The Netflix special is split into three episodes to exhaustively trace the events that occurred on March 8th, 2014
Last Updated: 06.16 AM, Mar 13, 2023
The mysterious and highly controversial disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft MH370 in March, 2014, becomes the subject of Netflix's latest exploitation documentary. The three-part series attempts to unravel the mystery through the first-hand accounts of the many participants of the case: from family members of those who were on the plane to government officials, Malaysian airline crisis experts, journalists, adventure junkies, etc., the sudden and dubious vanishing of the MH370 involves the entire range of perspectives and beyond. Was it part of a political conspiracy that caused it all? Is it a case of inter-government complicity? Or was it something more personal and terrifying, like the chief pilot of the aircraft taking the matter into his own hands?
Netflix's incessant need to unravel the mysteries of the world and present the "truth" continues to take newer shapes, albeit without any trace of nuance or accountability. Their latest offering is the take on the appallingly cruel and unfounded disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft in 2014 which, while flying between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing (China), dropped itself from the radar completely and vanished into obscurity. The plane was carrying 227 passengers and 12 members of the cabin crew and its traceless vanishing has since then provoked countless theories and controversies, also causing it to gain notoriety as one of the 'greatest unsolved aviation mysteries of history'.
Over the years, the families and friends of the 239 people on board have endured unimaginable agony and confusion as they wait with deflated hopes for valid and believable answers from the authorities involved. Many of them have since then formed small unions amongst themselves to conduct the search and find some proof of tragedy while the Malaysian government gradually withdraws itself from the case. It's a battle that's poised against unimaginable depths of loss but the individuals forge on and even nine years after the incident occurred when families continue to cling to hope, your heart goes out to them in solidarity.
But the gaze of MH370: The Plane That Disappeared The Plane that disappeared, the Netflix series in question, is so wavering and unempathetic that you can't help but feel puzzled and almost disgusted towards it. Over the course of nearly 4.5 hours, all that transpires is a relentless and silly barrage of 'popcorn' conspiracy theories that never get anywhere close to the real heart of the mystery, let alone solving it or offering any kind of logical reasoning. Instead, the three-part original spews one titillating theory/perspective after another and keeps our hopes afloat by promising something extraordinary on the horizon. At the end of it all, we are made to feel almost cheated and robbed of our time and sympathy when all that the show was trying to was embellish a bunch of whispers and tittle-tattles that one can find through a simple Google search. All MH370: The Plane That Disappeared does is put these hearsays together in a cohesive manner and gain the support of a few well-known "experts" of the field who spill out secrets and share their respective doubts but do not, at any given point, take accountability for the hypothesis they offer. It's a back-and-forth of postulations and negations and unfortunately, the light is never cast on those who are involved in the tragedy.
In essence, the docu-series divides the MH 370 mystery into two crucial segments: one of political and internal malpractice that involves governments, diplomatic relationships and even the Russian attack on Ukraine, which began in 2014. A hypothesis by one of the show's main features, American aviation journalist Jeff Wise, suggests that the aircraft could have actually been mishandled by the Russians so as the distract the rest of the world away from their slightly unruly acquisition of the Ukranian peninsular region, Crimea. Wise suggests that the muddled path traced by the MH 370 on that fateful night was deliberately fabricated by the Russian government, adding that unlike what the common consensus says, the aircraft never flew towards the south Indian Ocean but upward toward Kazakhstan. His hypothesis and instincts are often contradicted by fellow experts who reckon that he is only seeing what he wants to see and that the Russian involvement is too far-fetched.
In the same vein, another French journo, Florence de Changey, offers her own theory which discards every other evidence and says that the aircraft never went off course and was actually shot down when it was nearing its intended destination of Beijing. Changey's own implausible narrative brings the Chinese, American and a few other governments into the picture, thus nudging the whole narrative in a new direction.
The other segment of the mystery is that of a tantalizing mass suicide. Yes, you heard that right and those who have been keeping track of the investigation over the years will know that the mass suicide angle has proliferated to a great extent. To put it briefly, the senior pilot of MH370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, is carelessly accused of hijacking the aircraft, locking his co-pilot in the toilet, decompressing the aircraft and letting all the occupants of the plane wither away without any oxygen. He then flies the plane towards the Indian Ocean and recedes into permanent obscurity, which not only threw the investigators off because of its sheer bizarreness but also lent the whole mystery an eerie touch.
Also thrown into the mix is adventure-seeking globetrotter Blain Gibson who volunteers to find the remnants of the crashed aircraft and fascinatingly, ends up chancing upon a number of debris articles along the Madagascar coastline. During the narrative, Gibson is accused of being a Russian spy by Jeff Wise to make things all the more perplexing. The entire time, don't be surprised if you have got your eyes scrunched towards the screen because you are not able to completely wrap your head around the sequence of events.
And that's because none of the aforementioned angles, along with the many more that feature, carry any sense of depth or justification. A series of "perspectives" is offered to us in a relentless manner but none of them are thoroughly explored and instead are tossed up into thin air because the whole narrative after a point, is simply an excuse for gossip-mongering. If a participant in the show accuses the pilot of MH370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, to be responsible for the crash, shouldn't you expect the makers to dig deeper into his life, understand his intention and gradually paint a picture for us? Instead, what it does is makes a blatant accusation and nonchalantly move on to the next item on the list, laying focus on an equally glaring theory. In an attempt to entice us, MH370: The Plane That Disappeared almost becomes a travesty because of a substantial lack of curiosity about the things that matter the most.
There's no denying that Netflix, as a premium streaming platform, is unable to get out of its rut that performs needless and almost harmful extrapolations. Through MH370: The Plane That Disappeared we learn that all it takes to put together a documentary "show" of any kind is a bunch of conspiracists who are hellbent on finding a solution to their preposterously far-fetched theories. It's a show where conclusions are arrived at in the first very breath and then the concluder makes valiant and embarrassing attempts to find evidence to that very conclusion - a vicious and unempathetic cycle that holds the victims of the tragedy at ransom and uses their plight for cheap thrills. Instead, what we needed is a deeper and more meditative look at the event that somehow manages to put things in perspective and shines a light on those who are still struggling to come to grips with the most unbelievable human mysteries. If you are a true crime/ conspiracy theory junkie, then it is likely that you will find parts of MH370: The Plane That Disappeared luring but on the whole, even the most pardoning of viewers will hurl an abuse or two at their screens, having just whiled away close to 5 hours of their time on complete gobbledygook.