Fire up your Netflix for Tabula Rasa, the superb series that just overtook Babylon Berlin as the front-runner for the best new Euro TV series of this year.
There are psychological thrillers and then there is Tabula Rasa.
It messed with my mind and blew me away.
The story follows Annemie “Mie” D’Haeze (Veerle Baetens, Code 37, Beyond the Walls, The Team, Cordon), an amnesiac recently admitted into a secure psychiatric hospital. Her memory loss was brought on by a car crash, so while she can remember everything prior to the accident, like her husband Benoit (Stijn Van Opstal, Met Man en Macht) and their daughter Romy (newcomer Cécile Enthoven), she has been unable to retain information acquired after it.
The reason Mie is in the closed ward of the hospital is due to Inspector Jacques Wolkers (Gene Bervoets, Professor T.) of the federal police. He is investigating the disappearance of Thomas De Geest (Jeroen Perceval, 13 Commandments), and Mie was the last person seen with him. As such, she is Wolkers’ only lead and only suspect in the case, and the one person who holds the key to solving it.
Only Mie doesn’t remember anything about Thomas. Wolkers’ hope is that her stay in hospital will help her to remember, so she can then help him find the missing man. Until Thomas is found, Mie cannot go home.
So opens the nine-part mystery, whose narrative unfolds over two time frames — in the present day and during the period starting three months before Thomas’ disappearance up to the present.
Nightmares have been plaguing Mie since the accident, so part of her therapy is to create drawings of them. In the same journal as her drawings of dreams and people she encounters, she keeps notes to herself — an important part of the process of reconstructing her memories, as what she recalls isn’t always reliable. As Benoit reminds Mie, the doctor has warned about confabulations — the filling-in of gaps in memory by making up things.
As memories flash by in her mind, Mie starts piecing things together. The more she remembers, the more she begins to mistrust the people in her life and around her at the hospital. And even herself.
Meanwhile, time is running out for Wolkers; with each passing day, the likelihood of finding Thomas alive (assuming he is found) gets slimmer and slimmer and the detective’s retirement date gets closer and closer.
To give any more details than that would get into spoiler territory, such is the intricacy of the Tabula Rasa storyline. The kudos for this goes to series creators and writers Malin-Sarah Gozin (Connie & Clyde) and Veerle Baetens, as well as co-writer Christophe Dirickx (The Misfortunates).
Tabula Rasa is visually compelling, too — not just because of the sets and special effects but also the scenes that are reminiscent of the films Poltergeist and Don’t Look Now.
It’s small wonder, then, than I marathon-watched the entire series in one day.
Featuring in the series are Natali Broods (David), Ruth Beeckmans (What If?), Hilde Van Mieghem (The Team), Peter Van den Begin (Matrioshki), and Lynn Van Royen (The Score).
Tabula Rasa, a Netflix Original series, is now streaming in the US exclusively on Netflix.
Viewers in the UK and Australia will be able to watch the series on Walter Presents later this year.
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