“Force Majeure” features another seemingly random natural disaster but also suggests that these events might be exactly what the Lord wants.
This recap of Messiah Season 1, Episode 8, “Force Majeure”, contains spoilers.
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We learn immediately in Messiah Episode 8 who kidnapped Al-Masih (Mehdi Dehbi) — it was the President of the United States (Dermot Mulroney). They have a “confidential” conversation, which Al-Masih insists was destiny, since the President is, apparently, the reason he came to Washington. He wants to know how far the President might go to bring about a thousand years of peace. It’s an easy goal to achieve, according to him — all it requires is the withdrawal of all American troops stationed abroad. Easy does it! They argue about American foreign policy and about what is to come; Al-Masih can’t see it, he must simply act on faith, or a heavy price will be paid. He does, though, speak for God — apparently. The President is obviously a believer; America is the right country to pick if you want to be totally sure that a world leader is god-fearing.
“Force Majeure” then visits Eva’s father, who is on a beach full of dead fish, which in my experience is never a good sign. Eva (Michelle Monaghan) herself arrives at Williams College to find out more about Al-Masih’s academic records, which are either totally unremarkable or missing.
Elsewhere, Jibril (Sayyid El Alami) is being used as an argument in favor of sovereignty, though him reading his prepared statement will be a bit difficult given he’s illiterate. Samir (Farès Landoulsi), on the other hand, reads and writes quite well, though his new minders are quick to confiscate his book. The difference in their treatment is very clear — and doesn’t bode well.
Back at the hotel, Al-Masih takes the podium for questions from the press. Miriam Keneally (Jane Adams) wastes no time in asking him outright if he’s the messiah. He says he is here to bring about the world to come, which sounds ominous. Further questions — why come to DC? What is he going to do? He admits that he met with the President to discuss how to achieve world peace.
Now that Al-Masih is cozying up to the President, Felix (John Ortiz) feels out of the loop. But the publicity surrounding the President’s involvement wasn’t intended, and it compels Collier to open a backchannel to Israel in the hopes of getting rid of Al-Masih before he can cause any more bad press.
Avrim (Tomer Sisley), still totally unconvinced, meets with Al-Masih in Messiah Episode 8, asking him about his real identity. “I have been known by that name,” he replies. Aw, cute! He’s so mysterious.
So mysterious is Al-Masih, in fact, that the President dreams of meeting with him again; when he wakes he turns on the TV to see news of a massive tidal surge in Florida. And that’s just the start of the bad news. Rebecca (Stefania LaVie Owen) decides she’s going to live her truth and confesses to Felix that a trip she made to Austin last year was for an abortion. Felix, in a spectacular display of narcissism, thinks this somehow jeopardizes his relationship with Al-Masih. Rebecca says that he didn’t come for him anyway, but for her.
Avrim calls his daughter and asks her about school, but she says she hasn’t been going because they’ve been doing emergency drills. (This is the kind of mundane but horrifying detail that Messiah could have used more of.) When it’s time to say goodbye he tells her he loves her, though notably doesn’t promise her that he’ll be back home soon, as she asks. His phone call, meanwhile, is being traced. Clearly needing a pick-me-up, he goes to see Eva and they kiss, but she says it can’t happen and he leaves. This guy has the worst luck.
Thinks are looking up for Samir, though — a woman visits him and tells him she’ll be his wife, though an offer like that rarely comes without a cost. Speaking of cost, the prostitute who visited Al-Masih returns the money to Collier, who paid her in the first place, and declares that it doesn’t matter whether Al-Masih is the second coming or not — either way, he’s good, which causes Collier to sulk.
The President, seemingly lost on what to do, leads a prayer for help with the Florida crisis since that always works so well. But Messiah Season 1, Episode 8 ends with the suggestion that the flood might need more than wishful thinking to disperse. Anna (Melinda Hamilton Page) confronts Al-Masih about his intentions with her daughter, and he says he only wants what God wants. When pressed on what God wants, he’s pretty clear: “He wants the flood.”
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.