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The Stranger Tease: Five Theories

The ‘Stranger’ tease: Five theories about J.J. Abrams’ newest pop culture mystery…

J.J. Abrams cast a meaty hook into the Web waters on Aug. 19, a teaser for a new entertainment project that we may or may not know anything about. The mystery box angler loves using this kind of bait: “Stranger” is reminiscent of his puzzling promo stuff for Super-8 or the crypto-content that the Lost brain trust used to feed fans during hiatus. (Remember “The Last Supper” ads prior to season 6?) Decoding this kind of stuff isn’t for everyone. And for some, it annoys as much as it amuses. Regardless: We’re biting. Because we are easily amused, and because we ran out of Breaking Bad analysis to read, and because no one  knows how to bait a hook quite like J.J. Abrams. We love how he turns marketing hype into storytelling fun. What’s “Stranger” about? Five theories — none of which involve Star Wars Episode VII (we assume it’s still wayyy too early for that).

It’s a tease for NBC’s Believe, a new show from J.J. Abrams and director Alfonso Cuaron coming early next year. A sci-fi/fantasy series with elements reminiscent of Firestarter, Harry Potter, and Kung Fu,Believe concerns a girl named Bo (the spectacularly named Johnny Sequoyah) with emerging supernatural abilities, raised and protected by a group known as “True Believers” for a righteous purpose. Evil forces threaten to exploit, corrupt or destroy her, so the Believers bust a death row inmate out of the clink to serve as her bodyguard. The “Stranger” teaser shows a man with stringy hair crawling out of the ocean in the dead of night. This could be Bo’s protector, Tate (Jack McLaughlin),  who also has stringy hair, and we could be witnessing the dénouement of his prison escape. The seemingly sinister watcher with the stitched lips could be an evil agent. Or maybe the righteous, shadowy Believers prefer fearsome visages. Does this video presage a viral video series that will flesh out character backstory or mythology for Believe? Because that would be a cool idea.

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