With visions of plane crashes dancing in her head, Michaela and Ben try to figure out just what "save the passengers" means when death is coming for all of them.
Television's strangest mystery is back as "Manifest" kicked off Season 2 by ratcheting up the intensity, duration and visual involvement of the Callings.
It wasn't enough to put a death date on everyone who's ever disappeared and returned -- as seen by Griffin's death by drowning 82 hours after he returned (from being missing for 82 hours -- now the creators are adding another layer to the Callings by having them fully immersive and even interactive if more than one returnee is in one.
This week, that included an ongoing vision of Flight 828 crashing while Michaela and Cal are fully aware that they're in a vision (no one else seems to know). By the end of the hour, Zeke has joined them on the plane, only he was obviously never on that flight as his disappearance happened in 2017 in a cave.
In fact, Zeke's ticking clock is much shorter than the passengers. Their "expiration date" is set for June 2, 2024. But Zeke was only gone a year, which means his expiration comes up sometime during this season. That means the mystery of the expiration dates will have to be resolved in these episodes, unless they plan to either kill off Zeke or have him discover a loophole.
Could it be tied to visions of the plane crashing? Did the plane perhaps crash? That could explain why it blew up in the hangar, perhaps, if it was supposed to blow up on impact. We really have no idea what happened in the five-and-a-half years the plane was gone. We thought that was the biggest question of the show, but it's since been eclipsed by everything we don't know about the Callings.
The premiere introduced us to two new passengers, who've been interpreting their callings in a very Biblical way, with special focus on Revelations. This led to them deciding suicide was the only way to make it stop, but instead they learned it wasn't their deaths they were seeing in an accident at the George Washington Bridge, but rather another family.
So will the Vasiks become allies to the cause, or will they just fade into the background like so many "Calling-of-the-week" passengers did throughout Season 1? And while you ponder that, these are the major questions (important and not so important) we'll be mulling over after this week's explosive premiere.
The characters are asking this question, and so are we. Ben thinks it's about saving them from that expiration date, but Michaela thinks it might be more urgent than that. Certainly the Vasiks weren't going to make it to that date, so Mick might have the edge on interpreting this particular message from her Calling. And even if it is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, why is it a bad idea to help people in need?
The passengers need a private network to share what they're seeing and try to come up with a bigger picture. We're sure Ben would love to map it out. Maybe then they could get an idea of what kind of saving they need to be doing on a grander scale. Hell, include the Zeke's and Griffin's of the world -- there have to be other returnees out there.
How Did Cal Get Back to See Michaela?
Not every question is important, but it was a little odd to us that Saanvi had to sneak Ben back to see Michaela and then Cal just showed up a few moments later. How did he get in there? Usually those doors are locked at all times to different areas of a hospital. Did he Calling his way back there, or did the writers just need him for the scene, so suddenly he was there and stop thinking about it so hard after all these people all disappeared for five-and-a-half years so stop sweating the details already. Fair enough.
This one looks like it will get resolved next week, so we're going to go out on a limb and say to Danny, "You are the father." Why? Because it creates more drama, it keeps the wonderful Daniel Sunjata to the cast and it makes Ben's home life and relationship with Grace just a little more complicated. Not to mention Olive, who's already torn between these two father figures.
Honestly, it's 2020. Complicated family structures are what America's all about. Grace having a child by another man while her husband was away for five years is certainly nothing shocking, and especially under the extraordinary circumstances. Honestly, they writers seem to be making all of this a much more complex deal than it would be in real life.
Why Doesn't Michaela Have Much Time?
When Cal tracks Zeke down at his mother's house, he tells him that neither he nor Michaela have much time and they must work together. We get that Zeke is riding an expiration date looming much sooner than he may realize, but why does Cal think Mick doesn't have much time, either. Is it because her fate is intertwined with Zeke's? Or is it because of her work on the Callings that she's putting her life in greater danger? Maybe someone will shoot her again.
Oh, did we mention that it was Mick who got shot in that dramatic (yawn) cliffhanger moment from the Season 1 finale. You know, the soap opera moment with two guys wrestling over a gun and then a third person walks in. Of course the third person gets shot. And in this case, we jumped ahead two months and Mick is fine, so really none of it really mattered anyway ... except maybe for Zeke's arc.
Apparently as a result of his role in the shooting of one Michaela Stone, Zeke decided to turn himself in. And he managed to do it by randomly running into Michaela on the street and apparently telling the police exactly where and when he'd be on that particular street corner. It's pretty impressive. Or is that convenient? It's nice to see the writing is as sharp as ever on TV's guiltiest mystery saga.
Why Is the Major Spending So Much Time with Saanvi?
Speaking of time that no one seems to have enough of, how does the Major have all the time in the world to work on prying information out of Saanvi. In the closing moments of this episode, she finally tells the good doctor she's going to have to let her go as a patient since Saanvi won't open up fully to her. The ploy works as Saanvi begins to reveal what happened to Flight 828.
But we've already jumped ahead two months, which means the Major has been playing an incredibly long and patient game with Saanvi if she allowed it go to this long before Saanvi even began to open up about the flight. Now, the floodgates might go from here, but it's still odd to think that someone as ruthless and dedicated as the Major is to her cause would be willing to put it all on hold for two months to dick around with Saanvi like this.
But all of that pales in comparison to the final scene reveal that Vance is alive. Now, we're thrilled to have more time with actor Daryl Edwards, who's done a wonderful job of adding so many layers to this complex character. We assumed, from his subtle nods and winks, that this Vance is still on Ben's side in this, which could make him a good ally to have.
But without the NSA backing his play, who is bankrolling whatever Vance is up to now? Where did all the white vans come from and the agents in the field to drive them and keep tabs on the passengers. What does Vance know? What are his motivations and goals with the passengers now? And why did he choose to abduct Ben at that moment? Because he was attacking the van? Or because Vance was ready to reveal himself?
We would love to see the passengers start to get a little more proactive against the Major and any other forces working against them. Perhaps Vance can allow that to happen.
In fact, we don't even know how he survived that explosion. Perhaps he disappeared and is now a returnee himself, with an expiration date of approximately two months because of that time jump. That would create a greater urgency to move the plot forward than Zeke's expiration date.
We expect to have only more questions (and maybe one (baby) answer) as "Manifest" continues every Monday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.