Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2/5
After striking a multi-series deal with Netflix, Harlan Coben’s murder mystery adaptations have been a real mixed bag of the mediocre and the excellent. Polish series The Woods is arguably one of the weakest, while The Stranger and Safe both worked well to capture the enthusiasm of the masses, capturing what makes murder mysteries so compelling. Sooner or later, there was bound to be one a real stinker. And that putrid smell comes from Stay Close.
With a flawed premise, strained characters and a patchwork of different cliches and tropes throughout, Stay Close starts off shaky and continues down a disastrous path, slowly peeling away layers of believability to leave behind a flimsy shell of a murder mystery.
Along with figuring out who the killer is long before the final episode, the entire premise of Stay Close relies on contrivances, conveniences and clumsy police work, three ingredients that completely crumble when you apply any sort of logic to this one.
At the center of the story sits Megan, a woman with a shady past after working at a strip club called Vipers. Thanks to abusive partner Stewart, Megan fled, in desperate need of starting anew. Megan (originally known as Cassie) drives for 20 minutes before settling down in the same town, or one nearby. With husband Dave and three kids, Megan’s life is turned upside down when a face from the past shows up to reveal some startling news
While this is going on, grizzled detective Broome is haunted by a missing person case. This happens to be for Stewart – the same Stewart that’s coincidentally connected to Megan. When a new missing person report is filed for a man named Carlton, Broome begins to investigate further and starts to realize everything is linked together.
This forms the crux of the series, but there are extra elements and twists thrown in here too, which I’m being careful not to spoil in this review. However, one can’t write this without mentioning the dancing twins Barbie and Ken. While the idea here is to try and inject a sense of Killing Eve fun into this show, it fails miserably. In fact, these Team Rocket wannabes are painfully underdeveloped and feel like cartoonish caricatures rather than real people.
Along with the lack of plausibility for the main story is the shockingly bad police work. Forensics are often overlooked, social media and online investigations are haphazardly handled while different disappearances are chalked up as coincidences rather than properly investigated. I know the police force aren’t the best in the UK but basic levels of police work are completely bungled here.
I’ts a real shame too because there are some big names starring in this that do a decent job with their characters. Eddie Izzard and James Nesbitt both make noticeable contributions while the rest of the cast do well with this unbelievable, paper-thin plot. This genuinely feels like it could have been a great series… but with about 4 or 5 rewrites. In its current state, Stay Close isn’t even close to being a competent series – and it’s lucky it’s releasing at the end of 2021 otherwise it would probably end up on a few “worst shows of 2022” lists!
Given how many other murder mysteries there are out in the TV universe – not to mention all the other Harlan Coben adaptations – Stay Close is not worth your time. It’s a shallow, poorly plotted, unbelievably flawed story that bungles even the most basic of plot ideas. You definitely shouldn’t “Stay Close” to this one.
Verdict - 3.5/10