Manifest S01E06 "Off Radar" Review

Cal develops a fever and deliriously rants in Bulgarian. It seems to be connected to another passenger that was on Flight 828 and spoke Bulgarian. As the show focuses the majority of it's development and character content on the adults of the show, Cal's condition is a catalyst to the story and motivates other passengers to take action.

While Ben finally reveals some of what's been happening to Grace, his failure to fully elaborate on what these happenings have caused (such as Michaela's abilities to solve crimes and save lives) it results in further disagreements between them. With their loaded history of arguments and marriage strains such as when Ben obsessively looked for remedies to Cal's sickness before Flight 828, it seems strange that Ben would only tell Grace a part of the story. It's no easy task to let her in on such an inexplicable set of abilities and incidents that have developed among the passengers so if he's bothering to bring her in now, there's no real reason for him to do so part-way except because the writers have decided that there needs to be some ongoing conflict between them.

Michaela and Jared join in on the domestic spats, as Jared is now hitting a limit of being willing to help her track down a fifth bus (only four were recorded as having reached their final destination) containing eleven passengers from the flight that has gone missing. Jared's right to be suspicious, given the growing threat that the NSA is posing. Vance has even been conspiring to manipulate and sabotage Jared's career by means of spying and blackmail if it will help him get more answers about Flight 828. It's not clear where Jared stands on his feelings towards Michaela. She had decided to confess her feelings to him last week but again it seems this story point has been put on the back-burner. Given the urgency with which Michaela had been shown to have desired him one episode ago it seems strange that she wouldn't simply find or make the time to tell him the truth about her desire to rekindle their relationship. The ease with which they put on a facade of being a couple in order to pretend to be an innocent pair out for a drive that hit a flat tire, while actually spying on a secret facility in which the eleven passengers are being experimented on convey not only a history but an ongoing connection between them.

When Jared implores Michaela to tell him the truth it seems poetic and symbolic of the secrets between them and the unresolved romantic tension between them. It's a relief that Michaela finally admitted the truth about the passengers hearing voices that guide them, but it makes it all the more strange to not also admit her feelings. Surely by comparison her still wanting to be with him is more digestible information than her hearing secret voices.

The ongoing us vs. them between passengers and everyone else is one of the central conflicts of the show and serves as a juicy dramatic mystery. But if Manifest is to last past multiple seasons, revelations will need to come about what's really happening to the passengers and a more clear alignment between them and their loved ones.

One of the most intriguing developments of this episode is that Vance may not be the main villain of the story the way he had previously been building up to be. Sure, he may be bringing agents to investigate the UDS facility at the farm Michaela and Jared had examined as a way to cover his own tracks. But if were to guess at this stage of the show, we'd bet that he's just another ethically questionable government agent as opposed to the mastermind behind whatever the show's revelation will be.

Manifest airs on Mondays on NBC at 10/9c.


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