“Pilot” (Episode 101)
September 24, 2018
Manifest is a new (sci-fi? sci-fi-esque?) drama from creator Jeff Rake (The Mysteries of Laura ) on NBC, about a routine flight that experiences some turbulence. When the plane lands, the passengers find themselves 5 years into the future. The passengers on board haven’t aged at all and now they must adapt to a society that moved on without them.
And now onto the episode…. (SPOILERS AHEAD!)
The episode starts off back in April 2013, with Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) and her family at an airport getting ready to go home to New York. While we watch them wait for the flight, Michaela narrates to us about her family and their struggles. Her parents, Steve and Karen (Malachy Cleary and Geraldine Leer), are talking about Michaela’s future with her fiancé, Jared (J.R. Ramirez). Michaela looks at her brother, Ben Stone (Josh Dallas), and his family (who seem happy). Ben and fam are struggling to find a cure for their son Cal (Jack Messina) who has leukemia and is not responding to treatment. Since their flight was overbooked, the airline offered vouchers to transfer to a later flight. Michaela jumps at the opportunity to take the later flight. Ben tells his wife, Grace (Athena Karkanis), that a voucher could be a flight to the Mayo Clinic for Cal’s next treatment. Ben and Cal stay for the later flight. Grace takes their daughter (and Cal’s twin), Olive (Jenna Kurmemaj), on the earlier flight with her in-laws.
“Funny how one little decision can ruin your life. But also save it.”
As Montego Air, Flight 828 is in the air en route to JFK International Airport, there is an extreme (but very short) burst of turbulence from a weather surge that was not on the radar. When the plane lands (Editor’s Note: the flight is diverted from JFK to the very real Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY, which is very short distance from your friendly neighborhood editor), they are met by officials who inform them that it is November 2018. Each passenger, as well as the crew, is questioned by officials before they can be reunited with their families. For their part, the officials are very suspicious that no hanky panky occurred in the five year period. In the past five years, Michaela’s mother past away and Olive (Luna Blaise) has aged while Cal did not.
“The universe just gave all of us a do-over. Everything that has happened before goes out the window.”
Michaela goes home with Ben and Grace. On the couch is a pillow from her mother, that reads, “All things work together for good” which is a bible verse from Romans 8:28. She hugs Grace and hears her own voice in her head say, “All things.”
“A lot has changed since you’ve been gone.”
The next day, Michaela goes to the precinct that she worked at. She sees Jared and notices the wedding band on his finger. He married her best friend.
Ben and Grace take Cal to his doctor, where she informs them that his cell count is the same. She told them of a new treatment in phase 3 of trials where survival rates are excellent. She would have to apply for Cal to join the patient group.
Michaela is on a bus and she hears the voice again. “Slower.” She asks the driver to slow down and he does, narrowly missing a child that ran into the street.
“We both got a second chance to start over, to live. I’m not ruling out that just maybe he came back to be saved and I came back to save him.”
We then meet Saanvi (Parveen Kaur). It was her research, five years ago, that led to the new treatment for pediatric cancer patients (that she thought never transmitted because of the turbulence burst on the plane). A team of doctors looks at Cal’s case, but since he had the diagnosis for six years, he doesn’t meet the criteria and he is denied. Saanvi tries to protest that he hasn’t really had the diagnosis that long, but they still refuse. Later, Saanvi goes to talk to one of the doctors on the board and tells him to include Cal in the case study.
“Part of me wishes we hadn’t come back at all, but here we are.”
Michaela is out for jog and hears the voice again as she is passing barking dogs behind a fence, “Set them free.” She ignores them, but later that night she hears them again. She goes back to the dogs and Ben joins her. He is starting to hear the voices as well. They set the dogs free.
The next day at the precinct, Jared sees Michaela and Ben on video, breaking the lock on the fence. He goes with her to return the dogs to the owner. Michaela starts to hear the voices again and begins to search the property, as she has now noticed the number of the property is 828 (Easter Egg – 828 was their flight number). She finds two missing girls; a case Jared has been working on the past few days. He asks her what is going on, but Michaela refuses to tell him.
At home, Grace gets a text message, “Did you tell him? I miss you.” Olive comes over to her and asks what she plans to do, but it doesn’t seem as though Grace knows that answer.
“What’s the probability that it’s just you and me?”
Ben and Michaela both had a vision of the plane and they go to the hanger where the plane is held. They meet the rest of the passengers from the flight and the plane explodes.
It’s hard to see a preview for this show and not immediately think of Lost. I thought maybe this show would find its own originality, but it doesn’t. The pattern of the numbers and the boy getting cured (indirectly from being on the flight) make it really similar.
Another thing that irritated me while watching this episode, is that Michaela seems more like Ben’s daughter, rather than sister. She just came across as too young to be an officer and I’m not sure if the character is supposed to be written that way or not.
I hope we dive into other passenger’s stories as well. I would like to hear more about Saanvi and her research. Her character’s story was the most compelling of the episode and Parveen Kaur was excellent in this role.
Episode Score: I give it a 3 out of 5 Casey’s. The mysteries of the plane and most of the characters didn’t captivate me enough in this episode. There is a really good story here and I hope the writers can tell it without paying homage (or ripping off) storylines from other shows. If I start seeing smoke monsters….