This Manifest review contains spoilers.
Manifest Season 2 Episode 5
It was a risky move for Manifest to hit the pause button on the Major’s theft of Saanvi’s research and the over-arching death date dilemma, but the confrontation between the Believers and the X’ers has been building since season one — it was time. Plus, placing Olive center stage turned out to be an incredibly powerful alternative, allowing Luna Blaise to inject undying faith into the equation with her impactful performance. Add a few turning points for Zeke with his history of addiction, Jared and his involvement with the X’ers, and Ben with his questionable response to his daughter’s confession and we’ve got ourselves another enjoyable episode in a much improved second season.
Reminding Manifest viewers about Olive’s unshakable conviction that Cal was alive during his missing five years tied in beautifully with her newfound faith in the larger meaning behind the Returned and their powers. Her past predisposes her to be a Believer! Yet it makes sense that only a direct attack on Grace and Cal as they are run off the road would push her to go to Michaela with what she saw at the church. Even after she inevitably tells her parents what she’s been up to, her effective rebuttals to their arguments confound even our own suspicion of Adrian and his motives. Could there be something to her hope-instead-of-fear approach?
The Tarot card and the compass do seem to point towards something mystical going on. The psychic’s advice that Olive held onto over the years reinforces her optimistic view of the Returned: “You should look to the future to the possibility that everything will turn out well.” Are the callings, as Grace surmises, trying to tell them that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel rather than simply a death date to dread? Manifest somehow manages to balance both ideas, letting us enjoy the growing closeness between Olive and TJ while creeping us out with Adrian’s cult-like speech about death not being final.
Not that we would necessarily threaten Adrian the way Ben did, his hooded sweatshirt eerily reminiscent of the X’ers that he’s justifiably worried about. The dramatic irony that Simon, one of Ben’s fellow professors at Astoria and the man that hired him, is the mastermind behind the coordinated attacks certainly makes things more interesting on a number of levels. We don’t yet know what he has in store for Ben, and Grace is still on the hook to open the eyes of Simon’s wife; but the fact that he organized the “mouth breathers,” as Jared called the X’er vandals, means he almost definitely has a long-term plan.
Whether that plan now involves Jared is up for question. No matter what you may think of the detective, especially after his misconduct with Zeke and subsequent breakup with Michaela, he may actually be playing the long game here. It’s unclear whether Manifest wants us to believe that Jared would consort with these hoodlums simply because of the ill will he feels towards Mick for upending his life, but it doesn’t seem like enough of a justification, even for him. He may have genuine affection for Tam the bartender, but she seems like an all-too-convenient entry point for Jared to infiltrate the violent group via her blowhard brother, Billy.
On the other hand, the leaked raid did make Michaela look bad, which may have been the sort of revenge Jared would indulge in. The point is the uncertainty it creates in the audience is admirably executed, just as we’re still not sure how we should feel about Michaela’s partner, Drea Mikami, or the mistrustful Captain Bowers. Or even the churchy version of TJ for that matter, as helpful as he is to Ben. Manifest wants to keep us guessing even as it distracts from how much we don’t know, as if we needed another enemy added to the pile. As we head into the second half of the season, the question now becomes which answers will we get this season and when.
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