Let’s Talk About… #TheStranger – Episode 2

The aim today was to move on to episode 2 of TS for further discussion of the series. And then I fell into a rabbit hole. In order to recap the episode, I had to rewatch it -the hardship –, take notes, and get a few screen caps – more hardship. I capped and capped and capped, and came out with 100+ screen shots. You could make a whole flipbook out of that.

When I looked through them afterwards, weeding out the derps and the missed ones, it occurred to me that I had a collection on my hand like there used to be on RAnet. So I decided to take up the gallery work again and uploaded the whole shebang into a new RAnet gallery for TS. Which in turn meant, I had to learn how to then actually make the gallery visible and accessible on the site. Another morning gone 😂. But the good news is, I managed to get it done, and there is now a brand, spanking new TS gallery on RAnet. Currently still missing in the drop down menu (another tech issue I need to figure out) but it can be accessed when you go into Gallery > Television > The Stranger (at the bottom of the page). Sorry for the abrupt start with episode 2 – even though I took screen shots for our discussion of episode 1 last week, there weren’t as many of them and it did not occur to me to share them with RAnet. *sigh* I will have to rectify that at a later stage. The hardship again. Unless someone has already capped the lot and wants to share the work. Given that there is any demand for upkeeping the gallery pages *at all*??

Anyway, let’s move on to episode 2 now. (Spoilers, obviously.)

Recap

The show picks up at night in Heidi Doyle’s café. Heidi is police detective Johanna’s best friend. She closes up the café for the night and walks to her car where she is accosted by the stranger. The stranger proceeds to tell her about a website called Sugarbabies where young women can hook up with men and provide escorting services – including sex. Heidi is shocked to find that her daughter is one of the Sugarbabies. The stranger blackmails her for 10,000 Pounds.

The next morning, Adam wakes up in his pristine white sheets and leaves his 9th message on Corinne’s phone, asking her to call back and work things out. Adam gives his neighbour (and fellow teacher) Tripp a lift to school and takes the opportunity to ask Corinne’s coworker Vicky whether she knows where Corinne is. Vicky is preoccupied with her own woes with her younger daughter. She drops a hint, though, that Adam and Corinne’s marriage has been struggling lately, to which Adam reacts angrily.

In hospital, Johanna learns that Dante had taken some serious drugs. Meanwhile, Thomas, Mike and Daisy consider what to do with the alpaca head. They are interrupted by Adam returning unexpectedly home to pick up something. He stops to listen to the answering machine – a happy family memory. He then heads out to buy paternity testing kits. Back home, he decides against actually doing the test. He also asks his client Killane, a retired policeman, to track down Suzanne Hope for him. – Heidi meets her daughter and tells her she knows her secret. Her daughter promises to cease her sugarbaby activities.

At a council hearing, Adam is surprised that the developer behind the destruction of his client’s estate, is actually his estranged father. Johanna and Wes investigate the party scene. Adam goes back to Killane who has found Suzanne Hope, then has to rush home because Ryan has been locked out. At the same time, Thomas and friends visit Dante in hospital. They attract Johanna’s attention. Later that evening, Adam seeks out Suzanne Hope but is beaten up by her husband and told to keep his nose out of it. The same evening, Heidi is sitting in her café, doing the accounts, when she is interrupted by a shady man who says he is from the police and investigating cybercrime. When she gets suspicious about his questions and refuses to answer, he beats her and kneecaps her. Thomas, Mike and Daisy are meanwhile trying to get rid of the alpaca head by burying it in the woods. They get spooked by a shady figure turning up in the forest, and scramble away. Mike runs into the arms of Johanna and Wes who have been tracking them via Dante’s phone.

Adam arrives home to find football coach Bob and a policeman there. They accuse Corinne of having stolen a substantial amount of money from the club.

The show closes with a bang as it turns out the shady man who threatened Heidi really *is* a policeman.

 Discuss

Right, I am trying to refrain from pithy comments along the lines of “any episode that depicts Adam in bed, is a good episode”. So, with all the characters introduced in episode 1, I felt that episode 2 moved a bit faster and had more shock moments than the first episode. In fact, comparing the two episodes, it occurred to me that a lot of what we saw in episode 1, had previously been given away in the trailer and the promo for the show. (Nonetheless I found episode 1 quite suspenseful on first viewing, so that very much speaks for the show.)

My first “emotional outburst” came at Adam’s wake-up scene. It was more of an amused guffaw, as in “there he is, he’s taken his kit off again…” Really, I think this whole “I don’t want to take my shirt off”-gate is going to haunt RA for the rest of his days. I was wondering though, whether we’d be treated to skin in every episode of the show from now on. Candy for the lady viewers? Why is it that guys in films and shows never wear pyjamas, btw? Ok, my experience with men in bed is truly limited (… 🤐), but based on the handful of volunteer test subjects in my life, I have to say that empirical stats reveal that most men do *not* reveal. Their skin, that is. Anyway, just niggles.

The show continued to establish the family background of the Prices. The stand-out has to be the answering machine scene, which to me encapsulated the great chemistry of all four actors with each other. Once again I felt that the casting was great in terms of believable family resemblance. Adam and Corinne looked really nice together, and seemed to match more than in the previous episode’s confrontation scene. One penalty point for sticking Corinne again into the pink granny pants. Balanced out by one bonus point for dressing Adam in a long-sleeved maroon jumper. Suited him. Here, as in a previous scene at the family home at breakfast time, there was a nice little brother acting between the two boys with scuffles and little shoves etc, which was so convincing, it made me smile, niggling and nagging each other, little bro creating a massive distraction and throwing himself dramatically to the floor when he doesn’t get from big bro what he wants… It’s little touches like that, that make the show realistic. Left field theory: When Richard said that scenes from his own life were incorporated in the show, could it be his dad joke? “That’s grate” *brandishes a cheese grater* – seriously, it wouldn’t surprise me despite RA’s tweet today, explaining that he has “dry humour”. Um, okayyyy. Disclaimer: Saw that tweet when I accessed Twitter via RAnetTweets account. Just sayin’. Also, this:

Great acting *haha*. Or maybe they were really just having fun. If it isn’t improv then it is definitely good writing, because it is in little, naturalistic snippets like this where the show builds its credibility. The car scene with Shaun Dooley (Tripp) is another example where I wondered what the script demanded the actors to do. Sure, it’s easy to *play* fun when the action *is* fun. But it did make me wonder whether Dooley put on his own spin by dancing in his seat and flailing about with his hands in front of Adam’s face. You can tell, however, that is almost like real life, the two of them having fun… as buddies. Corresponds with what RA has said about their work together. Minute niggle: Is Adam old enough to love Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark? I have a vague feeling he is in his mid-40s – born in ’75? Dancing in the Dark came out in 1985. (I know because it was the song that introduced me to Springsteen. By the way, as opposed to Thomas, I think it *has* aged well *defiantly inserts video*)

 

In terms of casting I also really liked Anthony Head as Adam’s father. Two very handsome men – it does figure that they are father and son, from hairline to (future) hair colour, body shape and demeanor. Head was superb as the sleek businessman who wants to make a buck by demolishing a working class estate to build fancy apartment blocks. Head really got the slightly predatory, ruthless developer down. I also enjoyed RA as a professional man in the scenes at the council hearing, all suit and tie, tortoise shell specs and dismissive arguing. Price senior’s departure with the throw-away comment of “Corinne does of course update me about the boys every month” was a great red herring and made me wonder (on first viewing) whether there were some *other* Price genes in Adam’s boys…

Which is a nice segue to the scene in pharmacy where Adam buys a couple of paternity tests. The whole demeanor of Adam in close up as he asks for the paternity gave me flashbacks of John Standring when he asks Carol at the top of the stairs outside his house whether she still thinks of her boyfriend. I think it was in the lowered head, and even the tone of voice. Deadly in effect, I can only say. And bravo to Adam for eventually deciding *against* testing his boys. *That* would’ve been an act of deceit on par with Corinne’s faked pregnancy. Well, or rather – doubting her in that way would’ve been the lowest blow.

Some scenes added a little bit of ambiguity to Adam, I felt. Not sure whether that was intended, but when Adam talks to Corinne’s coworker Vicky in school, and reacts angrily to her insinuation that the Prices’ marriage was not happy the last while, a bit of uncertainty and suspicion flashed through me. Could it be the old story that it was actually the husband who killed the wife? After all, that is most often the case when someone vanishes. I liked that (perceived) ambiguity because it really kept things open for me.

A few other comments on the show, *excluding* Adam: I very much enjoyed seeing Jennifer Saunders as a “serious” actress in this show. And even though I am very familiar with her comedy work, I had absolutely no problem believing her to be Heidi – without any laughs. She and Siobhan Finneran really made a great pair of best friends, and I could totally see the two of them on a girls trip to India.

The scene with Adam trying to get in touch with Suzanne Hope (and getting beaten up by her husband instead), totally went over my head on first viewing. It went so fast that I didn’t really catch why the husband reacted so violently to Adam; it felt completely disconnected to me. Wonder whether that could’ve been made clearer?

It appears that puppy eyes do not really work that well on jealous husbands…

The whole alpaca head scenario actually bored me a little bit, second time ’round. I kept wondering why the kids are going to all this trouble for getting rid of the head, midnight trip to the forest, fake Satanic ritual included. I get that they couldn’t well dispose of it in the household waste, but why not just go for a walk in the woods during daylight ours, hide it in the ground and basta? I also thought it was too obviously stalling (particularly with hindsight) to keep the mystery over Mike’s drug intake going. I couldn’t see why the later-revealed culprit doesn’t display more anger towards Mike at this point, and in light of the trouble they find themselves in re. Dante *and* the alpaca head, I would’ve expected an immediate outburst. But well, I guess that is what a red herring is.

Patrick Katz. No issue with the acting by Paul Kaye, but the character himself was a little bit too obviously fishy for my taste. Beginning with the complete mishmash of his name – Catholic “Patrick” (Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, no less) and Jewish “Katz” – and his whole styling as this unkempt hobgoblin with 1960s glasses and Doc Brown hair. Hm, I think they laid that on too thick. The same with his plotline. But I’ll come to that when we discuss episode 3.

Lastly, once again, it occurred to me how well propped the show is. The show home quality of the Prices’ house is very nicely balanced out by the attention to detail: the untidy kitchen island and worktops, just as in a lived-in family home. I still want the house. I’ll take it, crumbs included.

I’ll leave it here. What have I missed and what are your thoughts on episode 2?

 

58 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About… #TheStranger – Episode 2

  1. Love it! 👍🏻 Miss you! Very busy myself 🙈
    Thank you for putting The Stranger pics on RAnet! I can see them now! 🤗😘

    Like

    • Aw, thanks Olga. You know what – I was just thinking today that I miss you all, too. What a stupid idea to sacrifice Twitter 🤪.
      And good to hear that you can see the Stranger gallery. It’s considerably smaller than any of the other galleries, so it loads really fast.

      Like

  2. I enjoyed the entire series immensely. Good suspense and good acting by all involved. I agree they overdid the character of the alpaca head chopping boy. He ended up being more of a caricature than a character, unfortunately.

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  3. Whoaaaaa, it never occurred to me that Adam might have killed Corinne. Ouch, that’s dark. In the second episode already? I hadn’t decided she was dead yet at that point, and I never suspected Adam. Do I have RA blinders? Is it a version of APM? Do we need an acronym for “still can’t imagine RA as a baddy, even after he’s played killers and a cannibal” (for God’s sake)?

    Like

    • Nah, not APM. But maybe I am too cynical, but yeah, I actually believed that *anything* was possible and that Adam was putting on a good show for everyone. As for RA – I think he would be wonderful as a *really* bad baddie. Unfortunately his empathetic acting *always* makes me feel for the baddies, though…

      Like

  4. Same as when I read the book (of which I remember very little!) it never occurred to me that Adam might’ve killed Corinne!!..even with the way he tried to reassure the boys she was okay with all manner of excuses that never really washed.
    I too loved the “little, naturalistic snippets” you mention, the humour. Another that comes to mind is in the first episode when Corinne makes a face at Ryan and waggles her hands when Adam asks to speak to her outside. Coming up in another episode is when Thomas frantically looks for his football gear and throws something from the wash basket at his father in bed – makes me laugh every time.
    Great casting continues with Anthony Head as Adam’s father, very believable, and I love Jennifer Saunders as Heidi. It’s a shame she only lasted two episodes. It was interesting listening to her talk on Graham Norton Show about being in her first serious role and how difficult it was (to paraphrase) to act “not funny”
    As for the wake up scene where Adam isn’t wearing pyjamas, I didn’t find that at all unusual. Admittedly, my empirical stats are based on a small sample too, but sleep shorts are the go for bed wear, even in winter!

    Like

    • Oh yes, that little scene between Corinne and Ryan was so good. I mean the whole thing – the way she is leaning on the table, and the comment “I’m showing him what teachers get up to in their spare time” 😂 – and then that fake scared grin at Ryan as Adam asks her to step outside… Very naturalistic. Loved it. (I’m sure it helped a great deal that Dervla Kirwan has two teen-age children herself.)
      As for the pyjama problem – maybe it is a climate zone issue? I’ll concede that all those Hollywood movies set in Californian sunshine make pyjamas obsolete. Britain, though? But ok, the Price family home had all mod cons, so it was toasty enough for sleepy times sans top 😉

      Like

  5. -I was born in 1975 and I’ve always loved Dancing in the Dark.
    -males sleeping in underwear is more common than pajama pants, let alone an actual shirt, in my experience. but we have really warm houses 🙂
    -why didn’t the kids just toss the head in the outside trashcan? it was in a thick, black garbage bag, who would even see it?
    -Heidi should not have let a man into her shop at night when she was alone, police officer or not.

    I find cultural differences like this fascinating b/c they’re things we take for granted 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  6. New topic. When Adam talks to Corinne’s coworker Vicky in school, and reacts angrily to her insinuation that the Prices’ marriage was not happy the last while, I was surprised. I expected him to react more cleverly, more lawyer-like—to mask his own emotions and not show surprise, to see if he could get any info from Vicky of what Corinne might have been complaining about (and, hence, where she might be right then), e.g. to dismissively say, “Oh you mean that thing about the…” and let Vicky fill in the blank. Anybody else?

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    • Agreed. That was one of the moments where I was thinking “oh Adam, the way you are reacting, could be construed as guilty/angry”… There were a few moments where I thought that he was rather emotional and clumsy for a lawyer… All that investigating on his own – seriously???

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  7. I found Adam quite menacing, too. A little trick to make plausible the last episode, and to muddy the waters. My husband chose to binge-watching it in one day, I knew he’d like it! I can’t understand why Bad Cop Katz killed Heidi. She was an ally – not so eager to brag about her doughter’s business; if he’d killed her after knowing her frienship with Johanna would have made more sense. Weird character but great actor. Loved Anthony Head’s attire, and that harshness, the father is ruthless, so maybe the son is dangerous,too. Well done.

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    • Ah, glad to hear that you also had doubts – or could see Adam’s potential as a killer. Definitely muddying the waters – to be expected from a thriller, so no complaints there. Good point that Price senior also served as a sort of secondary characterisation for the son!
      Killing Heidi was really strange. But well, the whole character was weird.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t get why Katz killed Heidi either. Every time I watch that episode it bugs me, it was so unnecessary and resulted in attention that Katz then had to try to deflect – rendering CCTV footage useless for starters.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. And another thing. I genuinely need help with this. I agree with Guylty (in her post) that I don’t “get” why Suzanne Hope’s husband beat up Adam (in front of their house). What did I miss?

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  9. Firstly there are so many great comments here that I want to Like but for some reason WordPress has stopped acknowledging the function, so a big collective Like! Then this comment wouldn’t post but my others did – hurrumph!
    Guylty I love the gorgeous pics in TS gallery and will send you my screencaps when I have a moment ( and when I do them) if that would help (although the quality might not be amazing).
    I’m not mad about The Stranger, the tone is uneven, the teens’ story doesn’t interest me, the relentless pittar-patter music to suggest tension is aggravating. I wish RA would act in more mature productions that would do his talents justice. Rant! Still I’m glad it is the success it has been. TS is enjoyable in a cheesy ‘it’s so bad it’s good way’. My favourite unfeasible moment this week was ‘Mate’ saying “Dad, I’ve got homework to do!” Ha! And does anyone know what the penis cake was all about? Anyway I watch it all through a superficial Armitage lust prism and he looks particularly gorgeous in Ep 2 – wrapped in white sheets, the stunning white shirt, the blue suit, oomph that coat! I loved the masterful way he grabbed Corrine and tickled her by the phone. As for the rest, the violence of the shooting of poor Heidi though came as such a shock and out of keeping with the rest of the episode.

    Like

    • How weird, re. the Like button. I just had a look – it’s still visible for me. Strange!
      Any screencaps welcome. I haven’t yet prepared for my review of episode 3, but once I do, there will probably again be lots of screencaps, too.
      Interesting to hear you are not that convinced by TS. I am always wondering whether I get too enthusiastic about any show just because RA is in it… The Armitage “lust prism”, as you called it. (I think we should make that a new abbreviation, btw. ALP – to be used every time we suspect our ability to review and criticise properly has been overshadowed by our general awe of *anything* the man is in 😂)
      The penis cake… I took that to be a reference to Johanna being free again after she had decided to split from her husband.
      I totally loved the phone scene and the little scuffle with Corinne, too. It spoke of familiarity, intimacy and happiness.
      Heidi’s death was a major shocker. Especially because they had built up Jennifer Saunders’ participation in the series so much that I had expected her to play a major role in it…

      Like

      • The Like malfunction seems to be a problem with some of my devices because I realise now that it works with my phone but not my laptop.
        I really wanted to like The Stranger, particularly as I watched it with someone I expected to be disapproving. I think he liked it more than I did (although I didn’t let on, to champion Armitage)
        Ah, yes that does makes sense about the cake (perhaps a vagina cake would have been more liberating!).
        And yes Jennifer S appearance was very brief,a which belied all the press attention

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    • Good point, JP. I had a little squeal when I spotted him on first viewing. But he is not an essential character, doesn’t even have lines, so I never felt the need to mention it 😉

      Like

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