It seems like the most open and shut of cases. In the middle of a lavish wedding reception in Be’er Sheba in Israel’s Negev desert, the French bride and Israeli groom are all set to cut the cake. Suddenly the lights go out, the power cut. When they come back on, there stands the bride in front of everyone – splattered in blood, the cake knife in her hand, her husband dying at her feet.
With hundreds of witnesses, it should be case closed. But Natalie (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) says she didn’t murder her husband Eran (Imri Biton). In fact, she doesn’t remember anything about the evening at all. The police consider this convenient at best; Karim (Reda Kateb), who’s been assigned to represent her by the French Consulate, thinks there’s more going on. But is he inspired by a quest for justice, or an ever-deepening obsession with Natalie?
It’s easy for a mystery to keep audiences guessing simply by adding new elements and characters; Possessions isn’t really that kind of series, though there are a few developments you definitely won’t see coming. Instead, this six-part series keeps the twists and turns coming by going deeper. It’s a mystery that constantly challenges viewers’ expectations and beliefs as the evidence supporting both sides mounts and Karim finds himself increasingly drawn into a world he couldn’t have suspected.
On one level this is an almost Agatha Christie-style whodunnit, with an impossible crime and a detective trying to figure out not only which one of the lengthy list of suspects did it, but how they managed to do it. And being a wedding, that suspect list is pretty extensive for Israeli detective Esti (Noa Koler) to work his way through.
For starters, Natalie’s mother Rosa (Dominique Valadié) opposed the union, and it doesn’t take long in her presence to realise she’s a real force of nature. She’s also deeply conservative, and her daughter’s rushed relationship cuts her to the core. But it turns out that Natalie’s entire family confronted her, demanding the wedding be called off right before the ceremony. They’re not exactly fired up looking for another killer; maybe that’s because of lingering anger at their wayward member, maybe they just don’t want the real killer found.
There’s also a clash of cultures here that throws up walls between almost everyone. The French Karim is working with the Israeli police in a world where his Algerian descent is just one more reason for people to doubt him. The Israelis and Arabs mistrust each other, the Orthodox and Reform Jews are wary around each other. There’s three separate languages spoken here, and the one thing they have in common is that everyone lies.
Beyond that, this is also a series about abuse, about who commits it and who is a victim of it. It’s no surprise that the Israeli police’s first guess as to Natalie’s motive for murder is that she was being abused by her husband, especially when an examination after the murder reveals a brutal web of bruises and cuts on her back and legs. But as the series goes on, even that becomes a more complicated question, especially once they begin to look into Natalie’s past relationships.
Then just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, there’s the supernatural element. This is a series that’s deeply sceptical of superstitions, and yet there are times when those superstitions seem like the only real guides we have. At one point a young man steals Natalie’s wedding dress and hangs it from a tree to ward off demons; if there’s one thing that’s certain about this series, there are most definitely demons on the loose.
It all comes back to Natalie. Even when Karim suspects she’s manipulating him, he can’t help himself, constantly digging deeper into her case, looking for a way to set her free. One minute she’s an abuse victim, the next she’s a manipulator, then she’s fleeing a dark past that just might turn everything he knows on its head yet again. All he knows is that his feelings for her are getting stronger, and the stronger they get, the more danger he’s in. After all, look at what happened to the last man who felt that way about her.
Possessions is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
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