The Stranger

I turned on Netflix and found out there was a third season of “Babylon Berlin.” I didn’t even know there was a second!

Used to be you didn’t know a band was playing in town, then you didn’t know they put out a new album. Do you realize James Taylor released his covers album last week? I saw it on the homepage of Spotify, or Amazon, otherwise I wouldn’t have known. I mean I knew the album was in the pipeline, but how many more albums are gonna be released this week? I love that JT covered Felice’s father’s “Moon River,” but the real surprise is the closing track, “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top.” If you’re a boomer, you grew up with the show tunes. I remember making my mother play all the Original Cast albums until I found “With A Little Bit Of Luck,” I could hum the tune but I couldn’t remember the title.

Now we’re waiting for “Ozark.” I could watch “Ozark” every day! But it doesn’t come back until the end of the month.

So we were looking for a new show to watch, and I remembered Harlan Coben’s e-mail, about his new show on Netflix, “The Stranger.”

Now it’s not “Babylon Berlin,” with a deeper meaning. I always recommend “Babylon Berlin,” but I’ve got to warn you you won’t know what’s going on, that’s a feature, not a bug, and it drives many people away. As for the subtitles, if they bug you you can stop reading right now.

“The Stranger” is a tale, made from a genre book.

And I don’t read the mysteries, because there’s always a twist at the end that you can’t foresee, that seems irrational, and you feel ripped-off after the investment of time. Of course there are exceptions, like “Gone Girl,” the book, not the movie, but “The Woman In The Window” made me want to throw my Kindle out the window.

Now I’ve never read any of Coben’s books, but as I’ve said previously, I love the film “Tell No One,” maybe only the French truly know how to elevate this kind of material, Americans get all caught up in production values and stars and the story is overlooked.

And then I watched Coben’s “The Five” on Netflix.

And in this window before “Ozark,” I decided to pull up “The Stranger.”

Now it’s about secrets. Should they be revealed?

That’s the deeper meaning, assuming you see one.

But that’s not really the plot.

The twists and turns all make sense. And Stephen Rea is fantastic. As are all the other actors. “The Stranger” was made in the U.K., where everything is in service to the story.

You might recognize Richard Armitage, who is attractive, but his looks do not overpower his performance.

You’ll definitely recognize Siobhan Finneran, who was so great in my number one Netflix recommendation, “Happy Valley.”

And it turns out Hannah John-Kamen has appeared in all these genre flicks I never see, like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and “Tomb Raider” and “Ready Player One,” so she was new to me.

And, of course, there’s Jennifer Saunders, from AbFab.

So, do you want to know your spouse’s secrets? Or does that upset your vision of your life too much?

It’s kind of like affairs, worse than the stepping-out is the fact that you’ve got to reconstruct everything you thought happened. Where were they really? You put together the pieces and find out the life you were living wasn’t real.

So, are the good people bad?

And what does it take to find out the truth? Coincidence? Legwork?

And does the truth ever really come out?

I haven’t told you much, because I don’t want to ruin the ride. You’ll watch an episode and get hooked, you’ll find yourself staying up late, unable to turn off the TV as you devour episode after episode.

It’s a journey far superior to the mysteries on the big screen. The characters are developed, the story can go through so many twists and turns.

But it’s all believable. At no point do you say this is too hokey and you need to turn it off.

To a degree it’s empty calories.

Then again, we all live our lives, wondering what is true and what is not.

Watch this.

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