You will believe a mathematician can become a world-class secret agent, but that's the least of our concerns as his answers are giving us even more questions!
As much as we're enjoying the many twist and turns and the slowly peeling back secrets of "Manifest," the show could really use with some subtlety.
This is particularly true in the dialogue, but everything is so heavy-handed. As a quick example, why would Ben tell Saanvi how he got a security ID to access the red files? That was exposition for the audience sloppily inserted into a place it logically made no sense.
Why would Olive abruptly quit and then rejoin Danny at rock climbing? So many character elements play as somewhat forced, stilted at best, it still seems like these writers are more big picture people as opposed to people who have an understanding of human nature, interaction, conversation. You know, anything to ground it in reality.
Luckily, the show is still getting away with it because the mysteries are intriguing and the larger beats of the characters are making them more likable by the week. Oddly enough, Danny may be one of the best written characters on the show, and he's on the outside looking in. At least he's written believably and sympathetically.
Anyway, this is "Manifest" and as much as we are actually starting to give a crap about these people, it's still all about the bigger picture. And even as Ben inexplicably became a super-spy this week -- there's that implausibility again -- all of his answers only gave us more questions.
Fiona Clarke may turn out to be one of the most important characters on the show. First, her research into the networking of human minds seems to be at the center of what his happening to the Flight 828 passengers. And then there's the cryptic line she gave the late Kelly Taylor aboard the plane.
Kelly was complaining about pretty much everything when Fiona told her, "This flight isn't happening to you, it's happening for you." Sure, we could write it off as a hippy-dippy comment from a trippy character, but we're deep in the rabbit hole on this show now so we're reading too much into everything.
That statement, if we're to believe Fiona is more involved than she let on to Ben and Saanvi this week (and we do!), would seem to imply that the passengers of this flight were selected. But how would that work, as the Stones opted to take that flight on a seeming whim. Mental networking, perhaps?
If this is about networking the human mind, it's a little odd that the government is experimenting on these passengers only after they landed. Unless they were also somehow being experimented on during those missing years ... when no one aged.
It's possible they've found some success with Marko as he definitely is sharing a neural link with Cal, but it's more than just their brains. It seems to be a full physiological connection. Could that be Cal's doing?
Are the Callings for the Passengers?
Michaela's calling this week was very personal to her and had nothing to do with another passenger. And while it did solve another crime by bringing in a murderer, it seemed to be more about showing her some good that came out of Evie's death in that car accident, as if by meeting Carlos (who received Evie's heart in a transplant -- another bit of ham-fisted exposition) she would be able to start healing and moving on.
But then that would imply the callings are about helping the passengers on a very personal level rather than for some greater good. Or perhaps the agency behind these callings just needs Michaela in a better head space than she's in right now, so it's going to try healing her emotionally a little bit in the only way it knows how.
Which in this case was Michaela hearing a heartbeat, which turned out to be symbolic of Evie's. But why hear it over the dead man when Carols was next to her and then as a cue to where the man's killer is and then to directionally point her at Evie's picture. This is a power that can speak to them in voices and in visions, so why such an abstract approach here?
Cal knows that Vance is no longer a "bad guy." Cal knows about Carlos and the significance of his heart. Cal is tied to one of the missing passengers in a visceral way. He found his way through the sewers to another passenger. Cal seems to know everything, and the only thing we know different about him was that he was awake at one point while everyone else was asleep on the plane and looked out the window into a bright light.
If Cal is so special and important, as this would seem to indicate, why give him a potentially lethal connection to another random passenger? Is it to kick Ben into gear to save his life by finding and saving Marko and the other passengers? Is Marko also important in some way?
What Are the Networked Minds For?
If this is about networking human minds, what's the end goal of this accomplishment? So far, it's about a lot of headaches and confusion as people are sharing random thoughts and "callings." Once refined are we talking about a true collective consciousness? A hive mind, if you will?
That could create some terrifying military implications, as well as very positive impact on law enforcement and any other agency that requires adaptability in a fast-moving field. Is the networking what it's about or is that just a step toward something else?
Does humanity need to combined forces mentally -- or perhaps just the passengers -- in order to prepare for something? Alien invasion? Time travel? Parallel dimensions? Are they all becoming superheroes?!
Move over James Bond, the name is Stone. Ben Stone. Come on, this was absolutely ridiculous, the guy is a mathematician and yet he seems to be a master spy as well. On his first day, he figured out how to infiltrate a top-secret file by microwaving his ID badge.
Then, he made a connection through poker and used spilled coffee to steal a thumb drive of data about the Singularity Project, the non-profit that funded Fiona's mind-body research and is all over the Unified Dynamic Systems data at the new accounting firm Ben works at.
Come thing think of it, he's sounding more like MacGyver here than Bond. Imagine what he could do with some chewing gum and a bobby pin. He was even cordial to Danny after the latter dropped off Olive. Hmm, maybe he really is as superhero.