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'Manifest' Is Back, and It Is Still Trash

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 7, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | January 7, 2020 |


NBC’s Manifest is back, and I just want to applaud the series — and its producers — for really sticking to their guns and maintaining consistency between seasons. I worried — after ratings for the series trailed off at the end of season one — that Manifest would attempt a reset, or that they would bring in a new writers’ room in an attempt to inject logic into the series. I worried that they might try to improve Manifest between seasons by introducing a “plan” or “better dialogue” or “modest production values.” But good for Manifest. They had roughly eight months between the end of season one and the beginning of season two, but the show adamantly refused to use that time to improve itself. Manifest remained true to itself: It began as a garbage show, and it will end as a garbage show, and it will live or die as a garbage show. Manifest is firmly committed to sucking, and you just don’t see that level of stick-to-itiveness anymore. It’s very Trump-Republican of the show, you know? It sucks, but it owns it, and it’s willing to sacrifice everything in order to continue sucking. Slow clap!

Here’s a quick refresher from season one: The passengers on Flight 828 experienced some turbulence on their flight, and when their plane landed, it was five and a half years later. The primary focus of Manifest is brother and sister, Ben and Michaela Stone, and Ben’s son, Cal, who have to re-enter their lives after a five-and-a-half-year absence. Ben’s wife, Grace — who believed her husband and son to be dead — was involved with a man named Danny. Michaela’s fiance, meanwhile, married her best friend in her absence. The passengers of Flight 828 often have visions, or “callings.” These callings sometimes predict the future.

Over the course of the first season, many arcs are introduced and disposed of. Only a couple of things stick: A man named Zeke — who went on a hike and reemerged a year and a half later, having gone through the same time warp — fell in love with Michaela (and vice versa), much to the chagrin of Michael’s ex, Jared. Also, Cal — the little boy — discovered those who passed through the time warp now have a death date. The passengers of 828 were gone for five and a half years, so they will die in five and a half years upon their return in June 2024.

Got it?

Season one ended with Jared and Zeke in a struggle over Michaela. In the scuffle, a gun goes off and a bullet goes through Michaela’s stomach. Ouch. Zeke, on Michaela’s instructions, flees. Michaela survives. She’s in the hospital for two months, though, and she and Cal repeatedly have visions imploring them to, “Save the passengers.” Whenever someone says, “Save the passengers,” it must be done in a whisper yell. It is the Law of Manifest.

What does it mean? Shut the f**k up. How is that not obvious? It means that they have to save the passengers. It’s right there in the f**king saying. “Save the passengers.” Were you not even listening?

Ben and Michaela, thus, decide to keep an eye on the various other passengers, which is when they discover that a mother and father who were on the plane have recently disappeared. There are some more callings — Michaela has a vision, Cal has a vision, and Zeke has a vision — and they ultimately discover the couple near a bridge about to drive themselves off into the water to drown themselves.

Thee couple has been having callings of their own, and they all involve screaming children, and they assume those screaming children are their own, so they plan to kill themselves before they end up killing their own kids.

But twist: Michaela stops them from driving over an embankment to their deaths, but when she looks down the embankment, she finds another car trapped with screaming kids inside. That couple wasn’t having a vision of their own deaths and those of their kids! They were having a vision of an entirely different set of kids, which very much goes to show you what terrible parents these people are. What parent among us can’t decipher the cries and screams of our own children? You have to be able to single out the cries of agony from your own children at the playground so you know when to look up from your phone. When was this show written? 1995?

Meanwhile, after two months on the lam (i.e., hiding in his mom’s apartment), Zeke turns himself in to the cops and decides to spend his remaining days in jail, although Cal tells Michaela that the only way to save the world is if Michaela and Zeke are together. Elsewhere, Grace is pregnant, and no one knows if the baby is Ben’s or Danny’s, and neither Ben nor Grace wants to find out yet. Or tell Danny.

Also, Ben is kidnapped and thrown into the back of a van. He’s taken to a warehouse, where he finds that Vance — an FBI agent who died last season — is still alive. “You’re not the only one who can come back from the dead,” Vance says to Ben, who immediately forgives him for kidnapping Ben, tossing a bag over his head and throwing him in the back of a van. “Oh you old so and so,” Ben basically says with his eyes before the credits roll obscuring what I’m sure was a big bear hug.

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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