Netflix’s ‘Stateless’ tells the story of four people, focusing on the immigration crisis and the question of identity that it poses for millions of people. It shows us the different ways in which families are destroyed and lives are lost, and highlights the statelessness felt by the people who are uprooted from their homes and have to float without a tether, not knowing quite knowing where they belong. By the end, the viewers find themselves asking the same questions and wondering about the state of all the people who still have to fight for their life and identity. If you haven’t seen ‘Stateless’ yet, head over to Netflix. SPOILERS AHEAD
‘Stateless’ follows the story of Sofie, Ameer, Cam, and Clare. Sofie is an air hostess who can’t deal with her mother’s constant nagging about her life and how she should be more like her sister, Margot. She finds refuge in Growing One’s Potential Achievement (GOPA), where she is taught to be the best version of herself, letting go of what others expect from her. Soon enough, it turns out that GOPA is not as good as she had previously imagined.
Ameer hails from Afghanistan and has fled the terror of Taliban to find a new life in Australia. He gives away all his savings to secure a place in a boat for him and his family. But things take an unexpected turn when he not only loses all his money but also has to part ways with his loved one.
When Cam Sandford struggles to make ends meet for his growing family, he decides to take the job of a guard at the Barton immigration detention center. His sister is in direct opposition to the place, and, at first, he doesn’t think much about the job or the refugees. But once there, he witnesses a gradual change that leads him down a dangerous path. Clare Kowitz takes the job of managing the centre. She is driven and clear-headed about exactly what she wants. But as she gets to know the stories of the people who are caged up in the centre, she starts to form an emotional attachment that finally becomes the undoing of the place.
In the final episode, all the characters confront their troubles and have to make the choices that will change everything for them. Ameer realises that no matter what happens, he is not leaving Barton. The authorities seem hell-bent at ignoring all the good things about the past and the virtue of his struggles, and focus entirely on the only thing that has gone wrong along the way. He tries to hide the truth about why he had to allow his family to leave for Australia without him, but it eventually comes to light and poses a big question mark on his future as well as his daughter’s.
What’s worse about his situation is that he is not even being blamed for the thing that he did, i.e., stealing the money and witnessing a murder. Clare misreads his action that is caught on video and believes that Ameer was a people smuggler. He denies the charge but there is no way he can prove it, not until Mohsin decides to come forward, which won’t happen because he too wants his freedom and a murder charge will not allow him that. Ameer knows that if he pleads guilty, as he is advised, he will never get to leave the detention centre and get the visa to start his new life. He’d either end up in a prison or back in Afghanistan, none of which he will settle with.
He decides to fight the case, knowing that it might take several years for him to win it, if there’s even a chance of it. All this time, he’ll have to wait in the detention centre. He can do that, but his daughter shouldn’t have to, especially after he finds out that she has hurt herself. He knows that he can survive the place, one way or another, but if he allows his daughter to stay there for another day, she’ll never get out of there. So, he decides to let her go rather than have her suffocate beside him.
Ameer comes up with a story, supported by a discrepancy in his documents when he came to Australia, according to which Mina is not his daughter and hence, is eligible for the protection visa granted to children. Clare knows exactly what he is doing, but she too agrees that Mina should not stay in Barton anymore. Ameer bids goodbye to his daughter who leaves centre and goes to live with the family who had fostered her the last time. She promises to wait for Ameer, no matter how long it takes for him to get out of there.
Following Mina’s incident, as well as several other things in Barton that have piled up on her, Clare finally breaks to the emotional pressure of her job. When she took charge, she was clear about the way she wanted things handled. She was not a negotiator, she wasn’t the one to bow down to demands, nor the one to try and find a compromise. She did not want any connection, whatsoever, with the detainees and would refer them with the numbers assigned to them.
However, with every passing day, she starts to crack and accepts that things are not ideal in Barton, especially not for children. David Meakin had been pestering her to help him uncover the reality of the place to the world. She resisted him for long, even despised him for making her work harder. In the end, she relents and gives him the one thing that can break open not just Barton, but other detention centres, to public scrutiny. She gives him Sofie Werner’s story and effectively signs her resignation with the act.
Sofie’s story had started as a normal girl facing the burden of her family’s expectations. After her experience at GOPA, where she was raped, she went through a brainwashing that further deteriorated her mental state. She needed medical help, but stuck in the detention center, and getting thrown into isolation worsened her situation and she completely gave over Sofie to become Eva. Fortunately, her sister had been looking for her all this time and she finally found her in Barton. Had it not been for Margot, Sofie would have spent the rest of her life in Barton, falling sicker with each day.
In the end, she reunites with her family, though she would need some time to recuperate and get back to the way things used to be. The same happens with Cam. In the beginning, he had been a caring husband and a doting father, who was full of warmth. When he started working at Barton, he tried to be nice to everyone. But the more he witnessed the atrocities on the detainees, the more he became a part of it. He falls so far down by the end that he finds himself in the same place where he had once seen Harriet and had despised her for it. Realising that he has become the same as her, he is forced to confront the drastic change in himself, and as he walks out of Barton, defeated and broken, we see that he won’t be returning to the place. He goes back home, to his wife and kids, to get back what he had once.
Read More: Is Stateless a True Story?