The Stranger on Hulu ending explained: How did Clare escape Carl in the end?

Clare and Pebbles (Image via Imdb)
Clare and Pebbles (Image via Hulu)

Veena Sud’s thriller film The Stranger revolves around Clare (Maika Monroe), a Kansas transplant in Los Angeles working as a rideshare driver, who discovers that her passenger, Carl (Dane DeHaan), is a murderer. Clare finds herself living a nightmare as Carl threatens to kill her if she fails to tell him a decent story.

Disclaimer: This article has spoilers for The Stranger.

After a long night of trying to run away from Carl, Clare escapes him with her dog Pebble's assistance. She makes it seem as though she has given the dog up for adoption and plans on ending her life as she makes her way to the bridge over the Los Angeles River. However, after Carl calls her and informs her that he plans on killing her pup, his location is revealed, and Clare throws Pebbles’ leash down, hitting his windshield and causing his vehicle to spin out of control.

Viewers then learn that she was aware of her predator's moves as she had tracked him using the dog’s leash that had a microchip tracker. While Carl was smart, Clare outplayed him and showed her dominance over him. She gave him a taste of his own medicine, injured him severely, and managed to walk out of the horrific scene safely along with her pup.

The well-organized thriller, The Stranger, tells the story of a ride-hail driver's trip to surveillance hell and back as it depicts Clare’s ability to survive despite all obstacles. The title initially debuted on Quibi in 2020 and was re-cut to be a feature film, which is now available on Hulu.

How does Clare escape her predator in The Stranger?

Clare attempts to escape Carl (Image via Hulu)
Clare attempts to escape Carl (Image via Hulu)

The title showcases that it has been six days since Clare moved to Los Angeles with her dog Pebbles in The Stranger. One night, while on her shift as a rideshare driver, she picks up a passenger, Carl E., from a mansion that does not belong to him. Things seem odd as soon as he gets into the cab and he asks Clare if he could sit in the passenger seat rather than the backseat.

The ride isn't as smooth as any of her past ones and after winning Clare's confidence, Carl tells her that he killed the people living in the mansion she had picked him up from. He appears ready to do the same to her but she intentionally crashes her car and flees. This marks the beginning of a long cat-and-mouse chase.

Clare goes through a lot throughout the night; her multiple failed attempts to escape her predator and not finding any external assistance demotivate her. However, over time, she understands the ways of Carl's torture and forms a plan to escape him.

After being chased by Carl E. for 12 hours, Clare pretends to be sad about her life's destiny in the epilogue of The Stranger. To give Carl the impression that she is prepared to end her life, she hands over Pebbles, her dog, over to an animal shelter.

Carl then kidnaps his target's cherished pet in an attempt to make her suffer even more, unaware that the dog's collar has a tracking device that lets Clare know where he is. Clare then tosses the dog's leash at his car while it is approaching a tunnel when she learns his location, causing a collision.

Does Clare shoot Carl in The Stranger?

Clare decides not to kill Carl (Image via Hulu)
Clare decides not to kill Carl (Image via Hulu)

Carl, after the collision, suffers a severe injury in The Stranger. Clare then confronts him by pointing a gun at him, but instead of shooting, she decides to walk away with her pet dog. This signifies her victory in this situation as she proves that she can walk away alive and not be bothered to kill him.

While this scene might seem like a weak ending, the story doesn’t end here as Clare has planned a more extensive punishment for Carl. Carl made Clare go through a lot during the cat-and-mouse chase, including her having to face the death of J.J. while they were trying to escape the murderer and she did not want to give him an easy exit.

Clare escapes Carl (Image via Hulu)
Clare escapes Carl (Image via Hulu)

Clare finally gains control over the situation in The Stranger and believes that shooting Carl would seem like an easy death. She causes an accident by dropping the dog's leash on his car in a secluded location where Carl’s cries for help would go unheard. She seemingly wants him to experience what it feels like to be helpless. With a fractured bone and no security cameras near the location, he is unable to get help.

Clare also possibly knows that coyotes lurk behind in the tunnel. She walks away from the location, aware that Carl may not remain alive for a very long time, feeling a sense of relief after he made 12 hours of her life a living hell.

The Stranger is currently available to stream on Hulu.

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