Stay Close 1.3 [includes spoilers for 1.1-1.3]

Continued from here. Keep in mind disclaimers from here.

Reminder: CONTAINS SPOILERS. Do not read if you wish to avoid SPOILERS.


Dramatically speaking, although this episode had more tension, in my opinion, it still doesn’t really rise to the appropriate energy level for a thriller, although it gets closer toward the end. We finally feel like there is some actual, critical, unmediated risk to Cassie after more than two hours of the series. And we know enough about Harry to feel some concern about him. It’s an issue to me that so far all the dead bodies have belonged to people who barely appeared on screen before they were killed or found dead. Ethically speaking, I’m struggling with the very pronounced (and in my opinion, dated) moral tone about lifestyles that this show seems to take. Although it seems to assume agreement with a very prudish attitude toward erotic dance and the sex trade on the part of the viewer, at the same time it laughs at stuff that I find appalling (torture, corruption, instrumentalization of dementia).

But this episode had some great Armitage scenes. What did we used to say? Watching for the plot? Although I’m guessing we’re not going to get a full upper body reveal this time.

The episode opens with the torturers from 1.2 revealed as murderers and then doing a dance number before disposing of the body. They turn out to be moralists about touching / body integrity, which, whatever, no irony about how this duo will kill third parties but can’t touch each other’s genitals uninvited makes this either humorous or successful as a dramatic device (let alone acceptable for me to watch). Not dignifying that crap with a screen shot.

We pick up on Megan still searching for Jordan, and Ray flashing back to his past with her (Cassie).


Although this is kind of tacky, the colors sort of hint at absinthe à la Toulouse-Lautrec. Potentially appropriate for Ray’s vibe. I thought it was interesting that this contrasted with the red tones on the stage / pole dancers.


We get enough interior shots of Vipers to see that Harry Sutton is friends with Lorraine, and that Stewart Green is a threatening presence.


Richard Armitage as Ray Levine in Stay Close 1.3. He does appear to have a lot of genuine affection for her, that is to say, not just lust. To me this is one of Armitage’s greater strengths as an actor.

His flashback continues to a very impromptu proposal on the boardwalk, although Cassie glimpses Stewart Green there as well.

This shot was honestly worth the whole episode. Aaaah.


He’s so involved with his reverie that he is late to his appointment to teach some kids about photography. This looks like some kind of underprivileged kids / Boys and Girls Club kind of set up. This kind of thing must be much easier to do now with everyone having a camera on their phone.


Another really rewarding scene — despite the heavy-handed dialogue about showing / not showing. Teaching, with thumb! Serv swoons.


I thought that dialogue was written really poorly, but I can imagine that Armitage liked the general message there. Every now and then, for instance, I still wonder if he took the role of John Mulligan because of that monologue he gets at the end about knowing who he is. This is a similar moment for me.

The teaching scene reinforces both the intensity of Ray’s memories (he goes back into reverie) and reveals some more data for our mystery, as an inquisitive kid finds some pictures that force Ray to look twice. This is now the second time we’ve seen this kind of reveal (another look at old photos that reveal new information). I’m “meh” on it just because I don’t find it especially plausible, but then I’m not a very visual person. The pictures also call forth some of the alcohol-tinged memories of the previous Friday (I find that slightly more plausible, but not much). Ray was beating someone up; Guy was with a woman (apparently not Simona).


One of those almost-chipmunky smiles.


Gratuitous Armitage thumbshot with camera. Oh to be that little wheel.


He was really serious about Cassie, although to have her descend from a wine bottle? Hmmm.


Sad-thumbed Armitage.


Back to Megan, whose mother-in-law is complaining of a mysterious visitor, and who is having a conversation with Harry. She still won’t talk to the police; Sutton raises the question of whether Green wants Cassie or some money he had squirreled away. Given Cassie’s apparent lie to Sutton, maybe knowledge about the money is making her a target. Is that why she was compulsively returning to that basement? And pretty clearly, Cassie has some skeletons in her closet, or she wouldn’t need a lawyer to speak to the police.

Then a confusing scene between Megan and Frances at the nursing facility. Megan demonstrates that no one is there, but Frances’ conversation reveals that someone had been asking about Cassie — but also that Frances has been asked not to call Megan “Cassie” before. So there’s also some history there, I guess. I get that this element is supposed to add additional uncertainty to the plot, as Frances is the classic unreliable narrator, but I don’t like seeing dementia instrumentalized for this purpose, even if there are whole novels and dramatizations around this plot element nowadays. You’re going to laugh at torture but this plot element is legit? Nope.


It’s a bit tiring to continue hearing Broome’s insistence as to the reality of his intuitions. Facts, sir. Facts. Just saying something is that way doesn’t increase its plausibility.


The police are out in the woods by the sculpture, trying to put the photos they’ve been given into context. Megan makes it home and reads Jordan the riot act — but he has an “official letter” that turns out to be a snippet of one of her pole-dancing ads. Side note: if parents are as worried about Jordan’s brief absence as they both seem to think Dave will be, middle class life in Manchester must be drenched in anxiety. Dave (who we now know knew about Carlton’s car — so he must somehow be in cahoots with Laura against his own wife?) comes home and Megan insists that Frances should move “somewhere more secure.” (Another instrumentalization of dementia, incidentally, but one that makes Megan / Cassie not look very nice.)

Broome and Cartwright visit Simona to find out who Guy’s companions on that fateful night were. (Tasteless comment from Broome about Simona’s pregnancy.) They’re headed over to his workplace when Lorraine calls Broome, allegedly to get back the video recorder — but it’s implied that it’s a booty call. This is made clearer when Broome finds the most inconvenient way possible to avoid Cartwright’s offer to take care of it. (I honestly had hoped they would do some computer forensics on that disk. Would have made sense. Otherwise, it’s just a weirdly cumbersome plot device to move Broome through the plot — one of Hitchcock’s MacGuffins.)


Thumbshot with Mercedes. I like his car but it doesn’t really seem to fit Ray’s image very well.

Ray goes to Vipers in search of his memories, which dutifully reappear. Ray was brawling with Guy and someone else.


As long as we’re relying on techniques outside of normal perception, having looked at that frame again, I’m going to say that the brawler on the left could be Carlton Flynn (except that I think the shirt is the wrong color) or possibly even the dopey police manager guy (probability raised after the end of the episode), whose name turns out to be Goldberg. Also a potentially Jewish name.

He finds Lorraine there, who tells him that Cassie has died of cervical cancer.


His tortured response. Armitage is so good at this.


He goes outside to process, and encounters Bea and Laura, who are looking for Carlton. I can’t honestly believe it took them that long to get there, and from their dialogue, neither do they. He confronts them, but they run away and he photographs their car. So it seems likely that he’s not that far away from discovering Lorraine’s lie. It also seems like Bea can drive fast when she wants.

At the police station, Broome has a hissy fit about someone (Goldberg) having moved his stuff. Since this scene has no other purpose than characterizing Broome as someone who can’t let go of women (Cartwright has realized he wants to see Lorraine personally, and compares her to Mrs. Green), there has to be a point here — and once you get to the end of the episode, you will realize what it was. In the stairwell, Carlton Flynn’s dad announces he’s offering a huge reward for information on his son (which Broome correctly points out will cloud the inquiry unnecessarily). You gotta wonder what that boy was hiding.

Ray returns to the woods and discovers Guy’s body. Broome arrives for his booty call appointment, which ensues but not without cheesy dialogue. Megan calls Harry, who’s jonesing badly, to tell him she’ll talk to Broome, interrupting his plans to shoot up. As Broome is in bed with Lorraine, he ignores the call. (The whole “missed phone call deus ex machina” thing is returning more to drama, I’ve noticed lately.)


Roy dithers about whether to call the policy regarding Guy’s body. This is a stereotypical shot of a scene like this, but I liked it. Something about the structure of the shot. Also, can we talk about those shoes?


Afterwards, Broome notices “Tawny Allure” in a photo in Lorraine’s bedroom. Lorraine is not interested in more, apparently, although Broome appers to be. I’m assuming this encounter was about more than the ostensible reason, which is revealed by this shot.


I recognized this right away (in the US it’s sold as Zofran). It’s an anti-nausea med for people on chemo. Did not work well for mom, unfortunately. If she also has cervical cancer (this is implied by the show, but not a necessary conclusion from the med alone), hope Bofur used his condom, because people on chemotherapy for cancer involving the reproductive tract are not supposed to have unprotected sex. I know this because my mom asked her GP about it back then. “Preferably not, but if it must be, only with a condom.” Oh, and yeah, that’s James Nesbitt’s thumb.

Apparently Ray succeeded in overcoming his problems, because next we see the cops out around Guy’s body. (And the script again nods in a cutesy way to the improbability of the path of the information, because there aren’t many working payphones in the UK any more.) Ray is watching them, too. Does everyone in this show have a compulsive need to return to the scenes of their misdeeds? Ugh. I was wondering if Ray possibly thinks he was responsible for the murder and just can’t remember it? But he doesn’t quite look that tortured. While Broome is there, Harry finally gets through to Ray. Cassie is going to talk to him — and with a little prompting, Cartwright remembers that Cassie was “Stewart Green’s piece on the side.”

Lots of quick bits at the end. Ray realizes (look at his photos) that the girl he’s encountered in the woods was with Carlton Flynn during Carnival. Lorraine is actually at the doctor’s, where she ignores a call from Broome, who’s waiting for Cassie at the pier. The Clockwork Orange crap duo get a call from someone who reveal that “your dancer” didn’t know anything helpful (so does the pronoun imply that Lorraine’s the mastermind?). They get a call to try someone else out, next. Meanwhile Megan’s also at the pier and can’t find Harry, although Broome does get a glimpse of her before she returns to her car. And then Goldberg is ordering (apparently) a hit on Harry Sutton (so maybe that was a photo of him in Vipers?) So he’s not the idiot he appears to be.


I guess I’m now in for a pound. Unless I get totally disgusted, I’ll keep going.

Continues here.

~ by Servetus on January 2, 2022.

21 Responses to “Stay Close 1.3 [includes spoilers for 1.1-1.3]”

  1. […] Continues here. […]


  2. It’s not that good , just as the novel is not that good. RA is believable as Ray , as always, and Cush Jumbo ( recently Hamlet at the Young Vic, so very talented), makes a good job of not very much . I wonder if she and RA had much chance to discuss starring at the prestigious venue. It’s Harlen Coben , so it’s never going to ge great. Don’t get me started on Ken and Barbie………….I would have thought the screenwriters would have deleted them at a stroke. Binged and seen it all.


  3. I loved that scene in the prison as John Mulligan. I had forgotten about it till now. That was a great scene.


  4. I enjoy your commentary and screen caps.

    I watched all of it this long weekend. I won’t add any spoilers, but the general theme of “why didn’t so-and-so call the police?” is what I asked myself the whole time about a number of characters. Also, I agree that the Ken and Barbie characters are nonsensical — their approach will never get them the information they seek. Moreover, I pretty much don’t like any of the characters in the show other than Erin. And there were a number of plot holes, even by the end of the final episode.

    But if you can get past the writing problems, the show is well-acted, and it is fun to see Fanny, Bofur and also Dr. Abel Gideon in a show with Richard. In spite of trying very hard to make Richard look scruffy, he still looks good under all those layers of baggy clothes.

    You raise an interesting point about why the characters treat Cassie being a stripper as such a scandalous past. I think this is in contrast to the charity worker, yoga-practicing tennis/soccer mom she has become, but still, what is the big deal?


    • if they were all Black residents of a US ghetto, I could see why they wouldn’t trust the police — but these are middle class people who believe that the system should work for them. (At least everyone except Cassie / Megan). I thought Eddie Izzard looked farmiliar.

      If she lived up here by me I could see people getting tense about her stripper past, but I’m not sure that’s even true in New Jersey (where Coben is from), let alone the UK. It’s curious that neither she nor Dave appear to have jobs. Although they must, to afford that wonderful house.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Probably Cassie was a proper sex worker, but I can’t figure her current job (or her husband’s). Meh. Ah, did she escape without leave the city?


    • Oh, and thanks for the kind words. I thought I’d forgotten how to write this type of thing.


  5. Thanks Servetus for the great recap. The plot is now so ridiculous it’s good to come here and check my recollection of it is correct. However in defence of the indefensible ( and having been been firmly in the CALL THE POLICE! camp) now we see Police Chief Goldberg ordering a hit on Harry Sutton. Rule no.2 of British cop shows- you can’t trust anyone, least of all the one is apparently adding nothing to the plot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s true, and it was my big beef with Joy Ellis — murder mysteries aren’t like real life, in general someone who’s in the story has to be responsible for the murder, it is rarely a random accident. So once you eliminate all the people it can’t be (paraphrasing Sherlock Holmes) you are left with a limited number of options, so even if someone appears innocent or random, they end up being important. I do think a lot of people watch this stuff without constantly trying to figure out whodunit. I’m just not one of those people.

      The thing is that Goldberg’s connection to Vipers makes this look like an awfully long con.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t mind Ken and Barbie as much as others do (they remind me of the assassin couple in Diamonds are Forever ) but you are so right about the the prudish attitude toward the sex trade compared with the torture of the young woman. That scene was gratuitous unpleasant.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t mind them as characters either – I just think their presence in this particular show is sort of a non sequitur. (And yes, the torture was unnecessary.) I like that the woman has faint echoes of Villanelle on Killing Eve. I like the couple’s banter. And their look is like something out of Bryan Fuller’s wonderful Pushing Daisies. But they’re completely out of place with the tone of the rest of the series, and the contrast is jarring. It’s like someone accidentally slipped in pages of script from another show.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I agree with Bollyknickers! I’m watching in single episodes and then coming over here to get your take on the shenanigans 😄 Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Thanks for these posts, and happy new year. I had a ton of issues with The Stranger, so that helped to calibrate my expectations for Stay Close. These shows are not my cup of tea, and I have zero interest in reading Coben’s books. But I was hooked enough on Stay Close to keep watching, and I thought it was way better structured — though hardly perfect — than The Stranger from start to finish (won’t elaborate since you haven’t seen the latter). And seeing Richard’s performance was of course very welcome, as is seeing the huge global exposure he gets from being on a heavily-viewed Netflix series.

    One correction: the character you identify as Laura in this post and the previous one is actually Kayleigh. Laura is the middle child.


    • Good reminder about the global exposure. And as I still remember the days of Spooks being however many months behind in the US, I am really grateflu that everyone who wants to see it immediately can also see it simultaneously (sort of).

      Thanks for the tip. Eventually I’ll go back and fix it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. […] from here. Keep in mind disclaimers […]


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