RELIGION / The Netflix series Messiah asks the fascinating question of how Jesus – or someone who appears to be him – would be received today.


What if the earth was invaded by aliens? What if robots could be sent from the future to change the story's evolution? What if the world was reduced to desert after a disaster? What if sterility became widespread and the remaining fertile women were forced to be feeders in a dictatorship? What if there were beings who lived forever but had to drink the blood of men?

Many films and TV shows are based on such thought experiments. Not least, science-fiction stories often have terms that can be formulated in "what-if" questions. Netflix series Messiah does not, however, fall into this genre, but is perhaps one religion fiction It asks a hypothetical question surprisingly few fiction films or drama series have so far addressed: What if Jesus should resurrect today?

Admittedly, the word "apparently" should be added to this premise, as the series consistently holds the viewer in uncertainty as to whether the alleged savior is a charlatan or a real commodity.

Messiah Series Creator Michael Petroni USA
Messiah Series Creator Michael Petroni USA

Charismatic preacher

I Messiah a Jesus-like man shows up Syria, at the same time as a sandstorm causes a significant setback ISIS. The eloquent and charismatic preacher is nicknamed al-Masih ("the Savior"), and quickly gains a following of followers. After leading a group of Palestinians residing in Syria to the Israeli border, he mysteriously finds himself in the United States. There, among other things, he steps out of a tornado and walks across a water surface – to the great amazement of the crowds, whether they are present or watching one of the ever-increasing number of video footage of the supposed miracles.

It is only to be expected that a Messiah of our time would not only have followers in the traditional sense.

Messiah asks a big question, in an ambitious series that embraces several global perspectives. This despite the fact that more and more attention is being directed towards the United States throughout the season – Messiah is now once a US-produced Netflix series. But Americans have a habit of placing themselves at the center of international events, whether they want it or not.

Under surveillance

Series creator Michael Petroni has also previously based on supernatural and religious themes as screenwriter of the horror films Possession (2009) and The Rite (2011) Messiah however, geniuses are as much related to series as Homeland og Office , with its description of specific countries' intelligence operations against a backdrop of events we know from reality news.

The series alternates between a wide gallery of characters, two of which are the most important agents for respectively CIA and Israeli security service. Through these characters are given Messiah a proven thriller form, which is probably intended to appeal to the series consuming masses. Still, this doesn't necessarily come at the expense of the story's credibility, at least not until a season's final ten episodes. For it is hard to imagine that a totally unknown person who gets so much influence in such a short time will not be in the spotlight for American intelligence. Or that the Israelis should not mobilize their secret services when a man leads a multitude of refugees to their border.

Messiah Series Creator Michael Petroni USA
Series creator Michael Petroni USA

On the contrary, the credibility goes a long way that the American authorities in particular do not have better control over this Messiah figure, and that other politically or economically motivated organizations are unable to use him to a greater extent for their purposes. But therein may also be some of the miracles we are witnessing.

Likewise, one can only expect that a Messiah of our time would not only have followers who physically followed him, but even more followers through social media. In the series, though, he doesn't have his own Instagram account, unlike one of those who walks with him. Through her "trends" the topic guy the Messiah soon online.

No specific beliefs

With millions of people wanting something to believe in and someone to answer their prayers, there is obviously big money to be made on religion. This is partly due to the series, while at the same time you can accuse with a little bit of a will Netflix to be out in the same business as those who take care of the religious longings of others. Nevertheless, the series is to be praised for daring to touch on many current political issues, including the conflicts in the Middle East, Islamist terror, religious heads of state and – not surprisingly – secret surveillance. And what about the Russians, maybe they pull in some hidden threads? The series also manages to draw an interesting picture of a suitably enigmatic Messiah, who never even proclaims any more specific beliefs than following him whom he calls God in various languages.

The mystery plot is used for a very fascinating thought experiment, which is far from being treated in an impressively realistic way.

Fascinating thought experiment

Messiah is sometimes shamed by its streamlined narrative form, where the question of who this man really is almost becomes a kind of "whodunnit." Equally fully, this mystery plot is used for a very fascinating thought experiment, which is far from being treated in an impressively realistic way.

It is not to be stated here whether the Messiah of the series is the many people he thinks he is. The lack of sure answers is also a fundamental aspect of religious belief, and thus we may be forgiven that not all sides of the narrative are fully redeemed.

With such a complex and comprehensive theme – and presumably many disciples among the world's Netflix subscribers – there should be room for the series to step into even deeper waters in a second season. In other words, I believe in a resurrection.


Messiah first season is available on Netflix.

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