This Manifest review contains spoilers.
Manifest Season 2 Episode 6
It’s been awhile since Manifest went with the “passenger-of-the-week” formula, but the story of Finn Nowak and the family he didn’t know he had hit all the right emotional notes in “Return Trip.” When placed alongside the courtship of Olive and TJ, the overall narrative this week becomes quite poignant, and the revelations brought about by the Tarot card research still moves the mythology forward even if Saanvi’s dangerous medical tests haven’t yet born fruit. Although the Major’s actions have retreated into the shadows once more for now, there’s still plenty of intrigue to capture our attention.
That being said, it’s unclear whether Manifest really expects us to believe that Jared has bought into the X’er mentality, and in that sense, his storyline is a bit predictable. Luckily for him, the cover story that Michaela provided for him — calling him out on the witness stand for wrongfully accusing Zeke — is very convenient, but is there anyone in the viewing audience that doesn’t think that Jared is conning the hate group? Kudos to the detective for going all in with the haircut and perhaps a little disingenuous hanky panky with Tam the bartender, but we still see right through his ruse.
TJ, meanwhile, has successfully shed all suspicion to become an endearing companion for Olive on her hunt for the meaning behind the peacock Tarot card. We might eat those words given the nature of the Believers and his attendance at Adrian’s sermons, but he seems to genuinely want to understand Olive’s dedication to the church when he accompanies her to the soup kitchen. The couple’s flirtation over the Tarot cards unfolds quite naturally, and when TJ makes Olive’s reading come to life on the pier with mandolin music and strawberry pie, their kiss immediately puts them right up there with Zeke and Michaela — perhaps even higher on Manifest shippers’ lists.
In fact, it’s TJ who comes up with the big find: the Al-Zuras deck was created by an artist who was lost at sea and who mysteriously returned after ten years of absence. Although neither the teenagers nor Ben are able to confirm that Al-Zuras had a death date a decade after his reappearance, the fact that he heard “the voice of God” is a very telling clue that he experienced callings. The idea that this phenomenon has happened before in history introduces a whole new, more metaphysical mystery to the mix, and Ben may have trouble maintaining his scientific explanation for what they’re going through.
But are we just going to ignore Ben’s physical intimidation of Adrian on last week’s Manifest? It kind of makes his indignation at Grace for suggesting that they tell journalists that the baby is Danny’s a little less justified. They both are doing what they think will best protect their family, even if the methods are a bit extreme. How is Ben’s tactic any less controversial, even if Adrian did back off as directed? It seems that everyone is taking huge gambles these days given Saanvi’s willingness to conduct human trials of her anomaly antidote on herself.
Can’t say it wasn’t nice to see Saanvi and Ben working a passenger case together, though. The shared vision of Flight 828 and the boy in the back seat was alarming enough given that these two have not experienced the alternate version of the airplane before, but the way that Manifest took us from Finn Nowak to his childhood photo to his unknown son gave us a story pleasantly filled with emotional twists and turns. One night stands and marital infidelity notwithstanding, the idea that the callings would guide Saanvi, a doctor, to a medical problem was a nice change of pace for the show.
Michaela’s undercover turn as a junkie was perhaps a little bit less authentic, but it was fun to see her slap Zeke during the roleplay. The whole thing with Courtney trying to get clean and Zeke going to meetings with her was a little awkward, truth be told, but it did give us a little more insight into Zeke’s character. As expected, his having been married was no big deal and was just dropped at the end of last week’s episode as a false flag to increase drama, but that’s fair. The real winner in this story arc is Michaela’s partner Drea, who continues to prove herself a worthy partner for the unorthodox investigations that spring from the callings.
But although some parts of this episode worked better than others, there’s no denying that the vision at the end was a game changer. With the plane in shambles on the ground and people dead in their seats, we have to wonder what this could mean for the passengers of Flight 828. Why did the vision come just as Saanvi injected herself and right when Michaela found Zeke’s hidden stash of pills? What does it mean that some of the passengers are not the ones Ben recorded? Between this new twist and the historical context for the callings, Manifest has made it clear it’s not done messing with our heads yet, and honestly? We’re totally here for it.