The Plane that Disappeared: Netflix documentary caters to conspiracy wackos?

Netflix just debuted it’s three-episode documentary on the disappearance of Malaysian flight 370, which mostly likely was NOT an accident, but the murder of nearly 300 people by the pilot. Because this murderer was so thorough, the plane has never been recovered, although it’s all but confirmed from recovered debris that it went down somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Horrific, to be sure. And baffling as to ‘why?’. But otherwise hardly a mystery.

So what’s left for three episodes of a documentary, nearly ten years later? I was curious, but this bit in a Washington Post story caught my eye:

Ugh. Of course. Now I don’t know how much credence to give that statement; “some people are saying” has become a punchline, thanks to Trump. But I have no desire to watch Netflix exploit the situation to find out. There’s plenty of convincing – dare I say, conclusive? – evidence available, but I doubt it would make as entertaining a documentary as putting a camera on the usual dumbasses talking about aliens, UFOs, satanists, or stolen passports.

So here’s a thread in case anyone watches The Plane that Disappeared. I don’t expect it will offer anything you can’t get reading, say, a Wikipedia article, but I would be curious to hear your thoughts on whether it feels crass or exploitative.

Netflix also has that Ancient Apocalypse “documentary”, which, as far as experts say, it’s pretty much all conspiracy.

So it’s not like they’re going for anything but moneys.

Well in this case, I think people look for conspiracies or attacks from outside because the thought of being helpless when/if an insane pilot decides to check out is too much to fathom. Better to have something tangible to point to and blame like CIA assassins targeting someone or aliens looking for victims because those are threats that somehow don’t feel as arbitrary or unfair.

This is the evolution of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Maybe we can call it, “If it’s fever-dreamed, it’s Netflix-streamed.”

Heh! This was one of several things I had downloaded for potential commute consumption earlier today. Started it, but as soon as the initial interview snippets rolled that had some rather sketchy soundbites combined with some dramatic music, I paused it and thought to myself that I better check some takes on this series before I give it any more screentime.

I see the title of the documentary and all I can think of is this:

Yeah, Netflix has quite a few utterly credulous conspiracy theory documentaries, unfortunately.

So we can dump on things as a group without anyone watching them now? Cool.

A prize to @JD for at least starting it.

FWIW, I read from a review that the series spends as much time discounting theories where necessary as it does presenting them. I will report back after giving it a go.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for myself, I just have a cynical eye towards these sorts of things (i.e. since there’s no new info, I’m suspicious that this is exploitative rather than informative). I hope I was being clear that I didn’t have any first-hand experience and I was posting the thread specifically to ask for opinions from folks who might have seen it. And I freely admit I was reacting (overreacting?) to a single paragraph in a Washington Post story. So I think what you’re seeing is that a lot of us are cynical, but I hope you’ll also find we’re willing to admit if we’re wrong.

So, no pressure or anything, but it might come down to you. :)

I will take one for the team! Hopefully tomorrow I will not be trying to convince you all that MH370 was an inside job from the same nefarious actors that unleashed covid and microchip vaccines on the world.

Best-selling conspiracy theorist (ancient supermen built Atlantis!) Graham Hancock is the author of Ancient Apocalypse. His son is Senior Manager of Unscripted Orginals at Netflix. So, yeah, not a surprise they have some conspiracy theory documentaries on there.

If anyone is interested in a point-by-point takedown of Ancient Apocalypse, the Miniminuteman YouTube channel has an ongoing series, starting here.

Holy shit does that explain a lot.

who is streaming this? And are these the graves of giants or just giant graves? And what conspiracy is there to theorize about? Or are these streaming giants that have theories about a grave conspiracy?

I know, you wrote gave, but i read grave and that immediately gave me troubles parsing your sentence, which i found amusing and tried to relate. I mean, you could put the commas anywhere in that segment of a sentence…

So…it’s a conspiracy?

So I watched this…

Episode 1 is a fairly pedestrian doco retelling of the days following the plane’s disappearance. It features some sad interviews with select family members of those on the flight, along with copious cutaways to snippets of tv anchors talking about the story. It sticks to the factual information.

Episode 2 continues in the same direction until around half way through when it starts on this guy’s alternative theory which is that the russians hijacked the plane, sent it to crash in kazakhstan, to distract from their invasion of Ukraine in 2014. The following evidence was presented in its favour:

  • Three russian nationals were onboard
  • It was possible to turn off the avionics of the plane from a hatch near the first class cabin
  • Some satellite data pointed to the plane going south in the indian ocean, but it is possible to hack the system on the plane to make it pretend like it went south when it actually went north.
  • The timing is coincidental
  • With what happened to MH17 later in the year, it’s clear the Russians have no qualms downing a plane when they want to.

You can see the huge leap of logic to go from ‘this is perhaps theoretically possible’ to ‘this is something with a non-trivial probability of actually occurring and should be shared with the world’. In fact, the whole theory is based on a dumb premise: ‘what if the one piece of data we have of the plane’s trajectory from these satellites is actually wrong or fabricated by hijackers?!’ Come on now, this isn’t serious inquiry.

It was at this point I feared the doco had completely jumped the shark, but then after laying out the ‘hijacking’ theory they cut immediately to two different guys who tear it apart for the following reasons: 1) You can’t control the plane controls from this avionics hatch, and 2) the satellite analysis giving hints to the planes direction had never been done before, so why would the hijackers think to hack the system in a way that to sabotage something that isnt even normal use case and noone had yet thought to use before.

Then when the plane debris starts showing up on the beaches of Africa, the guy who presented the hijack theory mostly recants it right after. Makes me wonder why they even bothered talking about it in the first place…

There are also interviews with two family members who for understandable reasons are highly emotive around MH370 and would very much like to have people they can blame for their grief that are still alive (unlike the captain). So when new evidence appears, they do mental gymnastics to rebuff it. E.g. “oh many of the debris pieces were found by this guy who has links to Russia”, “Oh, it was the fbi that determined the captain’s flight simulator had him practicing this route once? Of course the americans would say that, they are deliberately hiding the truth!”

The fact is that we can’t prove to 100% certainty what happened to the plane. To some people, that is somehow a damning thing and allows us to conjecture and speculate whatever we want and that becomes just as valid as any prevailing hypothesis of what occurred. They don’t seem capable of weighing up probabilities, and judging which of the explanations and interpretations of data is most intuitive and direct.

The show never condones these alternative viewpoints, and since it is mostly family members giving them then they probably get a pass right? But I don’t really see a reason for including them in a documentary in the first place, unless the documentary makers have their own doubts that the captain took the plane down to the southern indian ocean in a sad case of murder-suicide. Despite what the documentary chooses to include, any thinking person watching it will come away with the conclusion that this is the most likely explanation that we’ll probably ever have.

So in conclusion, the three episode series could have easily been condensed to 2 episodes, or even 1 extra long feature, and would have been better that way. I wouldn’t recommend watching it unless you want to have a refresher on what was learned when, there is nothing to really gain out of this documentary that you wouldn’t have gotten from following the news about mh370. But it isn’t wholesale peddling conspiracy theories.

So, maybe watch the first episode?

@Tim_N wins today’s Qt3 MVP! So in honor of his user title:

Thanks for such a detailed breakdown, Tim. Because not only do I feel like I don’t really need to watch it now, I almost feel like I have watched it!

Definitely the best outcome for all involved (except perhaps for Tim).

Thank you for your service.

I didn’t read Tim’s post. It may be well-researched and at times convincing but I’m concerned he’s just trying to get our attention. Can anyone recap it for me?