An outstanding Dutch crime series with a flawless script.
Tabula Rasa is a 9-part television series, created by Malin-Sarah Gozin and Veerle Baetens who also stars along with Stijn Van Opstal as Anemie and Benoit D'Haeze respectively, a young married couple with one daughter, a little girl named Romy. The story begins with Anemia being in the psychiatric ward of a hospital, unable to recall the events that led her there and also incapable of making new memories. She has to rely on a notebook where she sketches the faces of the people she meets and writes down who-is-who, a trope that we first encountered in Christopher Nolan's masterpiece, Memento where the protagonist suffered from a similar memory dysfunction. Anemie soon learns that she is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Thomas De Geest, a person she cannot remember meeting at all. Through the course of the show, Anemie will begin to recall fragments of her previous actions and struggle to form a cohesive image of her life before the institutionalization, even though many times remembering causes an extreme amount of pain for our protagonist. The story switches back and forth in time and in the present day, we watch Anemie rotting in a mental care facility while in the past, we follow the events that led to the disappearance of Thomas. A detective who happens to have a personal stake in the case haunts Anemie as he is determined to find out what happened to the young man and why.There are a lot of secrets and undisclosed facts between the, more or less unlikable, main characters but they seem to be valid and plausible, not challenging the audience's intelligence or tolerance
This is the premise of the story that unfolds in nine episodes (50 minutes each) and the scriptwriting team of Tabula Rasa is worthy of special praise as they leave no loose ends while the final episode explains everything that we saw happened in the previous eight. This is a brilliant achievement as many crime television series, or movies, are known for having massive plot-holes and demanding from the viewer to constantly suspend his disbelief, stretching its limits. In this case, however, the finale is thoroughly satisfying and also has a tremendous plot twist that makes the viewer see the whole story from a brand new perspective. In terms of a clever and dignified ending, Tabula Rasa is one of the top series of the last few years. I should also mention the exceptional performances by both the two protagonists and the secondary characters like Rita, Oli, Nikki, and the enigmatic Vronsky who Anemie meets and befriends in the psychiatric facility.
There are a lot of small twists and cliffhangers during the unraveling of the plot that oblige the viewer to watch one more episode in order to find out what happens next in this suspenseful thriller that bears some horror and whodunit-elements. The themes that the series attempt to explore are time, memory, obsession, grief and many other questions raised in the series' great dialogue parts. Keep in mind that the trailer of the show is rather misleading as there is no supernatural/paranormal phenomena featured in it. If you still haven't watched it, you better find the time to indulge in this little diamond from the Netherlands. It unfolds in an even, measured tempo and after the first two episodes that mainly set the scene for what's to come, it is a thrilling ride and a perfect series to binge-watch. There are many moving scenes that are bound to touch the viewer emotionally, especially during the last two episodes where Anemie finally remembers what she did and the reasons for her actions. The cinematography is prominently dark and claustrophobic as the major part of the series take place in Benoit's and Anemie's house, and there are also many interjected scenes painted in the colors of red and black. Frankly, I believe that this is one of the best European Netflix productions and it is worthy of the audience's full attention.