The Stranger, Harlan Coben’s screen adaptation of his own novel, lends a new twist to the narrative and provides more action and mystery. Even if you’ve read the book, there are still plenty of surprises.
The series opens with a bonfire rave as local teens gather to drink, dance, and hook up. But the fun takes a sinister turn as a young and very naked man appears to be running for his life through the woods on The Stranger.
12 hours earlier we are introduced to the gorgeous Adam Price (Richard Armitage). He’s a well-respected lawyer, loving dad of boys Thomas (Jacob Dudman) and Ryan (Misha Handley), and husband to school teacher Corinne (Dervla Kirwan). His life seems idyllic as he joins in a dads vs lads football (soccer) friendly and embarrasses his sons by rocking out to Bruce Springsteen in the car. Corinne is away at a teacher’s conference and Adam is playing single parent.
After the football match, Adam is approached by a woman who stares at him intensely and then tells him that Corinne faked her pregnancy and miscarriage two years ago. Adam looks like he’s been slapped in the face, not least of all because this Stranger (Hannah John-Kamen) is talking to him about the intimate details of his life. She tells him to check his credit card statements from two years ago and look for a charge to a company called Novelty Funsy.
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Oh, and before she leaves she suggests he run DNA tests on his two boys, just to plant the seed of doubt a little deeper. Her manner is so obnoxiously superior it’s really hard not to dislike her right away. But why is she doing this?
He chases her to the car park, but she speeds off in a gray car driven by a blonde woman. He tries to take a picture of the license plate, but it’s too late.
Back at home on The Stranger, Adam does some investigating and does indeed discover a large charge made to his credit card to Novelty Funsy. Adam speaks with a Visa representative and asks for the charge to be investigated. Despite all these new doubts, he has a hard time not reacting with fondness to the video his wife sends him of her singing karaoke.
Meanwhile, Adam’s oldest son Thomas is getting ready to sneak out to that bonfire rave. His casual girlfriend Daisy (Ella-Rae Smith) comes over and they both sneak out when their friend Mike (Brandon Fellows) gives them the signal. The signal is a pebble thrown at the window (which he prefers over text because it’s old school) and Mike is wearing a red fedora and a yellow Hawaiian shirt under a blue hoodie. Who is this character?
The next morning DS Johanna Griffin (Siobhan Finneran) is called to a crime scene involving a decapitated alpaca found in the center of town. She and her young partner, DC Wesley Ross (Kadiff Kirwan) investigate and discover there is an alpaca farm a mile away that is indeed missing an alpaca. Weird.
As they drive away from the farm, Wes notices some discarded clothing in the woods. They follow the trail of clothing and find Dante, the naked boy from the opening, severely injured and unconscious at the bottom of a steep slope. Okay, things are getting super weird. Is Dante’s injury and the decapitated alpaca somehow connected?
Meanwhile, Adam still has a job to do and he’s representing a retired police detective named Martin. He lives in a neighborhood scheduled for demolition and redevelopment, but he doesn’t want to leave his house. Martin is definitely a smart and wily kind of guy.
Corinne gets home early and Adam has to hide his suspicions until he has proof one way or the other. He gets an email that confirms the IP address linked to a fake pregnancy website is connected to the Novelty Funsy umbrella corporation. So Corinne did fake her pregnancy.
Adam confronts her about her deception on The Stranger, but she seems distracted somehow. She tells a story about a woman she knew who faked a pregnancy because it made her feel special. Adam isn’t seeing her point and Corinne never gets to finish explaining it. She refuses to explain further because there’s more to it than Adam realizes. She needs time to figure it out before she tells him everything.
So there’s drama happening everywhere in this little community. Adam and Corinne have their thing, but Daisy’s sister Ella is also struggling with some mysterious trauma, Dante is still unconscious after his fall, Johanna is separating from her husband, and Thomas has the alpaca’s head in his closet.
Corinne makes a date with Adam to have dinner after that night’s school awards to talk everything over. Adam agrees, but he admits that he doesn’t trust Corinne anymore. She can relate and comments that ever Adam has his secrets. What kind of dirt does she have on Adam?
But Corinne doesn’t show up to the school awards and isn’t available to accept the students’ choice award for best teacher. Whatever is going on with her, she’s always been a relentlessly dedicated teacher and absolutely would not miss this night.
Adam gets a text from Corinne later telling him that she needs some space and not to try to contact her, but all he can think about is her saying that there’s more to this. Something isn’t right.
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