Netflix docuseries chart 3 dubious paths to the disappearance of MH370

At 1:19 AM on March 8, 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (and its 227 passengers and 12 crew members) vanished from the face of the earth, creating one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. On the ninth anniversary of this mind-boggling incident, director Louise Malkinson sets out to uncover the truth with MH370: the plane that disappeareda three-part Netflix docuseries (March 8) offering three theories about what happened to the still-missing Boeing 777. in some cases reveal the dangerous and depressing conspiratorial thinking that arises when concrete facts are scarce.

There are things that can be definitively established about MH370, and MH370: the plane that disappeared is strongest in the beginning, when it focuses on the initial reaction to and analysis of the plane’s disappearance. A routine flight on a clear, calm night from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, MH370 took off shortly after midnight. As illustrated by returning satellite images, charts and commentary from passenger relatives and aeronautics experts alike – most notably American author Jeff Wise – there was nothing abnormal about the plane’s journey until it reached the edge of Malaysian airspace, where communications with the craft was handed over to Vietnamese air traffic controllers. MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah radioed “good night” to his compatriots in Kuala Lumpur and then, poof, all of the MH370’s electronics shut off at once and it was gone.

A rapid response attempt to locate the aircraft ensued, to no avail. No one could pinpoint its final course, pinpoint a nearby airfield where it might have landed, or find debris in the South China Sea that would indicate a fatal crash. Families gathered in a Malaysian hotel were naturally distraught, and as time passed and few concrete clues emerged (or at least handed to the public), they also grew angry and demanded more transparency as well as more decisive and productive action .

Hours turned into days turned into weeks into years, and MH370 was simply nowhere to be found, resulting in rampant speculation online and in the press (including by Courtney Love), as well as the rise of amateur detective collectives such as The Independent Group (featuring Wise and Mike Exner) combing through available information in a desperate attempt to find this needle in a haystack.

Through a well-constructed combination of archive video, audio and still photos, CGI sequences, dramatic recreations and interviews with a wide variety of voices, MH370: the plane that disappeared does an extensive job of painting this picture. It then complicates things with the Malaysian government’s subsequent revelation that – courtesy of data from the British company Inmarsat – satellite communications (i.e. pings) with the plane indicated that it had actually deflected to the left shortly after falling off radar, back over Malaysia and into the Indian Ocean, where it went north towards Kazakhstan or south into the middle of the vast waters. In both scenarios, the implication was clear: MH370’s disappearance was intentional.

Enter MH370: the plane that disappeared‘s unbridled suspicion! The three episodes of the docuseries put forth a different, distinctive theory of what might have happened, each more dubious than the next. The first points the finger at Captain Shah, the most obvious suspect since he took control of the plane and, investigators eventually learned, had plotted a course on his home flight training simulator that looked eerily similar to the one presented. trajectory to the south. by Inmarsat. However, colleagues play down this and there is little additional evidence that the man wanted to commit such a murder-suicide.

In the second episode, Wise comes to blows, arguing that Russian agents could have sneaked into the plane’s electronic nerve center and taken control of the plane to fabricate a news story that would divert media attention from Putin’s invasion of Russia. the Crimea. This idea is reinforced by the fact that the country shot down another Malaysian Airlines 777, MH17, four months after the disappearance of MH370. In Wise’s theory, however, the plane would have turned north toward Kazakhstan, which became much less likely when debris (most notably a flaperon determined to belong to MH370) was discovered on La RĂ©union Island in the southern Indian Ocean. Wise’s reputation took a hit in the press for this, as did his credibility here.

Craziest of all, however, is the theory posited by Le monde journalist Florence de Changy and Ghyslain Wattrelos, whose wife and two children were on board MH370. Using dubious data and information from shadowy sources, they spin a far-fetched thread in which the United States caused MH370 to crash into the South China Sea because the plane was supposedly carrying stolen surveillance technology en route to China. With almost no evidence to support this wild accusation, it sounds like the sort of America-as-global-boogeyman fantasy propagated by paranoid cinematic thrillers, and the fact that MH370: the plane that disappeared treats it seriously, ends up bordering on the irresponsible, especially considering that Exner then shrugs it off as more crazy than legit.

Yet there is a reason MH370: the plane that disappeared wallows in murky and absurd waters. Director Malkinson’s conversations with passengers’ grieving relatives convey their excruciating frustration, grief, and anger at this unresolved tragedy. In doing so, he provides illuminating context for why some chose to believe the unbelievable, whether it was the Changy’s cover-up or Blaine Gibson, an adventurer who had an unparalleled knack for finding MH370 remains. In the absence of conclusive truth, that vacuum is filled by various shams designed to provide reassuring answers to unresolved questions. It hurts not to know, and it’s that fear – and the opportunistic desire to take advantage of it – that seems to be driving much of the guesswork surrounding MH370.

MH370: the plane that disappeared is therefore as much about how we process loss and mystery as it is about reasonable assumptions. As Malkinson’s docuseries makes clear, we may never find out what happened to MH370, and such ignorance will continue to serve as a catalyst for fictional fantasies that keep false hopes alive and create opportunities for profit. Even if they ultimately offer little real comfort.

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