• Category: Episodic Recaps
  • Written by Rick Ellis

'Manifest' - Recap - 10/01/2018

One of my bigger frustrations about reviewing "Manifest" is that NBC is holding future episodes pretty close to the vest. They only provided the premiere episode of the show to critics and we're left to writing about the show after new episodes air. Which might sound like petty whining except for the fact that the nature of "Manifest" means this lack of details makes it impossible to accurately judge the show. The core mythology of the show - a plane that goes through turbulence and somehow ends up five years in the future - means that the execution of that idea is everything. Television history is littered with mythological shows that couldn't stick the landing and because of that viewers tend to be wary of investing time in a show that might turn out to be more "The Event" than "The X-Files."

Episode two of "Manifest" is entitled "Reentry" and it begins where the premiere episode ended - with the mysterious explosion of the Montego Flight 828 plane just four days after its reappearance. A number of the passengers and crew of the flight had felt drawn to the plane somehow and were standing nearby the plane when it exploded. So naturally, the FBI has questions. And as the passengers move one by one through the interview process, it's clear that all of them are having are experiencing disorienting dreams and voices they can't explain. They are eventually released by the FBI but given a warning that the event surrounding the flight is a matter of national security and they should not discuss the flight with anyone. Not the media, not friend or even family. It seems like a warning that is unlikely to be followed. 

Ben (Josh Dallas) returns home and he remains unaware that while he and his young son Cal (Jack Messina) spent five years...somewhere, his wife Grace (Athena Karkanis) moved on and is in a new relationship. She hasn't told him yet and their sixteen-year-old daughter Olive (who was with her mother in the "real" world timeline) reminds her mom that he deserves to know. Police Detective Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) returns to the police precinct and gets the "I'd like you to return, but you have to jump through these hoops to be reinstated" talk. Ben, Cal and Grace head to the hospital, where they meet the doctor who came up with the idea for the treatment which might save Cal's life. The fact she was on Flight 828 and the missing five years gave scientists a chance to roll out her idea to test patients is (queue spooky music). And of course, Grace gets another call she quickly ignores and refuses to answer. Which isn't at all suspicious. Grace tells Ben it was "just work," but he seems to not quite believe her and offers to go run some errands so she can get some "work calls" done while waiting for Cal.

Waiting on a street corner for the traffic light to change, Ben once again hears some mysterious music. Disoriented, he continues walking down the street and eventually realizes he's hearing a variation of the tune coming from the violin of a street musician. The man is Radd (Curtiss Cook) and he was also a passenger of Flight 828 and he tells Ben he's heard that tune in his head all day. Seeing Ben, he says "I need help. Please." They grab a coffee and Radd explains that for him, music is a higher power. So if the two of them are hearing music, there must be some reason for it. Radd explains that he was on the plane because he went to Jamaica to play a one-night concert. He left his 13-year-old son Adio with a neighbor for the night and returned to discover his now 18-year-old son is in jail, accused of a robbery. He can't visit his son in jail because he's a resident alien and his Visa expired in the five years the plane was gone. He'll receive a new one in a month or so, but by then his son will have had his trial.

Michaela is having her mandatory session with a police psychologist and the most mysterious thing might be how quickly she was able to get an appointment. The therapist says "oh, looks like things started to go wrong for you five years before the crash," which is Michaela's cue to tell her bit of exposition backstory. She explains she was in a car accident and a friend was killed. And of course, she was the driver and had been drinking. She was exonerated in an investigation but put on desk duty because she couldn't drive. We go through the rote dance of "why don't you just approve me and let me get back to the one thing I do have left" and "I'll need to see you again." Later, she gets a call from Ben, who asks if she knows anyone at Rikers. 

She intervenes and Radd and Ben are able to get a visitation with Adio. The 18-year-old has been badly beaten but won't say by whom or why. He tells his father that he tried to be a good man and never joined a gang and finished school. He even got a job at a local jewelry store where he would sometimes close up at night. According to him, about a month before he was jumped and knocked unconscious. The store was cleaned out and police believe he was part of the robbery. As they both cry and hold up their hands against the glass separating them, Radd tells his son he is going to fight for him. 

Grace and Cal have finished at the hospital and are returning home after buying some toys. Cal is complaining that the new set isn't quite like the one he used to own and as they make their way through the crowd, a woman spots Cal and grabs him. She begins saying "He is not here, he is risen," which isn't creepy at all. Ben and Adio visit the jewelry store that had been robbed and learned that Adio had used a fake ID and resume to get the job. When the place was robbed the alarm wasn't tripped and given all of those details, it makes sense that the police would suspect the teen might have been in on the heist. Back at the precinct, Michaela struggles to deal with the fact that her ex-fiancee is now married to her best or ex-best friend Lourdes. The scene goes about the way you would expect, with neither Jared or Michaela having much insight into each other's motivations. We're then treated to some sort of government get-together, where all sorts of theories about Flight 838's disappearance abound. But Mr. FBI argues that someone on the plane likely knows what happened and it's most likely its one of the 20 passengers and crew that were at the airport when the plane exploded. 

Back at home, Ben is cooking dinner for the family and he asks Michaela for help with Adio's case. He says it's not fair that the plane's disappearance might have saved his son's life while helping Radd lose his. Ben admits part of this feelings are due to the fact both he and Radd heard the same music. He tells his sister that he has to figure out what's has happened and why or none of them will ever be able to move forward. Of course, Ben hasn't figured out the reason why his daughter Olive doesn't want to be alone with him is that she is afraid she'll reveal the truth about Grace's new boyfriend. And right on cue, Grace is talking on the phone with the mysterious man the following morning and Mick overhears her. Grace says she is in an impossible situation and has been waiting to tell Ben until she knew what she was going to do. "You mean, which one you're going to be with," snaps Michaela. She warns Grace that whatever she decides she needs to tell Ben the truth before he learns about it some other way. 

Back at the hospital the next day, Ben sees a drawing Cal has made of the family. Everyone is in it, including a mysterious shadow person standing behind Grace. "Who's that?" Ben asks and Cal shrugs and admits that he doesn't know. Woooooooo. Michaela shows up at the hospital with Adio's case file and explains the police work on the investigation looks solid. Adio had some previous minor run-ins with the law and the police found $12,000 in his apartment. She and Ben continue to struggle with what happened to him and Ben tells his sister that he feels like a stranger in his home. And of course, Michaela knows the reason behind that feeling but decides to stay silent. Back at the jail, Adio explains to his father that he used the fake ID so he could work and was caught shoplifting because he was hungry. But he insists he wasn't in on the robbery.

Michaela is at home looking at Facebook, which is never a great idea even in a fictional world. She scans the "Remembering Michaela" Facebook page, which includes post after post from Lourdes. Including one showing off her wedding ring and including the thought that she hoped Michaela would have blessed their wedding and she promises to make Jared as happy as Michaela did. Back in therapy the next day, Michaela admits that mostly she is sad. Because she missed her mom, who died while she was gone. And sad because you don't stop loving someone just because it's been five years from their perspective. She begins to cry and tells the therapist she feels alone. She expects the therapist to use her admission against her. But the therapist tells her that she is learning to accept what has happened and that is a good first step. So she is recommending a conditional reinstatement. 

Ben and Cal are back at home and Grace has bought Cal all sorts of toys. But Cal is sad and tells her that it's not the same. He wants his old stuff and he wants things to go back to the way it used to be. Grace hugs Cal, but of course, that comment sparks more glaring from Olive. She tells her Dad that she's ready to take that ride with him. She explains that for two years after the plane disappeared nothing had changed in their home and it was some sort of "sad museum." Their therapist recommended things had to change. She also admitted that she somehow knew Cal was still alive. She says she didn't know if it was some sort of twin thing, "but I could feel him, alive." She says no one believed her and when her mom packed up all of Ben and Cal's stuff and tried to donate it, she canceled the pickup. 

Ben asks why she didn't say anything sooner and Olive says her mom doesn't know she saved the items. She shows Ben the stuff, which is stored in a storage facility in Long Island. As Ben walks into the locker, he notices his and hers scuba gear and he remembers Grace mentioned that she had tried scuba diving for the first time while he and Cal were gone. He asks Olive who owns the locker and all she'll say is that it's a "friend" of her mother's. And just like that, Ben knows why she and Grace have been so distant. 

They hug and he tells Olive she did the right thing. But as he says that he gasps as the music in his head returns. He tells Olive to stay there and he begins running through the facility, following the music in his head. He suddenly hears a cellphone around the corner and spots an open storage unit. And standing inside is the son of the jewelry store owner, surrounded by the missing jewelry. He first tells Ben it isn't what it appears to be, then offers him a bribe. When he tells Ben that Adio wasn't going anywhere with his life anyway, Ben punches him and calls the cops. Michaela shows up and asks Ben if he still doesn't believe in miracles. Ben argues it could be coincidence but if there is some explanation, it's not God. "God is just a catchall for everything people don't understand," he argues. "We just need more information." 

Back at home, Ben helps Cal put all of his stuff back in his room. Grace pulls Olive aside and her daughter tells her she kept the stuff because everyone wanted her to let go. "But now it's your turn to let go," she tells her mother and walks away. Michaela decides to visit Lourdes at home and she tells her former best friend that she saw her posts. She's not ready to be best friends again, but she reluctantly admits she's glad Jared is happy. She also admits to Lourdes that she had decided to return her engagement ring to Jared when she returned on that missing flight. So whatever happened after that, Lourdes should know that it isn't a fraud or a mistake. Things were maybe meant to turn out the way that they did. As she hugs Lourdes, she flashes back to when the plane landed and it's clear that she has lied. She fully intended to marry Jared but whatever reason lied to Lourdes to make things easier for everyone involved. 

Grace and Ben have some time alone and Grace apologizes and tells him that it wasn't Olive's secret to tell. He tells her that Olive is an amazing woman and that she did it for her brother. He tells her that she did an amazing job raising their daughter while he was gone. "It doesn't matter where you found the strength. Or with whom." Grace tells him that the memories hurt so much, she had to let go. But Ben reminds her that he never had to do that. "I know your love for me is out of practice and more like a memory. But please remember." 

And the episode wraps with a series of short flashes. Adio is released from jail and hugs his father. Jared opens up his desk drawer at the police station and discovers an envelope containing the ring he bought Michaela and with tears in her eyes, Grace undresses in front of Ben and embraces him. The final scene is of one of the passengers of Flight 838, at home watching an interview she gave to a cable news outlet. In the interview, she says the passengers were warned not to talk and she wonders if somehow the government was behind it all. As as a slight smile comes to her face, someone walks up behind her and puts a bullet in her head.