Everybody’s got secrets. We keep them hidden away in the deepest corners of our hearts, always cautious that they don’t come to light. The Stranger is a gripping thriller that focuses on the aftermath of secrets coming out and the effects of lies.
With multiple story lines that take too long to converge and some of which feel unnecessary, The Stranger gets trapped in its own spider web. Featuring a stellar cast, the series is built to binge and is available on Netflix.
1. Quick Review
The Stranger is an entertaining series that manages to keep you engaged as the episodes progress. As one watches on hoping that the fog of mystery will be somewhat cleared in the next episode, they are smacked in the face with new conflicts and plot twists.
Intense moments such as car chases are sliced with humor, and the cast does the heavy lifting. As the plot becomes muddy and the series tests your patience, you may be left satisfied or underwhelmed by the final revelations.
2. Is It Worth Watching?
An eight-part mystery series, The Stranger, is based on the novel of the same name by American author Harlan Coben. The setting has been shifted from New Jersey to Manchester, England, and the British actors give strong performances to carry the show.
The story revolves around Adam Price (Richard Armitage), an attorney who has the perfect life. He has a beautiful wife, two lovely children and a big house with a trimmed lawn. His seemingly ideal life descends into chaos when he is approached by a mysterious unknown woman in a bar.
She wears a baseball cap and goes by The Stranger. The woman tells Adam that his wife faked a pregnancy and miscarriage during the beginning of their marriage. She gives him proof of online purchases of fake ultrasounds and baby bumps and then vanishes. When Adam confronts his wife, Corinne, about the accusations, she says she needs some time to explain it but then vanishes. Her disappearance is the central thread around which the show is centered.
Detective Sergeant Johanna Griffin takes on the case of Corinne’s disappearance along with her newbie partner Wesley Ross. They are also investigating a teenage rave in the woods that ends with a man who is found running naked and afraid. There is also a headless alpaca that is found in the town, and the police try to figure out the connections between these events.
There is another subplot featuring a cakeshop owner named Heidi (Jennifer Saunders). She finds out from The Stranger that her daughter is involved in prostitution. Heidi gets caught between paying a ransom to The Stranger and helping a rogue policeman named Patrick, who is tracking her.
II. Cast & Performances
Richard Armitage is perfect as Adam Price, whose life gets upended when he crosses paths with The Stranger.
As the series progresses, we see the tension and scrutiny pile up as he has to take care of his two boys and answer their questions. He serves as an anchor for the audience as they navigate the trail of destruction that The Stranger leaves behind her.
Jennifer Saunders, like Heidi, also gives a great performance in a supporting role filled with emotions and passion. Kadiff Kirwan dispenses the humor as the newly minted police constable. Her senior partner, played by Siobhan Finnerman, is a by-the-book detective who turns in a gritty performance as a law enforcement officer.
III. Detailed Review
The Stranger is filled with so many plot twists and side quests that the show becomes a dimly-lit maze. Armitage’s search for his wife is the only story that one can be sure won’t be twisted on its head. The show follows the underlying theme that some secrets are better off staying buried, and total honesty does more harm than good.
The Stranger uses her skills on the internet to glean information about her targets, and the show highlights the dangers of leaving personal information online. It shows us how easily our online history can reveal so much about our lives.
The classic thriller component in which the last few minutes of an episode pick up the pace and reveal a new twist or secret makes The Stranger a highly binge-able miniseries.
The show does test your patience as many of the bizarre plots culminate in underwhelming ways. The Stranger wrecks so much havoc in such a small town that it comes off as ridiculous.
3. Final Thoughts
The series has all the components of a great mystery-thriller, but it comes off as mediocre because of its confusing multi-layered plot. But it is a good show to binge with fine acting and will keep you engaged throughout.