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Strangers review

Episodes: 8

Premiered: 2018

Duration: 1 hr

In ITV1’s Strangers, Life on Mars‘s John Simm heads up an impressive cast that also boasts the likes of Anthony Wong, Dervla Kirwan, Emilia Fox and Tim McInnerny. Simm plays Professor Jonah Mulray, a man whose life is thrown into disarray when his wife dies in a car crash in Hong Kong.

This eight-part thriller from Harry and Jack Williams, the writers behind the likes of The Missing and Liar, is a twisting affair that begins with personal tragedy and ends in wide-scale corporate conspiracy as Jonah uncovers the unexpected truth about his wife and how she was killed.

Here’s our episode-by-episode Strangers review.

Strangers episode 1 review

John Simm has been a busy man of late. The Life on Mars and Doctor Who actor has been something of a regular fixture on British television for a few decades now, but recently he’s really ramped up the primetime appearances. Prey, Intruders, Code of a Killer… Simm certainly gets around. In fact he’s so active now, it wasn’t long ago we were faced with the rather disconcerting spectre of double Simm. Monday nights in February and March saw him simultaneously on BBC One in Collateral and on ITV 1 in Trauma. And, well, he’s back at a 9pm time slot once more.

One role we know the man can handle with aplomb is ‘everyman that’s slightly in over his head’. That seems to be John Simm’s forte. Bad things are happening, he’s somehow involved in them and trying to work out what’s going on. He’s just a normal chap in an abnormal situation. And so it goes with ITV 1’s newest Monday offering, Strangers.

Simm plays affable London-based academic and lecturer Professor Jonah Mulray. At the beginning of the opening episode, he learns that his wife Megan (Ballykissangel’s Dervla Kirwan) has died in a car accident over in Hong Kong, where she worked and lived for a sizeable chunk of each year. Distraught and in bits, he travels over to the former British colony to identify the body and help with all the necessary arrangements. The neon lights, language barrier (well, maybe not that – everyone seems to speak near-perfect English…) and culture clash is quickly discombobulating for the grieving Mulray and he finds himself being shuffled about by various authority figures until he sees his wife, lifeless on a mortuary slab.

So far, so sad. But, such is the nature of an eight-part drama, intrigue isn’t far away. In fact, on leaving the identification Jonah spots a suspicious fellow and accosts him. The man? David Chen (Anthony Chau-Sang Wong), a stern and serious man who claims to have been married to Megan. News which, as you can imagine, comes as something of a surprise to our Englishman abroad. And a surprise to us too. After all, if Megan had a Chinese husband, why was Jonah needed to fly over and ID her body in the first place…? Curious.

During their exchange, David gave Jonah his telephone number, so the two will cross paths again, but it struck us as a little strange that neither man asked if Megan had a child with the other. As such, Jonah’s got another shock coming (well, probably more than one…). Her and David had a daughter together, the politically-engaged and protesting figure of Lau (Katie Leung – Cho Chang from the Harry Potter films).

Jonah, at a loss, turns to Emilia Fox’s character for help. After yet more misery is heaped on him when he’s robbed and assaulted in his hotel room. Fox plays British Consulate official Sally Porter, a friendly face who, we’re assuming, Jonah may well grow close to over the series as he comes to realise that his late wife and he were in fact the strangers the title suggests that they were.

This maiden slice of Hong Kong-set action was at its strongest when outside, in the craziness and hubbub of the city, with our confused and overawed lead dizzied and trying to sleuth around. And arguably at its weakest when inside without John Simm. Two rather jarring soap-like scenes stood out on that front: one featuring David rather unconvincingly roughing up a journalist and the other with Lau and a stereotypically sassy girl in a police cell. In both scenes, the script had a tendency to creak a little, but not to the point of too much distraction.

There’s plenty to come here, though, we’re sure of it. We ended on the episode’s most gripping and visually stunning scene. Finally getting hold of a charger to listen to a voicemail left by Megan during her accident, Jonah hears the crash – followed by a gunshot. She was murdered. Another shock for the poor man. Slowly we pull back and see his frame growing ever smaller against the huge lit-up skyline of this enormous and alien city.

Now what?

Strangers didn’t exactly punch us in the gut in quite the way that, say, Bodyguard did in its recent opener. But it certainly laid down the foundations for what could just be an engrossing and entertaining crime thriller.

Did you catch Strangers episode 1? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below…

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

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Strangers episode 2 review

Still catching up on Strangers episode 2? Read Steve’s review of episode 1 here.

Afraid of flying and seemingly trusting and relaxed enough to let his wife spend half her life on the other side of the world without question, Professor Jonah Mulray (John Simm) had never once visited her in Hong Kong. That was until he received word that his spouse Megan (Dervla Kirwan) had died over there in a car accident. He had to pop a couple of Valium and make the sad trip east to visit her in the mortuary. Once there, things got more than a little weird…

By the end of last week’s maiden slice of ITV’s new Monday night drama Strangers, Jonah had discovered quite a few revelatory things about his other half. None of them coming as particularly welcome news, either. She was, he quickly discovered, cheating on him – but it was no mere fling. Megan was actually married to a disgraced former Hong Kong policeman called David Chen (Anthony Wong). To top things off, the episode left us with our lead character discovering a voicemail from his wife in which she rather clearly sounds like she was shot to death post-crash.

The follow-up episode picks up where the first left off and in similarly grim fashion. Jonah is in Hong Kong, bereft, confused, angry and still in shock. Only this week he discovers a full three surprising things that make his rather unusual grieving process all the more difficult. Megan had a daughter called Lau (Katie Leung) and the police appear to be conspiring amongst themselves to cover up some of the finer details of Megan’s untimely demise. Oh, and by the end of the episode, her body had disappeared from the morgue too… Presumably stolen in a bid to cover up the gunshot that Jonah and David are so intent on independently – and rather loudly – investigating.

Still wearing his archetypal Englishman abroad uniform of crumpled-up beige suit and sweaty pale blue shirt (which we hope he gets dry cleaned by next week), Jonah continues his schtick here of belligerently barking at everyone he comes in contact with and making very few friends. Mind you, given the circumstances, we can hardly blame him.

It would be a stretch to call them ‘friends’ at this point, what with – a single phone call aside – the two not speaking this week, but we’re assuming Jonah and British Consulate worker Sally Porter ‘grow close’ in the coming weeks. A romantic angle looked to be unlikely as we were introduced to Sally’s handsome American hotel manager fiancé Ben (Christian Contreras) at the start of this week’s instalment. But he was quickly dispatched, with an apparent suicide putting Sally back on the market but in potential trouble with her superiors at work (Ben was involved in blackmailing an ambitious but crooked local politician using information stolen from Sally’s work).

Jonah and Sally would make a fine pairing; they’ve plenty in common, after all. Both are Brits in Hong Kong, caught up in political and criminal intrigue while they attempt to mourn for the partner they thought they knew but didn’t entirely. While Ms Porter might have had the horror of discovering Ben with open wrists in the bath, at least the local police aren’t deleting parts of her voicemails to cover up the way he died. In the rather depressing world of Strangers, you have to be grateful for such small mercies.

A clue in the voicemail as yet undiscovered by police was deciphered by Jonah and Lau and led to a disused cafe/apartment. Inside Jonah found a pair of US passports for Megan and Lau to escape the country. Indicating that she must have known her killers were after her. Could it be related to the political business – the fight for the Hong Kong Executive job between unscrupulous businessman Xo and the shady Shibao that saw Ben killed? There’s every chance.

Strangers has some interesting plot threads and enough intrigue to keep us watching and guessing, but we’re not quite sure it’s due to go down as one of the year’s top crime dramas. But with plenty more to come in the next six parts, it could end up taking us anywhere. So long as it’s not too far away from the natural – and unnatural – beauty of Hong Kong, we’re up for the ride.

Did you catch Strangers episode 2? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below…

Read Steve’s review of Strangers episode 3 here.

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

1 Comment

    Funny was watching it live on television in London and spotted my mother who appeared right in the scene when Jonah was running after Lau Chen in a local market. My mother was in HK at the time of filming but is now back in London. She was watching the drama as well and didn’t expect to see herself in a British drama. How hilarious!

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Strangers episode 3 review

Still catching up on Strangers episode 3? Read Steve’s review of episode 2 here.

As this third episode drew to a close, we were pulled further and further into the murderous mire of cover-ups, political intrigue, organised crime and corruption that Megan Harris’ death seems to have created. True, that particular swamp existed when she was still alive, but her ‘accident’ has seen the various threads of conspiracy begin to connect and uncover themselves. Albeit rather slowly.

John Simm’s Jonah, the widowed academic, is still in Hong Kong trying to find out exactly what happened to his late wife. How she died, why her body went missing, if she was actually murdered… And what’s going on with her having a second family, of course. And it’s no mean feat.

The bulk of this week’s slice of Strangers went all 80’s cop thriller on us, much to its benefit. The talkative and antsy Jonah teamed up with his late wife’s other husband David (Anthony Wong), a morose and quiet type. The pair hit the streets, demanding answers. So not only do we have a ‘fish out of water’ scenario, we also now have a ‘buddy’ set-up – kind of like an even less funny Rush Hour film, if you like.

This gave us a fresh approach to the series and offered up easily its fifty best minutes to date. Episode 1 focused on exposition and setting things up, while the second week’s offering sagged in a few places. Here, though, we’re firmly in the familiar realm of two contrasting personalities forced to worked together to solve a mysterious murder. And it’s in these scenes that Strangers is most comfortable and works best. The chemistry between Simm and Wong improves by the week.

Where the drama can struggle slightly is with its lesser characters. David’s anti-globalisation activist daughter Lau, her burgeoning romance and the couple’s care-free ‘anarchic’ sheet throwing antics lack any real impact and we’re yet to get anywhere with the mysterious Faraz character or really know what Michael the Australian journalist is looking into. We’re sure future weeks will clue us in, though. It seems to be connected to Michael’s ex-wife’s employer, the shadowy businessman with political aspirations – and the target of Lau’s protesting – Xo.

The ending of this week’s episode suggested that Jonah and David’s Lethal Weapon-style double act may be over, though. Some top sleuthing leads the pair to the Triads and Jonah to discover that his probably now erstwhile partner left the force because of corruption charges. While we’re sure there’s more to that plot thread than meets the eye, our British professor lead is now convinced that David was responsible for Megan’s death.

He won’t be, of course. That would be far too simple an answer. Sure, David looks dodgy. But we’re assuming his previous impropriety was forced or fabricated in some way. After all, why is his former partner so relaxed about helping him out when the whole of the rest of the police force is so against him?

There’s a wider conspiracy at play here, no doubt. The Triad element looks interesting and is no doubt going to see Jonah land in even hotter water than he’s already swimming around in. That’s a metaphor, by the way. Unfortunately, that blue shirt and tan suit of his still haven’t seen a wash. He must’ve been in Hong Kong for at a week by now. The man at least needs a new shirt. Surely they’ve got a Marks & Spencer over there somewhere?

We’ll be watching out for Tim McInnery’s British Consulate bigwig in the coming weeks too. He’s taken an interest in Megan’s case and offered to help Jonah, but there’s more to him than meets the eye…

We’re still not convinced that Strangers is exactly top drawer television, but there’s more than enough here to keep us tuned in and intrigued and this third week certainly saw the tempo pick up. Let’s see what next Monday brings.

Did you catch Strangers episode 3? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below…

Read Steve’s review of Strangers episode 4 here.

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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Strangers episode 4 review

Still catching up on Strangers episode 4? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.

We’ve now reached the midway point of ITV’s Hong Kong-set Monday night drama Strangers and, along with the hapless but determined Jonah Mulray (John Simm), we’re fully in the mire. His investigation into the mysterious murder and subsequent cover-up of his wife Megan continues unabated, despite plenty of obfuscation from all quarters. Not only is Jonah trying to find out who shot and killed his spouse, he’s trying to work out why it’s being hushed up by local police against the backdrop of her having a secret husband and child, as well as involvement in organised crime and political corruption.

No one said marriage was easy.

Jonah’s doggedness begins to pay off this week as he separates from his late wife’s other husband and does so solo super-sleuthing. We open with a little assistance; Tim McInnerny’s consul dignitary Arthur Bach takes Jonah to Xo Industries to see if he can’t leverage the media mogul into publicising Megan’s missing body. As Bach sees it, it’s a chance to embarrass Xo’s political foe, a man in charge of the police services. But the offer is rejected. It’s not all bad news for Jonah, though. Xo’s Head of PR Rachel Hargreaves (Raquel Cassidy) offers to lend a hand and intervenes, forcing the police to play ball with him. To some extent, at least.

We’re still being led to believe that David Chan is a bad guy, but only quite superficially. There’s still no proof of any major wrongdoing on his part and it’s almost certain that he was framed and/or blackmailed somehow. We fully expected vindication on that front very soon and the partnership between him and his wife’s British husband to restart and for them to track down the truth and solve the thing.

What would you do with a cool five million quid? We’d probably go to Bali or the Bahamas for a few weeks. But if you’re Lau Chan, you buy a video camera for your new girlfriend and a few rounds of drinks, while missing the fact that your new beau is a stooge, put in place to dig up information from you about your parents. The money is a secret inheritance from Megan, but where is it from? Could Jonah and David’s wife have been crooked somehow? This particular thread to the story isn’t hugely fascinating or convincing, but the performances of Katie Leung and Kae Alexander more than make up for it.

Even the acting chops of Emilia Fox can’t save Strangers’ other main plot strand, however. The business with her now dead boyfriend Ben and the Australian hack Michael is not only a little dull – it’s seemingly going nowhere. Here’s hoping it picks up soon, as no one wants to see someone as talented as Fox go to waste.

We end with Jonah going a little bit Bond. Spying his way into David’s whereabouts, he travels to Macau, to a casino, and gets a bit physical. He’s kicked out but later breaks into a small yacht where he discovers David, a corpse and a knockout blow to the back of his head.

Plenty more went down in this fourth outing, but not too much to really propel the plot of Strangers any further. While there’s enough drama to keep our interest, eight parts may be stretching our attention spans somewhat. Unless the action really picks up over the coming weeks, we can’t help but feel that this might have worked better as a four or six-part series.

Jonah’s Clothes Watch: four episodes in and at least a week spent in Hong Kong and John Simm’s character is still wearing the tan suit/blue shirt combo. Our hat tips to the continuity people, though. There’s an obvious dirtying of the jacket now, a jacket which Jonah loses in the Macau casino. So he’ll be forced to pick up at least some new clothes now…

That said, he’s probably going to be a bit busy next week. What with being knocked out on a boat with a dead body, a bent copper and possibly a Triad gangster or two onboard.

Did you catch Strangers episode 4? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below…

Read Steve’s review of Strangers episode 5 here.

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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Strangers episode 5 review

Still catching up on Strangers episode 5? Read Steve’s review of episode 4 here.

Last week’s instalment of ITV1’s frantic crime drama Strangers ended with something of a bang, directed squarely at the back of our determined semi-hero Jonah Mulray’s confused head. Knocked out cold on a luxury boat moored up in a Macau port, the man desperate for answers about his murdered wife continued to pay the price for his unrelenting difficult question-asking.

This week’s episode ended with another bang, albeit a slightly more metaphorical one. True, it also ended with Jonah being assaulted by a Triad again, but it was the very final scene that was truly impactful. Only it seems as though our true bad guys may just have emerged. And, in keeping with a series that’s largely set in Hong Kong, it’s almost fitting that the baddies should be the big posh English sorts.

More on that shortly.

Jonah awakes from his enforced slumber sans his now-trademark blue shirt. That’s two pieces of clothing he’s lost in as many weeks: there’s a dirty beige blazer in a casino lost property and now an even filthier blue shirt abandoned somewhere in a marina. After four episodes in the same clothes though, we welcomed his new look – a touristy police-donated ‘I Love Macau’ t-shirt (which was also dirty for some reason – dry cleaning must be expensive in that area of Far East Asia).

Keen to tell his story to the police, he firmly throws his late wife’s other spouse under the bus, telling the authorities all about Reza’s body and David Chen’s likely guilt. It doesn’t take long for police to, quite reasonably, consider Jonah a suspect and arrest him instead. Bailed out by Emilia Fox’s British consulate worker Sally, he ignores her suggestion to let it lie and go home in favour of doing what he does best… Bumbling around shouting questions at men much tougher than him.

With seemingly zero regard for his own personal safety, our Englishman abroad decides to go wedding crashing (via a tailor, so he’s back in a blue shirt again). He rather showily interrupts the nuptials of gangster Kai Huang’s brother to accuse the groom’s sibling of murder. But just as it looked as though the Huangs were going to deal with Jonah in the kind of way that you’d imagine an angry Triad family might deal with a shouting man who ruins one of their weddings, there’s a reprieve. The patriarch of the family grasses his son Kai up to the police and he’s carted off, perhaps as something of a fall guy.

‘It’s my mess, I’ll clean it up’, Sally tells her consulate boss Arthur Bach at the end of the episode. The mess, she admits, involves the death of Megan Harris. How? That’s information we’re not quite privy to as yet. Why not? Well, there are still a few episodes of Strangers left. But with this week’s 50 minutes dedicating a little too much time to rather unnecessary flashbacks of Jonah and Megan’s wedding day, we couldn’t help but think that there was more than enough time to clue us in.

Is Sally really the big bad guy? It seems a little early for that to be the big reveal. On the other hand, though? It would explain why someone the calibre of Ms Fox was brought in to play what would otherwise have been a fairly dreary character.

Hopefully next Monday night’s action reveals the extent of her involvement in Megan’s death…

Did you catch Strangers episode 5? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below…

Read Steve’s review of Strangers episode 6 here.

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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Strangers episode 6 review

Still catching up on Strangers episode 6? Read Steve’s review of episode 5 here.

“Always follow the money.”

That was the advice of the classic 1976 film All the President’s Men, anyway. And just as it led Bernstein and Woodward to the truth about the Watergate scandal in the seventies, so too shall it (probably) point to the truth here in ITV1’s Hong Kong-set Monday night crimer, Strangers.

The crescendo of last week’s episode saw our unlikely double act of Jonah Mulray and David Chen (‘Team Megan Husband’?) languishing in prison after a lively little incident involving the notoriously aggro Chinese Triads. The beginning of this week’s action has the pair being bailed out by a rich benefactor… David’s daughter Lau. Flush from the five million Hong Kong Dollars bequeathed to her by her mother, her new fortune tips Team Megan Husband off a little as to why Megan may well have been murdered. Money.

Following that money, they discover that their ex-wife could well have been up to her neck in money laundering via dodgy property development deals with organised crime. To the ignorance of her former employer. Something, presumably, went awry with the latest deal and led to gangster Kai Huang killing her. But why? Well, Kai can’t tell us. Whoever hired him made sure he was quickly silenced on entering prison. Half a dozen shanks to the gut tend not to make you want to talk.

Still, Jonah doesn’t give up. He’s dogged if nothing else. Soon enough he learns that the shady media mogul with political aspirations, Xo, was behind the money laundering deal. Or at least connected to it and some shady organisation known only as ‘Third Empire’. Did Xo order the hit on Megan? If so, why? It’s genuinely difficult to say, even three-quarters of the way through the series.

Exactly what’s going on here still isn’t too clear. Perhaps that’s by design and we’re being kept in the dark as much as the principal characters are. But there’s just something about Strangers which leaves us a little perplexed. Are things building up slowly to a big conclusion? Or are we left scratching our heads come 10pm on Monday nights because it’s just a slightly confusing tangle of plot threads, characters and motivations? Here’s hoping it’s the former.

Why, for example, did Sally go so far out of her way so much to steal a cuddly toy? Hiring/blackmailing an anti-capitalist protester to seduce David’s daughter and to work as a mole seems quite a grand and borderline Machiavellian move just to snaffle a stuffed rat. Could it be connected to the final scene? We’re guessing the toy could be proof that Sally ‘has’ Lau after David’s daughter was seen being bundled into a car at the end of this sixth slice of Strangers. We honestly don’t know. Surely we’ll find out the significance of Sally having Mr Bones in the next episode.

There’s still the mystery of Megan’s death to solve too, of course. But now it appears that there’s a more pressing matter to see to… Getting Lau back alive and in one piece. Our guess? Sally’s smarmy consulate boss Arthur Bach may well be involved somehow. We’ll have to see.

‘Follow the money’ is good advice ordinarily, in complicated matters. But on this occasion, Jonah and David’s best bet would probably be just to follow the car.

Did you catch Strangers episode 6? What did you make of it? Let us know in the comments below…

Read Steve’s review of Strangers episode 7 here.

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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Strangers episode 7 review

WARNING: spoilers below. Still catching up on Strangers episode 7? Read Steve’s review of episode 6 here.

It was some seven weeks ago when we first met John Simm’s character, Professor Jonah Mulray, in Strangers. It was the maiden episode and he was giving a lecture to his class of university students. Remember that? Well, it doesn’t seem as though Jonah does. Only some months later, he’s still running around Hong Kong behaving like a frantic, chinos-wearing Sherlock Holmes. Let’s hope it isn’t those poor students’ final year, eh?

Strangers has been, suitably enough, quite a strange series. An intriguing premise and story have been allowed to meander somewhat, coming dangerously close to wasting its early promise on multiple occasions. Yet every time it veers too close to becoming daft or dismaying, it rights itself and gets back on course. This penultimate episode being a perfect case in point.

As you may remember, David’s daughter Lau was snatched at the climax of last week’s outing. And with the truth behind Megan’s death getting ever closer, things looked to be coming together and in quite a tense and believable way. So for episode 7 to dedicate its first half to Jonah again being some kind of – admittedly quite clumsy – action hero, finding clues and navigating the criminal and political worlds of the Far East better than his ex-cop local counterpart David Chen, was a tad disappointing.

Just why is this bumbling English academic so much more adept at murder and kidnap investigations in Hong Kong than a former Hong Kong police detective…?

Yet as that question started to nibble away at us, Strangers got back on track. Finally, we got some answers and a glimpse at the bigger picture. Who ordered the hit on David and Jonah’s wife Megan? It was Xo. The reason? Housekeeping, in effect. Sally had found out that Megan was raped by Xo two decades ago and wanted Megan to confront him about it. Not for justice – merely for leverage purposes for the British consulate. As it transpired, the media mogul and future Chief Executive candidate didn’t play ball, though. He just hired a hitman to clean up the mess and avoid any nasty headlines.

To make matters worse for all concerned, we learn that Lau is Xo’s daughter – she isn’t David’s.

It was a revelation that came out of the blue and inspired some genuine emotion in one of the best scenes in the series to date. John Simm sent Jonah into a rage while Anthony Wong made his David character look like he’d been hit over the head with a sledgehammer, and Emilia Fox had her Sally squirming around like the grass snake she is.

With the bits of the jigsaw finally fitting into place for both the characters and the audience, the heartbroken David and furious Jonah tracked Lau down and manage to extract her from her kidnapping. In the process of saving her though, David takes a couple of bullets from Xo’s British henchman and dies.

So we’ve only one more episode left and it looks set to be all action. Can Jonah escape Hong Kong with Lau in tow? Wil Xo get his comeuppance? Did Rachel help cover up Xo’s crimes? If so, will she get what’s coming to her?

We can’t pretend that Strangers has been our favourite TV crime drama of the year. Especially not with the likes of Killing Eve and The Cry on our screens. But it’s offered more than enough intrigue to keep us engaged. So here’s hoping for a big send-off next Monday night…

Did you tune in for Strangers episode 7? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s review of Strangers episode 8 here.

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

Follow Steve on Twitter.

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Strangers episode 8 review

WARNING: spoilers below. Still catching up on Strangers episode 8? Read Steve’s review of episode 7 here.

As the John Simm-starring Strangers wrapped up on ITV1 on Monday night, it did so to a rather mixed reaction. It held a respectable 4 million viewers until its final scenes, a similar number that had tuned in across the past eight weeks. While numbers for the drama have been good, complaints of confusion and clumsy storytelling have persisted across its run on Twitter and in some of its more critical reviews.

We’ve not been too critical of the Hong Kong-set crime drama here at Dead Good. At no point has it wowed us exactly or sent us into a synonym-crazed meltdown off effusive praise. But it’s had plenty going for it. The talent in front of the camera has been uniformly superb and the locations are never anything less than a feast for the eyes. Okay, so it’s not been the most believable of plots and not every character’s motivation has convinced – but overall, it’s been a thoroughly watchable series. If never quite one of the year’s truly great offerings.

We left the action last week with a pile of revelations and shocks thrown at us. Lau isn’t David’s daughter, she’s Xo’s. Megan was raped by Xo twenty years ago and her death was connected to the payoff that her rapist had organised. Lau was kidnapped by Xo’s henchman Conrad and David died in the ensuing bullet-strewn chaos.

We pick up with Jonah and Lau escaping and, like a platinum-haired Australian fleeing extradition to Sweden would, they holed up an embassy. The British one, in fact. As loathed as he was to trust him, Jonah knew that the slippery and law-breaking Arthur Bach (Tim McInnerny) was his only hope.

Not that Jonah needed to worry too much. For reasons not fully explained, Conrad decided to just stop chasing them. Apparently Jonah’s profession as ‘just a lecturer’ was enough to convince him not to bother. Despite these past seven weeks proving our secretly all-action protagonist to be anything but ‘just a lecturer’.

Surely Xo could just hire someone else to track down Jonah and Lau and clear up his gigantic mess? Well, yes. But that would predicate itself largely on the man not having hung himself in his office as soon as the situation starting to look like it was going to hit the fan. That’s right, our main bad guy took his own life, off-screen. It was a rather low profile send-off for, as Spectre’s Blofeld might refer to him, ‘the architect of all Jonah’s pain.’

Did he take his own life out of guilt? Shame? To avoid public embarrassment? It’s never quite fully explained, but – with half of the final instalment still to go – it felt like something of an anti-climax. You almost want another bad guy to see get their comeuppance in a slightly slower and more visible way. And guess what? You do.

A stashed USB of Megan’s is uncovered, showing on it video footage of her blackmail meeting with Xo. During their conversation, a phone call can be heard. The discussion turns in such a way that it’s quite obvious that the man’s hardline PR woman Rachel has called him to dissuade him from making the deal and is behind Megan’s hit.

With the assistance of Rachel’s ex-husband Michael, the intrepid and healthily bearded Aussie journo, she’s set up and taken down by police. As is Bach, with the help of some rather convenient document keeping by his employee and co-conspirator Sally.

Everything tied up (rather too) neatly, all that was left was for Jonah, our chino-clad 007, to find some inner peace. Which he duly did with a letter that made it clear that Megan loved him more than she did David… Poor David.

So there we have it. Strangers. Solid entertainment, if not without its flaws.

Did you tune in for Strangers episode 8? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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1 Comment

    I felt the episode was ok but lacked tension. The bad guys all just kind of gave up which made for a dull finish. Series looked amazing though and great cast…

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