There's a conspiracy afoot in the government and it looks like things are about to get a whole lot worse for a whole lot of people.
After a one-week hiatus, "Manifest" returned with a bombshell of an episode, filled with twists and turns we never saw coming, leaving us with more questions than ever!
This week, Cal's callings took center stage and if this is how they're all going to go, hopefully he never has one again. While Ben and Michaela and some of the other passengers see things and hear things, Cal apparently feels them. But in this case, he's feeling someone who's being tortured to the point of near death, and Cal is right there with him.
This was also the first potential "case-of-the-week" episode that didn't wrap up like that at all. Instead, nothing was really resolved and Cal only came out of his life-threatening state because the operation with a group of passengers was halted.
On second thought, Michael and Jared and even Ben made that happen, so in a way they saved Cal's life ... or at least delayed his death. It turns out when you're connected to someone that closely and they're getting electrocuted, it kind of messes you up.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. While we have a million questions overall about so many things, these are the ones burning the brightest after this week's episode.
Why Is Cal so Tied to Marko?
If these callings are supposed to be a good thing, why would Cal's calling nearly kill him. Presumably, had the torture of one Marko Valeriev continued, Cal would have likely succumbed to his fever and seizures. And Cal's connection was more than just physical as he was shouting the same things Marko was, even speaking Bulgarian.
Michaela and Ben did some digging and discovered that after Flight 828 landed, displaced passengers were placed on five buses by the government, but only four of them officially arrived anywhere. The fifth one was filled with foreign nationals and people without anyone who would miss them. In other words, they were expendable.
Cal's connection to Marko, who was tortured throughout the episode for unknown reasons, would indicate that they are supposed to help Marko in some way, but why is his calling so aggressive? And if it weren't for Ben and Michaela acting on his behalf, Cal would be in no condition to do anything to help Marko, unlike when he crawled through the sewers last week. So how is this calling helpful on an individual basis?
And why just Marko when there are 11 missing passengers. We saw others of them when we slipped into that barn for a few cryptic scenes. What's so special about Marko?
What Is UDS Doing with the Missing Passengers?
All trails led back to Unified Dynamic Systems, a multibillion dollar megacorporation with its fingers in everything. Just look at that name, it's so generic it could mean anything. And in this case, it was UDS that provided the buses that shipped out the passengers, and it was UDS that bought the farm where Marko was being held.
So what is a private company -- admittedly with many government contracts and contacts -- doing running experiments on the passengers? And what is electrocuting Marko going to tell them? Why are they holding all of these passengers and what are they hoping to learn?
It's interesting that for the first time we were let into the other side of the story to some extent, even though we only got tormented glimpses of what Marko was enduring. But we saw some faces and saw that his was an organized and methodical, almost scientific torture.
And we also know that Michaela and Jared stumbling onto the farm only delayed the process. And if it starts up the way it went down this way, with Marko still connected to Cal, the kid might not survive.
Will Jared Tell Vance What He Knows?
Jared finally got what he wanted this week after Michaela convinced him to join her on a country drive and uncovered the farmhouse with the red door. This was straight from what Cal was shouting in his feverish state, so the words were coming right from Marko. And so, after he demanded answers, Michaela gave them to him.
To his credit, he backed her play, even if he probably doesn't really understand everything she was trying to tell him. And with no tangible results to their efforts this week, it's going to be a hard sell convincing him that any of it even mattered. But the biggest question is if he will tell Vance what he knows.
Vance is expecting him to lie, but he's also ready to put the squeeze on Jared to force him to spill what he knows. Vance is determined to find out what the passengers of Flight 828 are up to, though he probably didn't expect one to come walking in his front door.
Will Vance Start to Work with the Stones?
For the first time, the NSA director was painted in a somewhat sympathetic light after Ben showed up in desperation and accused him of making that fifth bus disappear. It was enough to get Vance on the trail of this new morsel Ben provided him, leading him to the farmhouse with the red door.
The lab facilities had been disappeared in a hurry, but not so well that Vance didn't find a fairly obvious piece of evidence with fresh blood on it. So now he knows Ben was on to something and that Homeland Security is lying to him. The question is what does he do with this information? Going directly to DHS isn't going to help.
With Vance as a main character on the show, we suspect he'll ultimately turn his whole operation around and start to work with the Stones to try and figure out what happened to the flight and how his own government might be involved. Did DHS have something to do with the disappearance or are they just being awful now that it's back?
What Will DHS do to Vance?
As Vance continues to poke at this, because that's his job and there's no way he can stop now, what will DHS do back in return? He could wind up unemployed and disgraced if they so choose, but he's also keeping tabs on the other passengers who couldn't be made to disappear so easily. So he still serves some valuable purpose.
At the same time, there's no way they can let his investigation into them continue. But he knows that, so this could be a very interesting game of cat and mouse. Vance is clearly very good at intelligence and subterfuge, and he may be better than those trying to hide the missing passengers.
He must also know the risk he's putting himself in if he continues to pursue this against another government agency. They're clearly trying to freeze him out, but his ruthless pursuit seems to be about getting to the truth, no matter the costs, while they clearly have some other agenda.
Why Is Grace Just the Worst?
This last question is of a more personal nature, but Grace just showed the absolute worst of herself this week, and she's been a pretty terrible persona already through most of the season. This isn't going to get the fans on her side for sure.
After reminding Ben that a plane disappeared for five-and-a-half years and telling him she's ready to believe anything, Grace immediately refused to even consider what Ben was saying when he finally opened up to her. She did everything short of calling him crazy, and then proceeded to yell at him over and over again.
We get it, lady, your kid is possibly dying and you're freaking out. But this is your husband and you are being awful to him. It didn't help that the character moments were the weakest part of this episode overall. It was one built on grand ideas written by someone who wasn't very good at understanding how people human toward one another.
Still, the ideas are what's got us hooked and questioning everything.
"Manifest" continues Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
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