'The Messengers' Review: Series Plays Into End Times Fears, Engages Audiences of All Religious Backgrounds

The Messengers
"The Messengers" premieres on The CW on April 17, 2015. |

Based on the Book of Revelation but intended for both secular and Christian audiences, "The Messengers" premiered on The CW on Friday, April 17, offering a promising start for five characters who suddenly die as a result of a comet striking the earth.

Described by executive producer Trey Callaway as being a series about faith rather than religion, "The Messengers" introduces five characters of diverse backgrounds who come back to life as angels, whether they believe it yet or not. In line with The CW's affinity for superheroes and the supernatural, the five angels gain special powers and are returned to earth in order to battle evil during the Armageddon.

Each character boasts believable and relatable flaws that range across a single mother, a bullied teen, a televangelist, a NASA scientist and an undercover agent. Since only two characters overlap in the pilot, the audience is left wondering how each angel will connect with one another and what challenges lay ahead during a time of terror and chaos.

The well-rounded cast of characters further benefits from consisting of mostly unfamiliar faces, such as Sofia Black- D'Elia ("Gossip Girls"), Shantel VanSanten ("One Tree Hill") and British actor Jon Fletcher ("The Good Wife"). Although many of the cast members have already made their television debuts, "The Messengers" offers a broad platform for each of the rising stars whose performances on the series proves their acting chops.

In a clever casting move, "The Messengers" also stars Diogo Morgado, the actor best known as the "Hot Jesus" in 2012's the "Bible" series. This time, however, the Portuguese actor takes on the role of a Satan-like villain "The Man," demonstrating worthy versatility and range by bringing the same patient, knowing smile from his portrayal of Jesus to "The Messengers." Furthermore, Morgado's link to the "Bible" series adds a layer of welcomed complexity to "The Man" while also boosting the faith-based theme of "The Messengers." The actor makes his arresting debut on the new series after "The Man" arrives on earth via meteorite covered in ash and flames.

Going hand-in-hand with the network's attraction to the paranormal, "The Messengers" features high-quality computer-generated imagery and other notable special effects, including the moment the blazing meteorite streaks across the sky and strikes the earth. Similar to The CW's "Supernatural" and "The Vampire Diaries," "The Messengers" also reveals clean, appealing cinematography, despite the plain backgrounds and unremarkable settings.

Ultimately, "The Messengers" taps into the basic fear of the End Times that any audience, religious or not, can understand. The series depicts a true-to-life world where death and destruction brings out both the best and the worst in people, and survival hinges on adaptability and the willingness to cooperate with each other.

Friday nights are slow for television, and the pilot for the new series garnered a mere 1.18 million viewers during the premiere, according to Deadline. Nevertheless, "The Messengers" provides family-friendly entertainment that is rooted in the Bible. The series airs on The CW Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.

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