A new terrorist group seems to be targeting 828 passengers and they're dangerously organized, while Michaela and Zeke revisit his past to uncover a clue about their future.
With the threat of the Major looming over the passengers of Flight 828 on "Manifest," we don't have time to worry about another group of haters. We're still trying to figure out what the hell is going on!
This week, though, that new danger emerged and it appears to be far more organized than what we first saw. It began with a simple act of vandalism at Ben's home -- a rock through the window and a red "X" on the front door. The red "X" has historic connotations, too, as a marker that there is no one left alive in a home after a plague.
In this case, though, it seems to indicate no one desirable is left alive, or perhaps that no one human is left alive. That seems to be the message of this new hate group, led by a creepy man named Cody Webber. He's got a website, pictures of the survivors, and who knows how many acolytes.
By the end of the hour, a matching red "X" appeared on the laboratory door where Saanvi works, which is even creepier than the brazen daylight attack at the Stone house. This was done inside a place of business that has some level of security, and there were two men within her line of sight when she discovered it who either didn't know it was there, or knew all too well.
It's a sinister subplot that we're not sure the show needed with the already-terrifying threat of the Major and her massively organized force, but now we're even more nervous for Cal and Ben and everyone else who survived that flight. And all the while, we're trying to be excited about what the introduction of Zeke might mean for the real mysteries of the show.
As we learned last week, Zeke is another time traveler, only he jumped forward just a single year and did so from a freak storm near a cave in the mountains. Saanvi's working theory is that his jump is more like an aftershock to the plane disappearance's earthquake. And he's definitely like them, as he totally shared a calling with Mick.
Did they also share a connection? They certainly bonded over the shared sense of responsibility they feel over the deaths of people they love. In Zeke's case, it was his sister who died when he was 15 and negligent. The calling appeared to first take them to her memorial so Zeke could start to get closure, and then things got weird.
You guessed it, even without a single appearance by the Major or anyone in her organization -- perhaps she's too busy moving into her new apartment to do anything this week -- we've got so many questions about what is going on, and why "Manifest" keeps dropping more cryptic hints about things if there are only three episodes left?!
This might be a throwaway detail, but it was mentioned twice in the episode, so we now think there might be some significance to the fact that whomever Saanvi was supposed to travel to Jamaica with did not travel with her. The seat next to her was empty, but she clearly did not want to talk about it.
This would mean someone she was that close to was so nearly on the fateful flight, and instead lived five-and-a-half years without her and we've no idea who it is. A lover? Friend? Family member? In fact, we don't know much about Saanvi at all because she's turned into a plot device.
Her research role is important, but why can't she also have a relevant personal life that we follow. Perhaps the red "X" on her lab door will start to give us some insight into her world, but we don't really have that much faith.
It seems like the writers were originally going to make her more important in Ben's life, but instead tried to redeem Grace's terrible character arc at the expense of any arc for Saanvi. We don't love that choice.
Early in the series we saw that some people practically worship the returnees, but this week we saw the inevitable flip side to that adoration. Now there are people who seem to hate them, but could it be indicative of a larger turning tide in public perception?
As a nation we love to lift up people and then tear them down. And the higher they rise and more famous they become, the more we like to pick into their lives, expose everything we can about them and try to destroy them utterly. It's not our best trait, but it's very human ... or at least American.
Jared said that Webber and his website are just one of many new sites cropping up since the pilot stole another plane and disappeared (we still think he jumped further into the future). Now the passengers are being branded terrorists or worse. It may not remain possible to just live their lives in their regular homes as they have been.
Surely Ben and Saanvi are not the only two to have been targeted already and there will be more to come. And with Webber's blatant threat about Cal, asking if he bleeds, there will likely be casualties to come at the hands of these people. They could prove a real danger and force the passengers to flee their homes and go into hiding, which could prove quite interesting.
One of the questions posed by this new anti-828 group is to ask if the passengers are even human. Honestly, it's a fair question, and one Cal reiterated to Grace later in the episode as he's wondering himself if he's the same person who took off on that flight all those years ago.
Honestly, there is no clear answer right now. Yes, he bears the same scar as the Cal Grace knew and he looks the same and sounds the same, but he also hasn't aged in the past five years. And he has these amazing new abilities and callings that even he doesn't understand.
Who's to say the returnees aren't themselves after all, but rather alien creations or constructs or something. They have new genetic markers, they are something slightly different than humanity. Does that make them not human? Do the differences go even deeper than that?
Were they all grown in a vat shortly before their return? Perhaps they're preprogrammed agents with some secret programming in them and the callings are just the first step in getting them and the world ready for whatever's to come next.
Another plot element that was left dangling as Ben's calling of a peacock. This week, Olive's book dropped to a picture and he chatted with her about the symbolic meaning of the bird, latching onto the notion that it was a messenger for Juno.
They didn't get any further in their discussion, but it raises an interesting discussion point about the meaning of Ben getting that particular calling vision and what it was trying to tell him. Are the callings a message to the returnees? They seem to be that on an individual basis, but what about on a larger scale?
Cal and Ben and Michaela seems to be at the center of most of the callings -- unless there are wild adventures with other returnees that we're not seeing -- so what makes them special? Are they the messengers from whatever force is behind what's happening, and if so, what is their message? Or are they supposed to be receiving one?
What makes the Stone family so special of all the returnees? Because it's not just Cal, who seems to have the most acute callings of them all. In fact, his callings are so acute they're not even helpful because they could possibly kill him. Design flaw or part of the plan and why Ben and Mick seem to have the next highest level?
After building a cairn for Zeke's sister, he and Michaela came upon a hieroglyphic couple on a rock wall holding hands beneath a sky of three stars. They just happened to be holding hands at that moment, as Zeke had helped her up onto the rocks. Was this where the calling was leading them the whole time?
And why are they having shared callings through physical contact anyway?
But our biggest question was who made that drawing in the first place. It was on the outside surface of a cliff/rock facing, so it would be weathered and worn if it had been there a long time and it looked pretty fresh, as if it had been buried in a cave for centuries.
Are their other beings more actively involved in the callings than we've seen before? Or perhaps the hieroglyphics were a form of calling themselves and they weren't really there. Perhaps it was just another shared vision due to physical contact to get them to stop in that place for a moment.
As soon as Zeke and Mick stopped under the stars -- the building of the cairn ate enough time so they arrived at this point after dark -- a storm started to emerge. If this is the same kind of dark lightning that triggered the plane and Zeke's trips through time?
If so, are they are about to jump through time themselves? Maybe it'll be a shorter jump, as teasers for next week seem to look like nothing has changed. If they're not jumping through time, then what is the point of this experience? Are we just showing them what the freak storms look like?
If, as Saanvi predicted, Zeke's disappearance was an aftershock, there's no reason to think that would be the only one. The plane disappeared (earthquake) five years ago and Zeke disappeared (aftershock) one year ago. If there are more to come, they should be coming soon. Did the pilot fly into one when he disappeared again?
There are so many questions left unanswered and only three episodes left this season. NBC had better renew it if it's going to wrap this first season with this many questions or we'll be mad at TWO peacocks that we're never going to get our answers.