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'Manifest' Recap: Who is the Wolf? More Importantly, Who Cares?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 5, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 5, 2019 |


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For 12 episodes, Manifest was about the mystery surrounding the disappearance — and reappearance five and a half years later — of Flight 828. The show checked in on a few of the passengers on the “manifest,” but apparently, after only 12 eps, they took the passengers on the manifest in the show called Manifest as far as it could go, because in episodes 12 and 13, we meet Zeke. Zeke was not on Flight 828, but he also mysteriously traveled into the future while hiking in the Catskills. It is believed that Zeke’s experience may help answer questions about Flight 828.

Maybe Flight 828 isn’t really the point of Manifest anymore, because the “manifest” has been exhausted, so the show is now expanding its universe, which is a little like Lost burning through all the storylines on the island after 12 episodes and expanding into Maryland. There were 200 passengers on that plane, and the writers are already like, “Welp! I guess we’re done here. Time to move on!”

In this week’s episode, Zeke returns to the city with Michaela and decides to stay with her, although he also ends up bonding with Ben’s family, specifically Cal. Cal continues to draw pictures of his callings, but he fears that by drawing the pictures, he makes the callings come true. Zeke — who had had a nightmare that ended with a CGI wolf designed with MS Paint attacking him — helps to convince Cal otherwise, telling him that his drawings are not predictive, they are reflective. So, Cal draws his latest calling, which features a wolf attacking Michaela.

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Elsewhere, Michaela and the cops pull a truck that’s been underwater for 80 hours out the river. Inside, a man who should be dead and bears a resemblance to a wolf, lurches at Michaela, just as Cal had drawn.

So, who is this Mr. Wolf dude? Clearly, he’s someone else who traveled forward in time, but instead of a five-year time jump like Flight 828, or a one-year jump like Zeke, his truck somehow crashed into the river, jumped ahead in time 80 hours, was spotted by the cops, and was pulled out of the river before Mr. Wolf drowned (I don’t want to get into the impossible logistics of this on a show where time travel is possible, but still, good lord).

Nevertheless, the intention is clear: The show has moved on from passengers on the “manifest” and will begin exploring other time jumpers in different situations, although at this point, I don’t even know what mystery they are trying to solve. There’s a trail of unanswered questions that have been aborted along the way, and while that was also absolutely true of Lost, the mysteries here aren’t even worth answering. The show can’t even bother to pose interesting questions, and if you’re never going to answer them, why not go big?

Anyway, there was another storyline that honestly is barely worth exploring because only one detail from that entire subplot was meaningful. Briefly: A woman whose husband has terminal cancer kidnapped Dr. Saanvi, held her at gunpoint, and told her that she couldn’t leave until she cured her husband’s cancer because the woman was under the impression (from another passenger selling snake-oil spirituality) that Dr. Saanvi had magical healing powers. Ben and Michaela eventually rescue Dr. Saanvi, so the only thing we need to remember about the ordeal is that someone was supposed to be on Flight 828 with Dr. Saanvi but didn’t show. Most folks have probably already pieced together that the person who was supposed to join her on the flight was The Major, who is still inexplicably lurking in the shadows and biding her time before picking up Ben. Why is she waiting? Because there are only two episodes left this season, and this show has to save something for the season finale.

Finally, I leave you with one detail that sums up this entire series. Those of you who watch Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul know how much attention to detail they pay, right? Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould obsess over every T-shirt color; if there’s a newspaper anywhere in a scene, they mock up a real newspaper reflecting the headlines of the day; and their set designers will spend hours and hours on a painting that is only seen briefly in the background. The attention to detail is painstaking, and Gilligan reasons that, if you sweat the small stuff, the entire show will be better for it.

Contrast that with Manifest, where Dr. Saanvi asked the woman whose husband had terminal cancer if she had her husband’s medical files with her. The woman said yes, but then proceeded to drop the file on the floor, spilling out all the papers.

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As you can see, those are blank sheets of paper. The Manifest showrunner doesn’t take cues from Vince Gilligan. He takes cues from Donald Trump.

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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.


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