Amazon has launched a whole new teen thriller drama, “Paper Girls,” based on Brian K. Vaughan’s thrilling comic series with the same title. Set in all ’80’s premises, the thriller offers a compelling trip of constant displacement of periods with four intelligent little girls and their relentless trial of fixing everything to normal. Sounds familiar? Anyway, “Paper Girls” tries its best to deliver decent visual effects, but not even a pterodactyl can make our eyebrows raise. But it surely qualifies as a good teen time travel series as it has the potential to engage the audience till the end. It has emotional turmoil; pre-21st century nostalgia; some timeless rock music; and a perfect groove, which have always been the root elements of a sci-fi drama. So take a look at the complete breakdown of the series, where you’ll find how these four kids are going to save the Time Stream.
Time Travel to 88
A new girl in town, Erin Tieng, a new Chinese resident in Stony Stream, has recently joined the paper delivery group. On November first, 1988, at early dawn, while out delivering the paper, Erin meets the other paper girls, KJ, Mac, and Tiffany. But the hustle begins when Tiffany’s walkie-talkie gets stolen by two masked guys, and the paper kids run after them to get it back. After the failed attempt, they decide to stay at Mac’s house. A hasty fight between them leads to an accidental gunshot from the gun in Mac’s hand, and it injures Erin. On their way back to save Erin, two strange-looking guys with scars on their faces save Erin by taking them to a forest. But there we see some white-dressed soldiers who are after those guys. Brave KJ smacks one of the soldiers with her hockey stick, but unfortunately, the good guys get killed by a white-dressed soldier on the run. And we see Erin heal her injury from the capsular bees that those guys put on her wound. Tiffany got her hands on a device that looked like an android.
The paper girls successfully run away from the killer soldiers and get into Erin’s home, but a big surprise waits for them. An adult Erin shows up in her house, where we get to know that time has unraveled and they’ve now reached the future.
Here we take note of numerous unusual things that carry clues to the long run, such as seeing a purple thunder rumbling in the sky that we will later recognize as the “Folding.” Perhaps because of this, time changes and reaches the future. Also, the two guys named Heck and Naldo who saved Erin can be identified as good guys. They even told the girls that they were far away from home. Are those guys involved in operating the time-traveling program?
When a confused Erin finally gets that the person she sees in front of her is actually her future in the running year 2019, Erin has a private talk with her. And we see adult Erin depressed in her life and working as a freelance paralegal, which little Erin doesn’t seem too satisfied with. But meanwhile, the other three paper girls are desperate to get home and pressure Erin to look into this strange device that Tiffany has and try to make it easier for the kids to get home.
Seeing Erin’s older version, the remaining kids assume that it’s pretty certain that they have their own too. Rebellious Mac goes out to find her home but fails to find it, and from the conversation between Mac and KJ, we get that Mac kind of dislikes KJ’s rich upbringing, which is different from her background.
On the other hand, we see Erin trying her best to help those kids get home safely, so she tries to go to a local tech shop to see if the device is okay, but eventually, they burn it. Angry Tiff shouts at old Erin, and even young Erin herself loses faith in her and thinks she is good for nothing. Here we see the kids not getting what a midlife crisis can be, but you can’t judge a kid, you know.
The kids get plenty of knowledge about the 21st century’s inventions like the internet and try to find their older selves. Tiffany finds something interesting that could lead to opening the doors in the future, and Mac finds her older brother Dylan has become a doctor. Agitated kids get out of old Erin’s house to find their way on their own, but rebel Mac, wanting to break free, leaves the group of the girls to find Dylan. But what does Tiffany find? And the answer is a whole institution in her name, which is the Quicklin Institute. It’s indeed a mind-boggling discovery for a younger time traveler, but let’s see what it can lead to.
We see older Erin finally opens the android-looking device, and she immediately goes out to reach the kids. On the other hand, we see Mac find Dylan, who is so shocked at first that he almost hires an investigator to find out the mystery behind the kid, but finally, he accepts her younger sister and reveals something tragic that we didn’t expect. When the audience is craving to watch the older versions of each kid, we hear that Mac could not make it and kicked the bucket at age 16 due to cancer. Dylan finally dismisses the investigator to keep Mac’s record clean, saying she’s his child. Her brother plans to give Mac the life she didn’t get, and we see them happily moving forward. Here, the relationship between the siblings is beautifully portrayed, which can engage us with Dylan’s happiness of getting his loved one back.
But here, the game changes when we see a flashback of a guy named Larry with his beloved Juniper investigating those white-dressed soldiers, and somehow, in some non-chronological order, we see some scenes where Juniper’s memory is erased, and she can’t recall Larry’s face. These in-between scenes confuse us, but sooner or later, we get to know that Larry has some noble motive behind everything. When older Erin is on her way out to find those kids, we see Larry following her. After having those kids back, there is no sigh of relief. They get kidnapped by Larry to his farmhouse. And the next morning, Larry unveils the actual bigger picture over here.
In between some scenes, we see the Prioress, the leader of white-dressed soldiers, doing some terrifying misdeeds that imply that she’s after those kids who traveled through time. We see Prioress sometimes sneaking into KJ’s house to attack her elderly parents, and sometimes we see her asking Dylan’s hired investigator about Mac’s presence. But what is the relationship of white soldiers with this time travel? What is even their purpose?
The STF and The Old Watch War
The next morning, Larry reveals all the information, saying that a war is going on between two factions. One of them is STF, which involves Larry, Juniper, Heck, and Naldo, while another group is the Old Watch, which includes the Prioress and her white soldiers. Among them, STF is the organization that protects trapped mankind in the time loop from danger and helps them return home. But the Old Watch dislikes any violation of this time stream and is willing to do anything to make them feel empowered as time moves on. And we get the idea that the Old Watch is looking for these kids for the displacement of time. They might be finding those kids to kill them or erase their memories, as they did with Juniper.
But Larry has something going on in his head so that he can time travel again. In Larry’s barn, he hides a giant robot that is actually a time machine. He gives the responsibility of running the machine to Erin, his daughter. Old Erin takes on that task for the safety of the kids, and there we find the android-looking device is a battery for the Time Machine. In subsequent scenes where we see Erin talking to her sister Missy, we understand that Erin somehow feels unworthy, but now she has something good to do by getting the kids home. So she doesn’t blow it.
But the problem is Mac’s absence. We find her having lunch at a restaurant with Dylan, but brave KJ doesn’t give up and goes out looking for Mac in no time. Immediately, we see Prioress in search of Mac, but before she can reach KJ, who can take Mac to Larry’s farm? And here we are introduced to the head of the evil, Grandfather, mocking the Prioress for her failure. Now the journey of the paper girls begins again with the time travel which they hope will take them home. But is the whole thing that simple?
Erin Dies As A Hero
Time Folding returns, and we see this giant machine-human entering a completely different timeline. But even this time, they are not spared. Before the moment settles, we see another machine sent by the Old Watch, and there we understand Larry’s intentions. When Tiffany wants to talk to him, we see him ignoring her and running toward the opponent robot to fight, but the robot burns Larry into ashes in seconds. Now brave old Erin comes forward to save the children. Erin, undeterred until the end, gets into the robot and starts driving it to fight the opponent. But after repeated failed attempts to still not give up, Erin gave her last shot and didn’t blow her chance to be a hero. In the end, as soon as she fires the enemy robot, she gets burnt to death.
Erin’s death leaves the children devastated. Even worse than this, little Erin saw her own death before her eyes. As they are unable to cope with this shock, they find the Prioress and Grandfather of Old Watch discussing the ablution of the whole place. But as they leave, we see the sly Tiffiny picking up the dead Larry’s bag, where we find Larry’s cipher-filled diary. The paper girls, on their way home, find out in the middle of the road that the period they are in now is July fourth, 1999. And we understand here that Larry comes back this time to get back his lover, Juniper, for his own sake. Meanwhile, we see Mac, KJ, and Tiff arrive at KJ’s house in search of food, and another big truth catches KJ’s eye. And we see that grown-up KJ is now a film school student and involved in a same-sex relationship with her classmate, which was quite a shock to KJ of the 80s. KJ immediately gets out of there and ends up fighting with Mac. Frustrated, Tiff wisely calls somebody out of this chaos, who turns out to be her older self.
We see Tiffany grow up to be a very cool girl who is the life of an entire party. Although this seems strange to the younger Tiffany, she later learns that she has made her dream come true and has gotten a chance at MIT. But Tiff is unsatisfied to hear that adult Tiff left MIT because she doesn’t want to be stuck in the rules, and wants to make something of herself. But Little Tiff remembers that she may be talking about the Quicklin Institute she saw in 2019. But is it really so? Or cooler, Tiffany might have bigger plans.
Then we see KJ and Mac’s friendship deepen, and the two Tiffanys go out to find Larry to bring the paper on the coding of the cipher. And then, the show moves to a more extreme moment, and we see the folding forming again in the sky near Larry’s farmhouse. When a frightened Larry arrives at Tiffiny’s house, he finds Erin, who is so frustrated with her impending death that she informs Larry that he, too, will die.
Just in time, Tiff and Mak, and KJ reach Larry’s farmhouse. Juniper, on the other hand, arrives on the scene as Larry informs him. And we see the time folding happening in the sky, and start to throw all those 88’s things into 99 that the kids can easily identify. This included KJ’s hockey stick and Tiff’s walkie-talkie. When Juniper is unable to try to contact STF members Heck and Naldo, Tiffany gives Juniper her 88’s walkie-talkie that Heck and Naldo took from them. But Juniper hears Mac’s voice on the other side of the talkie, and everyone realizes that it’s impossible to change what’s happening in this time loop. Tiffany identifies it as “The Predestination.” Because this has happened before, and it’s unstoppable. Mac realizes that her death may be inevitable, so she spends a few moments alone in the farmhouse, but KJ comes to her side.
The Grandfather’s Arrival
This time, Grandpa appears directly to talk to the girls. Using the example of Mac’s mixtape, Grandfather explains that the flow of time is like a reel of tape. As time continues to unravel, the world will continue to be destroyed. When Mac realizes that there is no way to prevent her death, she requests a complete memory wipe.
Adult Tiff, on the other hand, doesn’t want her memory scrubbed, so little Tiff writes, “You invent time travel” in Larry’s diary and gives it to her. But unfortunately, Juniper and Tiff were removed by the Old Watch. We see the Old Watch using a giant pterodactyl for their own purposes, which shows that Grandfather’s theory of saving time is false as they only use the time to maintain their dominance. Whatever happens, Larry’s death is still predicted in 99 as well, because the Pterodactyl gobbles him up without sparing anything. Faced with so much damage and imminent danger, Mac finally talks about her coming death to the other girls. But eventually, the Prioress makes them surrender.
The Prioress’ Change For Good
We see the girls trapped inside the Old Watch’s huge prison. Suddenly, the Prioress comes to call Tiffany to take her somewhere, but the rest of the girls protest, and she has to come out with all four. And we feel the strange change in Prioresse as she tries to help these four. Perhaps the main reason behind her decision was the Quicklin Institute. We finally get to know that little Tiffiny, in the future, built an institute that causes time travel. The Prioress wants small Tiffini to stop [her future self, Dr. Tiffany Quicklin], so that everything will be back to normal and Mac will be freed from her death.
Just as the Prioress is about to send these kids away in a mechanized vessel, some guards try to stop them, and we see KJ stupidly trying to stand next to her, while the distracted Prioress gets shot by another soldier. This time, the compassionate Erin and Tiff rush in and try to save the Prioress with the capsular bee. Just in time, KJ gets into the vessel, but Tiff and Erin can’t. But the Prioress can send them to the next one and help them escape. At last, the Grandfather arrives and leaves the Prioress there to die as her punishment.
At the very end, we see Tiff and Erin arrive in an unknown timeline. The two muster up a bit of courage and find themselves in the middle of a drive-in theater that probably plays the 70s movie “The Longest Yard” (1974), and we clearly understand that this time the journey in the next season of “Paper Girls” is going to be way tougher as they again violated the time period and reached the wrong timeline. The rest will be known when season 2 comes.
‘Paper Girls’ Season 1: Ending Explained: What to Expect From Season 2? How Can Paper Girls Find Their Way Back Home?
Although Amazon has not yet announced the official date or time for “Paper Girls” season 2, it can be assumed that season 2 will come with bigger surprises and a bigger budget. Otherwise, it may be difficult to connect all the upcoming hurdles and new villains with the audience.
With the cliffhanger that “Paper Girls” season 1 ends, we realize the timeline has been violated by Erin and Tiff, and they are now in the 70s. So season 2 can hopefully reveal some past before Erin or Tiffany were born, with the tint of 70’s nostalgia. On the other hand, we will be interested in seeing Mac and KJ in a future timeline. We hope season 2 can show the development of the budding romance between them. Besides, the Grandfather’s origin and the cause of the Prioress’ betrayal should be revealed more clearly in the next season. We’re also excited to see what led Dr. Quicklin to create her own institute. Although Tiffany’s written clue “You invent time travel” in Larry’s diary might make adult Tiffiny think this way.
All these possibilities or fan theories that can be derived from the comics, we want to see a beautiful combination of all of them in “Paper Girls” season 2.