In the end, the Stranger did not fulfill her mission. She passionately believed that secrets tore people apart. Yet, the secret that Adam and Johanna were forced to keep kept what was left of Adam's family together. It even saved Tripp's family from humiliation that would have ensued had it gone out that Tripp was a thief who stole from the community and the murderer of a woman who served that same community with grace.
I am not going to pretend that I guessed it was Tripp who killed Corinne until all the signs started to point to him, but he did bother me. The writers did a great job in setting up Tripp as the killer. Tripp repeatedly asked about Corinne before anyone, even Adam, started looking for her. During that drive when Adam tried to chase Ingrid, Tripp kept freaking out about his shiny red Range Rover; Adam, his friend, was out of his mind with worry about his wife, yet Tripp could not help but show how attached he was to a symbol of wealth. The Range Rover bugged me; could teachers afford a house that nice and a Range Rover and other vehicles as well? Tripp's wife was shown doing yoga whilst gardening on a school day so it did not look like she worked (yes, I know she could work a night shift, but still, it seemed like an interesting detail to include). The show did a good job in planting clues that Tripp lived well above his means. Remember at the Pilot when Tripp declared that when it came to themselves and their children, they were all corrupt? When someone tells you who they are, believe them.
Corinne found out that Tripp stole money from the football club. She understood that if it got out, Tripp's reputation would be ruined, so she gave him time to sort it out. Tripp knew there was no way he could pay back the money, however. He used the time Corinne gave him to alter the football club books. He also tried to turn Bob against Corinne; Tripp told Bob that Corinne meant to frame him for the theft.
Tripp dragging Bob into his plan was what brought the Stranger into the lives of the Prices. Bob hired Ingrid's detective agency to find dirt on Corinne, as a pre-emptive strike in case Corinne did try to accuse him of theft. When the Stranger realised that Adam was her brother, she decided to make contact. The Stranger claimed that she never even told Bob what she found out about Corinne's false pregnancy.
Adam assaulted Bob after he found out that he practically hired the Stranger. When Bob told him that it was Tripp who told him that Corinne meant to accuse him of theft, the pieces fell together. The culprit was Tripp all along.
Adam used Katz's gun, which the Stranger gave him following Katz's assault on the home she shared with Ingrid, to force Tripp to tell him what happened to Corinne. Whilst I was watching this, it bothered me that Adam got into the car with Tripp for a long drive without knowing what, exactly, happened to Corinne. Why didn't he force Tripp to start talking before they got to the woods? The only explanation I could come up with was that Adam's mind could not yet process that Corinne was dead, and his friend killed her. Adam needed to hold on to every bit of hope of seeing her again, even as he stood a few feet away from where Tripp buried her.
Richard Armitage has been excellent as a good man desperately trying to find his wife. The show did a great job in pacing Adam's slow realisation that something was wrong, that Corinne would not have left her boys like that. Adam mostly kept his outward calm, with the script allowing him choice moments when his desperation would rise, before he got it under control again. The scene in the woods was heartbreaking, that tinge of hope and fear in Adam's voice. He just wanted to see his wife, even as his mind began to process what Tripp was telling him.
Did Tripp really think that Adam would go along with his proposal, to simply let the whole thing go? Tripp pointed out how guilty Adam looked. Adam found out that Corinne faked a pregnancy. Corinne disappeared after they fought. Corinne was killed in their garage; it was there that Corinne told Tripp that she was done keeping quiet about his theft. The police would suspect the husband because the spouse was always a suspect. Tripp had already made sure that the football club books would be too messy to be untangled, so Adam would have a hard time proving that Tripp stole the funds, not Corinne.***
Johanna helped Adam cover up Adam's murder of Tripp because if she did not, Adam would surely have gone to jail. Katz was already going down for Heidi's murder. The gun that was used to kill Tripp was Katz's gun. Adding two more murders to Katz would not have made a difference to him. Meanwhile, Thomas and Ryan would still have a father. Adam may have been bothered that people never knew who really killed Corinne but, like Johanna, he was willing to live with their secret.
'Everything I did, my mission, exposing secrets, revealing the truth caused people to die. But I suppose that's what happens when you mess with people's lives.' Was there perhaps regret in the Stranger for the series of the events that she caused? The thing is, the Stranger only hastened the mess. Tripp was already framing Corinne before the Stranger came into the scene. Katz was already working with Powers; it was not a stretch to think that he would at one point lose it once he realised that he was never going to see the money Powers promised. The rot was already in the community. If only Corinne had told Adam about Tripp's secret. If only Katz paid more attention at home and realised earlier that his daughter was not sick, it was his ex wife. If only Tripp talked to his family about his financial struggles instead of stealing and then killing to cover it up. Perhaps, to a limited extent, the Stranger had a point, after all. Perhaps.
My recapping notes were filled with praise for Siobhan Finneran, but I wanted to save writing about her for this final recap. As DS Johanna Griffin, Ms Finneran gave an unshowy performance that grounded this narratively twisty tale. The Stranger was filled with red herrings, but Johanna's casual competence consistently managed to sift and see through all that. When I reflect on The Stranger as a whole tale rather than an episode by episode thriller, it is actually rather a by the numbers mystery, albeit a very well done one. It is the phenomenal performances of the actors that elevated the show into a gripping tale. It ended the way the best stories do -- the story is done, I know it is done, but I kind of want more.
■*** Tripp did not know that Johanna already looked into the finances of the Prices and was convinced that Corinne had nothing to do with the missing football club funds.
■ Katz's ex wife arrived after he dragged Johanna inside his house. Johanna used the distraction to run to a neighbour's house. Katz used his ex wife's keys to flee, with Johanna's cell phone.
■ Adam got the Stranger's home address from the private investigator Ed hired, and sent it to Johanna's phone. That was how Katz knew where the Stranger was.
■ Ingrid hit Adam on the head; he was tied up by the time Katz arrived. Katz shot Ingrid and would have shot Adam as well if the Stranger had not put her body between them.
■ Johanna tracked her phone, which was how she learned where Katz was. Katz was arrested.
■ Why did Katz continue tracking the Stranger? There was no way he was going to escape prosecution for the murder of Heidi, his attack on Johanna, and his various offenses as an investigating officer. The one explanation I could come up with was that his warped mind thought that if he completed sorting out the blackmailing mess Powers found himself in, Powers would give his (Katz's) share of the company to Olivia when Katz was in jail.
■ Adam to the Stranger: 'All this started with you.'
■ The Stranger to Adam: 'Secrets tear us apart. The truth gets lost and then relationships fall apart.'
■ Does anyone have an ID on the Stranger's white shoes?
■ The Stranger found out that Martin was not her biological father when she was 18 and needed surgery. She confirmed that Ed was her father via a DNA test.
■ The Stranger apologised to Adam and claimed she only wanted to protect him from lies.
■ Adam was bugged by the text message Corinne supposedly sent, referring to their children as 'kids'. Corinne only ever referred to them as 'boys'.
■ Johanna found Adam using the same phone app Adam and the kids used to locate Corinne's phone.
■ Am I the only one who got the feeling that the final episode sort of left an opening for a second season? Johanna was nervous about Katz's sentencing. Adam was bothered that people did not know who really killed Corinne. The Stranger was there, watching the happy family image of Adam, Ed, and Thomas watching Ryan play football. I'm not saying I want a second season necessarily, though this cast is amazing and I would love to see them again. I am fully aware that some tales are best left alone after they have been told, instead of dragging further stories out of them. All I'm saying is that there are threads there that could be picked up for a second season.