At least one principal cast member and a key supporting player appear to be dead after a major victory for the good guys quickly turns violent.
It certainly looks like "Manifest" suffered its first major cast casualty in the explosive midseason finale of the fall's hottest new show. But this is "Manifest," so we're not going to count it until we see a body.
Another prominent character also appeared dead -- and we did see that body -- but we're not buying that one either. Let's just face it, this show has us so twisted up in all of its conspiracies and crazy happenings that we're pretty much not going to take anything at face value ever again.
Is Cal even a kid? ... Actually, that question might be more legit than we even realize. He's certainly something unique at this point, as evidenced by his finding the covert ops team, pointing them in the right direction to save the abducted passengers and making sure Ben went along because only he could see the lighted path.
This episode didn't give us a case-of-the-week story to distract from the larger story, instead making the search for the missing passengers the centerpiece of the hour. In fact, virtually everything served that goal except for the domestic crap between Ben and Grace. And can we say we are really getting frustrated. Why--
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Below are eight questions that will be festering in our brains until the show's return in January:
This looks like it's going to be the big question of the back half of this first season, as the unseen Major apparently oversees the Singularity Project and had no problem ordering Laurence Belson and the rest of his scientists around in regards to how to experiment on the abducted passengers.
We got a better sense that he's looking at the connections between passenger minds, and he had a major breakthrough when he casually ordered them to double the electric shock therapy to one of the abductees. Already, two others were feeling the shocks of his attack. Now, they all were.
In fact, it certainly looks like all of the passengers from Flight 828 felt that one, which could mean they're all more connected than the realize. Perhaps they're just not strong enough yet, but if that ability is growing then there could be interesting times ahead for all of them.
Is Belson Dead?
After Vance's raid on the Singularity lab, Belson appeared to protect his work and research via the scorched earth approach. He simply burned and destroyed everything, and ultimately blew up the secret tunnels they'd been hiding out in. But did he also die there?
It certainly looked like him lying there near where Michaela found Jared. But Jared ultimately survived the ordeal, so perhaps Belson did as well. Michaela thinks she saved Jared by begging the Callings to release him, but that could be giving them more sentience than they contain. Unless we are to believe there is an entity behind them.
And while we're talking about Belson, can we even say with certainty that Vance is dead? We never saw his body, and while Michaela saw him loaded onto an ambulance, we also know that a whole bunch of passengers were loaded onto a bus and then abducted for these experiments.
Considring Vance clearly knows more than the Major wants him to know, it would be nothing to abduct him if he is alive. Vance then could serve as a valuable fount of information, though the Major may find it hard to pry information from the hard-nosed military man.
It seems unlikely that Vance would die so shortly after flipping sides and working with our characters to uncover the truth. Sure, it would feed their theory that telling people about the Callings gets those people killed, but it also makes the show infinitely harder moving forward if he's gone.
After all, Vance was their only ally on the inside, with vast government connections. With him out of the way and the Major clearly aware that the Stones are becoming a problem, their lives may be about to get much, much worse.
So we do have to wonder if the death (maybe) of Vance is further proof that the Callings are protecting themselves by killing off people who find out about them. It would kind of rule out God or some other benevolent benefactor if that is the case.
And then there's the fact that no harm appears to have been done to the Singularity Project, even as they've clearly figured out some key component of the Callings, or at least how they're communicating with the passengers.
And further, if the Callings are seeking to protect themselves from being found out, why would they supposedly answer Michaela's prayers and save Jared? Was it more for her than him? Maybe the Callings need her on board with whatever they're working towards or trying to prepare her for.
Just as we're skeptical that Vance is dead after he was loaded into an ambulance, our red flags were waving high as Fiona loaded up another vehicle with the rescued passengers. She only promised Ben that they were going someplace safe and remote. But how do we know we can trust her?
Fiona is being funded by the Singularity Project and they are working from her theoretical experiments. What's to say this was all just a set-up to try and get the Stones to back off and Fiona isn't just transporting the abductees to another safe house so the experiments can begin again.
One of the reasons we're not sure about Fiona is because of the reveal that Autumn Cox was a plant of Belson the whole time. Don't get us wrong, we've not trusted Fiona for a while now, but this just kind of sealed the deal. At the close of the episode, we got to see that Autumn was sent to spy on Ben by Belson, complete with a burner phone.
After everything blew up, she sent a test asking what Singularity wanted her to do next. Will she get an answer? If Belson is alive, she will. Even if he's dead, she probably will from the Major or whoever else takes over. Fiona, perhaps?
When we saw Belson talking with Autumn, he specifically told her not to tell too much, but rather find out what the Stones know. Instead, she gave them enough intel to find where Singularity was hiding the abductees, setting up the final showdown and possible death of Belson. This can't be a gold star moment for an undercover spy.
So was she supposed to expose so much that Vance and his team were able to make a run at the facility and rescue the abducted passengers? Maybe Singularity wanted them to think they scored a big victory so they'd slow their roll. If that was the case, it seems to have worked, for now.
It seems that Ben is willing to fight everyone and everything for the sake of Cal and his family, but he just won't fight Grace. We've asked prior why Grace is just the worst, and she was the worst again this week. She refuses to acknowledge anyone's experiences but demands they acknowledge and bow down to hers.
Yes, Ben is being mysteriously absent way too much lately, but Grace isn't even giving him a conversation. And when he has tried to open up to her, she's shut him down almost immediately. Hell, Vance believed him within minutes, whereas his own wife was ready to have him committed.
She is petty and selfish and cruel and bitter and so very angry. And Ben just keeps taking it on the chin, even going so far as to say she's right over and over again. But even if she is, that doesn't mean he's wrong, necessarily. It's time Ben stand up to the missus and make her hear him for a change.
It was a throwaway moment, but did it have a bigger meaning? After the explosion, when Ben first came to he saw a peacock standing nearby with its plume on full display. And then it vanished and nothing more was said of it. Is it the start of a future calling? Is it an actual peacock?
Is it perhaps a meta reference to the fact that "Manifest" is on NBC. Is Ben becoming aware that he's on a television show? If so, will he reject the hackneyed dialogue he keeps being given and choose to talk more like a normal human being?
How long before he looks directly into the screen and asks us, "Did you hear the calling?"
Maybe "Manifest" will start answering some of our questions, even as it comes up with new questions, when it returns to NBC in January.