This review contains spoilers for Manifest.
Manifest Season 1 Episode 16
So the question as posed by last week’s review is this: did Manifest create enough resolution to satisfy viewers going into the hiatus? But oddly, the satisfaction comes not from loose ends being tied up but rather from the single mystery surrounding the initial time jump suddenly getting an eye-opening twist as well as from a couple of interesting cliffhangers. In essence, the show avoided a rough landing by not entirely touching down on the runway, which might have been its only workable strategy. Now fans will be spending the hiatus wondering who got shot, who the baby’s daddy is, and what the Major is going to do with Saanvi.
Saanvi’s story turned out surprisingly well considering it’s really just getting started. Perhaps like Ben, the audience wasn’t as worried as they should have been about knowledge of the blood markers getting out that would associate the callings with a biological cause. Saanvi’s reaction to the oncology lab tech’s offer to collaborate on a study would have been one of worry even if she hadn’t been suffering from PTSD, but her panic attack felt very authentic as a result of her added fragility. So was the colleague that recommended a therapist working with the Major, or did she simply take advantage of the situation presented to her? Perhaps an unfamiliar henchman face snuck by unnoticed, but portraying the Major as a patient opportunist is definitely more appealing than the electro-shock torturer we saw earlier in the season.
So that thread is left dangling, which is fine, especially since the new controversy surrounding James Griffin led us to a much more important revelation. Relating his brazen disregard for the callings to some sort of metaphysical punishment was one thing, but tying it in with what the Believers or X’ers might do was even more effective. The premonitions might not have necessarily have been as exploitable for Griffin as the bomb in Times Square, but the prospect of the callings being revealed to the world felt believably dangerous on its own. Adding the “Stop him!” calling also added to the sense of urgency, especially for Zeke in his unstable state.
But of course, from the very start, the calling was referring to Zeke, not to Griffin. Whatever power is behind these missions already knew that the murderer’s time was up, and the fountain of water gushing out of Griffin was as horrifying as it was enlightening. But since Michaela continued to hear “Stop him!” after Griffin’s death, the first instance was likely more about stopping Zeke from pulling his gun before nature could take its course. In that sense, framing Zeke as an alcoholic whose emotional state was questionable worked out perfectly for several storylines. In this case, he clearly thought that Cal’s premonition of the Stone family’s deaths meant only he could stop whatever part Griffin had to play in the future.
Jared obviously also honed in on this aspect of Zeke’s character much as we might wish to chide him for his jealousy. No one could have missed the lingering hug between Michaela and Zeke, though, so perhaps his resentment is not misplaced. Regardless, his abuse of police power to investigate and order surveillance on Zeke were clearly unwarranted since his assumption about what was being purchased in that back alley was incorrect — the audience likely made the same mistake initially. Not that an illegal gun purchase is any better, but Jared’s presence inside Michaela’s apartment for the purposes of harassment was an extreme overstepping of authority and did not inspire sympathy from the viewers, nor was it likely meant to.
Someone should tell Jared that Zeke only has a year left anyway according to Ben and Olive’s theory, and that’s assuming he wasn’t the one shot in the final moments, which seems the most likely scenario. The final explanation for the peacock symbol wasn’t entirely satisfying since it seemed like a puzzle designed by a history teacher rather than a metaphysical omniscience, but the pieces falling into place still gave the finale an appropriate amount of gravitas. The problem was that the wooden dragon, the petrograph, and even the unconvincingly exact nature of Griffin’s time of death on the coroner’s report were ultimately disconnected, acting more as convenient narrative devices rather than a carefully woven tapestry of mystical symbols and messages.
It’s an odd circumstance considering how tightly written the Zeke arc was, even down to his mother’s rejection tying in nicely with the flashback to Jamaica in which Michaela’s mom says, “You’re never too old to need your mother.” Similarly, Grace’s surprise pregnancy is more of a soap opera add-on that was upstaged by the gunshot at the end. Nevertheless, the fact that the 5-year time jump relates to a time limit for the passengers of Flight 828 is a wonderfully shocking reveal that really gives a sense of completion to a finale that contains some pretty significant cliffhangers. The end result is an exciting ride for the final installment and a compelling reason to stick around for Manifest season 2.
Listen to the latest Sci Fi Fidelity podcast: