Manifest Season 2 Episode 9 Review: Airplane Bottles

The callings take a stormy turn in this week’s Manifest, but the insanity that ensues delivers plenty of insight.

Manifest Season 2
Photo: NBC

This Manifest review contains spoilers.

Manifest Season 2 Episode 9

Episodes like this really make it clear how insane it must look to non-passengers when a returnee receives a calling. There are characters experiencing emotional turmoil and exhibiting obsessive-compulsive tendencies in this week’s Manifest, and that’s even before we consider what Saanvi is going through. Thankfully, a long-awaited link between the black lightning of season 1 and the current mystery of Al-Zuras has finally arrived, and although we’re still waiting to see how the Major fits into all this, the connections that were made were very much appreciated.

So are we sticking to our guns on Jared playing the long game with the X’ers? Honestly, yes. Captain Bowers may be complicit, and the union rep is definitely compromised, but we don’t know them as well as we know Jared. Even before he rescued Michaela by arresting her (and what a great scene that was!), he was careful to deny any knowledge of passengers having the ability to predict the future, as Simon had discovered upon examining the photos taken last week at the Stone residence. Whatever we believe about Jared, having police involvement does temper any previous criticism of Jared’s predictable circumstances as a mole.

Keep in mind Captain Bowers was already suspicious of Michaela’s arrest record, so the internal affairs folks are certainly not bringing up concerns out of left field. And the captain appears to want the investigation to play out, perhaps to make Jared’s cover within the X’er group more believable, or maybe because she’s one of them, who knows? Michaela has been playing it fast and loose with the rules for awhile now, and although scrutiny is warranted, it’s definitely a huge stretch to think she would fabricate cases that put people in danger just to further her career, especially since the evidence doesn’t actually support that conclusion.

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Huge kudos goes to Parveen Kaur for her portrayal of Saanvi in mental distress! Her discomfort with her short term memory loss coupled with her sense of urgency that she continue her treatment with Zeke was very scary; in fact, the sensitivity that Zeke displayed toward her was quite admirable under the circumstances. It was also nice to see Alex again (those two are so cute!) even if it was just a temporary measure she took with Saanvi. The best part of the storyline, though, was of course how the insanity tied in with what happened to Al-Zuras’ crew in the past. Perhaps Saanvi’s dementia isn’t merely medical but a bit of a curse as well!

In fact, Saanvi’s madness also related nicely with the overwhelming guilt and frustration of Cal, TJ, Ben, and Grace as they tried to make sense of building a web and avoiding a storm that only they could see. One could almost imagine that Olive viewed those around her as if they were on drugs or going crazy. Cal’s fevered construction of something he didn’t understand bordered on the manic, and Grace’s nausea was worrying until everyone realized it was seasickness. Only the guilt that TJ felt over the idea that this storm may be the price paid for saving his life, overblown as it was, actually made a certain amount of sense.

Which is what makes the return of the black lightning so surprising and amazing. Manifest could have easily focused on this idea of balance between the callings and the consequences, but instead it leaned hard into its season one idea of an atmospheric phenomenon and a time jump. “It’s all connected” may be an overused phrase in pop culture these days, but seeing Flight 828 as the “silver dragon” in the sky above Al-Zuras’ ship brought whole new meaning to the singular incident experienced in both moments in history. Captain Daly’s disappearance with Fiona last season is even more mysterious given this new information!

There are still plenty of hanging threads in this whole story, including the fate of Vance and the Major, but this week’s Manifest renewed audience faith that the show hasn’t forgotten about details it introduced earlier in the run. The Al-Zuras history has become a solid part of the show’s mythology, and “Airplane Bottles” makes us question all over again, with the most pleasant sort of confusion, what prophetic voices have to do with time travel. It reminds us that the line between physics and metaphysics is very blurry in this show, making it unique among sci-fi television offerings anywhere, but especially those on mainstream network TV.


4.5 out of 5