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Quibi’s THE STRANGER Recap: Part 9

April 21, 2020 in Review
JJ stands in the gas station in Quibi's THE STRANGER.

Oooooh, friends we finally get some ANSWERS in Part 9 of The Stranger. Check it out on Quibi (which is offering a 90-day free trial until April 30th). When we left in Part 8, Carl E. joined the dance party at the back-alley nightclub late and ready to murder Clare. Let’s see where things go in Part 9.

I’m also out of promo images for each episode and Quibi won’t allow you to take screenshots, so here we are with an irrelevant still from Part 4.

Part 9: 3AM

Carl E. could use a shower. He approaches Clare in the nightclub but a bunch of ladies think he’s still sexy, bloodstained hoodie and all. They fondle him up and he tries to evade their advances.

Then Gas Station dude finds Clare and pries her out through ANOTHER SECRET CLUB DOOR that leads out through a nail salon.

WTF aside, they catch a taxi.

“I swiped his phone,” Gas Station dude says, FINALLY putting his hardcore tech skillz to good use. He books them a room at The Rosslyn and the cab heads out.

We get one quick scenery shot of a billboard for a company called Collateral Protection Services which features in image of a hooded man with the lame slogan “Protect your Identity”. This may or may not prove important but I thought the shot too obvious to ignore.

The Rosslyn looks like the kind of place Dan Bell should check out for Another Dirty Room. I like the set but it looks more of an apartment than a hotel room. There’s also a screaming baby somewhere in the lobby that really aggravates my maternal instincts. Like gaaaaaaaah!

The hotel has no wi-fi or cable, but Gas Station dude pulls off the TV antenna JUST IN CASE. Then a knock sounds on the door but it’s totally okay because it’s a care package from “4Chan meets TaskRabbit”, which I’ll accept is tech-dude speak for HELP.

WHY WASN’T THIS VERSION OF GAS STATION DUDE AVAILABLE IN PART 6?!?!?!

The care package includes some burner phones and a new disguise for Clare: a pink wig and some rainbow glitter sneakers and a bedazzled dog leash for Pebbles. And I’m like, why not go for a brunette wig and some brown shoes. Why draw MORE attention? Does 4Chan not have better disguise stylists? Also worth mentioning is the lack of clean clothes. And neither character takes a shower.

Fortunately, the care package ALSO includes a first aid kit, which Clare uses to deal with a wound on her foot. We don’t know what kind of wound. She doesn’t even clean her nasty feet off first, just goes to town with the alcohol and seethes a bit. Gas Station dude asks if she needs help and she shrugs him off, but YES, we inevitably get treated to the “sexy helping with a wound” scene.

We have to at this point. It’s a dumb cliche but when there’s a wound the “sexy helping with a wound” scene MUST HAPPEN. It’s important. Sadly, it’s no match for the post wolf-attack scene from Beauty and the Beast.

Gas Station dude sets up an appointment with a Saul Goodman-esque firm online. An attorney agrees to meet with them. All she needs is their full names. Clare hesitates, but but then gives it.

Clare Johnson. Which is the same name she gave to the Orbit operator in Part 3 to complain bout Carl E. It’s NOT, however, the name that Carl E. referred to her as in Part 2.

FUN FACT: It was Clare Scheherazade. A quick Google search leads us to an interesting little detail about that chosen surname.

After Gas Station dude magically heals Clare’s foot wound, Clare lays down.

“Why wouldn’t you give me your full name earlier?” Gas Station dude asks, just minute after that earlier moment happened.

Clare doesn’t answer, so Gas Station Dude, whose name is Jay Irfani, but everyone calls him JJ. (FINALLY!) gives her a burner phone with a tracker in it.

“Why?” Clare asks.

“Just in case I… I lose you,” formerly Gas Station dude JJ says. “I can always find you.”

The sappy music starts. Thankfully, we don’t have to cringe through one of those “tHeRe’S oNlY oNe Bed!?!” scenes because they both lay down back to back in their nasty clothes. They didn’t even wash their hands, yo. (I’m really sensitive to this stuff right now, but if you want a sexy hand washing scene or two, I have a story for you.)

Clare reaches behind her and I shit you not it totally looks like she’s trying to grab his ass. But she doesn’t, because JJ moves his hand up and they hold hands and it’s kind of cute but this is a Quibi show and WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS FILLER.

The rest of this episode falters because of this narrow time span.

The lawyer calls and JJ answers. The lawyer speaks while Clare sits up.

“Wait, I don’t understand.”

The lawyer won’t take the case. Turns out, Clare’s done this before. She accused her high school teacher of stalking her and she was lying. Clare doesn’t confess but she insists that Carl E. is real.

She claims that JJ saw him on the train. He heard the gunshots! (But did JJ see him in the video text? There’s no way Clare watched it IN THE CAR without JJ seeing it.) JJ ALSO CLAIMED TO HAVE SWIPED CARL E’s PHONE IN THE CLUB THIS EPISODE, so he clearly fucking saw him. I even checked the captions and JJ explicity said, “I swiped his phone.”

Major plot hole aside, JJ claims that he didn’t see anyone on the train.

“You didn’t shoot that cop’s tires you, did you? You fucking killed him, didn’t you?” he prods, spelling out the already obvious assumption.

Clare insist she isn’t crazy but JJ turns and leaves.

The Stranger: Part 9 Thoughts

Quibi’s short time span is reallllly becoming a burden. I can’t see this platform lasting, quite honestly, when writers are so limited with with they can do. Now, I’m a writer and I love minimalism. You can do so much with so little in prose but there’s too much that the film format needs to convey.

This movie isn’t breaking any format or genre here. This is a standard horror thriller, only diced up into tiny chapters. But these chapters are all flash fiction as opposed to real meaty chapters where we get to digest character. Not to mention, better deal with the effin’ huge plot hole of JJ’s perspective in this whole mess.

This episode gave us a nice reveal, wherein the viewers make the obvious shift from perceiving Clare as a valid narrator to an obviously unreliable one. And yes, it’s more well-done than Daenerys’ reversal in that season of Game of Thrones that shall be forgotten in the depths of Wikipedia, BUT STILL.

We deserve more time in this scene because it’s pivotal. Instead we get a bit of yelling and Clare saying “I’m not crazy!” over and over.

This isn’t the episode I expected. I don’t like it but it COULD have been redeemed if her had more time to believe in Clare and JJ’s connection in this “safe room” scene. Maybe then I’d care about JJ leaving. In this case, I’m glad he’s gone because this means we can finally see Carl E. again.

Is he real or not? Only three more episodes to find out!

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Rebecca

Rebecca is a neo-noir author from Kamloops, British Columbia. Her first collection of gritty short fiction, Vile Men was published by Dark House Press in 2015. She also writes about her writer lifestyle on her blog at rebeccajoneshowe.com.

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I'm Rebecca Jones-Howe, a neo-noir writer and author of the short story collection, VILE MEN. My work has been featured in [PANK], Pulp Modern and Punchnel's, among other magazines. This site houses my writing profile and my blog, which features posts on writing, fashion, lifestyle + more. Want more?

- RJH

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