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Tabula Rasa - TV Series Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt www.femlitica.com jennifermuirhead.wordpress.com/
Published July 2nd 2018
She needs to remember whether she wants to or not
Tabula Rasa, mystery show, European tv show, horror, Netflix
Veerle Baetens as Mie.


Annemie "Mie" D'Haeze finds herself in the secure ward of a psychiatric hospital. She suffers from amnesia, and although she can recognise her family members and remembers most of her life, there are large gaps in her memory of the past year. She is told that a man named Thomas de Geest has gone missing and that she was the last person to see him alive. If she wants to be allowed to leave the hospital she needs to remember what happened to Thomas. Mie's memories begin to come back to her, but she is not certain whether they are real memories or her imagination, and does not know how much she can trust her husband and family. Instead, she confides in her psychiatrist, and her newfound friend, the pyromaniac Vronsky (Peter Van den Begin).

This Belgian series was created and co-written by Veerle Baetens, who plays Mie. She is utterly convincing in her grief and confusion as she struggles to remember and put together the missing pieces of her life. Like Leonard Shelby, Guy Pierce's character in the film Memento (2000), Mie struggles to navigate life with a condition that periodically causes her to forget where she is, how she got there, and the names and faces of people she has met recently. However, unlike Leonard, Mie is still expected to care for her spirited daughter, Romy (Cecile Enthoven), cook, tidy her home and try and hold together her marriage to Benoit (Stijn Van Opstal), whom she begins to suspect has been cheating on her with the mysterious "V".

Each episode there are more and more questions for Mie to try and answer. What happened to Thomas (Jeroen Perceval)? Who is the mysterious forester lurking around the estate? Why is Romy acting so strangely? And what does any of it have to do with Mie and her accident?

Tabula Rasa is visually stunning, from the eerie and intriguing title sequence to the motifs of labyrinths, sand, reflections and creepy animals that run through the series. Often the show's creators have taken something that is a bit of a horror cliche, but tweaked a little. For example, having a cat jump out and startle a character has been done to death, but Mie's adopted three-legged stray, Houdini, is such a rolly polly harmless looking cat that it's hard to be creeped out by him. There are what seem to be hat tips to various horror classics, like Kubrick's The Shining.

The plot is full of twists and turns, secrets and betrayals that will keep you guessing until the final episode.

Tabula Rasa first aired in 2017 and is currently streaming on Netflix worldwide.
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