I finally finished The Stranger with Richard Armitage and I thought it was the best thing Richard’s done in a long time.
I watched the first two episodes with Mr Esther just after it first came out but then we got stuck with either not the time nor the mood to continue watching together. There’s a lot of build-up with a lot of storylines which was interesting enough to draw us in but didn’t quite hook us completely. We faced the same dilemma that was voiced in this delightful interview with Richard Armitage and Jennifer Saunders: do we continue watching together or not?
In the end, a week and a half later, I proceeded on my own with Mr Esther’s blessing and I binged the rest of the 6 episodes. I like these mystery/murder shows well enough but they’re not necessarily my go-to genre. Having said that, I did enjoy watching this one. I’m not going into an in depth critique here (no spoilers either); I did have some gripes with long build-ups and some storylines/characters that just fizzled out, but other than that I thought it was properly good. Richard sure made a lovely family man.
My friend, who had come to watch the Oscars live with me on Sunday night, mentioned out of the blue that she had watched The Stranger and that she had loved seeing Richard as a dad. I think that is what prompted me to finally binge the rest of the episodes and she was right! I too loved seeing daddy Richard, which includes that silly dad joke he did in this scene.
Richard does a wonderful job portraying a man falling apart and seeing his whole world fall apart after being confronted by this stranger and the secret she tells him about his wife. The man does anguish so well, his anguish in the final episode was heartbreaking.
For me the real highlight (besides Richard) turned out to be Siobhan Finneran. Apparently she is known for Downton Abbey but as I never watched Downton for more than a few episodes (it was, surprisingly to me, never able to grip me) I didn’t know her. She plays DS Johanna Griffin and I have to say she got to me from the first moment she came on screen. I could watch a whole series centered around her and Heidi Doyle’s (played by Jennifer Saunders) friendship. Thelma and Louise indeed. For all the Jennifer Saunders hype, there was less of her in this than I thought; I would have loved to see much more of her.
I loved when Johanna and Adam Price (Richard) finally joined in their storylines.
I also really liked Hannah John-Kamen as the stranger. That woman is mesmerizing.
I felt that some characters’ stories weren’t really tied up properly and the connections between some people were a bit too coincidental. I also wasn’t sure about the ending for Johanna, I felt that the choice she made wasn’t quite in character for her.
Having said all that, I still thought The Stranger was good. It was suspenseful with lots of twists and turns and surprises, the cast were all truly great and I liked how this homicidal drama happened in such a ‘normal’, mundane world, right up to the conclusion at the end.
The Stranger is apparently doing very well in ratings…
I hope this will open doors to some better jobs for Richard and I hope to see more of Siobhan Finneran and Hannah John-Kamen. I also wouldn’t mind seeing more of Jennifer Saunders in dramatic roles. It’s not perfect but it certainly is a thumbs up from me.