‘The Stranger’ 1×03 Review: “9:00 PM”

You’re right to be paranoid.

That’s what I learned from  The Stranger‘s third hour, “9:00 PM,” where we last left Clare freaking the hell out about the fact that Carly seemed to know exactly where she was — and what song she was listening to in her car.

As Clare was driving through Los Angeles — back to her apartment where she wrongly assumed it was safe — she couldn’t shake the sneaking paranoia crawling across her skin.

And she was right to be paranoid. Because that sicko was lurking in her apartment, fucking with her mind, and I suddenly had to put music on as I’m writing this review, because the silence is the last thing I need.

Clare goes to feed her dog Pebbles, like a good human, and then proceeds to call Orbit to report Carly as a passenger. Turns out, Carly reported her, claiming that she was the one that threatened to kill him.

And they believed him. Her account is currently suspended pending investigation, and Clare is left powerless.

One of the scariest things is no one believing you when you’re in danger. Luckily, I haven’t been in that kind of situation, but it’s something Clare has dealt with twice in this night. First, when the cops thought it was a false report. Second, when the Orbit lady didn’t believe a passenger tried to kill her.

But the most disturbing thing about the phone call was the ominous warning from the lady — that Carly had reported her for trying to kill him and bury him “in her field of sunflowers.” We slowly pan to find that Clare’s bedspread — and a painting above it — are sunflowers.

AND. I. SCREAMED.

I had to step away for a moment — a moment — before returning. Because this show has me freaking the hell out. I’m paranoid — and I’m not even in this movie.

Although, something good to come out of this — minus the creepiness of it all — is that it’s a warning to be aware of your surroundings. Being paranoid isn’t weakness, it’s smart. Be aware of everything — have a plan of action. Not that anyone prepares for being stalked by a sociopath dead-set on killing them.

Carly is someone that loves the chase, that much is obvious. But I can’t but believe, as I noted in my previous review, that this isn’t just fate. That this was planned. That Carly picked Clare — be it for a specific or random reason — and decided to craft this game of cat and mouse.

He knew where she lived, which isn’t particularly hard to figure out. But he’s someone that strikes me as someone that does his homework. He knew where she lived, and he was waiting for her when she arrived home.

He’s smart. He knew that Clare would call Orbit and try to report him. So he reported her first. And he knew to leave a warning — a reminder that he’s inside her apartment — by referencing the sunflowers.

As Clare is fleeing even before getting confirmation that Carly is the shadow lurking in her bathroom — smart move, Clare — she’s knocking on every door she can, begging for help. But this is Los Angeles, there’s no one worried about a stranger they don’t know. They’re busy living their own lives. So Clare, barefoot, decides to flee to the elevator.

Clare is pounding the button, trying to will it to open, just as Carly comes down the hall, as creepy as ever. He wants her to tell him a story — still with that shit. When the elevator opens, she scrambles inside and closes it. Carly takes off at a run, trying to get to her before she’s safe inside the confines of those claustrophobic walls.

Exhale. She made it. Only, her journey has just begun.

Or so we think, until the doors creak open and Carly’s hand goes for Clare’s throat. And…end scene.

I’d just like to add, that I am not watching and writing these reviews at night, because I’d be too terrified. But even in the light of day, I find myself looking over my shoulder. Because the creepy vibe sticks with you for a few minutes.

While everything in me is telling me to stop — that it’ll only get worse before, if, it gets better — I need to know how this story ends. With Carly killing Clare or Clare pulling a David in this David-Goliath situation and offing Carly.

The Stranger airs new episodes weekdays on Quibi.

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