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'Manifest' Recap: This Show Is So Dumb

By Dustin Rowles | TV | November 7, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | November 7, 2018 |


OK. Let’s do this. My wife woke up at 4:30 to go pass out Get Out the Vote flyers, so I’m sure I can muster my way through a recap of what is perhaps the worst drama on network television. Welcome back after a week off, a blissful, amazing week, where the writers surely put their heads together and came up with a plan, right? Because this is a serialized mystery, and best I can tell, these people are hardcore winging it. They’re throwing out ideas to see which ones stick, and this week’s ideas include: A General Mills like corporation being behind the five-and-a-half year disappearance of Flight 828 and passengers on that plane being telepathically linked.

Also, my favorite exchange of the episode came when the boy, Cal, was taken to the hospital with a mysterious fever. Ben intimated that he might know something. Grace is like, “What do you know, Ben? You have to tell me!” And Ben is like, “You’ll never believe me.” And Grace is like, “I’m ready to believe anything at this point,” so Ben says, “Some people are seeing things, hearing voices,” and Grace is like, “Stop right there! I don’t believe you. I can’t take this. Leave it alone, Ben!”

Anyway, Cal gets laid up in the hospital with a high fever, where he repeatedly has seizures. None of the characters on the show know this yet, but we the viewer know that Cal is brain-linked with another passenger on the flight who mysteriously went missing. We discover that the other passenger was shuttled to a black-ops site where he is being experimented on by men in lab coats who work for Unified Dynamic Systems, which is about as generic a corporate name as there is. They make jet engines and microwaves and washing machines and mouthwash and sell life insurance.

Unified Dynamic Systems. Try to hold that name in your brain longer than 30 seconds. They must have repeated it 12 times during the episode, and I still had to refer back to it when it was over because I couldn’t remember. Unified Dynamic Systems. They’re the bogeymen. Or at least, they are this week, until the writers get tired of that idea and go in a completely different direction.

Anyway, Unified Dynamic Systems is experimenting on the foreign nationals who were on the flight, because, like, who is going to miss them, right? No one even noticed that Marko Valeriev was gone until Cal starting mumbling “Help me,” in another language, and Saanvi was like, “Where have I heard that before?” and then when she remembered she was like, “Oh yeah! A passenger on the plane said that.” After some investigating, they discover that Marko Valeriev has been missing since the flight. Ben tracks his whereabouts down to an abandoned farm out in the middle of nowhere based on, I shit you not, this:

Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 3.16.18 PM.png

Anyway, Michaela is like, “Hey Jared! Grab your coat! We need to inject some unnecessary and unconvincing sexual tension into this show STAT” and so, she and her ex-fiance go out to the building in the middle of nowhere. They’re met by a dude in fatigues holding an automatic weapon. Michaela punctures her tire for no reason whatsoever, and after she puts on a spare, and while they’re driving away, Michaela sees a farm with a red door on it, and remembers Cal mumbling deliriously, “Red door! Red door!” and I honestly can’t believe this is a show on television that people watch.

Michaela runs back to the police precinct, rattles some keys on a computer for a minute, and she’s like, “That place is owned by Unified Dynamic Systems.”

Meanwhile, because Cal is not getting any better, Ben confronts NSA Director Vance about Marko Valeriev’s whereabouts, and Vance is like, “Huh? He’s missing? First I knew about it,” which means that the NSA is not involved in whatever plot this is, even though the show led us to believe that was the case in the second and third episodes. But it’s not like they built toward this “twist.” It’s more like they just changed their minds in the writer’s room. “What if, instead of making the NSA the bad guys, we make it Unified Dynamic … damnit, I forgot the name again.”

Unified Dynamic Systems knows the jig is up at that location, so they unhook their electrodes from Marko, Cal gets mysteriously better, and the UDS lab coats are like, “We just got to find a new place and then we’re back up and running,” because apparently, they’re going to find out how to make better mouthwash from electrocuting plane passengers.

This show is so dumb.

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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