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‘The Stranger’ calls out for binge-watching

A few people mentioned the British-made miniseries “The Stranger” to me, and I’m a sucker for a twisty, secret-filled mystery. So I started to binge the eight-episode Netflix show that came out in January, which is based on a novel by Harlan Coben.

Well, it is totally insane, as it delivers not one mystery but, like, 10, and I got totally hooked. Yup, it happens. Mediocre TV + Weird Mysteries - Restaurants x Extra Hours = Addiction. Despite the sense that the byzantine story lines could never wrap up satisfyingly, I was committed to finishing it.

Richard Armitage stars as a lawyer and married father of two who’s approached by a woman — the titular character — who has disturbing information about his wife and her deceptions. He panics, pursues the stranger’s accusations, and the dominoes begin to fall in his marriage. Meanwhile, his older, teen son and his friends are sitting on a big secret involving an illicit bonfire party they attended.

At the same time, a detective (played by Siobhan Finneran, who played O’Brien on “Downton Abbey”) is investigating a case involving a beheaded alpaca and a seriously injured teenager. Finneran is great — she was also outstanding in “Happy Valley” — and so is Jennifer Saunders, who plays her best friend. The case may or may not connect back around to the stranger, played with creepily withheld rage by Hannah John-Kamen; I’m not telling. But the stranger continues to show up at a few other local doorsteps with troubling facts, creating even more chaos.


There’s not much character development on the show, which was made to be binged speedily; just a ton of questions that need to be answered. And ultimately, they were. The threads did tie together, even if they did so with lots of absurdity and illogic. It’s second-rate, but it’ll do the trick.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.