By Bryan Tan
This review, which includes minor spoilers, covers episodes 9-10 of Stranger Season 2, available currently on Netflix.
After eight episodes of fast-paced storytelling and interminable plots, things are finally getting back on track for Stranger Season 2.
Episodes 9-10 focus on the investigations surrounding the kidnapping of prosecutor Seo Dong Jae (Lee Joon Hyuk), the rather arrogant and pretentious three-piece suited antagonist-turned-sidekick of main protagonists Hwang Si Mok (Cho Seung Woo) and police inspector Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doo Na).
In an attempt to further his career, prosecutor Seo made a deal with Chief Prosecutor Woo Tae Ha (Choi Moo Sung) from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office to reinvestigate cases that have been closed by the police. These controversial cases implicate the police force as the battle heats up over the perennial prosecutor-police struggle of investigative rights, and whether the South Korean police force should be granted powers to issue warrants and have oversight of their activity reduced.
One of the primary cases Seo digs into is the supposed death of a Sergeant Song of Segok Police Station. Sergeant Song’s team is suspected of bullying and homicide, apart from having served jail terms for bribery and corruption. The team members are also the prime suspects of Seo’s kidnapping, as it was revealed that the prosecutor uncovered evidence linking them to the murder of Sergeant Song.
Stranger does its best work in showing the intricacies of detective investigations, such as the pursuing of leads like mobile phone records, confirming and investigating alibis, and looking into every detail linked to the kidnapped victim in the form of car black boxes, GPS destination tracking and comparing testimonies of family and colleagues.
It is also revealed that adult males who go missing and are not found after three days usually never turn up again, and that the family members of missing persons are usually the culprits (perhaps some foreshadowing?).
Yet amidst the flurry of frenetic activity that hinges on the rescue of prosecutor Seo, a shadow of malicious cover-up lurks just beneath the surface. Police Intelligence Chief Choi Bit (Jeon Hye Jin) and Chief Prosecutor Woo Tae Ha exchange secretive phone calls after a clandestine meal, despite being on the opposite sides of the police-prosecutorial council, which makes them bitter enemies.
Who is responsible for the kidnapping of prosecutor Seo? All evidence seems to point at the police team from Segok Police Station. If that was to be proved, it would signal the end of credibility for the police force and cede their investigative rights to the prosecutors for good. Perhaps it was Seo’s wife, upset at him for having an affair with another woman, revealed by prosecutor Hwang Si Mok desperate to rescue his friend and colleague. Or was it orchestrated by the higher-ups on both sides who, in a possible twist of events, joined hands in a stunning political cover-up? We shall see when this weekend’s episodes are dropped.
Stay tuned for the next two episodes, which will be released on 19 and 20 September.