Messiah (American TV series)

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Title screen for Messiah.png
Created byMichael Petroni
Theme music composer
Country of originUnited States
Original languagesEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10
Executive producers
  • Brandon Guercio
  • David Nicksay
CinematographyDanny Ruhlmann
  • Martin Connor
  • Joseph Jett Sally
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time38–55 minutes
Production companies
Original networkNetflix
Picture format4K (16:9 UHDTV in high dynamic range)
Audio formatDolby Digital
Original releaseJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)

Messiah is an American thriller streaming television series created by Michael Petroni. The first season consists of ten episodes,[1] which were released on Netflix on January 1, 2020.[2][3] The series stars Mehdi Dehbi, Tomer Sisley, Michelle Monaghan, John Ortiz, Melinda Page Hamilton, Stefania LaVie Owen, Jane Adams, Sayyid El Alami, Fares Landoulsi, and Wil Traval. In March 2020, the series was canceled after one season.[4]


The series focuses on the modern world's reaction to a man – who first appears in the Middle East – whose followers claim him to be the eschatological return of ʿĪsā (Jesus in Arabic). His sudden appearance and apparent miracles spark a growing international following, casting doubts around who he really is, a case investigated by a CIA Case Officer.





No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"He That Hath an Ear"James McTeigueMichael PetroniJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
A street preacher clad in yellow (Mehdi Dehbi) preaches to a crowd in Damascus, urging them to be calm and not to worry about their city being captured by Islamic State, as God has ordained that it will not happen. After a month long sandstorm breaks ISIL's supply chains, they retreat and the city is saved. Then the preacher, who people take to calling al-Masih, leads hundreds of his followers into the desert, all the way until the border with the Golan Heights, a journey of around 65 kilometres (40 mi). Al-Masih walks over the barbed wire fence and is arrested by the Israel Border Police. Jailed, al-Masih is interrogated by Aviram Dahan (Tomer Sisley), who is Shin Bet (Israel's internal security agency); he also refuses to provide a real name. Al-Masih turns the tables on Dahan, revealing his name and other facts Dahan feels he could not reasonably be expected to know. Dahan terminates the interrogation and leaves the room. He returns in the early morning hours, but is shocked to find that al-Masih had escaped from detention.
2"Tremor"James McTeigueMichael Petroni & Bruce Marshall RomansJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
With al-Masih having escaped, an international incident is brewing as the people he led to Israel's border starve; when news of his escape reaches them, they receive further resolve to stay. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency steps in to help the Israeli authorities find al-Masih and figure out who he is, led by Eva Geller (Michelle Monaghan). After Dahan thinks he sees him, but instead it is just a look-alike, al-Masih resurfaces at the Al-Aqsa Mosque plaza (also known as the Temple Mount or Dome of the Rock) in Jerusalem. He preaches a sermon to the crowd, including apocalyptic phrases like "history has ended". His sermon is interrupted by the Israeli police, who move to capture al-Masih, but fail to do so after a gun is heard to go off and it seems a boy is shot. Al-Masih lays hands on the boy, who rises unharmed. A bloody bullet is shown to the crowd. Many Muslims view this as a miracle. Al-Masih then disappears into the crowd.
3"The Finger of God"James McTeigueAmy Louise Johnson & Kelly WilesJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
A tornado hits Dilley, Texas and al-Masih is there, rescuing Rebecca, daughter of town pastor Felix Iguero. A video of this is intercepted by the CIA, who set up a social media blockade. Al-Masih enters the preacher's home as a guest, but soon a federal agent (JTTF) arrives at the scene, enters the church, and arrests him. Iguero vows to get al-Masih out of jail, and calls in a favor to get an ACLU lawyer on the case. Geller arrives in Texas to interrogate al-Masih, learning on the way that he might have arrived via Quetzalcóatl International Airport, in Mexico, on a charter plane flying from Jordan. She demands that the JTTF allow her to speak to the detained al-Masih, but al-Masih's lawyer prevents that from happening. Her situation worsens when one of the videos proving al-Masih is in Texas escapes their social media blockade and is picked up by the news media.
4"Trial"James McTeigueMichael Brandon GuercioJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
Al-Masih's lawyer tells him that while the charge of illegal entry into the United States is likely to be upheld in court, she thinks she can get him out of the federal immigration detention facility he is being held in. She then leaves the facility, and the JTTF tips off Eva Geller about that, who despite having had a miscarriage, rushes in to see him. Once again, al-Masih turns the tables on his interrogator by revealing he knows her name, and that both her mother and husband are deceased. Back in her hotel room, she has a call with her boss, who reveals that Israel is seeking to extradite al-Masih, and that the State's attorney will argue that this be allowed. Eva Geller goes to see al-Masih's lawyer, trying to convince her to stop fighting al-Masih's detention, to keep him out of Israel. At the trial, the State argues that al-Masih's lawyer is lying about him being a Muslim, to which al-Masih replies that he "walks with all men". In a shock decision delivered the next day, the Court decides to grant "Mr. Masih" asylum, which permits al-Masih to walk out of the court room a free man into a waiting car driven by Rev. Iguero.
5"So That Seeing They May Not See"Kate WoodsEmily SilverJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
In the Golan Heights, a badly injured Jibril is cared for by his friend and fellow follower of al-Masih, Samir (Fares Landoulsi). The refugees are faring badly however, and soon Samer questions why Jibril has so much faith, calling him "mad" for not seeking medical care elsewhere as his injuries could kill him. The CIA follows al-Masih and Rev. Iguero back to Dilley, Texas, where Americans from all over begin congregating to be close to al-Masih. Al-Masih stays in a small tent, attended only by Rev. Iguero. When Iguero asks him what to do next, al-Masih tells him that he needs to listen to God. Aviram Dahan travels to Texas to kill al-Masih, but cannot bring himself to pull the trigger when face to face with him; he is caught in the act on camera by Eva Geller, who races after him. Al-Masih walks past Dahan and hears a wounded dog crying out, following the sound. The dog's owner prepares to shoot the dog, but his son begs al-Masih for a miracle. Instead, al-Masih takes the gun and shoots the dog himself, to the exasperation of the child. Geller, startled at the gun shot, finally catches up with Dahan, and is bewildered to see both Dahan and al-Masih still alive. She demands he tell her what happened, but he does not.
6"We Will Not All Sleep"Kate WoodsMichael Petroni & Michael BondJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
Al-Masih wakes Rev. Iguero, telling him that it is time for them to go, demanding he chose the destination. A conflicted Rev. Iguero decides to uproot his family, much to the chagrin of his wife, Anna (Melinda Page Hamilton), though to the delight of his daughter. Rev. Iguero leads a convoy out of Dilley, Texas which soon grows to hundreds of cars. Eva Geller finally learns al-Masih's real name from a mysterious source named "Q": Payam Golshiri. She heads back to Texas to follow al-Masih, who the media incorrectly report is leading the convoy. She theorizes that al-Masih's plan is to cause "social disruption" because he quoted a book by one of his professors, who was an American, but defected to Russia, during an interrogation. Finally deciding to go to Washington, al-Masih preaches a sermon in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and, in full view of everyone, he then turns and walks on the water of the Reflecting Pool to the astonishment of the crowd, many of whom record the event on their phones. At the same time as al-Masih walks on the water, in the Golan Heights, Jibril, who had been experiencing vivid visions of his deceased mother and al-Masih, strips nude and walks up to and then over the Israeli border, leading the other refugees behind him; an event likewise widely photographed.
7"It Came to Pass as It Was Spoken"Kate WoodsEoghan O'DonnellJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
The world is abuzz after al-Masih's miracle, with even the Congregation for the Causes of Saints investigating. Samir, along with many others who defected from the teachings of al-Masih, end up in a compound in the Badia Desert led by a man who thinks al-Masih is al-Masih ad-Dajjal; while Jibril, remaining faithful to al-Masih, ends up in Ramallah, greeted as a liberator. Meanwhile, the highest levels of the U.S. government are concerned over the popularity of al-Masih, with the White House Chief of Staff (Michael O'Neill) demanding the CIA do more to "discredit" him. A prostitute is sent to seduce al-Masih at his hotel, but al-Masih recognizes her as having been paid to discredit him. They however manage to find al-Masih's brother, who tells them that they were raised by their uncle, a trained illusionist.
8"Force Majeure"Kate WoodsEoghan O'DonnellJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
The President of the United States (Dermot Mulroney) has a secret meeting with al-Masih; al-Masih demands the President withdraw all US troops from everywhere in the world, using the President's Mormon faith in a bid to convince him. The next day, al-Masih reveals to the media that the meeting took place, to the anger of Rev. Iguero, who is not informed beforehand. Later, Rev. Iguero's daughter reveals to him that her mother, Anna, took her to Austin, Texas for an abortion. His daughter also says that al-Masih came to Texas for her, not Rev. Iguero. Later, al-Masih tries to convince Anna Iguero to let "her [daughter] go" to be "her own person". In Jerusalem, a guard admits to having freed al-Masih from prison, ending the investigation into Aviram Dahan.
9"God Is Greater"James McTeigueBruce Marshall RomansJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
In Ramallah, Jibril, who is illiterate, is being taught to recite a speech by rote, promoting the Palestinian cause. Meanwhile, Rev. Iguero asks televangelist Edmund DeGuilles (Beau Bridges) to have al-Masih on his program, without first asking al-Masih. Al-Masih agrees, but only if Rev. Iguero will bring along his daughter. Eva Geller is shocked to learn that her own father (Philip Baker Hall) believes al-Masih to be the end times Messiah, and her father compares her to her own mother, who miscarried many times but never gave up trying to conceive. In anger, Geller reveals that she miscarried the last egg fertilized via in-vitro fertilization from her deceased husband, and that there is no further hope; leaving the house, she goes to the hotel and then has sex with Aviram Dahan, who had in previous episodes made his desire for her obvious. It is revealed that the compound in the Badia is a terrorist training camp, and that Samer is to play the part of a suicide bomber. While Jibril gives his speech, Samer enters the mosque, shows the explosives tied to his chest, and raises the button. Staring into the eyes of Jibril, he cannot bring himself to pull the trigger; however, the bomb vest is remotely activated by Samer's mentor. Meanwhile, now back in the good graces of the Mossad, Dahan abducts al-Massih before he can appear on TV in a manner similar to the real life Mossad abduction of Mordechai Vanunu, and they make their way to the airport in a SUV.
10"The Wages of Sin"James McTeigueMichael PetroniJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
The White House Chief of Staff decides to leak al-Masih's real name to the press, and that al-Masih was brought up by an illusionist, which causes dismay among al-Masih's followers. Meanwhile, Eva Geller catches wind of the fact that al-Masih has been abducted, despite having been granted asylum in the United States. The CIA tracks the "diplomatic jet" as it flies back to the Middle East. In the sky, al-Masih talks to Aviram urging him to free his conscience and that God loves him anyway, that every moment is useful to choose, choose good or evil and that the last thing he will see before he dies will be the face of the boy he killed in Megiddo. Suddenly the plane begins experiencing severe turbulence and its lights go off. A fearful Dahan looks into the eyes of al-Masih, who seems not at all concerned; the plane crashes while Eva Geller is tracking it. Geller confronts the President's Chief of Staff for leaking classified information, and accuses him of orchestrating the crash. Meanwhile, a very young shepherd comes across the crash site, which is surrounded by poppies despite being in the desert, where he claims to have seen al-Masih raise first himself, then Dahan, along with another man, from the dead. A shocked Dahan peers out across the desert, and sees one of the other passengers on his knees kissing al-Masih's hand.



On November 17, 2017, it was announced that Netflix had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of ten episodes.[1] The series was created by Michael Petroni who is also credited as an executive producer and showrunner of the series. Additional executive producers include Andrew Deane, James McTeigue, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Production companies involved with the series include Industry Entertainment and LightWorkers Media.[1] On March 26, 2020, Netflix canceled the series after one season.[4]


In January 2018, it was announced that John Ortiz,[8] Tomer Sisley[6] and Mehdi Dehbi[6] would star in the series. In May 2018, it was announced that Michelle Monaghan had been cast in a starring role.[7][12] In June 2018, it was reported that Melinda Page Hamilton, Stefania LaVie Owen, Jane Adams, Sayyid El Alami, Fares Landoulsi and Wil Traval had joined the main cast.[9] In the same month, it was announced that Beau Bridges and Philip Baker Hall had joined the cast in a recurring capacity.[10] This was Hall’s final credit, prior to his death in 2022.


Principal photography for the first season took place in Amman, Jordan; Albuquerque, Mountainair, Estancia, Belen, Santa Fe and Clines Corners, New Mexico from June 2018 to August 2018.[13][14]



On December 3, 2019, the official trailer for the series was released by Netflix.[2]


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 44% approval rating for the first season, based on critic 27 reviews. The website's critical consensus states, "A promising premise and superb ensemble can't save Messiah from its own bland storytelling."[15] On Metacritic, the season has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[16]

The trailer received negative reception from some Muslim audiences.[17] In December 2019, it was announced in a press conference that The Royal Film Commission of Jordan requested Netflix to refrain from streaming Messiah in the country due to the provocative subject matter and controversial religious content covered in the series.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b c Petski, Denise (November 16, 2017). "'Messiah': Netflix Orders Religious Drama Series From Mark Burnett & Roma Downey". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 27, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Nemetz, Dave (December 3, 2019). "Messiah Trailer: Is This Miracle Worker a Con Man, or the Second Coming?". TVLine. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  3. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 24, 2019). "Michelle Monaghan Under The Spell Of Blumhouse-Sony's 'The Craft'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 11, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Daily, Paul (March 26, 2020). "Messiah Canceled After One Season at Netflix". TV Fanatic. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "Messiah". Netflix Media Center. Retrieved 2021-05-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b c Petski, Denise (January 29, 2018). "'Messiah': Tomer Sisley & Mehdi Dehbi Cast In Mark Burnett's Netflix Drama Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 14, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (May 4, 2018). "'Messiah': Michelle Monaghan To Star In Netflix Drama Series From Mark Burnett & Roma Downey". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 17, 2018. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Petski, Denise (January 29, 2018). "'Messiah': John Ortiz Cast In Netflix Drama Series From Mark Burnett & Roma Downey". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on July 11, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Pedersen, Erik (7 June 2018). "'Messiah': Netflix Adds Nearly A Dozen To Cast Of Suspense Thriller Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Pedersen, Erik (June 28, 2018). "'Messiah': Beau Bridges & Philip Baker Hall To Recur On Netflix Drama Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  11. ^ "Rona-Lee Shim'on". IMDb.
  12. ^ Boucher, Ashley (May 4, 2018). "Michelle Monaghan Cast in Netflix Drama 'Messiah'". TheWrap. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Gomez, Adrian (May 29, 2018). "Netflix series 'Messiah' to be filmed in New Mexico". Albuquerque Journal. Archived from the original on December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  14. ^ "Netflix shoots parts of "Messiah" series in Jordan". Roya News. November 28, 2019. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  15. ^ "Messiah: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "Messiah (2020) - TV Show Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  17. ^ "Arabic speakers notice 'massive spoiler' ahead of new Netflix series Messiah". The Independent. 6 December 2019. Archived from the original on 6 December 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  18. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (December 30, 2019). "'Messiah': Jordan's Royal Film Commission Asks Netflix Not To Stream Provocative Series After Supporting Its Shoot". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 31, 2019. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  19. ^ Mahjouri, Shakiel (December 30, 2019). "Jordan's Royal Film Commission Does Not Want 'Messiah' Streamed In The Country". Entertainment Tonight Canada. Archived from the original on December 31, 2019. Retrieved December 31, 2019.

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