Manifest has done well for NBC as it explores what happens when a commercial flight full of passengers completely disappears from radar, only to suddenly resurface five years later. The catch? The ordeal was instantaneous for the passengers, who did not experience any time lapse whatsoever. Thus, the bewildered passengers return to their loved ones, who have essentially operated on the idea that they have been presumed dead for five years. Consequently, the mystery of the passengers’ disappearance serves as the sci-fi centerpiece.
We’ve reviewed Manifest all season long for its first outing, and it’s been a journey of trying to pin down its hybrid genre format. For posterity, we’ve got episode descriptions and air times as well as links to reviews for each installment, including the finale.
Manifest Reviews and Episode Guide
We still haven’t quite figured out if Manifest is a sci-fi show, a family drama, a conspiracy thriller, or what. In any case, click on the episode title to read our reviews and read the descriptions of each installment.
Manifest Episode 1: “Pilot”
Returning to New York from a family vacation in Jamaica, the Stone family is separated when adult siblings Michaela and Ben, along with Ben’s gravely ill son Cal, are bumped to a later flight, while Ben’s wife, daughter and parents fly ahead. When that later flight lands, the passengers are bewildered to discover that five and a half years have gone by. They attempt to reconnect with the loved ones who mourned their passing and moved on long ago, and try to make sense of a mystifying phenomenon steering them to act in ways they don’t understand. (air date: September 24, 2018)
Manifest Episode 2: “Reentry”
The passengers from Flight 828 find themselves under government scrutiny as they struggle to resume their lives. Michaela is forced to confront the fact that Jared is married to her once-best friend, while Ben tries to help a fellow passenger reconnect with his son. Cal is approached by an obsessive stranger, as Grace and Olive disagree on whether or not to reveal a devastating secret. (air date: October 1, 2018)
Manifest Episode 3: “Turbulence”
Ben and Michaela investigate a shocking murder in fear that it’s connected to Flight 828. Meanwhile, Ben struggles to accept the life Grace led in his absence, while Olive and Cal realize that being twins after five and a half years apart is harder than they thought. (air date: October 8, 2018)
Manifest Episode 4: “Unclaimed Baggage”
When a mysterious message leads Saanvi to the flight attendant of 828, she enlists Ben’s help in uncovering a secret about the plane. Meanwhile, Michaela begins to question the nature of the callings when one goes horribly awry, leaving Jared to suffer the consequences. (air date: October 15, 2018)
Manifest Episode 5: “Connecting Flights”
Stories unfold for those left behind in the aftermath of Flight 828’s disappearance. Meanwhile in the present, Cal takes Ben on a mysterious adventure that awakens Ben to his son’s perplexing abilities. Michaela tries to protect Jared from consequences at work, while keeping her romantic feelings at bay. (air date: October 22, 2018)
Manifest Episode 6: “Off Radar”
When Cal wakes with a life-threatening fever, Grace worries it’s a side-effect of his experimental cancer treatment, but Michaela and Ben suspect Cal’s condition may be related to a mysterious passenger from Flight 828. As Cal’s situation worsens, Ben and Michaela attempt to track down the now-missing passenger. (air date: November 5, 2018)
Manifest Episode 7: “S.N.A.F.U.”
With the detained passengers secretly moved and subjected to painful experimentation – and Cal’s health directly linked to them – Ben takes advantage of an old friend to find out where the passengers were taken. Meanwhile, a mysterious new version of the calling pulls Michaela into a murder investigation that has deep personal ramifications for her. (air date: November 12, 2018)
Manifest Episode 8: “Point of No Return”
Ben forms an unlikely partnership with Vance in a high-stakes race to locate the missing passengers of Flight 828. Meanwhile, Michaela helps a suicidal passenger who believes he is the Angel of Death, and Cal goes back to school, navigating both his unwanted celebrity and his former friends, who are all now 16 years old. (air date: November 19, 2018)
Manifest Episode 9: “Dead Reckoning”
When Ben and Michaela put everything on the line to save the other missing passengers, the mission goes horribly awry and not everyone makes it out alive. The devastating result pushes Ben and Grace to a traumatic brink, while pulling Michaela and Jared dangerously close together. (air date: November 26, 2018)
Manifest Episode 10: “Crosswinds”
Michaela’s mystifying, next-level calling launches her on a mission that brings her relationship with Jared to a head. Determined to protect his family, Ben explores an alternate meaning to Michaela’s calling that leads him to a new alliance and a powerful new adversary. Cal’s struggle with Ben’s absence from home forces the Stones into an agonizing confrontation that could alter the family’s fabric forever.(air date: January 7, 2019)
Manifest Episode 11: “Contrails”
Ben heeds Cal’s calling to help Captain Daly clear his name for what happened to Flight 828, and the journey uncovers a seeming conspiracy that stems all the way back to the day the plane disappeared. Meanwhile, Michaela assists Autumn in her own journey of redemption, but has Autumn truly set out to redeem herself, or is she still working against the passengers? (air date: January 14, 2019)
Manifest Episode 12: “Vanishing Point”
When Cal is discovered missing from his bedroom, Grace and Ben launch a desperate search which takes them to the remote mountains of upstate New York. A tantalizing trail of breadcrumbs leads them to a startling, game-changing discovery. Meanwhile, Michaela confronts the deceptive Autumn, and the shadowy “Major” finally makes an appearance. (air date: January 21, 2019)
Manifest Episode 13: “Cleared for Approach”
Still reeling from the shocking outcome of Cal’s calling, Michaela digs deeper into her connection with a mysterious stranger. After a close call with Major’s henchmen, Ben finds himself facing a terrifying new threat that is growing exponentially. Meanwhile Saanvi has new data to mine, and she’s more than happy to dig into it until the threat arrives at her doorstep as well. (air date: January 28, 2019)
When Saanvi goes missing, Ben suspects a fanatical group who have become obsessed with the passengers from Flight 828. Michaela must face the consequences of her reunion with Jared. Zeke returns to New York and has an ominous calling. (air date: February 4, 2019)
Manifest Episode 15: “Hard Landing”
When the mysterious James Griffin is pulled from the river after being submerged over three days, the passengers learn what happens when the callings fall in the wrong hands. Meanwhile, Jared finds out about Zeke, setting him at odds with Michaela and her trust in the callings. (air date: February 11, 2019)
Manifest Episode 16: “Estimated Time of Departure”
Ben and Michaela must confront a dire threat to the passengers’ safety when Griffin schemes to take the callings public. Meanwhile, tensions between Jared and Zeke reach a boiling point, and Ben, Grace, and Olive make a devastating discovery. (air date: February 18, 2019)
Manifest Cast News and Story
Josh Dallas, the former Prince Charming of Once Upon a Time and original Fandral actor from 2011’s Thor, will headline the Manifest cast. Joining him will be Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina and Parveen Kaur.
For more elaboration on the plot, which has been called “Lost in reverse,” here’s the official synopsis:
“When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years, and their friends, families, and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds, and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible. From Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke comes an emotionally rich, unexpected journey into a world grounded in hope, heart, and destiny.”
While some might observe that the premise of Manifest shares elements with the 2004-2007 USA series, The 4400, it also exists quite closely to a real-life headline-making incident in the March 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which similarly disappeared without any substantive traces. However, there was no indication or confirmation that the project was inspired by the incident.