As religion takes center stage in the story of a new missing passenger, it may be playing a bigger role in the returnees and ... well, everything!
It must be Easter in the world of "Manifest" because resurrection seemed to be the theme of the day as the mysterious series kicked off its third season.
It's been almost exactly a year since the last episode aired, but only three months in the show time (so we'll pretend Cal just had a huge growth spurt, mmkay?). Does that mean that Michaela and Zeke have been on a three-month honeymoon? We want to live that kind of life!
While they were enjoying the idyllic island beach life in Costa Rica, Ben was in nearby Cuba tracking that shocking tailfin that raised all kinds of new questions in last season's finale. They also had to deal with a new Calling that hit Michaela, Ben and Cal with equal measure -- along with a new face they'd never seen before.
But while most of our action was overseas, we did check in on Michaela's precinct, where Jared met with a young woman concerned about her missing mother. Her missing mother wit a very familiar face. One that probably haunts Saanvi in her sleep every night.
Can you imagine the Major as a loving mother, sending her daughter roses as a sort of code to tell her how long she might be gone? Okay, we can picture that last part, because she loved being cryptic, but the late, not-so-great Major's presence is clearly going to continue to loom large.
And as we saw in the closing moments of the episode, Saanvi is still dealing very much with the guilt she feels over her role in the Major's death. Crouched in the corner and listening to audio of their therapy sessions (before she knew who she was talking to), Saanvi is in bad shape emotionally.
By the end of this first hour, Ben has a whole new theory about what might have happened to Flight 828 and what that means for all the returned passengers, and we've got a whole new batch of questions.
Callings are one thing, but why did touching the tailfin cause Ben to blast back like he'd just touched a transformer (and we don't mean Bumblebee)? It only happened the first time, but it literally knocked him unconscious, like an epic Calling manifested physically.
What does this mean about the tailfin itself? It certainly seems to confirm that it actually did come from Flight 828, as otherwise Ben would have had no palpable connection to it. But was it Ben that triggered that reaction, or the tailfin itself?
Is the Plane on the Bottom of the Ocean? The Passengers?
If the tailfin was recovered, does that mean the entire wreckage is on the bottom of the ocean, and has been for seven years or so now? Certainly the tailfin looked worse for wear, like it had been down there for a while.
And if that's the case, then what plane did the passengers land in? Sure, we saw it blow up, but when it did so it had a tailfin and the markings of Flight 828. Was it the same plane? And if so, how could its tailfin exist there on the plane and also on the ocean floor?
The obvious follow-up, then, is if the plane is on the bottom of the ocean, are its passengers? If the plane can exist as wreckage (as the tailfin would seem to indicate) and a fully functioning plane that returned five-and-a-half years after it took off as if no time had passed, could the passengers exist in both places at once, too?
Of course, that would mean that Zeke's body should have also been lying there in that cave, but it wasn't. Or at least it wasn't that he and Michaela saw when they went back there.
We've no idea what the Cuban government does or doesn't know about what's been going on with Flight 828, but the whole world knows that it vanished and returned. At the same time, there is no clear indication on the tailfin that it's from Flight 828, so why their obsessive need to stop it from leaving their island?
Is it simply a matter of something being taken from Cuba without going through the proper channels, or is there something bigger going on? Also, what happens to Vance now? He went off the grid to take on the bigger case of Flight 828. Does this expose him completely?
Does he have the allies he needs in the U.S. Government to help him get out of this situation of being arrested, or will he even go that route? We've seen that he's got his own network of operatives working all over the place, so he could always just break himself out.
If he does, will he abandon the tailfin? Put together an operation to try and dredge for more pieces of it? Perhaps look for evidence of bodies or anything else from 828 on the ocean floor?
What Role Does Angelina Play in the Future?
This episode's case-of-the-week was the tragic story of a returnee who's religious zealot parents took her Callings as a sign that she had strayed from God (more on that in a bit). After chasing all around the island in an effort to find the missing girl, Michaela finally did.
She was locked up in a basement dungeon/closet in her parents' house. Apparently, they were trying to pray the Callings away or something. But Angelina is more than just the Calling of the Week.
After her rescue, she insisted on going back to New York with Michaela -- hitching a ride with Ben on Vance's clandestine plane to circumvent the fact she had no papers. But what's significant is that Cal knew she was coming, having the family prepare the house for their new guest.
She also shared in the massive calling that Michaela, Ben and Cal had that dominated the episode. It was a calling of screaming and crazy lights -- and somehow touching the plane made Ben's hand light up and get markings like from the Calling (it's all connected!)
Now that Angelina is living under his roof temporarily, what larger role will she play? TJ became a key part of the team last season. Now that he's gone, is Angelina going to step into that role? And why was Cal waiting for her? Maybe she's more special, like he is, which could explain why she freaked her parents out so much.
We've covered this a few times, we know, but it just seems like he has this different level of abilities, like he's the oracle of Flight 828 -- or maybe one of several. Is Angelina more like him than the rest of them?
We know he can draw the future, we know he has dreams that sometimes foretell the future as well, and he has Callings sometimes fare more intense than others. On top of that, he can be physically harmed from Callings, whereas most others cannot.
This week, he was stiffer than usual in his performance delivery. It's either an awkward acting choice, or it's indicative that Cal is a little bit disconnected from the real world even when he's awake and walking through it, like he's an active conduit for whatever force is behind all of this.
He also said that he had that same feeling that he had before when the three shadows haunted his dreams (and waking hours at times). But they died in the lake, right?
Are the "Shadows" Returnees Now?
The final scene of the episode shows the same lake where the shadows fell into the water and seemingly disappeared. The lake was dredged and no bodies were found. That was three months ago, per the show's timeline.
All of a sudden, all three of them appear to float to the surface, looking definitely worse for wear, and one of them opens his eyes. So what does this mean? Were they vanished for three months in the same way Flight 828 disappeared, or even Zeke?
Are they now returnees? Based on how they came back, looking burnt to a crisp, they could be very different returnees than Zeke and the passengers -- maybe returning from someplace else? Regardless, do they come back with powers?
Last season, we were a little surprised they seemed to be regular dudes after all of Cal's foretelling about how dangerous they were, but maybe he was anticipating this version of them, a version powered by having vanished and returned.
If they did disappear, does that mean they now have a Death Date of their own, coming three months hence? If so, that would happen toward the end of this season, which could make for a very dangerous arc.
Zeke said he had a feeling that Michaela needed help when she was trying to find Angelina in her parents' home, so he faked a Calling collapse of his own which brought both of them running.
But was that just a feeling based on reading the room, his love for Michaela, or does he still have some kind of residual connection to the Callings? Zeke is still our first survivor of the Death Date, so there are a lot of questions about what that looks like. Will all of the passengers just become normal people again when/if they surpass their Death Dates?
Are the Returnees Resurrected? Did They Die?
The tailfin left Ben spiraling, trying to figure out what it means. His new theory is that maybe all of the passengers, Zeke and anyone else who disappeared and came back the way they did actually did die. They didn't travel through time or anything like that, but they died ... and then sometime later, for some reason, they were resurrected.
It's certainly a very religious theory, coming on the heels of a very religious case-of-the-week with Angelina and her parents. But is it possible? And if so, why? And why wait differing lengths of time to bring these people back?
Did Zeke return when he did so that he and Michaela could wind up married? Did the guy in the truck come back so he could die again to teach the other resurrected people something? Are the "Shadows" then also resurrected, but perhaps not as "angels" but "demons"?
There's the age-old question about what the Callings mean and why those who receive them must follow them, but the bigger question is whether or not there's an intelligent force behind the Callings, steering them the way Dr. Sam Beckett was being steered through time on "Quantum Leap."
Is there a science (fiction) explanation, or something more fantastic at work?
At the same time, there comes the question of the plane itself. It's one thing to resurrect people, but why resurrect the entirety of Flight 828? And are they resurrected in their same bodies, while the plane was clearly not resurrected in its same form (otherwise it had two tailfins)?
Is there now an empty plane on the bottom of the ocean because the dead bodies were brought up and resurrected? That would explain the lack of aging, but why the grand spectacle of putting them in a version of Flight 828 and having them land five-and-a-half years later?
Why Are These Returnees Famous?
Certainly that's what's happened, as evidenced by the Major's daughter coming to the precinct to see the "828 detective." These are some of the most famous people on the plane, but also some of the most scrutinized.
If they are doing God's work, what is the point of bring them back in such a public way? Certainly their fame has made it harder to follow Callings at times. At other times, though, their fame as passengers has opened doors that might have otherwise remained closed.
Still, there have apparently been returnees throughout history. Zeke is one that no one knows about, and there have been others. So what was special about this plane full of passengers that they were chosen to return with their gifts as a spectacle the whole world knows about while others come back quietly, but with the same gift of the Callings?
How may of our questions will "Manifest" answer as Season 3 progresses on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC -- and how many new ones will it create?