Monday 10 July 2023


I have developed an interest over the last few years in eschatology, the concept of the Apocalypse, Armageddon, End Times or whatever else you like to call it. I believe it is a fundamental archetype that emerges in most people in different ways. For full details, see the background links below. For my research I have taken an interest in how the notion is portrayed in modern fiction and give some examples such as The Omen, the Left Behind series and, The Second Coming. I have now found another one, Messiah. This is a 2020 TV series in ten forty-five minute episodes and it follows the story of a man who appears to be the Second Coming. The programme was made during Peak Woke and avidly champions that toxicity. The most horrible excesses are found in episode one during the first few scenes; and this is a pattern I've noticed with other TV programmes. Maybe it is because they know most people pay ninety percent of their attention to the first few minutes of a TV show. There is only one white male character in the first episode and he is a job applicant who is turned down ruthlessly and contemptuously by Eva Geller, one of the main characters. Eva is a senior CIA case officer, and she is a "Sassy!", "Strong!", "Independent!" and "Empowered!" "Woman!". She is abrupt, wilful and pragmatic; and she feels the need to assert herself among the "EEEEEEEvil white males!" she has continuously to compete with. She is scathing, sarcastic and casually dismissive of her underlings, especially if they are white men. I don't think the writers realize how much of a cliché this type of character is. It is Erin Brockovich; it is Diana Christensen; it is Kate Blackwell. Actually by episode four we see a different side of Eva. She becomes a deeper and more complex person and therefore more likeable. The programme also promotes bad fatherhood as a male ideal in the form of Aviram Dahan, a Mossad agent. He is divorced from his wife and a visiting dad to his daughter. That is not unusual for fictional detectives; however Aviram is recklessly neglectful of her. In one scene he is driving along with his daughter, who is four years old; and he jumps out of the car and abandons her in the back seat to pursue a suspect on foot. He also carries a gun in the glove compartment with his child in the car. He is depicted torturing and beating Jibril, a teenage boy. He then dumps him on the side of a road, thinking he is dead. And to put the cherry on the cake, he's a functional alcoholic. That's what qualifies you as an alpha male in today's media... Anyway, that's enough moaning, Ben; I hear you say. What's the show about?
The mysterious individual is not introduced with any name at first. He is simply called Al-Masih, Arabic for "Messiah". He is a thin young man with long hair and a sparse beard, deliberately making him resemble our popular image of Jesus. He first appears in Damascus during the siege by the Al-Nusra Front where he wanders around reassuring people and preaching calmness. He wears yellow robes and is fearless of the bombs and bullets which never seem to hit him. He them performs another miracle at the Temple Mount. A young boy is shot by the police and the stranger heals him with his hands. By now he has a huge following and people are openly declaring him to be the Second Coming of Isa ibn Maryam, Jesus Christ. Amazingly he then pops up in Texas USA, at a border town recently destroyed by a tornado; and the only building left standing is the church. The local pastor becomes one of Al-Masih's first disciples. The CIA and Mossad decide to put a trace on Al-Masih. To begin with, they are uncertain of who he is. For example they find evidence that he didn't just materialize in Texas by supernatural means; he went to Mexico in a private jet and sneaked across the border. Could he simply be a conman? What about a Russian disinformer? The true status of this enigmatic figure is also kept from the viewer, making the plot considerably different to The Second Coming where one is left in no doubt about Stephen Baxter's divinity after he fills a night-time football stadium with daylight early on in the story. The ambiguity of the crypto-Jesus character is jealously guarded; this very skilfully creates a sense of intrigue. At one point he has his own Sermon on the Mount moment, but it totally lacks the drama and menace of Baxter's manifesto despite the fact that it ends with another supposed miracle, see: My favourite scene is one which is copied almost perfectly from the story in the Gospels where Jesus meets Mary Magdalene; and it is very moving. I'm pleased to report that the programme casts the brilliant Beau Bridges in a supporting role, star of one of my favourite films, Voyage of the Unicorn, see: It also has a guest appearance by James Randi the super-skeptic. Messiah is technically very good. I like its style, score and production design. The acting is top notch, but it does not have the gritty and vivid punch delivered by The Second Coming, its vision of ordinary society in an extraordinary situation; nor does it match the gothic sophistication of The Omen. The Jesus figure in Messiah is a hollow and shadow character compared to Stephen Baxter. It's still well worth watching though. There was originally going to be a second season, but it was cancelled.
See here for background:


Anonymous said...

You seem to have a very different definition of 'woke' to the original meaning and describe overt radical feminism in your example given. A very common mistake.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

I don't think it's a mistake, Julian (Yes, I know who you are). The "original" meaning is one that is approving whereas I use it in the pejoratively which is probably more popular in colloquial interaction.