'White Dragon' preview: The nature of truth and death sets new Amazon show apart
On the surface it is about a murder disguised as an accident, but under, it is a harrowing tale about overcoming a lie and sticking with the truth
When it comes to a show involving murder, betrayal, and mystery, the one thing the audience looks forward to the most is piecing together the information available about the mystery. Fortunately, ITV's edgy murder mystery, 'Strangers' (a.k.a 'White Dragon') gives the audience just about enough information to keep their minds boggled over a murder, and yet holds back sufficient to keep the audience wondering, "what next?".
Coming from screenwriting newcomers Mark Denton and Jonny Stockwood, the premise of 'Strangers' follows a reluctant and docile London-based professor, Jonah Mulray, whose world falls apart when he is informed about his wife's murder.
Starring John Simm as Jonah Mulray, Anthony Wong as David Chen, Katie Leung as Lau Chen, Emilia Fox as Sally Porter, and Dervla Kirwan as Meghan Harris, the show follows Jonah as he makes a bewildering trip to Hong Kong to discover some disguised lies and concealed truths about his wife and her life in Hong Kong.
The first episode introduces us to the basic plot of the story and some of the major characters who are set to roll the dice for the mystery. It also brings a major sub-plot under the limelight, which deals with a mass student agitation against renowned industrialist Xiaodong Xo (played by Kenneth Tsang), who is trying to build luxury apartments on land supposed to be used for affordable housing.
The first episode reveals one significant piece of information about the relationship between Jonah and his wife, Meghan. They were necessarily strangers. Meghan was known to have spent most part of the year in Hong Kong but Jonah would never accompany her because he was scared of flying. In such a scenario, the husband and the wife spent a considerable amount of time far away from each other, and that made them strangers to each other's secrets and private lives.
Jonah is introduced to Hong Kong in a rather agitated mood. The moment he steps out of the airport, a string of unfortunate events (his car gets taken away, his phone stops working, and his taxi is caught in the protest as it takes a violent turn) lead him to decide upon leaving the territory as soon as possible.
Jonah's hapless situation does not end there. He soon gets to know a man named David Chen was apparently close to his wife, Meghan, and was the chief reason Meghan would make such frequent visits to Hong Kong. The two men start off on an uncomfortable note. They both react in very different ways to Meghan's death.
Jonah is curious upon the death of his wife. He wants to know why she was in the middle of a highway all by herself when the accident took place, but most of all, he is intrigued by David who simply refuses to talk about Meghan. Wong has always been an actor of serious comportment, and even with David you can sense the calm fury of an otherwise violent man.
Unlike Jonah, David is an ex-cop and his experience with dead bodies has taught him to remain composed even when everyone around him are losing their heads. As much as Jonah wants to know the truth about Meghan, David keeps repeating, "What's the point? She's gone."
This subtle conflict of interest and disinterest between Jonah and David makes for an essential part of the show. Their characters will almost make you believe maybe 'Strangers' isn't about a murder after all. It is much more than that. It is about an individual's reliance on truth and what he is left with when the truth becomes the biggest lie of his life.
Jonah's truth was taken away from him the moment he arrived in a country he has never visited before. His search for what truly happened was obstructed by David's indifference for whom truth lies in one's silence. The clash between these two characters and the denouncement their turmoil leads them to is what make 'Strangers' a unique show.
This eight-part mini-series established by award winning writers and producers, Harry and Jack Williams, gives a very refreshing yet familiar turn to the murder mystery genre. It almost becomes a journey of self-discovery for Jonah at some point, especially in places where Jonah is trying to understand his wife's perception about love and relationships.
On the other hand, it is a tragic tale about love going wrong and the consequences that follow when people are unable to handle the downside of love. However, the most striking aspect of the show would undoubtedly be Anthony Wong, who, honestly, steals away every scene he is in. While Simm's projection of Jonah gives the vibe of an everyman, who is quite naturally confused, bewildered, and hesitant by the new world around him, Wong's David is absolutely Zen about things.
His placid state, even at the wake of Meghan's death, and his intention to carry on with life and not look back depicts the stark differences in reactions between the two when it comes to dealing with death, and is possibly a comment on the different cultures they come from. To Jonah death is the end of everything, but to David life and death are inseparable. It can be said the men's varying perspective on death forms a very thin yet prominent underlying message of the show - what happens after death?
'Strangers' is set to air on Amazon Prime Videos February 8, and you can be sure you are in for a treat.