If You’re Trying To Avoid Supporting JK Rowling, Don’t Let This Popular HBO Show Fool You
The story behind HBO’s Strike is a plot twist out of a Scooby Doo episode—or maybe one of J.K. Rowling’s terrible crime novels.
For fun’s sake, let’s just go with Scooby Doo. The gang is settling down for a night in. Shaggy and Scooby are neck deep in the fridge. Fred is prepping the doors and windows with a series of traps (or “treps” as he calls them) to deter any monsters from coming inside. Meanwhile, Velma and Daphne are sitting on the couch flipping through shows while “accidentally” brushing hands reaching for the remote. It’s all an attempt to hide a burning, passionate love. And it isn’t going well.
They finally see a show called Strike listed on HBO. It’s the second-most-watched series on the network right now, so it must be pretty good right? And it’s a mystery. It’s right up the gang’s alley! Daphne calls the gang in to watch. Shaggy and Scooby are now neck deep in the popcorn bowl. Fred is searching between the couch cushions for “treasure,” and Velma pulls open her laptop to learn everything she can about the series. She sees that the series is an adaptation of The Cuckoo’s Calling by a man named Robert Galbraith. The name rings a bell somewhere far off in her memory, but she can’t remember where she heard it.
Suddenly, the gang hears a scream down the hall. Scooby jumps into Shaggy’s arms. Velma and Daphne instinctively grab hands before blushing like radishes and letting go of each other with a simultaneous “oh sorry!” Meanwhile, Fred has just pulled out a flashlight that he had tucked into his pants leg and is now fumbling around inside his sock for the batteries.
With a look and a nod, the gang silently decides to do what they do best: investigate.
They open their apartment door with a creak and shuffle out into the hall. It’s shadowy and silent. Fred clicks on the flashlight. A rat scurries past. Shaggy gives a loud gulp. They make their way down the hall. The only sounds they can hear are the clatter of Daphne’s semi-sensible heels and the chattering of Scooby’s teeth. At the end of the hall, the doorway is ajar. Velma knows who lives there. It’s a reviewer for a popular online publication. Fred, undaunted due to his ignorance of the possibility of bodily harm, presses on. The gang follows closely behind. Fred reaches the door. It’s too dark to see inside.
“Hello in there!” Fred calls into the darkness. Silence.
“Looks like nobody’s home! Mystery solved, gang!” Shaggy says with pleading eyes.
“I don’t like it either, Shaggy, but we’ve got to investigate,” says Velma. “It’s what a good neighbor would do.”
“Velma’s right,” says Daphne. She’s always right. Oh god she’s so right for me. “We should look inside.”
Fred nods and opens to the door with an agonizingly slow creaaaaaaak. They step into the darkness and into the apartment. Fred swings his flashlight around, and it reveals signs of a struggle. A chair has been tipped over. The coffee table is broken. The glass from the living room window is shattered.
Fred shakes his head. They should have used treps!
Suddenly, the gang notices lights flicking at the other side of the apartment. The bedroom door is ajar. The can hear the sound of a muffled voice.
“Like zoinks!” Shaggy whispers through clenched teeth. “Maybe it’s a g-g-ghost!”
“Nonsense!” whispers Velma in return. “All the ‘ghosts’ we’ve encountered over the years? What are the odds that this one is real?”
“If it is a ghost, I’m gonna give it a piece of my mind!” says Fred, a little too loudly.
Suddenly, the door flies open with a crash. A shadowy figure comes careening out of the darkness. Shaggy and Scooby give a high, schoolyard scream and knock into Velma. Her glasses fall off her face.
“My glasses! I can’t see without my glasses!”
The creature rears up at Fred, who attempts to bat it way with his flashlight. He misses, but succeeds in knocking over a cabinet full of what appears to be expensive china. “Drat!” he exclaims. The creature hisses and knocks him down. His ascot catches on an edge of the broken cabinet. It tightens around his neck. He struggles, beginning to turn shades of blue. The creature gurgles and turns towards Daphne.
Daphne wheels around, looking for something, anything, she can use. She opens a kitchen drawer and throws a turkey baster at the creature. It’s ineffective. Next she throws an oven mitt. It hits the creature with a dull thwack then falls to the floor, useless. Daphne is out of options. In that moment, Velma finds her glasses. As she is putting them on, they reflect light from the flashlight that Fred dropped, briefly illuminating a cylindrically shaped object on the wall above the kitchen stove. Velma pushes her glasses onto her face, the world comes back into focus. She sees the shambling creature, the terrified Daphne, and the cylindrical object in full clarity. She knows what it is now.
“DAPHNE! THE FIRE EXTINGUISHER!”
Daphne turns and sees the fire extinguisher just above the stove. She vaults towards it with the grace of an antelope, pulling it from the wall. She grabs the nozzle and presses down on the trigger, coating the creature in white foam. With a scream, it falls to the floor. Velma picks up Fred’s flashlight and bonks it on the head, knocking it out cold.
The lights come back on.
“You … you saved me.”
In the bedroom doorway stands a young woman. She has rope marks around her wrists and an irritated, red mark over her lips where she ripped away a piece of duct tape. She steps into the room as Daphne uses a nail file to cut the strangling Fred’s ascot from his neck. The woman explains that she was attempting to watch The Last of Us in order to review it for her job when the creature burst in through her window, tied her up, and forced her to watch Strike instead. “But Robert Galbraith’s novels suck,” the woman adds. “I had to review one last spring. Was not down for the show.”
Robert Galbraith … Velma thinks. Where have I heard that name before? Then, it clicks. She remembers members of her online book club talking about Robert Galbraith, telling her the author isn’t a real person, but a pseudonym for a different author entirely.
Velma crosses to the creature on the floor. She kneels down and grabs the top of its shapeless black face.
And that author is …
She pulls the mask away. Everyone in the room gasps “J.K. Rowling!”
J.K. Rowling’s dyed red hair spills out over her shoulders. She pushes it out of her scowling face. “Yes, it was I,” she says, rather Britishly. “I wanted to be the number one most watched HBO show of this season, so I made a plan to break into the houses of internet tastemarkers in order to force them to watch my show and give it a glowing review. That way, I’ll once again become the most popular author in the world!”
“That’s dastardly!” says Velma
“Horrible!” says Daphne,
“Blurptht!” says Fred, still wheezing from his self-induced strangulation.
“Delicious!” says Shaggy. He and Scooby have begun eating the fire extinguisher foam off the floor.
“And I would have gotten away with it too! If it wasn’t for you meddling …”
J.K. Rowling begins to foam at the mouth while spouting a string of slurs not suitable for print.
After the police arrive and take J.K. Rowling away, the gang returns to their apartment. Scooby and Shaggy sink into a full-stomached stupor from eating all of the fire extinguisher foam. Fred falls as well asleep, potentially due to brain damage from his oxygen deprivation. Velma and Daphne sit on the sofa and watch episode 3 of The Last of Us, their hands finally intertwined.
(featured image: HBO)
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