Directed by Sultan Abd AlMohsen, Mohammed Alholayyil, and created by Mohamed Abdel Samad and Anwaar Abulkhair, “Bashar Shorts” is a collection of short stories with gritty details, dealing with the problems and issues faced by people in a world set in the near future. Technology and human beings may turn out to be a dangerous combination in the near future. The anthology was originally released in 2021 but was added to Netflix on June 2nd, 2022. It is an Arabian sci-fi series that has quite a lot of plot twists and storylines.
Episode 1: ‘The One Who Lost Her Parking Lot’ Explained
The story of this episode features a mother running late for a children’s day out. The story is set in the near future, where artificial intelligence has taken over a variety of spectrums. She has the AI fitted in her house and car and can contact it through her phone. Her AI acts as a personal assistant and responds to her instructions and conversations accordingly. Her car seems to be malfunctioning and, due to advanced AI, asks her to take it for service. She does not heed the warnings and instead proceeds with her day despite the malfunction. She goes to her office but is late leaving it. Coincidentally, all her surroundings are devoid of any other human being. Even her daughters, after she picks them up, are not exactly present. She seems to be surrounded only by AI. After she reaches the mall, disregarding warnings about the mall closing where her kids are already, she powers through and still is unable to get out of the mall at the right time. While she is having a mental breakdown, the camera pans out and shows her unconscious.
The day she is reliving is the day her disregard for all instructions served as a factor in the accident that got her children killed. She is admitted to the hospital, where she continuously relives the fateful day, adamant not to admit her mistake that led to the accident. She is very disturbed, but the hospital needs her to admit her mistake; otherwise, she won’t wake from the trance, affecting her mental and physical health.
Episode 2: ‘Son By Order’ Explained
This episode features a couple who have been trying to conceive a child. They enter a competition, where they win a month’s vacation to LA, where they have to stay in an apartment utterly devoid of any outside interaction. Trouble starts brewing when they are stuck with each other and have lost track of time. The company seems to be plotting against them by sowing seeds of doubt amidst their minds with the added pressure of continuous surveillance. As the days pass, they turn against each other, and when they’re near to the delivery date, they charge at each other with accusations and end up killing each other.
The motive of the company is then revealed. The staff planted the seeds of doubt to make the couple suspicious of each other. Devoid of any other interaction, they lose their calm and kill each other, but the baby is saved after the bodies of the couple are disposed of. The company is working on creating babies with an experiment by manipulating couples who reach out to them as a last resort. The moment a couple succeeds in killing each other, they clear the place to make way for a new couple.
Episode 3: ‘Please Come Inside’ Explained
A pizza delivery guy gets caught up with an eerie family. The guy goes to deliver pizza but is unnecessarily held up by a man and his unresponsive mother as they delay the payment. The man leads the guy through the maze of his house, scaring him by appearing and disappearing whenever he wants. The guy is chased upstairs to his doom, but the story ends with the guy receiving his due payment and an extra tip.
The story seems to operate on the illusions created by the human mind. The human mind is very complex, and a misstep might end up in a loss of bearings. But when the illusion is over, everything falls into place, and it ends simply as an illusion.
Episode 4: ‘Special Party’ Explained
This episode features a conflict between two women who are out to punish the guy who played with their hearts and ultimately ruined their lives too. They manipulate him into falling for their plan and use technology to trap him forever in two dimensions. His consciousness is transported to one country across the ocean by using a bracelet that transports the consciousness as a hologram, which lets the person also feel and experience the surroundings on the other end. And his body remains in the present country as he was led to communicate in the other country.
The girls rejoice after achieving their revenge, celebrating the victory with a track played on the violin by one of them. The other girl takes over the company that the guy owned as a part of her revenge. The story ends on the high note of a successful revenge.
Episode 5: ‘The Confession’ Explained
A pharmaceutical drug designed to save lives turns out to be fake, and countless lives are lost in the process. The police successfully apprehended one of the doctors involved in the construction of the drug. To make him confess, they get creative. However, the guy seems to have indestructible defenses. The convict gets a death sentence that is to be carried out as soon as he confesses. The senior inspector and the junior inspector get tired of waiting for the confession, so they bring in the convict’s daughter.
After sharing a heart-to-heart conversation with his daughter, who had hated him her entire life due to the stigma she had faced after he was convicted, he confessed to the truth he had been holding in since day 1. In reality, he had taken the fall for his partner doctor, and he had no idea about the drugs or the components in them. He administered it unknowingly, and he was not responsible for the lives that were taken. The convict, after writing down the confession and also helping the instructors gather evidence against his partner, was electrocuted. It turns out, among the lives that were taken, both inspectors had lost their families. The senior inspector, to exact his revenge but also keep his good image as a person who follows all laws intact, manipulated the junior inspector, who was a little hot-headed and was quick to anger. When the junior inspector heard of the death sentence being reduced to a life sentence, he could not handle it and took matters into his own hands. He electrocuted the convict to successfully take revenge for his daughter, who had died due to that medicine. The senior inspector got his revenge on his wife through the junior inspector, who later got suspended. Eventually, according to them, justice was finally served.
Episode 6: ‘The Inspirational’ Explained
This episode features a writer who is busy with her new novel. She releases the synopsis of the novel, but it seems eerily familiar with the life story of a young couple she had met before her husband, and she had split. Mona and her boyfriend met Nora, and they became her only inspiration after her husband left her. However, after she releases the synopsis, Mona and her boyfriend continuously plead with her to change the contents and not base the novel on her life. Mona seems very stressed about it. However, Nora remains adamant and makes the story absolutely similar to Mona’s past. The last straw for Mona was when she met up with Nora to request her again and tell her the truth. However, Nora changed the name of the protagonist to Mona. Losing her patience, Mona ends up killing her.
The entire sequence before and after Nora got killed was recorded by her personal assistant AI. The AI showed the clips to her ex-husband as proof against Mona. Nora’s husband regretted leaving her whole-heartedly and felt guilt for her death. Therefore, he made sure to arrest Mona. However, the AI, intent on publishing the novel, sends it into the editor for rewriting and publishing purposes. The AI did this to get justice for Nora’s name, even though it knew that she was in the wrong.
Episode 7: ‘Don’t Open Your Eyes’ Explained
Three friends get stuck in a maze and are forewarned to not open their eyes. They try to escape the labyrinth blindsided, but to no avail. Eventually, Hussam figures out a way out and convinces his two other friends to go along with his plan to remain in one place together. They go along with it until the voice that had put them in the maze sows the seeds of doubt among them, and they start to protest. They were led to the maze in the first place as an exam for the Human Rights Officer position.
Hussam goes ahead with his plan and opens his eyes only to discover himself tied up, with the doctors telling him to go back to the maze and not open his eyes again. The doctors seem to be scientists, and Hussam and his friends seem to be convicts who were being experimented on. They were running a few tests on him to test his stability and how long it would be until Hussam lost his mind for good due to the maze and its trepidations. They simply administer another dose of the drug to him and tell him to not open his eyes. Meanwhile, they continued experimenting on him as the government had given them permission to do as they saw fit with the convicts.
Episode 8: ‘Moment Of Truth’ Explained
This episode seems to feature a game simulation or a series simulation, where the characters are similar to holograms but more real with complex thinking abilities. The plot of the series or game is the story of how the bridegroom gets killed on the day of his marriage. However, his family and friends do not notice until the very end.
The family is worried about his disappearance and starts a search operation while simultaneously dealing with other problems such as scandals and gossip. The mother-in-laws don’t get along and are busy throwing accusations at each other while the cousin hits on different women. The murder is revealed when the mother of the groom gets killed, and the killer steps forward to threaten the family. It all has a good flow, until the director steps forward to stop the stage as there seems to be something missing. However, he seems very happy with the realistic characters and urges the creator to launch it soon.
Episode 9: ‘Edge Of The City’ Explained
The story revolves around an abandoned neighborhood. The local warehouses have been taken over by thugs. They pass it off as a place where they can deal out illegal things without the government’s notice. Similarly, a pair of grandfather and granddaughter seem to be dealing out doses of a miraculous medicine, where the user turns younger. The grandfather, however, refuses to accept the medicine and instead prefers to deal with them.
A troublesome buyer intercepts them and wants to buy a dose for the price of a gold bar. He is afraid of the end and therefore wants to keep his youth intact. The buyer had stolen the gold bar and had attracted goons to the warehouse. The grandfather, to help the buyer, denies the whereabouts of the gold bar and instead sells the doses to the goons. The goon demands a demo; the grandfather hesitates, but follows through. He turns young and immediately, after the goons and the buyer leave, makes his granddaughter leave with her fiance. It turns out the grandfather is the reason behind the girl’s loss of parents. Due to his mistake, he had robbed her of her parents. This guilt made him take care of her and bring her up earnestly with love. He never wanted to be hated by her and, therefore, did not want to turn the clock back on his age lest somebody recognize him as the one responsible for the killings. The goon had identified him after he had used the medicine to turn back time and gain his youth, so he came back to attain his revenge. The grandfather had betrayed the goon to save the girl’s parents but ultimately got them killed due to his mistake. The goon shot him for the betrayal years back but kept the promise of not informing the girl of the truth and letting her hate him.
“Bashar Shorts” is a 2022 anthology of short films streaming on Netflix.