ITV thriller Strangers ends with a bittersweet finale – and a LOT of questions

There are some big questions we're still trying to answer after the series finale of John Simm's ITV thriller

John Simm in Strangers ending

After an action-packed penultimate episode, ITV’s Hong Kong thriller Strangers gave us the answers to some of our biggest questions – but also left us scratching our heads.

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The ending was ultimately bittersweet. Professor Jonah Mulray (John Simm) got the answers he needed, solving the mystery of Megan’s murder and also (SPOILER ALERT) discovering a hidden letter saying she had loved him best.

He’d lost his wife, but gained a friendship with her daughter.

Xo hanged himself in his high-rise office, escaping justice but ending his reign of terror. Michael was delighted to get custody of his kid, but little Mae will soon learn that her mother Rachel is in prison.

Orphaned Lau was able to grieve both her parents in peace, safe from Xo’s clutches; but she has endured more than anyone ever should, including her girlfriend Becky’s betrayal.

By the end of the finale, the truth was explained and the story resolved. But still, there are some nagging plot points and unexplained elements that we just can’t get over.

Here are the five things we’re still wondering about:

1. Why would Rachel confess her guilt to Michael?

Rachel in Strangers

Xo may have been a ruthless and unrepentant rapist who tried to buy Megan’s silence and ordered the death of his biological daughter Lau – but he wasn’t the one ultimately pulling the strings. Even after Xo’s suicide, Jonah Mulray (John Simm) and his intrepid journalist friend Michael Cohen (Anthony Hayes) had one more person to bring to justice: Rachel Hargreaves (Raquel Cassidy).

Aside from being Xo’s right-hand woman, Rachel also happened to be Michael’s ex-wife. But despite all the bad blood (and the fact that – again – he happened to be an investigative journalist), she agreed to meet him early one morning in the park for a chat.

In the park, Michael offered her a deal: he’d give her a USB stick containing evidence of her crimes, specifically a video of Xo having an argument with Rachel over the phone about his pay-off to Megan. In exchange, he’d get full custody of their young daughter Mae.

Kenneth Tsang plays Xiaodong Xo in Strangers

At this point she grabbed the USB stick and conveniently gave a full confession straight into Michael’s hidden tape recorder, before grinding the USB beneath her heel and telling him to take care of the kid. She didn’t even double check whether he’d backed up the files from the USB stick, which of course he had. Come on, Rachel! You were meant to be a criminal mastermind.

According to Rachel’s confession, this is what happened: she found out about the meeting between Xo and Megan Harris (Dervla Kirwan) where her boss had agreed to buy Megan’s silence about the rape, making a payment through a shell company called Third Empire. (As you’ll remember, this was as part of a misguided set-up by Sally Porter and Arthur Bach at the British Consul to get leverage over Xo when he became Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Keep up.)

Fuming about her boss’s stupidity in leaving a money trail, Rachel decided to go one step further, hiring criminal fixer Conrad to have Megan “taken care of”.

She made one hollow protest – “I didn’t ask him to kill anyone” – but how else could Megan have been truly silenced, and what was she expecting?

Revealing the perils of outsourcing, Conrad then sub-contracted Megan’s murder to a triad thug named Kai Huang.

But of course, things didn’t stop there. When she found out that Megan had met with Ben Torres (who also happened to be Sally Porter’s fiancé), she panicked that Megan might have passed on her story to him – and so she had Ben “taken care of” too.

Buuuuut, does Rachel’s behaviour ring true? Not really.

Why would she accept Michael’s ‘deal’ when it was clearly a trap? Why would she give a full, verbal confession to a journalist? Would she really think that physically destroying a USB stick would be enough? And wouldn’t Megan’s death have meant more attention on the money trail back to Xo, not less?


2. Why would Megan come up with this absurd plan?

Megan in Strangers

It all comes back to that voicemail Megan left on Jonah’s phone in the minutes before her murder. In it, she planted clues for her UK-based husband to solve – but in retrospect it’s a proper miracle Jonah found his way to the truth.

With her reference to the “sunset over Poto-O-Bay,” Megan led Jonah to a secret apartment she kept in a dingy corner of Hong Kong (though it’s never totally explained why she kept a secret apartment, other than to take a break from her Hong Kong husband David Chen and to provide a background for her Skype sessions with Jonah).

In order for her plan to play out, Jonah had to find the apartment and find the fake US passports hidden behind a bath panel (before Xo’s henchman torched the place to ashes).

Strangers

Next, he had to realise the significance of her fake American name, “Megan Walker”. He then had to have someone in the UK go over to his house and search his files for a letter addressed to Megan Walker. And THEN, this person (his helpful sister) had to take the number from this letter, visit a storage locker, rifle through a box of bits and bobs, and find a USB stick.

That USB stick contained the incriminating video implicating Xo for Megan’s rape and subsequent murder. By the time he discovered this evidence, Jonah needed to have found out about her “other” husband, met her daughter, grappled with the politics of Hong Kong, traced the dodgy property deal, and worked out that Xo was Lau’s biological father.

What kind of tenuous plan works like that? Surely she could have given Jonah a bit more to work with? A letter, a text, a voicemail? Or instructions for him to get Lau out of Hong Kong on the US passport, and ask questions later?

As plans go, it wasn’t exactly foolproof – and by the time everything played out, David was dead and Lau had been kidnapped and orphaned. Oops.


3. How did Sally get away to London?

Strangers - Sally in London

Remember when Sally Porter went to confront Xo at his mansion? Remember when she told him that she knew the truth about Megan’s rape and murder, and he warned her that she had just put herself in grave danger by knowing too much?

And remember when she then walked out the gate, and Xo (presumably) drove right past her on his way to visit Lau?

We hadn’t actually seen Sally since that moment – until 34 minutes in to the final episode, when she suddenly made a phone call to Jonah. With the Tower Bridge and River Thames in the background, it was clear that she was no longer in Hong Kong.

But – how? There’s a whole missing chunk of story there. Did Xo not spot her on the road to Lau’s, or did she dive out of sight? Did Xo and Rachel forget to have her “taken care of” after the whole debacle of Lau’s escape and David’s murder? Or did inept henchman Conrad mess it all up? We’d love to know what happened, Sal. Tell us your secrets.


4. Was David actually guilty of conspiring with Kai?

Strangers

Cast your mind back to episode three, and you’ll remember that David Chen lost his job in the police force for “colluding” with triad gangster Kai Huang (Jason Wong) – a shameful episode which saw him labelled a “traitor” by his former colleagues.

And who went on to murder his wife Megan, as revealed on the security footage of the lorry and confirmed by Rachel? The very same man: Kai Huang.

So where does he sit in all this? Having been bumped off in a prison murder orchestrated by Xo’s henchman Conrad and his corrupt law enforcement contacts, Kai himself cannot tell us. David also isn’t around any more to explain, on account of having been shot to death by Conrad.

Was it a coincidence that Kai “colluded” with David and ALSO murdered Megan? Perhaps so. Perhaps not. it’s all a bit of a muddle.

John Simm and Anthony Wong in Strangers episode 2

And while David insisted he had been set up in the Kai case, it’s also not clear if he was actually guilty or not.

He definitely knew Kai before Megan’s death. And he reunited with him at the casino after Megan’s death, so Kai must have thought they were on friendly terms? Still a mystery.


5. Why would Arthur Bach get the blame and not Sally?

Tim McInnerny plays Arthur Bach in Strangers

What about Arthur Bach at the British Consulate in Hong Kong? And his plans to use the knowledge of Megan’s rape as leverage?

“I kept a record, Jonah. Everything we did,” Sally told Jonah, on the phone from London. “And you know what? Blackmail is frowned on no matter what country you’re in. There is no happy ending for him.” Back at the consulate, we saw the police arriving to take her boss Arthur away in handcuffs.

Sally then diverted into an explanation about why her fiancé Ben had been killed: he’d thought she was having an affair, and met up with Megan to find out if she knew anything.

But she failed to answer Jonah’s question: how come she was walking around freely while Arthur Bach was behind bars? Wouldn’t the information passed to police implicate her for blackmail, too?

And for those wondering: yes, the UK has a bilateral extradition treaty with Hong Kong. Sally may not be home and dry just yet…

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This article was originally published on 29 October 2018


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