A man emerges out from a storm, who is he? A Messiah(As he proclaims himself)? The evil? A terrorist? Or just any other fanatic? Netflix’s new year gift Messiah is a 10 part series with Mehdi Dehbi, Michelle Monaghan and Tomer Sisley in the centre of it all. A socio commentary blended with the correct amount of drama and suspense, Messiah will dig its hook deep into your skin and will stay in your head for quite some time. Also, not for ones with offence quotient high.
What’s Messiah About?
A mysterious boy emerges out of nowhere in Damascus and saves the town from a storm and a terrorist organisation who is on the verge of taking it over (at least that is what we can see in the amazingly CGIed storm). In no time he becomes a Messiah, Imam, The saviour and many other names. To put it short, a cult, who makes almost thousands of people follow him to cross the border to enter Iraq. The boy or Messiah is now on the radar of every investigation bureau (one of the very few shows where the job of FBI and CBI is actually justified, I told you, no offence).
Till now we have no clue who this guy with a jawline that can cut the hardest metal there is. He is poised, elegant but dangerous and his eyes say it all. What follows is the search for his identity, a cat and mouse race, the questioning to the religion, prophecies that make it look true but the most important of it all who the Messiah is.
The real winner in Messiah is intelligent writing. Building a story around a religious belief /idea is a risky path to take, offence comes handy from the very first word. Taking the smart route, creator Michael Petroni and his team of skilful writers don’t tell you a story from a perspective that everything on the screen is the truth, rather they build an objective narrative and make us the judge. Now the decision whether he is the Messiah or just a con is completely on us and not them. Plus the premise is partially set amidst the war, which just doubles the pressure to be responsible.
Messiah, though is about an idea of a cult that shakes the religious belief of two strong religions, it also makes us question our belief and faith. Here the makers do not tell you which side is the villain or the hero, it is you who will decide. It is not just a show with an end, it is a test and the answers are subjective.
Coming to the characters, none are overdone, they are just like they are supposed to be. The Messiah or Payam Golshiri (his real name) is not a character wearing kaftans or standing on a dais to prove he is a cult, rather he is a tracksuit wearing boy who blends into his surrounding but can be noticed due to his aura.
The CBI agent Eva Geller (Michelle) and Intelligence officer Aviram Dahan (Tomer) is not just the gun holding, super cool black blazer wearing agents but have their aching backstories. The stories too are not the mainstream, thank God they have some new problems.
Special mention to Jane Adams who plays a journalist Miriam Keneally. One of the most authentic portrayals of the profession to date. Even her dialogues are smart. Also, the decision to show how much of an influence social media has on our life in the simplest way deserves brownie points.
The series is blessed with a good star cast which knows their jobs and doesn’t overdo it. Mehdi as Messiah is calm, composed, knows what every muscle in his body is doing and makes you believe his move can never be wrong. Michelle as Eva brings the perfect blend of courage and vulnerability, the pressure of the baggage of her personal life becomes ours and we feel it. Tomer as Aviram is a performance that will win hearts. His hard demeanour and soft heart that runs to his daughter is visible even through his plain face.
The show begins with a slow pace to make us comfortable with the universe, but speeds up when you get into the narrative and trust me you are up for a God damn ride!
The season ends on a note where the judgement is difficult and it is the best way to end it for sure.
What Might Not Work:
Not much, the show is a bold and fierce, it takes an objective viewing to consume and sadly many of us lack it.
Watch Messiah for sure and you should. For an idea that is different and not just one of the many generic ones, for a perspective that is untouched and for the goose flesh it brings.
Rating: 4 stars