For those that aren’t yet watching, the premise of Manifest on paper is simple. An Airline Flight from Jamaica that departed back in 2013 touches down in New York City…today. Wait what?? Okay, so Manifest may not be a simple show, but if you’re an avid TV viewer for complex mysteries, (looking at you, Lost fans) than this just may be the show for you. The series explores the lives of several passengers returning to their normal lives, including brother and sister duo Ben and Michaela Stone, portrayed by Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh, respectively. Ben, along with his son Cal, return to find his wife has since become involved with a new man, and Ben’s daughter Olive is now 5 years older than her former twin brother Cal. Now THAT’s Gotta mess with your head a little. Meanwhile, Michaela’s return is most shocking for her former fiancé Jared, who has since married her best friend. So it’s established things probably won’t go well if you’re missing on a plane for 5 years. But what Manifest does succesfully is the exploration into this long-term plot, while also delivering character development of the passengers and their difficult attempts to reestablish themselves into society. However, like any show that takes the risk of complexity as Manifest is doing, perfection certainly hasn’t been reached. Read on to see my Highs and Low of this captivating, but at times frustrating, drama 4 episodes in.
HIGH: The Longterm Mystery
As a TV junkie, I’m someone that appreciates a show creating a longterm storyline that leaves the viewers asking questions after each episode. While we don’t want these questions going on forever, (once again, hi Lost) I am more than comfortable with the longterm mystery Manifesthas created, which is: what happened to the plane for 5 years and the passengers on it? It’s a type of storyline we haven’t seen, and that leaves the viewers even more invested on receiving the answers. But the way these questions are answered will determine if this show has the potential to go the distance, or will fall flat from viewer frustration. I’m remaining optimistic in what Manifest can offer with all the questions we have.
LOW: Ben and Grace’s “Happy” Marriage
The relationships of TV characters are a huge factor in drawing in viewers. We want to be invested in the good, bad, and ugly of these relationships, and find at least one to root for. Ben and Grace are the relationship at the forefront of the series, reuniting after 5 years apart. And to me, Ben and Grace are just completely “blah”. 5 years apart can clearly mess with a marriage, and these two just don’t seem compatible at all. While this may be intentional on the writer’s behalf to show their lack of chemistry, Ben and Grace are just not the couple we are to root for. In fact, I personally find myself annoyed with them. Grace clearly is happier with Danny, whom she entered in a relationship with during the 5 years Ben was presumed dead. The marriage of Grace and Ben doesn’t seem to be going the distance, and I am more than content with that. I much prefer watching Ben off solving the mystery of the missing plane alongside his sister rather than playing house with his wife, a relationship that seems destined to dissolve.
HIGH: Michaela Stone
To me, Michaela Stone is the hero of the show we all are meant to root for, and I am more than happy to do so. Her resilience is proven when she returns after the missing 5 years to discover her former fiancé and NYPD Partner Jared is now married to her best friend. However, Michaela, unlike her brother Ben, doesn’t let her personal life issues stop her from embarking on the journey that we as viewers also are on: uncovering the truth of the plane. For that reason, Michaela is the character to watch, and the most likely of the bunch to solve this series’ mystery, while also potentially reuniting with Jared. Any scene with Michaela has me paying much closer attention, and for that reason she is certainly the MVP of the show thus far, and I predict that won’t be changing anytime soon.
4 Episodes in, I think Manifest has enough gas in its engine to go the distance. While the relationships between several character’s can be boring and frustrating to watch, I think the overall mystery this show has created gives us the intrigue we need in any television show to keep tuning in. I look forward to more surprises, twists and turns this series has in store for us.