Stranger 2 (Secret Forest 2) – Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Foggy Beach

Stranger is back! With a new case to dissect and plenty of unresolved conflict from season 1, the season ahead looks to be quite the tumultuous ride. For now though the opening episode eases us into proceedings; a far cry from that exciting car chase last season.

In fact a lot of this episode plays out at a much more methodical pace, with little of those thrilling segments seen last season. However, it’s early days yet and there’s plenty of gas left in the tank for the journey ahead.

Episode 1 of Stranger 2 begins with an ominous foggy night. A lonely car drives down a dimly lit road adjacent to a beach. It’s March 2019 and Si-Mok is on the hunt. The beach has been closed due to the dense fog but he senses something is wrong. Very wrong.

However, a phone call from Mr Lee pulls him away, where he drives up to a hotel. When he arrives, police cars and an ambulance scream past on the road, heading down to that very same beach he just left.

This is enough to persuade Si-Mok to hurry back and check the scene for himself. The police surround a pair of shoes by the water while Si-Mok casts suspicions on a shifty boy claiming to be the victim’s friend. He still has his shoes on and watches in shock as a boy called Seung-Jun is pulled from the sea.

Si-Mok notices the boy backing away and twiddling his thumbs. In true Si-Mok fashion, we see him watching the crime scene unfold and the two boys rushing into the water together. This was around the time Si-Mok arrived in his car but as he drove off, unbeknownst to him the boy drowned.

With the Branch Manager stewing over Si-Mok impromptu investigation, Yeo-Jin meanwhile looks over pictures of a Marvel convention. However, she’s distracted by a breaking news story that took place in 2018. It turns out Mr Kim was approached by his high school friend Mr Park and spilled important details about the ongoing case.

If things weren’t volatile enough between the police and prosecution, this may prove to be the spark that brings up some serious bad blood.

As she heads into work, Yeo-Jin hears the news about the beach and how it should have been sectioned off originally and wasn’t. Yeo-Jin is now the Senior Inspector for the Police and has clearly settled into her role nicely.

Meanwhile, Si-Mok gets an earful from his superior before collecting his stuff. As he sits down at his desk, Yeo-Jin phones through and they discuss the drowning.

The estimated time of death was around 7.00-8.30pm. The trio took an impromptu road trip after one of them received a car as a present. After having a drink to calm his nerves, Hu-Jeong passed out on the beach. When he awoke, Seung-Jun and Won-Il were nowhere to be seen.

Could the beach have been sectioned off or was this a deliberate act? With the deleted photos from social media too, it certainly poses an intriguing case going forward. After hanging up, Si-Mok heads down to the beach again given it’s re-opening time of 12 noon.

Meanwhile, Yeo-Jin phones the newly promoted Detective Jang and uses his expertise to try and investigate the different photos. As the Captain gets involved too, the group realize this may not be a simple drowning after all. The big question here stems from whether this was a deliberate act of cutting the rope or not.

The police cleverly work together and filter through the various different pictures to piece together the registration plate for the car. In order to validate their investigation, Jang and Yeo-Jin track down the familiar car belonging to Lee Yong-Ho.

Si-Mok checks the beach and finds the rope from that evening. It looks like it’s been burned and backs up the theory of it being a deliberate act.

On the back of this, Jang and Yeo-Jin bring Lee Yong-Ho in for questioning. There, he’s asked about the burning rope and his face instantly drops. He quickly composes himself though and smugly rings his Father, asking for a lawyer.

Yeo-Jin winds up late to greeting the Chief of Police where the issues of the past catch up with everyone. Given all the corruption and issues that faced both departments, the police believe the Prosecution are to blame.

Although Yeo-Jin believes the best way of dealing with this is with positive news stories, the Chief decides to shift the blame instead.

Meanwhile, Lee Yong-Ho finds himself in hot water with his girlfriend as they’re driven away by their lawyer. When they learn that Hu-Jeong is still alive, they corner him in a diner. There, they convince him to keep his mouth shut. The police could charge him with aiding if he saw the duo at the beach.

Grabbing his coat, Hu-Jeong hurries away after admitting that he didn’t see them. Unfortunately, Oh Joo-Sun happens to have recorded the entire conversation.

While the Chief continues to push for the prosecution and police to sever ties, Si-Mok learns that the beach case has been closed already. It’s a pretty abrupt way of closing things, given how many clues and leads are still to be looked into. Unfortunately, this also echoes that of the past given how the first investigation played out.

As Si-Mok looks deeper into this, he notices a familiar name has signed off the case. Kang Won-Cheol. The one man who seemed to be on the straight and narrow could potentially be involved in this. Uh, oh.

The Episode Review

Stranger 2 is back and we’ve got a brand new case to chew over. The potential drownings are a nice angle and the decision to have a lot of the vision obscured with fog is a good one. With no cameras at the scene and unreliable eye-witness accounts, this could prove to be a difficult case to crack.

Speaking of which, the police work here is fantastic and it’s great to see them sticking to what made season 1 so good. The split screen shots and the faded social media screens are a nice touch and really help to give this a more stylistic edge.

Unfortunately, Won-Cheol may be involved in this case. Given how instrumental he was in helping to take down Chang-Joon last season, this is a tough pill to swallow.

Si-Mok knows this too and seeing him and Yeo-Jin interacting again is great to see – even if it’s only on the phone. The cracks between the prosecution and police continue to grow though and it seems like Yeo-Jin and Si-Mok are the only ones actually keeping things together.

With the case closed and plenty of questions hanging over this one, Stranger 2 sets the foundations nicely for the season ahead.

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