At the beginning of its first season, Netflix’s first Arabic show ‘Whispers’ seems like any other generic thriller series that hooks you with a murder mystery. Then throughout its runtime, harping on a slow-burn style, it unfolds this mystery from the perspective of each of its characters. From a character development standpoint, ‘Whispers’ is surprisingly good and what works in its favor is its compelling point of view approach that recites the same story again and again, only with the different perspectives of the characters.
Each episode allows you to perceive the outlook of a new character towards a plot point that was previously introduced through the eyes of another. This, in turn, makes you a couch detective yourself and since a whole episode is dedicated to each of its pivotal characters, almost all of them are very well developed. However, on the downside, its biggest flaw is that it has so many fragments and threads of other existing shows that it struggles to stand out in any way.
Whispers Plot Summary
‘Whispers’ begins with the car accident of Hassan who, amongst his employees and family members is a noble-man. At first, his death is simply dismissed as an accident. But slowly, the dark secrets of his past begin to resurface and the ones who were close to him realize that they barely knew him at all. Soon after his death, his wife receives a series of calls from his mobile number and also receives some strange pictures from his past.
With what follows, the same calls and images are received by everyone who was once a part of his life and these mysteries eventually bring everyone together. In the pursuit to figure out who’s sending the messages and also to deduce if Hassan was killed, all the characters who once knew him are forced to confront some dark mistakes that they made in the past which might have led to his murder.
Although ‘Whispers’ isn’t an anthology, each of its episodes has an initial “wrap-around” that binds all of its plot points together. This wrap-around is Hassan’s car crash, following which, each episode gives you a bleak look at the lies and slander almost all the characters are consumed in. When it comes to its overarching storyline, almost every episode of the series puts the day of Hassan’s murder in a loop. But what drives its repetitive narrative is the unique perspective of each character which drops subtle insights on what could’ve happened to Hassan.
Although this loopy approach has been used in several similar shows before, it does evoke a sense of intrigue; at least in the first few episodes, it does. However, midway through its runtime, the redundancies in these loops become a bit too tedious compared to the dwindling clues that it drops with each of these narratives. This is where the show’s sub-plots come into the picture.
As I mentioned in the introduction of this review, at first, ‘Whispers’ seems like any other murder mystery that only adopts a fairly unique structure. But what makes it a tab bit better than most aimlessly floating mystery thrillers is its impressive writing. Surprisingly, almost all of its previously introduced plot points tie up towards the overarching mystery of the series as it nears its end. But that’s when ‘Whispers’ lets you down again. All of its well-written plot points lead up to an ending that concludes nothing and completely ruins the pay-off you were expecting in its finale.
Even with its persistent, dull, woe-is-me malaise, ‘Whispers’ could have been a lot more than a smug mystery drama for me. Knowing that it’s Netflix’s first Saudi Arabian show, I was blown away by the stellar performances of almost all of its cast members. But in the end, it simply amps up the tension throughout its first season only to leave you with an excruciatingly uncertain result. If it wasn’t for its disappointing ending, I might have given it another chance with season 2. But now, if it ever returns with another season, I don’t think I would be willing to put myself through its flashy yet mindless riddles that only leave you with unanswered questions.
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