‘The Stranger’ 1×02 Review: “8:00 PM”

There’s something about watching Quibi’s new series The Stranger that has me looking over my shoulder, even as I type this. It’s the kind of psychological thriller — sorry, horror film — that leaves you a little uneasy. And yet, you’re powerless to do anything against it.

Especially as you crave to learn what happens next.

Just two episodes in to The Stranger, and it feels like a full-blown terror ride. Just imagine what our poor Claire is going through. New to Los Angeles — come here to try and live out her dreams of being a writer — and just six days into her new life, she finds herself in a cat-and-mouse game with a sociopath that seems to know her every move.

In the second hour — 8:00 PM — we picked up immediately after Carly dealt Claire an ultimatum. Tell him a good story, or end up murdered like the family he offed just an hour earlier.

As one would be expected to react in that situation, Claire is freaking out. She literally can’t believe this is what her life has become — that there’s someone so messed up, and that he’s currently in her car. So she does what we would all do — cry and plead to spare her.

Carly just laughs in his face, declaring the obvious — he’s a sociopath capable of no human emotion, so crying won’t do a damn thing. Well, except make him laugh. And make him want to slit her throat then and there.

While Claire is freaking out, she’s also trying to figure out how to get out of this situation. And she takes her opening, when she crashes her car into a sign. When she exits the car, Carly follows — with the creepiest smile I’ve ever seen — before collapsing on the ground. Claire takes that opportunity to head back to her car — for safety.

As she stared at an unconscious Carly in front of her, I was shouting at my screen to “run the bastard over!” Because we all know these kinds of stories — if you don’t kill the prick, he’s not going to stop chasing you.

Instead, Claire drives away, leaving Carly alone, and immediately calls the cops. Again, something that anyone in their right mind would do. It seems as if she’s safe — until the cops turn on her, believing that she’s filed a false report. That bag — remember, the one with the dead body parts — she tells the cops about it. But it turns out, it’s just a blow-up doll, and they immediately began to doubt her story. It doesn’t help when the text messages Carly sent to her — about cleaning up before heading down, and the address of the murder — are gone.

Oh, yeah, that was Carly. We all know it. The prick is smart, which is why this entire situation is absolutely terrifying.

The cops soon leave, and Claire is left wondering what the actual hell is happening. Shock, confusion, anger. All of the above. One of the workers from the gas station — where the police met her — comes out to see what all of the fuss is. After some discussion about why Claire can’t put that blow-up sex doll in the dumpster, he notices that she’s completely out of it.

Claire tells this guy the bare minimum — she had a scary rideshare passenger, and she’s justifiably freaked out. Well, if that isn’t the understatement of the century.

This guy offers to provide her some technological protection — in the form of a firewall — but Claire just wants to get the hell out of there; she wants to go home. Although, while she’s headed to her apartment, we all know it’s her home in Kansas that she craves.

As she’s driving home — trying to relax, clear her head — she gets a text message. From Carly. He tells her the obvious — she should’ve run him over and killed him when she had the chance. After all, like he points out, not doing so is a stupid move that people seem to make in horror movies.

But what’s even creepier than the warning is his next text: “But girls just want to have fun.” Which is creepy because that’s the song playing on her radio at that exact moment.


At that moment, I’m leaving town. I’m not bothering to go back to my apartment, I’m driving my car straight home to Kansas, in Claire’s case.

But we know she won’t. Because then the story would be over, right?

Part of me is wondering if this whole thing wasn’t a set-up. As in, Carly had planned to have Claire pick him up, to take her on this crazy, fucked-up journey, just because he could. After all, remember all the talk of him saying in the pilot that he felt their meeting was fate. The only ones that say that — with ill intentions — are ones that made it look that way.

Already, I know how this story is going to end. With either Claire or Carly dead. While Claire isn’t a killer, Carly is a sociopath and a murderer that appears to stop at nothing to kill his intended target. So Claire is going to have to kill him — before he kills her. And the sooner Claire realizes that, the better. And hopefully before it’s too late.

The Stranger airs new episodes weekdays on Quibi.

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