The pilot episode of “Hello Stranger” was the number one trending topic on Twitter last night, June 24, which not only proves our thirst for BL (boys love) series, but also our desire to witness heartwarming stories of connection in these trying times.
Episode one, titled “Hello Enemy”, introduces Black Sheep’s series as a twee and instantly likeable story of a romance in pre-blossom. But we open on a sad note: Mico (JC Alcantara) is in his bedroom, mourning. “Saan ba nagsimula ang lahat? Paano nawasak ang puso ko?"
Then we flash back to two months ago. Mico meets up virtually with his clique The Young Padawans—comprised of Kookai (Vivoree), Seph (Patrick Quiroz), and Junjun (Miguel Almendras)—for an online quiz night, but their little bubble is burst by a charming little prick who stumbles upon TYP’s Zoom link by mistake.
The prick is Xavier (Tony Labrusca), the handsomely scruffy varsity player who tells his “bro” on the phone how “baduy” TYP’s quiz night is, which triggers Mico. “Oy, sir, kung sino ka man, ‘di ka namin kailangan dito.”
“May mga utak lang ang nakakasagot dito,” Mico fumes. “Hindi mga varsity na puro bola lang ang laman ng kokote. Gets mo?”
“Well,” replies Xavier, “at least pogi," then exits abruptly.
The show immediately sets up for them to be in conflict with each other, which complicates things because, shortly thereafter, Mico’s teacher, Ms. Tina (an incredible Meann Espinosa), asks him a huge favor.
“Everyone’s having a hard time with this pandemic,” she says, “and the last thing I want is for anyone to fail in my subject.”
She is asking Mico to help out a student in a Panitikan I project, reminding him he’s the perfect candidate because he’s the “top.” 😉
Come to find out his project partner is none other than the gatecrashing prick from earlier, Xavier.
Mico is visibly upset by this, but Xavier is all laughs. “Surprise!”
Once the initial coldness thaws, they get to business. For the final project, the boys have to analyze the poem, “Sa Kasintahang Nilimot Na” by Benilda S. Santos, then write a dialogue based on the piece. The two have to work it out somehow, regardless of their indifferences.
Later, Xavier talks to his girlfriend Crystal (Gillian Vicencio) to let out some steam, but she only half-pays attention and seems more concerned about performative intimacy (she interrupts Xavier’s vulnerable monologue to pose for a photo) than hearing out his partner’s woes.
Xavier and Mico meet again to talk about the poem, which Xavier considers “a writer moving on from her lover.” Mico, rather gently, disagrees, and says, “Sa tingin ko, mahala pa rin nung writer ‘yung lover niya.”
Their conversation slowly moves away from the project at hand to trivial stuff—the stuff “strangers” talk about to get to know each other. The roughness of their unfortunate first meeting begins to soften into something more cordial, more friendly.
The episode ends with Mico stalking Xavier’s Instagram photos and accidentally “liking” a post, after which Xavier instantly confronts him. “Uy! Ni-like mo ko? Like mo ko?”
“Sh*t!” is the only thing Mico can utter to himself.
The “Hello Stranger” pilot episode really sets up an interesting way for these two boys to connect—the fact they’re bonding over a poem is by no means an accident, as this series is helmed by Petersen Vargas, consummate director of poetic works like “Lisyun Qng Geografia” and “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten”.
We can’t wait to see what happens next! Are the boys going to start developing feelings for each other? How will the TYP gang react? And what about Xavier’s girlfriend?
Check out the full premiere episode here:
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