If the world was just and fair, last night would have been the season finale of NBC’s inexplicable hit, Manifest. Sadly, we live in the timeline where Donald Trump is President and The Masked Singer is the biggest show on television. So in October, NBC cursed us with three more episodes this season.
For those who are watching this series (and not just reading the recaps), think about that for a second: Last night’s episode was originally meant to be the season finale. That would have been how the season ended. Not with a bang, but a shrug and an ellipsis. What happened to the shadowy government conspiracy? Or Unified Dynamic System, the multibillion-dollar corporation presumed to be behind this? The experiments? The Singularity Project? The dead body secreted away. Wait, did they really kill off NSA Director Vance, or were they planning to wait until next season to figure out how to resurrect him? What about the $500,000 life insurance disbursement that Grace had to pay back? How does Ben make money? Where did Jared’s wife disappear to? Was that one meaningless scene with The Major all we were going to get? Were we ever going to find out if this show has a script coordinator?
This week’s A-plot: Zeke, our man from the cave who went on a two-week hike and reappeared a year later having traveled through time somehow, decides he doesn’t want to go back home yet so Michaela hangs back in the cabin with him. The two follow a calling (“go back”) to the site of a memorial for Zeke’s little sister, who it turns out died because Zeke was too busy talking on his phone to his girlfriend to pay attention to his little sister.
Zeke and Michaela build a cairn and reminisce about Zeke’s sister before deciding to heed another calling and head back toward the cabin. On their way back to the cabin, they see a stick figure drawing on a cliff of two people holding hands and then they see dark lightning, so I think we’re meant to believe that maybe they time traveled back in time (“go back”) minutes after Michaela had said, “I wish I could do my re-entry all over again.” That’s my Network Sci-Fi TV 101 reading of the situation, anyway, although knowing that the additional 3 episodes were added in-season means that the writers may not have had enough time to formulate a back-in-time storyline, so it was probably just lightning and the entire event will be forgotten by the middle of next week’s episode.
It also looks like they blew the whole production budget on this drawing.
Meanwhile, over in the useless B-plot, an asshole with a conspiracy-minded website is harassing the Stone family by spray-painting Xs on their door and insinuating that the Flight 828 passengers are not human. The asshole goads Ben, and Ben threatens to beat him up, which is captured by the asshole on a live-stream. But for the fact that Saanvi also sees a Red X painted on her door in her research lab, I don’t think this subplot did anything other than provide the show an excuse to reunite Ben and Grace, probably because Daniel Sunjata (Danny) didn’t want to sign on for the additional three episodes. I suppose, however, the red Xs will return again next week.
Meanwhile, Saanvi — who I had almost forgotten was on this show — did manage a “breakthrough,” finding some commonalities between Zeke’s time-travel and that of Flight 828: Both happened during a dark-lightning storm, and both were accompanied by some earth-shaking event — in the plane, it was turbulence, and in the cave, it was … an earthquake? This leads Saanvi to hypothesize an “Aftershock Theory,” by which she means that the plane was the earthquake and the cave was the aftershock, or something like that.
I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in the theory, though, because Manifest may never refer back to it again.
In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what the writers come up with for the three episodes they slapped together in-season! If you thought the show was bad before …
Header Image Source: NBC