As Olive learns more about the cultish Church of the Believers, we are introduced to their polar opposite in one of the nastiest people yet on this show.
Looks like we're on the cusp of some major forward progress on "Manifest" as we had huge developments involving Zeke, the Major and the emergence of what could be two more opposing threats.
Sure, it's possible we're being complete paranoid, but we've been a little suspicious of Adrian since Ben first stumbled into his ramshackle church. Now that we've seen how much it's grown, and a little of what goes on there, we're a whole lot more uncomfortable.
Speaking of uncomfortable, we reached a conclusion for the Zeke arrest storyline, but it only opens a whole new plot that's sure to be way more uncomfortable. There was also a question revealed as part of it that apparently was just a time-waster: who moved Zeke and why?
When the answer is just to fill time in the episode, as it had no bearing on anything, than that's just disappointing writing. Kind of like what's been going on with Olive this season and has plagued this show since the beginning. It's a show with big ideas that are interesting and compelling mysteries, but sometimes it puts those in front of characters.
If we can see you pushing characters one way or another to serve your plot, that's poor writing. It has to be believable within the character for any developments, which is simply a matter of stronger narrative and motivations.
Olive is the worst example this season, so far, but we also get a key moment like this with Saanvi as she discovers she has a mole in her lab. Out of nowhere, we're told that she orchestrated a plot and was able to uncover her psychiatrist as the mole (and ultimately the Major), even after throwing suspicion at her lab tech.
She had just talked about how thankful she was for her psychiatrist, so it would have been nice to get a line or two of explanation why she suddenly suspected her. For now, the Major doesn't know she's exposed, so this situation could get dicey and dangerous in a hurry.
But that's a worry for another day. For now, these are the unanswered questions we're stewing over this week:
What Happened with Alex?
Probably a minor plot point, or even a completely irrelevant one, but we spent a decent amount of time this week dealing with the man who stood up Saanvi on Flight 828. We also got a terrible scene with a woman asking Saanvi if her husband could sit in that empty seat since in a prior episode Ben had said that seat was empty ... but you know, details, right?
Anyway, this week, we got a flashback of her waiting for him and we even saw her drafted email to him that the Major (as her psychiatrist) encouraged her to send. So is that going anywhere? Is Alex significant in any way to this ongoing plot? If so, could he have intentionally missed the flight, but put her on there knowing what would happen? The possibilities are tantalizing, but it could also be nothing.
Is Troy a Red Herring or a Threat?
At this point, we're leaning toward lab tech Troy being a red herring, but he was still fired unceremoniously as soon as Saanvi found out she had a mole. Will he be rehired now that she knows it's not him? If so, could he still be a mole, only for someone else? If this is it for his character, than what was the point?
Having her believe he's the mole for two seconds before orchestrating a clever plan to out the one person she trusts more than anyone because she suddenly knows it's her therapist is a waste of a character. Maybe he's just into her, or obsessed with 828 for his own reasons. He was one of the more interesting new characters because we didn't know his true motivations, so it would be disappointing to never find them out.
What is Adrian’s Motivation?
Speaking of motivation, we've been questioning Adrian since he founded his church, and as we saw his followers repeating a fairly elaborate chant at Olive after she "shared," we're more worried than ever. This is looking a lot like a cult. Many of them start innocently enough, but can then take a dark or sinister turn. Where is this one going?
"Blessed are the children of the returned, for they will inherit the miracle," the worshipers chant, which makes us think of Grace's baby (who certainly appears to have). Luckily, Olive hasn't outed that yet, but she may yet. And she hasn't inherited anything, so what is Adrian preaching and what do they believe.
In related news, it's a little disturbing that the airplane imagery is clearly being used like the Christian cross, only drilling home that this is something more than a support group, but perhaps a religious movement seeking to supplant traditional ones. If so, who is their God? Their acolytes? Chosen ones? What are they about? So many questions!
Why Is Olive Getting Shut Out?
Related to this, and perhaps just a result of that bad writing we were talking about above, why are the Stones suddenly shutting Olive out of Calling-related happenings. Grace was all in on having Cal help her figure hers out, even though it was Olive who figured out a major puzzle last season and has her dad's analytical mind.
Shutting her out so aggressively seems to only serve the purpose of further pushing her into the Church of the Believers, which is a case of plot overtaking realistic character development. "Maniest" has been guilty of this many times, but Olive is in such an interesting place as a character, they don't need to be so heavy-handed in pushing her where they need her to be for the story.
What Does Grace's Calling Mean?
As for Grace's calling, we're just as in the dark now as we were before. One thing is for certain, this Erika woman she befriended (or thought she did) certainly has more layers than most characters on this show. She's a soccer coach with a daughter, but she also harbors an incredible amount of venom toward 828-ers, appears scared of something ... and then that closing scene (which we'll get to).
Grace's Calling keeps tell her to "open her eyes" and shows an image of a gargoyle looming over her. So what is she supposed to help Erika see? We have to imagine we're not done with this, because we're clearly not done with Erika just yet, but we're started by this seemingly typical mom having such venom after seeing and recognizing Cal with Grace. "I hope you lose that baby."
That's a hell of a thing to say to any pregnant woman, but it was especially callous here. And it makes us believe that Erika is representing some kind of polar opposite to what Adrian's group is representing; both on some sort of fanatical extreme. So where do we go from here?
Who Are Simon and Erika Working For?
For one, we went to the college where Ben just got hired on as a professor and met Simon, another professor there who was supposed to be the one tough to impress. But the big twist came at the end when Simon was picked up by his wife, none other than Erika. "Welcome to my parlor, said the spider to the fly," he quotes in reference to bringing Ben under the same roof.
So clearly this couple has some designs of their own for the Stones. Did Erika know that Grace was Ben's wife when she met her? She didn't seem to recognize her until she saw Cal. Did she tell Simon about Grace bothering her and being afraid for her. That could go either way, because perhaps Erika is afraid of Simon and whatever group they're affiliated with.
We've seen hate groups before, so are they getting more organized just as Adrian's church is? If so, perhaps they're planning something big, or are they just wanting to keep an eye on 828 passengers? What does Simon gain by having Ben work at the same college as him? How does it serve whatever purpose he's working toward ... and is it his own?
What Happens to Jared Now?
On a strictly more personal level, we have to wonder what happens to Jared now. Michaela kind of blew up his whole world in exonerating Zeke, revealing all the illegal things he did to gain access to Zeke in her apartment. He could lose his job for those infractions; especially from this strict new captain.
At the same time, the captain clearly doesn't like Michaela and her mysterious success rate, and Jared made it pretty clear he's ready to blow up Michaela's world, too. He defended her earlier this season, but we have to assume that's over. And him buying a drink for a guy who thinks 828-ers shouldn't be cops could be a hint he's about to cost Michaela her job.
Jared was willing to let Zeke go down to protect his career, so we know he's got a lot of crooked cop capabilties. And he's an absolute loose cannon when he's mad, and he's definitely mad now. It's weird he was sitting at Zeke's retrial and seemingly did not know that Michaela had already outed him to their captain and Internal Affairs. You'd think he'd have been called in right away, unless they were waiting for it to be on record.
The bottom line is that this show has clearly decided Michaela and Zeke need to be a thing and they wanted a definitive end to the Jared thing. They'd already blown up his marriage over Michaela, so why not potentially his career, as well. Maybe they're going to turn him into a full-on villain.
Has he met Simon and Erika? They've got enough hate for everyone.
"Manifest" continues raising more questions than giving answers, every Monday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
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