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'Manifest' Continues to Have No Idea What It's Doing

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 24, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 24, 2020 |


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One of my chief complaints about NBC’s Manifest is the number of aborted arcs it leaves lying around, like clipped toenails surrounding a toilet seat. It starts storylines, gets bored with them, and moves on to a different “mystery” before repeating the process.

The latest story arc involves “shadow figures.” Last week, we saw them when Adrian was confronted by them in an alley, and again, when they appeared in Cal’s bedroom.

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Prior to this, Cal had a calling, of sorts, that predicted the existence of these shadow figures.

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In this week’s episode, the only thing we really learned is the identity of those shadow figures. Michaela and Jared (who are friends again) arrested three men for manufacturing meth, despite callings asking Michaela not to arrest them. At the end of the episode, Cal sees the shadow figures in his room again, and that shot dissolves into a shot in jail, where we see the three men arrested and their shadows. These three are the “shadow figures.”

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OK, so now we know the identity of the shadow figures. Cool. But then I checked TV Line this morning, and read this:

Back in October 2018, during the NBC series’ second episode ever, a family drawing of Cal’s featured an inexplicable “smudge” standing behind him and between his two parents. At the end of that hour, 828er Kelly Taylor, soon after sharing on the TV her “conspiracy” theory about government involvement in the reappeared airplane mystery, was sneaked up on at home by a shadow figure and brutally slain.

Then in this week’s episode, just as the smudge on Cal’s original drawing had multiplied into three, the silhouettes in his bedroom matched those created by, as showrunner Jeff Rake recently told TVLine, “three of the most important characters of the season.”

In other words, two episodes before the second season finale, they picked up one of those aborted arcs that no one remembered from the second episode of season one. Remember Kelly Taylor? Because no one else does. She was the OG aborted arc:

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No one would have known this, except that showrunner Jeff Rake clearly used TVLine to plant this information to make it appear as though the series cleverly called back to a “mystery” in the series’ second episode. But you can’t pretend you’ve had that any your back pocket all along and that you seeded it a year-and-a-half ago, not when it is brutally obvious that a writer, midway through this season was like, “Hey! Remember that shadow we saw before that character no one remembers was killed? Let’s do something with that!”

So, I guess the three meth producers killed Kelly Taylor — a character no one remembers — and we’ll find out why in the final two episodes of the season? Also, Zeke — who is dying of frostbite — proposed to Michaela and she accepted, while Saanvi has unexpectedly been locked out of her workplace.

This show continues to be extraordinarily bad.




Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.



Header Image Source: NBC