This Manifest review contains spoilers.
Manifest Season 3 Episodes 5 and 6
It was a smart move to air these two particular episodes of Manifest back-to-back, as it brings the meth-head arc to a close in an unexpected manner and pivots to a whole new way of looking at the death dates and the callings. There were plenty of big moments in “Water Landing” and “Graveyard Spiral” that made the two-hour event worth tuning in for, and the satisfying revelations glossed over some of the flaws that, as usual, come from character motivations that lack believability because of the prophetic compulsions that act as their only explanation.
Chief among these is the complete lack of chemistry between Pete and Angelina. We’re told that one criminal in “The Last Trial” parable chose love and was redeemed, but that analogue is far from adequate to explain the attachment between the two returnees, who seem to have nothing more in common than a fondness for King Cone ice cream. Angelina’s only purpose in the final hour was to deliver handcuff keys and a kiss that lacked so much passion that the camera had to cut to an overhead shot just to add drama to the moment, COVID restrictions notwithstanding.
The other hollow plot point comes from the bland evil of Manifest’s latest villain, Jace. Where’s the righteous fury of the meth cook who last season spoke of holy vengeance, telling Michaela, “This is bigger than both of us”? Now he’s waffling between going to the lake to push Michaela off a cliff and targeting Cal whose death he believes will bring him immortality. His insanity and evil-for-evil’s sake has no pizzazz, and there was never even a glimmer of hope that he might earn redemption by choosing not to hurt anyone.
Those two elements aside, the two hour adventure was a real thrill ride! Even smaller moments — like when Vance’s men grabbed Jared off the street while Saanvi ran after them or even when the reporter tracked Tarik to his cabin, ruining Grace’s hiding place — felt appropriately dramatic even when the consequences were minimal. In the background, there’s still Ben’s promise to become the “unicorn” to be studied by Dr. Patel and the fact that Drea now knows about the callings. Those aren’t small details!
And what about that empathic sonic boom that exploded out of Zeke and Michaela when he pulled her up over the cliff edge by her dislocated shoulder? It’s a bombshell that manages to become merely a stepping stone towards the showdown at Tarik’s house. Meanwhile, the reminiscing about childhood plans hatched in the root cellar serve only to accentuate the tragedy of Tarik’s death and introduce a badass, gun-toting Grace, but each of these moments are like raindrops creating separate ripples in a pond before a downpour roils the entire surface.
Because make no mistake, a storm is coming! Olive’s discovery upon recovering the missing papyrus piece changes everything. It’s unclear whether the initial removal of the artifact has any meaning beyond creating an obstacle for Olive to conquer, but with the realization that returnees are judged in groups comes the question: will all of the passengers of Flight 828 have to work together to conquer their collective death date? Or is there a deeper meaning to the deadly rapture of the meth dealers?
The second half of Manifest season 3 will likely explore those questions, and the compelling nature of the ever-shifting mystery keeps us from dwelling on why Ben would happily send Michaela to the lake alone knowing that Jace was destined to attack her. Or how Kory got from the hospital to the root cellar before Jace, even with his bad leg. The narrative bumps in this series are familiar by now and are upstaged by the central mythology that keeps us coming back for more.