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By Bryan Tan
This review covers episodes 13-14 of Stranger Season 2, available currently on Netflix.
As Stranger Season 2 draws to a close with two episodes remaining, one cannot help but feel a sense of fatigue and even relief that it is ending. In an earlier review, I expressed that the messy plot writing has been a serious issue; I stick firmly to my guns.
Red herrings have been a big bugbear for me so far in the series; the biggest one being the Segok Police Station saga where police captain Baek was the prime suspect of having kidnapped Prosecutor Seo, has been anti-climactically debunked.
Yet still, new red herrings are being dropped as bait in episodes 13 and 14. Lead protagonist Hwang Si Mok (Cho Seung Woo) finds himself sneaking into the office of his superior, Assistant Chief Prosecutor Kim Sa Hyun (Kim Young Jae) after he makes a comment saying that if the prosecutors cannot prove that the police are behind the kidnapping of Prosecutor Seo, Hwang, Kim and Chief Prosecutor Woo Tae Ha (Choi Moo Sung) will be the first to lose their jobs.
This leads Hwang to believe that Kim may have kidnapped Prosecutor Seo himself and planted the evidence to frame the police. Again, it is debunked in episode 14, where the kidnapper himself finally is revealed (at last!). Kim Hu Jeong (Kim Dong Hwi), the survivor of the Tongyong beach incident where two of his friends drowned, was shortlisted as a lead as he was contacted by Prosecutor Seo twice.
The lead duo Hwang and senior inspector Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doo Na) find themselves in front of his house and asking probing questions. Things get exciting when the young man suddenly flees, and Hwang sets off in hot pursuit, with some really great angles and cinematics done with a drone camera.
Actor Cho Seung Woo displays the method acting genius that he is during the interrogation sessions with Kim Dong Hwi, who is a fine actor and one to look out for in the future. In one scene, Hwang tries to get into Kim’s head by psychoanalysing the behavioural patterns of victims suffering from long-term repression from bullying; that it was unusual for these victims to display tendencies of violent retaliation.
Hwang attempts to build rapport with the suspect, revealing that they both shared something in common – Hwang himself was bullied, and although he has forgotten how it felt, he has never forgotten the experience. The interrogation ends in a loud outburst, with Hwang slamming the table in the most explosive show of emotion from the otherwise stoic prosecutor in both seasons of this series.
Just like the frightened young culprit, I was petrified that this lead was going to end up as yet another red herring. It was with great relief that Kim eventually confessed in tears to drowning his classmates and abducting prosecutor Seo. The police eventually managed to retrieve a barely alive Seo, which I am frankly surprised has survived a week despite much loss of blood and lack of sustenance.
The final two episodes of Stranger Season 2 will decide what is to become of the police and the prosecutors; now that it turns out that the kidnapper was unaffiliated with either side, how will they resolve their differences over investigative rights?