This review contains spoilers for Manifest.
Manifest Season 1 Episode 10
When a show takes a hiatus midseason, it’s helpful to come back with an additional hook, and Manifest’s focus on the Major, an important conspirator, in its first episode back serves that purpose well. Although Ben’s split with Grace didn’t give us quite the separation from the family drama for this second half of the season we might have hoped for, the kids’ angle at least gave things a more poignant perspective. Plus the “wrecking ball” metaphor for the passengers’ re-entry into their former lives created a nice bit of thematic cohesion across all elements of the story in “Crosswinds.”
And then there’s the investigative journalist and host of 828Gate, Aaron Glover, a character which made this writer, as a podcaster, very happy. Ben’s initial skepticism of this platform makes sense, but it also was a smart move to use the outlet as an insurance policy in an increasingly hostile post-Vance world. The “Believers,” as they’re now called, have previously been on the periphery of our awareness, and they still are; but Aaron’s similar level of obsession makes clear that others out there besides the fanatics have paid close attention to the very visible uproar surrounding Flight 828. And I’m sure he’s grateful to have his very own Deep Throat!
So who is the Major, and what is the Holy Grail? By the end of the episode, we have what we think is one of the answers: Cal is clearly special. But the whole concept of a shady government entity pursuing a child with a strong mental connection to his fellow passengers is still clouded with questions, which is just where Manifest wants us. We’re put off balance by the brief duplicity of Autumn Cox and her change of heart in this episode as well as Fiona’s helpfulness and presence on the flight despite experiencing no callings of her own. We’re not sure what to think or who to trust.
It was nice to see the passengers come together, including a few familiar faces from earlier episodes, since it hardly makes sense that only the Stones would be trying to find answers. Of particular note were Captain Daly and his decision to leave the group and figure out some things on his own and entrepreneur Adrian whose dissatisfaction with his disrupted life leads him to a run in with Believers who want to touch him. Although nothing comes of either of these vignettes, their inclusion clearly hints at storylines to come and strengthens the sense that the show has a clear idea of where it’s going rather than cranking out disconnected episodic content.
That’s why there’s such a contrast for the Grace and Danny storyline, an arc that tries to give us new angles but ends up spinning its wheels. Although Ben’s realization that what his family got back doesn’t erase what they lost when the plane disappeared ties in nicely with the story of the abusive husband whose wife was glad he was gone, it’s not new news. Olive’s more assertive approach towards including Danny in their lives heightens the emotion a bit, but how much do we need of Danny’s patient understanding and withdrawal and Grace’s justifiable desire not to be the bad guy (or disliked character in fans’ eyes) in all this?
Fortunately, Jared’s brush with death has broken him out of his complacency despite Michaela wanting to avoid being the wrecking ball in his life. Their chemistry is so much stronger than Ben and Grace’s anyway, and it certainly trumps the awkward intimacy between Jared and Lourdes. Even the comment, “Not to kill the mood, but I’m ovulating,” seems engineered specifically to kill the mood, and that intentional dissonance is appreciated. Technically, we should feel as sorry for Lourdes as we do for Danny, but the two situations almost seem purposefully opposite to give us both possibilities for couples disrupted by the missing five years.
And of course the story of Paul Santino gives us a third possibility we might not have even thought of: what if someone who lost a family member to the disappearance of Flight 828 didn’t want them back? The mystery of Helen not showing up at the hangar to retrieve her husband was deepened by the abandoned milk carton that expired days after the plane returned, making us initially think she must be a victim of the government conspiracy. But paradoxically, the more mundane answer was much more interesting and unexpected. She feared death at the hands of a husband who doesn’t even remember being abusive, and guess what? Memory loss and a supernatural event don’t assuage him of that guilt despite what questions may initially arise in the viewer’s mind. A really well-done twist!
So the “find her” calling wasn’t about Helen at all — big surprise — but about a man searching for Michaela. Is the man another passenger? That might explain why Cal’s special sensitivity as the “holy grail” causes his fingers to feel the cold of the blizzard, but who knows? The roadblocks caused by Vance’s partner being rounded up for snooping into the Major’s whereabouts and by Autumn being given another phone to force her compliance show that Manifest still has a strong enemy at hand and plenty of secrets to unveil, and the government conspiracy plot continues to be a strong hook for the show moving forward.