09 January 2020, The Tablet

The second coming on TV


The second coming on TV

Mehdi Dehbi is a mysterious and gnomic Al-Masih
Photo: Netflix

 

Netflix’s arresting new drama imagines the Messiah’s return in the modern world

What would the second coming look like in the modern world? It’s tricky to imagine – which may be why it is a subject most writers, for television or otherwise, steer clear of, despite its obvious dramatic potential. The novelist, T.F. Powys, had a go in 1927 at imagining God visiting a village in Dorset in the guise of a wine merchant called Mr Weston.

In Messiah, the 10-part drama series now streaming in toto on Netflix, takes the more traditional route of situating the putative second coming in the Middle East where a hauntingly charismatic young man, known only as Al-Masih, emerges in the region’s turbulent hotspots of religious conflict with a message of peace and change. “I am sent from God,” he tells his followers who then impart his words around the world via social media from a waving sea of phones and selfie sticks.

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