REVIEW: Strangers (S1 E5/8)

SPOILERS

Bland. Boring. A big letdown. That’s just some of the highlights from the red-top reviews this past week of ITV’s Strangers as it’s quickly hemorrhaged it’s initial 4.2 million audience share with people tuning out episode by episode – the general consensus being it was either too complex or not complex enough considering it’s ambitions. But you can’t please everybody, and with only a few episodes to go my eternal optimism is that we might see some much-needed acceleration in terms of plot this week.

Waking up from his knock to the head, Jonah finds David missing along with any evidence of a murder. Although he is minus a shirt for some reason, reducing him to just one item of clothing since he lost his coat last week. Take a drink if you’re playing Jonah Loses Something at home. The police are sceptical to his claims of murder, although they do give him a funky t-shirt to wear. The fact that Kai Huang owned the boat he was found on piques their interest to some degree, but not before Sally pops up to bail him out whilst back in Hong Kong the police quiz David about his knowledge of Reza with little success.

Sally’s frustrations with Jonah’s conspiracy theories generally mirror the audience’s incredulity at a man so keen to throw himself into danger as he plots to confront Kai Huang from his hospital bed. “You’re not the first person to be at the wrong end of the Hong Kong justice system – and you won’t be the last” she explains, wisely advising him to leave the country and never look back. Jonah being Jonah doesn’t take any advice from anyone, and eschews her offer of a ticket home with complimentary glass of wine and peanuts to immediately launch his own investigation into finding Kai – whilst the police and counsel try and locate him as a person of interest in Reza’s murder.

Good news though! Jonah finally goes to a tailors on his way to crashing a family wedding, so at least he can be annoying to the criminal underworld in style. Worryingly, the amount of flashbacks increased this week, indicating a paucity of plot in the current timeline. We rewind back to Jonah’s own wedding day, although it only really serves to highlight Megan’s understandable jitters prior to the big day whilst Jonah waits in the toilet for his moment to confront Huang. The ensuing kerfuffle is hilariously overwrought and only ends up getting both Jonah and Huang arrested, much to Police Captain Tsui’s dismay when the crime boss turns up at his station.

When Tsui attempts a neat stitch-up on Reza’s murder with Jonah as the guilty party, he calls David to implore him to confess. For reasons best known to himself, David goes to the station with the murder weapon and is promptly arrested as an accessory. When he is conveniently placed in the same jail cell as Jonah, David explains his side of the story and once again Jonah looks like an utter cretin, as Chen explains he was able to find out Kai was the killer – but was paid to do it by somebody else. Not only that, but because the gun David brought in has Kai’s fingerprints all over it, even Tsui can’t protect him from going down for Reza’s murder – but not before he tells him to keep his mouth shut about Megan and Ben. So after all of Jonah’s flapping about, it was David who was the one to actually make any progress in the case. You really could have gone home Jonah.

So far, so good – and just as things are beginning to warm up nicely with the case drawing to a conclusion in terms of who pulled the trigger, the show drops it’s usual clunky cliffhanger to tide us over – with the revelation that the dastardly Arthur Bach and Sally may be more implicated in Megan’s murder than we thought. But how? Now we’ve broken the back of the running time, things are starting to pick up pace but my investment in this series would have been so much greater if I could genuinely root for Jonah. However, his incessant ignorance and boorish behaviour has me guiltily looking forward to the next time when he’s getting a punch to the guts or being slammed into a kitchen top, such is the annoyance of his character. It’s these small pleasures that are keeping me going with the show now.

Andy D

For our review of Episode 1, click here

For our review of Episode 2, click here

For our review of Episode 3, click here

For our review of Episode 4, click here

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