I discovered today that Quibi’s The Stranger is actually 13 episodes long, which will extend this night-long horror into 7AM of whatever fictionalized version of a non-pandemic 2020 this is. Last episode gave us a breakup scene between Clare and the character formally known as Gas Station dude. We also learned his name is JJ.
FINALLY! Plot stuff is happening in The Stranger Part 10!
Part 10: 4AM
Clare walks down a rather empty L.A. tunnel, choosing only to utilize the pink dog leash from JJ’s lousy disguise kit. I like the break in time here because I can buy into Clare’s character shift more easily. A car nearly hits her and then the phone chimes to life.
Sadly, it’s not with Carl E’s ringtone, but SURPRISE!, it’s none other than Carl E. who’s had three episodes without a speaking role, so his Pete Buttigieg impression is PRIMO now.
We get hot into the dialogue.
“It’s your imaginary firend, Clare,” he says.
“I’m not crazy,” Clare says. “You’re just trying to make me think I’m going crazy.”
“Oh, like your high school teacher did?”
Whoa! So we add a little gaslighting into the mix. Is Carl E. gaslighting Clare into believing she was originally gaslit by her teacher? This show doesn’t have enough episodes to go that deep, so Carl has to be real at this point. Anyway, we go a little deeper into Clare’s background and it’s your standard disturbing affair “hot for teacher” affair. Carl E. gets nice and graphic about “desk-fucking” event he read about online.
Clare nearly breaks but lifts the phone back to her mouth. “Fuck you,” she says.
“Now, we’re talking!” Carl E. responds.
Clare defends herself, admits how she lost everything in the aftermath, which makes Carl reason that all the rumors he read about online were true. He asks why Clare lied and she says it was because nobody believed her anyway.
Carl E. then goes on his Netflix documentary ramble about how you can find anything you want about anybody on the Internet. BOOM, the show’s theme in a line of dialogue! Carl E. explains that he’s been following Clare online her whole life.
And I gotta wonder, how long is this? How old is Clare? She looks late 20’s to me but the teacher affair happened in high school, which would have been ten whole years before. So MySpace days? Was Carl following her damn MySpace status updates? Did people even make outcries that public online then? We’re talking about the days when you had to make your Facebook status with an “is” to start it off.
“I’m just one Boo Boo follower among many,” he says. Who goes by Boo Boo online? I imagine it’s an old forum username, but Carl E. specifically mentions that she “accepted his request”. She apparently wanted more likes, but on Facebook? Who goes by Boo Boo on Facebook?
“You opened your door to a monster,” he says.
Clearly we aren’t going to understand the details of Carl E.’s super efficient Face-stalking routine so I shouldn’t waste too much time speculating.
Carl E. continues sociopathically:
“Statistically speaking, people who’ve endured severe childhood trauma, like getting diddled by one’s high school English teacher, don’t get better. A life of quiet desperation and consistent underachievement is what awaits you. That or suicide.”
He made an algorithm, see! That’s who the “others” mentioned in Part 4 were.
Anyway, Clare questions Carl E. far enough to reveal that he’s got Gas Station dude, er, JJ, locked in his trunk. He screams. Clare says not to hurt him.
“Geez, you two sound like regurgitated movie pablum,” Carl E. says, to which I’m like I KNOW, RIGHT??!?!?!
The cops arrive in the tunnel. Like 20 cars worth of cops. Clare puts her hands up and doesn’t get shot because again, she’s a white bitch.
Scene change to the police department, where they’ve got AN ENTIRE SWAT TEAM of officers watching Clare on video.
“The whole city is on red alert with a dead cop and that murdered Salvadorean woman. Everyone thinks it’s the second coming of Manson and friends, thanks to you and your bullshit.”
Okay, come on, seriously? Like there are gangs in L.A., right? I’ve played GTAV, which I realize isn’t an accurate portrayal but is likely a more real portrayal of L.A.’s crime underworld than this show. More hardcore shit goes on in L.A., and this was a visible minority murder we’re talking about. No way would the police be putting together a 10,000 officer task force for that kind of crime.
The interrogator wants some answers, but Clare requests her phone call. She gets her phone and dials.
“Phone sex again?” Carl E. asks. “You slut.”
Dane DeHaan’s got a great low voice, friends! Just being honest here.
“Is that how you picked them?” Clare asks, “the ones who shared their tragedies on social media?”
So Clare was publicly sharing this on Facebook? Did literally no one in her real life have a change of heart or understanding? Because if NOBODY was, why would she be so public about it? Most survivors wouldn’t be able to share their trauma WITHOUT a proper support network. I’ve seen one public sexual assault hearingtoo many to know that people don’t just share that kind of trauma “for attention”.
“I will break you,” he says. “No one beats the math.”
“None of the shit we put online is real,” Clare says. But is it, Clare? I thought you weren’t lying about the teacher stuff? Stop confusing me!
Carl says he wants to prove the algorithm of people’s online habits correctly so he can rule the world, but uh, Cambridge Analytica already did that. Clearly he’s thinking about more than controlling elections and selling people weird shit via Wish, but we’re getting into some cartoon evil villain territory now, Carl E.
Dude can barely kill a street vendor and he wants to rule the world?
“Who needs God when you’ve got a fucking algorithm?” he asks.
Clare gets tough for a moment, insisting that she beat his math, but then she pleads like Rapunzel, begging Carl E. to let JJ go. Then she’ll do anything. But a deal like that would mess up the algorithm, so no deal.
“You now how this ends, Boo Boo?” he asks.
Tension piano builds up the power.
“You go to fucking jail,” Clare responds.
Carl hangs up and the interrogator returns. “He took the bait,” she says. “We got his location.”
The Stranger: Part 10 Thoughts
We are now in a thriller, friends!
Right from the beginning, this thing had serious Red Eye vibes, and with the sexual trauma aspect and stalking being introduced, we are right back in it.
EXCEPT this thriller has waaaaay too much cop interference now. (Can Carl E. not hack into the police network, BTW? Is he not listening to Clare in the interrogation room? Wasn’t that what the interrogator’s original spiel was for, was to BAIT Carl E? Are those cams not still able to be hacked post-call with Carl E.?)
And like, are the cops gonna just shoot Carl E. to death? Because if that’s how this thing ends I will not be a happy lady. We need one last high tension fight and no stupid cops. Sidney Prescott didn’t endure timeless murder attempts spanning over a two decades with an ineffective police force behind her to give us a thriller where the final girl to need the dumb cops to finish the job.
ESPECIALLLY IN A TECH THRILLER.
So yeah, we’re winding down, we’re getting to the final match. I liked the phone calls and the reintroduced intimacy between our two characters. I hate that JJ has to be Clare’s ambition to jump into defense-mode, though. It’s not gonna do a whole lot for her character arc, especially because JJ didn’t even #believewomen like he probably could have had the opportunity to do if Part 9 had a little breathing room.
Anyway, until next time!