The second half of “Harry & Meghan” almost feels like an escape thriller.
A young couple – telegenic and likable – tries to elude overwhelming forces. Then there’s the happy ending (several, actually), complete with surprises.
The biggest surprise: One hero – almost in a “deus ex machina” way – is Tyler Perry.
The six-hour Netflix documentary arrived in two chunks, the second half on Thursday (Dec. 15). By the end, viewers are rooting for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (shown here) … and for their surprise helper.
The phrase “deus ex machina” refers to old Greek plays, which had the gods swoop down from the heavens to fix things. It’s the notion of having a new character come to the rescue in the final minutes — a flimsy device in fiction, a fascinating one in real life.
In this case, Harry and Meghan had been stalked relentlessly by London tabloids, which kept devising bizarre stories. They proposed solutions, including moving to Africa, a continent they loved and where he’d done charity work; “the Palace” – Harry’s dad or grandma or someone – ignored the ideas.
Eventually, they were in Canada (where Markle had worked on the “Suits” series), stalked by cameramen on boats and more. Covid was closing in; they wanted to get to the U.S. before the border was closed. A supersized deus ex machina emerged.
Perry came to fame by writing and producing broad-comedy movies and TV shows; in many of them, he put his massive, 6-foot-5 frame inside a dress and became the imposing Medea.
Views on that varied. Spike Lee dismissed it as “buffoonery”; Oprah Winfrey praised it as a respect for the towering Black matriarchs in so many lives, including Perry’s.
He built his own film studio in Atlanta, churning out TV shows (comedies and primetime soap operas) and movies. He showed his serious side – from adapting and directing “For Colored Girls” to delivering a beautifully crafted essay when he won a special Emmy.
Perry hadn’t met Markle, but when her life hit a low point, he sent her a note. Months later, she phoned him. And later he sent a plane to swoop up the family and take everyone to his Los Angeles estate.
The stalkers found them six weeks later, but by then they were headed toward new lives.
They have charities involving favorite subjects – female empowerment, racial equality and more. And they have money coming from various sources … including Netflix, which now has six hours of a fascinating documentary, complete with a surprise happy ending.