The paper girls return to Erin’s house. Except it isn’t Erin’s Mum they find, it’s Adult Erin from the opening scene, aka the present. Both Erin’s say “Holy Sh*t” as the episode finishes. 

What did you think of the Amazon original series Paper Girls, season 1, episode 1? Comment below.

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