Just minutes into Netflix's new docuseries MH 370: The Plane That Disappeared, aviation journalist Jeff Wise says, "Planes go up, planes go down, what planes don't do is just vanish off the surface of the earth." But then, how did Beijing-bound Malaysian airliner MH 370 vanish into thin air?
There was nothing remarkable about MH 370 until it stopped communicating with the ATC 30 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014. The pilot, 53-year-old veteran Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who bade goodbye to the Malaysian ATC after it instructed him to contact the Ho Chi Minh ATC, was never heard from again. Nobody knew where MH 370 or the souls inside went until the debris, believed to be that of the airliner, was recovered from Reunion Island in 2017.
Nine years later, its perplexing disappearance continues to intrigue us. So much so that Netflix came out with a documentary of the tragic event, despite reams being written about it. But what does the docuseries offer that we don't already know about? Well, theories, and those too, bizarre ones.
The three-part series begins on an emotional note, tracing the journey of the flight as grieving relatives reminisce the day their lives came crashing down. Nothing seems off until MH370 vanishes from the radar. What ensued was chaos and confusion as Malaysian authorities embarked on what would later become the longest search for an aircraft in aviation history.
While authorities scrambled to come up with a reason, hundreds of aviation enthusiasts, engineers, plane spotters and journalists took it upon themselves to find answers. The result was a flood of findings that would put every conspiracy theorist to shame. While a few armchair experts reported seeing debris in the South China Sea, others claimed to have witnessed a fireball lighting up the sky.
From hijacking (for organs of Chinese citizens) to meteor hits to alien abduction, hundreds of mind-boggling hypotheses about the flight's vanishing act were peddled all over the internet to unravel the mystery.
But, the biggest of all the mysteries would be why Netflix offered these theorists a platform to peddle their illogical, unscientific and outlandish ideas. This three-part docuseries is nothing but a podium for baseless theories offering cheap thrill at the cost of the poor souls who went missing and their relatives.
Though the mass murder-suicide theory involving the pilot did seem sensible initially, the Malaysian authorities refused to ascertain Zaharie's involvement in the tragedy. But, the docuseries shows no such mercy as Zaharie is brutally dissected here, all with no proof.
But, the real off-the-wall moment is when Jeff Wise moots his theory of Russian involvement. He cleverly adds a footnote to his nonsensical theory, with "I know how far-fetched this sounds," but nothing can salvage his illogical and bizarre take. His idea that the flight was hijacked after Russians took over the flight controls from the electronics bay (while the aircraft is in motion) is preposterous.
Then comes French journalist Florence de Changy with another staggering theory, this one is about the US involvement. She believes that US AWACS planes shadowed the Boeing 777 and shot it down because it held precious cargo and even wrote a book on it. So offensive and galling is her theory that it feels somehow disrespectful to have led an ear to it.
It doesn't end here. A mystery solver who just strolls through the beaches in Mozambique and Madagascar and finds the debris and a US intel source who "confirms" the involvement of the FBI, too make an appearance in the series.
Agreed, it is very taxing and somewhat impossible to find novelty in an event that got so much attention. But, making up for the lack of reason with such theories that do not hold water rarely makes a satisfying watch.