Netflix quietly confirmed the death of one of its original series this past week, a show that I think most people ignored, but one that sparked at least some level of a niche fanbase, given all the angry emails I got when I wrote about it and said it was bad.
That would be Messiah, the high concept series about what it might be like if Jesus actually did return for the second coming, though with pressing mysteries about whether he’s a hoax, or even the antichrist, pervaded the series.
The problem with cancelling Messiah now is that none of these questions will be answered. The first season of the show felt like a set-up for a potentially more interesting second season, but now that’s never going to come to pass.
We ended the first season with (spoilers follow) Al-Masih actually raising the dead in a plane crash, confirming once and for all that he did indeed have supernatural powers, though the central mystery of whether he’s the Messiah or the Antichrist remain. Similarly, another character in the show, a young refugee boy, felt like he had the potentially to perhaps be the true Messiah instead, and we’ll never know if that was the plan.
I first saw the news of the cancellation confirmed on actor Wil Traval’s Instagram, with the implication that it caught everyone off guard and they were devastated by the news. It is a little unusual for Netflix to cancel a series after a single season, as normally two is the standard length for most of its originals (even if few survive past that). That must have meant that either it performed pretty badly in viewership, or that they didn’t want to deal with the controversial subject matter further.
Admittedly, I did not particularly like the series, but it’s always a shame to see a story that can’t finish being told regardless. Particularly one that was set up to deliver answers like Messiah, but that’s the way TV goes sometimes, I suppose.
I know there will be a dedicated group of fans upset by the news that Messiah won’t see a second season, but I think we can maybe extrapolate the eventual plan where Al-Masih was probably, definitely going to end up being the antichrist, though how exactly that unfolded would have been interesting to watch to be sure.
RIP Messiah. Insert your “maybe it can rise from the dead” jokes here.