‘The Stranger’ 1×06 Review: “12:00 AM”

For perhaps the first time since watching Quibi’s The Stranger, I left this hour feeling not absolutely terrified. Rather, I felt empowered. Hopeful that maybe — just maybe — Clare will be able to come out of this alive.

Dare I say, there was an element of thrill and badassery in this episode that really kicked things up a notch. As in, we saw that — when backed into a corner — Clare isn’t going to give in. She might be terrified, but she’s going to fight like hell. Which is exactly what she did.

We picked up in the sixth hour where Carl E showed Clare and JJ that they’re severely underestimating him. He was able to track them down to the gas station, but he didn’t show his face.

No, no. That would be too easy. This is someone that likes the chase. And given it’s only 12 AM, there’s plenty of chase left. So rather than show up and shoot them, which a normal killer would do — God, those words I just typed — Carl E feels the need to fuck with them. And set them up for murder.

Clare and JJ take his car and get the hell out of dodge. They can’t take hers, as the cops know what it looks like. But what they didn’t count on was Carl E tipping the cops off about JJ’s car — and the fact that there was a gun in the glove compartment, left by yours truly.

When they were pulled over, I found myself asking myself — seriously, how could things get any worse — and this was after the previous five hours of madness. But it did get crazier. Because now the police are involved.

There’s something terrifying in the fact that Carl E has managed to turn the police, who are supposed to protect us, against Clare, even though she’s the one in danger.

The idea of “trust nobody” rings loud and true. Well, except when it comes to JJ, because he might just be the only person in the world that believes Clare right now. And she just met him a couple hours ago.

Still, there’s no denying that there’s a connection growing between them. Not romance — there’s no fucking time for that when a psycho is trying to frame you for murder and kill you. But there’s an immediate trust that I sense between them following this episode. And they both know it. After all, JJ is the only person Clare knows in Los Angeles. Well, outside Carl E.

Like it or not, JJ is a pawn in this game. And Carl E surely has some trouble in store for him. Perhaps in the form of the cop that assaulted him after he followed directions and exited the vehicle. JJ did nothing but comply, and yet the cop harassed him to the point where he was choking him out on the hood of the car in front of Clare.

So Clare accepted Carl E’s present in the glove compartment and pulled the gun on the cop. And she was not fucking around. I think back to what Carl E said — about how she’s grown during this whole ordeal — and we saw it here. She saved her new friend and she dealt with the cop the only way she could — had him handcuff himself to his motor bike, radioed the cops that he was unharmed and shot the tires flat.

The one thing I’m taking away from this episode, is that Clare is an absolute BADASS. Even as the cop was babying her, saying the gun she was holding wasn’t a toy, she put him in his place with her hunting past, and it was glorious. She handled that situation like a boss.

Call me crazy, but I think Clare might be smart enough and strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Carl E. While shock had an immediate paralyzing effect on her in the beginning, she’s adapted well. She’s acting, not thinking. She’s in as much control as she can be expected to be in — which is more than what the others.

Carl E didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he decided to hunt Clare. Now, I feel like she’s the one that’s going to beat him at his own game. And I can’t wait to see it.

The Stranger airs new episodes weekdays on Quibi.

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