THE PUPPET MASTER Is Well-Made, But Depicts Excessive Immorality

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THE PUPPET MASTER Is Well-Made, But Depicts Excessive Immorality

By Movieguide® Contributor

THE PUPPET MASTER is a three-part documentary series that recently aired on Netflix. The British series follows a manipulative con-man who is called the puppet master, posing as an MI5 government agent. He tells the tragic tales of numerous victims who fell prey to his charm.

Sam Benstead and Gareth Johnson directed this true-crime series, with RAW as its production company. The victims acted as themselves in the series, including John Atkinson, Peter Smith, Sarah Smith, Sophie Clifton, Jake Clifton, and Mark Clifton. Actors Stephen Corrall and Charlie Ives are also used to be Peter and Sarah Smith.

THE PUPPET MASTER covers a period of about two decades, from the 1990s to 2020, as this con-man manipulates his way into numerous lives, taking money, power, and even sometimes the will to live. The focus continues to flip back and forth between the family in 2020, who have not seen their mother in seven years, and the three college students from the 1990s who disappeared for ten years.

Some victims knew him as Robert Freegard, while others knew him as David Hendy, and it was assumed he also used additional names. He inserted himself into people’s lives by convincing them of who he was. He won them over with his charm and then kept victims by psychological coercion. 

It is disheartening to see how easily he changed his victims from the inside out until they fully believed all the words that he said. Viewers see the terrible lives these victims live after cutting ties with all their friends and family. All we can wonder is why don’t the victims escape?

Older victims have a conversation with some of the most recent victims, and it is finally clear that the mother who has disappeared for seven years is most likely being psychologically held against her will, just as the young college students from the 90s finally realized they were. Now it is just a waiting game to hear from the con man and find out the truth behind the mother’s disappearance.

The series contains a predominant pagan worldview as material goods (mostly money), and sensual pleasure are the main goals for the con man, to the point that he will destroy relationships and even lives to achieve these goals. The show features heavy lying and deceit, abuse, greed, and theft.

THE PUPPET MASTER happens to have one redeeming moral quality, that being the strong bond and love of family. The college kids destroy their families because of the con man, just as the later family is torn apart and turned against each other—but in the end, the family members welcome one another back with open arms and can reconcile.

The three-part series contains only four obscenities in total, with 2 F-words and 2 H-words. There is no violence depicted on screen, but there are mentions of bombings, terrorist attacks, abuse, suicide, and police being killed.

Sex is mentioned a few times as something victims give in to for different reasons, but it is spoken of as something they probably did not want. It is never depicted, and no nudity is mentioned or shown. There is also no mention of any drugs or alcohol.

THE PUPPET MASTER entirely revolves around miscellaneous immorality such as extreme lying and deceit, purposeful psychological warfare, kidnapping and abuse, as well as stealing of money and quality of life.

While there is an extreme amount of immorality, the production of the docuseries was properly executed. The writing was well done as they did not fluff any stories but instead dove deep into all the details of what the victims went through. It had viewers invested from the start. The filming was fitting for a documentary. There was a perfect mix of interviews and videos/pictures from the events that occurred. The pain is real and is depicted beautifully in each aspect of production.

Conclusively, THE PUPPET MASTER has a strong pagan worldview that goes completely against what the Bible stands for. The entire series revolves around immorality such as robbing people of large amounts of money as well as quality of life, extreme lying and deceit, abuse and other things that would essentially give the con man his worldly, immoral desires. Fortunately, there is one redeeming quality seen in the strong bond and love of family. No matter what happens, what harm is done, or how many years have gone by- the family members welcome one another back with loving arms. Due to moderately questionable elements including excessive immorality, discretion is advised for older children.

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