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NBC's 'Manifest' Is Still a Bad Show, But At Least It's Interesting Now

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 2, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 2, 2018 |


Having watched the second episode of NBC’s Manifest, I still stick by my original review of the series — it’s a bad show, with bad writing, and bad acting — but this week’s installment, “Reentry,” at least provided some intrigue.

The episode in the main hewed to its case-of-the-week format, connecting principal characters with one of the other passengers. Here, the voices inside Ben Stone’s head (or in this case, the classical music inside his head) leads him to another passenger, Radd, whose son was wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit while Radd was “missing” for five years. The voices/music that all the passengers have been hearing since their flight eventually directs Ben to a storage unit that contains all of the jewelry purportedly stolen by Radd’s son (it had, in fact, been stolen by the son of the jewelry store owner). So, Radd and his son get a happy, feel-good ending when they are reunited after Radd’s son is sprung from prison.

Likewise, Ben gets a positive ending to the episode, too, when his wife, Grace — who has been involved with an unknown man in Ben’s absence — apparently decides to end it with the other guy and sleep with Ben for the first time since his return. Michaela Stone, meanwhile, reconnects with her best friend, who is now married to Michaela’s ex-fiance. She is also reinstated to the police force, giving her character an easier entry point to the cases of the week.

It’s all very pat and predictable, and not in the least interesting, except for the sci-fi element that provides the show with its serialized arc. At the end of last week’s episode, the “voices” all call the passengers back to the airport to witness the inexplicable explosion of their plane, presumably erasing any evidence that might have been contained therein. Someone doesn’t want anyone to know what happened on that flight, and that someone is a Shadow Man that appears in a picture that Cal draws …

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… and later, shows up in the living room of another passenger and shoots her in the head, which explodes onto the television screen the passenger was watching featuring her on cable news, speaking out about the flight, suggesting that the government was behind whatever happened on that plane.

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So, here’s what we know: The Shadow Man doesn’t want anyone to speak out about the flight. The Shadow Man also apparently appears in the visions of at least one passenger. But the Shadow Man is also corporeal because he can hold a gun and shoot it. So, is he a dude that lurks around and kills anyone that gets too close to the “truth,” or is he a supernatural being of some sort unleashed from that wormhole?

My guess, based on the rest of the show, is that the writers don’t know any more than we do; that they’re making it up as they go along; and that the answers that eventually avail themselves will be incredibly unsatisfying. It’s all a moot point, however, if they can’t fix what ails the rest of the show, namely that it is so very bad.

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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