A CIA officer investigates a charismatic figure whose followers believe he can perform miracles; he may be a divine entity or a dangerous con artist.
Format: 10 episodes streaming on Netflix simultaneously.
Cast: Mehdi Dehbi, Michelle Monaghan, Tomer Sisley, John Ortiz, Stefani LaVie Owen, Jane Adams, Sayyid El Alami, Melinda Page Hamilton
Directors: James McTeigue (1-4,9-10) Kate Woods (5-8)
Writers: Michael Petroni (creator), Bruce Marshall Romans (2,9), Michael Bond (6), Michael Brandon Guercio (4), Amy Louise Johnson (3), Kelly Wiles (3)
Netflix is starting 2020 with a show that is sure to be provocative. It doesn’t really matter what your religion is, Messiah is probably offensive to it and although I don’t believe the showrunners set out to offend people, they’re certainly trying to provoke conversation and I think they’ll be successful on that front. And in a lot of ways, that’s where I struggled in reviewing this show — I don’t believe in any god, and thus I certainly wasn’t offended by Messiah’s story; I was enthralled. But as a white-man without any faith, I do feel like my point-of-view is going to be less interesting than someone of any faith, and in particular those with Abrahamic religious beliefs and backgrounds.
Ahead of the show’s release, there has been a slight uproar about the show’s main character, the messiah himself, Al-Masih who is portrayed wonderfully by Belgium actor Mehdi Dehbi. A man who presents himself as a prophet early in the first episode and garners some followers quickly as his apparent godlike powers and knowledge quickly make their way around the world thanks to social media. The show doesn’t just focus on Al-Masih however, as he’s left as this giant question mark for viewers to make their choice in believing in him or not.
Several characters are introduced from all sorts of backgrounds and beliefs that soon surround Al-Masih as his journey takes him to America early in the season. Michelle Monaghan plays CIA agent Eva Geller who’s investigating Al-Masih for fear of another terrorist leader uprising, John Ortiz plays a Texas preacher struggling with his faith and family with his daughter Rebecca, played by Stefania LaView Owen, drifting from him and his wife. Tomer Sisley plays Avrim Daham an Israeli Intelligence Officer who encounters Al-Masih in Israel early in the series and quickly becomes obsessed in proving him to be nothing but a false prophet and a liar, while Savyid El Alami plays a young kid who is quickly enamoured by Al-Masih and a stout believer in him as a prophet. The show doesn’t fail to present enough characters with different viewpoints, backgrounds and religious beliefs.
Messiah is constantly engaging because the show isn’t afraid of pushing its provocative story that ends up being very interesting and thrilling thanks to the wide range of characters and stories that all end up surrounding Al-Masih. The show dares to ask how the world would react to the appearance of a messiah-like-figure.