“Today you sit in the seat of the lucky. Just remember what put you there. Fate. What is fate but the hand of God.” Al-Mahsi or the Messiah speaks these words to the court during his hearing for clemency, a chance to stay in the U.S. after entering illegally.
Mehdi Dehbi brilliantly plays the Messiah who shines a spotlight on the world’s desperate people, wherever they may be. He seeks to help them help themselves and in doing so, disrupts the balance of power through civil unrest. Michelle Monaghan plays the CIA agent tasked with finding him and uncovering his motivation and his true identity.
What she finds leads her down a path of personal discovery. While she’s certain he’s a fraud, she can’t help but wonder at his insights into her soul. When she catches up to him, he has already escaped from the Israelis after leading a group of Palestinians out of Syria and to the border of Israel. He escapes to Northern Europe and then to Texas where he saves a girl from a tornado bearing down on the small town of Dilly.
He knows things no one can know, and his advice to CIA agent Eva Geller is selfless. And she’s not the only one. Many people have been touched by his presence and his words, his insight, and magnetism. Some people weep at the catharsis, some people yell and deny, whether it’s anger, fear, sadness, or happiness, everyone feels it. It’s undeniable and therein lies the problem for nation-states and people who seek to keep the status quo.
What this series does well
Pretty much everything. The visuals (filmed in the Middle East and the U.S.), the production values, the cinematography by Danny Ruhlmann all shine. They’re as good as it gets. The writing borders on brilliance and the acting keeps pace with it, step by step.
Particular standouts are the scenes in the Middle East with the two Palestinian friends, Jabril and Samer, played by Sayyid El Alami and Fares Landoulsi respectively. Heart-wrenching doesn’t even begin to describe it. Their friendship acts as a metaphor for open-hearted, childlike faith and the worldly cynicism of politics and religion. While they eventually make very different choices, they are both used as pawns by the powers that be. Just as when Samer reads Jabril “The Little Prince” in the desert as they wait to be let into Isreal, they begin their journey as children and struggle to understand the ways of this strange new world.
Other standouts include Tomer Sisley who plays Avirham Dahran, an Israeli operative. He’s tortured, arrogant, angry, dismissive, oddly likeable and seriously sexy. His inner demons terrorize him and destroy his family until the Messiah rescues him from certain death.
Will this series continue?
Sadly not now. Covid and political unrest in the Middle East have killed this series in its infancy. That’s truly a tragedy! I have hope that in the future another streaming service will pick it up, just like The Expanse, another gem saved from the scrap pile. Until then, I feel lucky to have seen this.