'Mainfest': Episode 1 takes off with nod to Flight MH370's disappearance
Director Jeff Rake had pitched the idea of the series around ten years ago to bemused producers, but the disappearance of MH370 in 2014 gave impetus to eventual production
Imagine you hop on a plane and when you land you realize that you had gone missing for more than five years, and the life and people that you knew have long left you behind.
That is the line on which NBC's latest show 'Manifest' has boarded itself, and a lot like 'Lost' it too deals with the disappearance of a plane and everything that follows. However, unlike 'Lost' where the survivors found themselves stranded on an island, this time the survivors seem to be a part of a bigger game.
The pilot which aired on September 24, revealed that the people on board Montego Air Flight 828 have not only managed to survive the few hours of the turbulent ride but have in fact missed out on the last five years of their lives.
Following the apparent news of the sudden disappearance of Montego Air Flight 828, the families and friends of the 191 people on board had already assumed that they won't return and considering that none of the passengers actually return until five years later, each had moved on with their own life. However, the survivors do return only to find out that they went missing (and presumably taken for dead) for five years.
Yet, there is something much bigger happening to them at the time. Along with finding themselves victim to a strange time-traveling paradox, the survivors also realize that their existence is not normal anymore.
While some hear voices which command them to save lives, others realize that in the new age there are many more things that they can do with the available resources. Let's stop here!
Since Episode 1 has already given us some insight into the storyline, it is worth waiting for the upcoming episodes which are expected to gradually unfold these mysteries.
However, considering the first episode and the way events are unfolding in the series, it would probably not be a bad idea to consider that Flight 828 is like a screen representation of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014 and was never found, except for a few of its debris. The plane which was bound for Beijing departed from Kuala Lumpur with almost 227 passengers and 12 crew members. However, within just an hour of being up in the air the plane lost all contacts with the air traffic control, and in spite of years of rampant search, the Malaysian government released a report in July this year revealing it has not been able to determine why the plane changed course and eventually crashed.
Similar to the disappearance of Flight 370, the Montego Air Flight 828 too went missing, but in the screen iteration returns after more than five years. The similarities seem uncanny considering that director Jeff Rake had conceived the idea during the fourth season of 'Lost', however, it only began to take shape once MH370 happened.
Explaining to SyFy the director himself claimed, "I pitched [Manifest] around [a decade ago], nobody wanted it. Then, seven years later, Malaysian Airlines happened and suddenly my crazy idea felt a little more real, a little more relatable, in the context of Malaysian Air, suddenly people were interested."
Probably, people's interest in the series draws upon the fact that the actual close ones of the victims of Flight MH370 never really got the chance to say their goodbyes. However, the ones who waited for the passengers of Flight 828 to return, certainly were blessed with a second chance. Even the characters consider themselves pretty lucky. Yet, as all mystery dramas demand, there is still one catch which sets things into motion for the show- that is the Flight number, 828. The number appears in a Bible verse which Michaela's (played by Melissa Roxburgh) late mother stitches on to her pillow.
The verse, Romans 8:28, reads, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Once she is back from the dead, Michaela is seen recalling the passage when she and other survivors begin to hear voices which either command or lead them to do things which they otherwise wouldn't indulge in, such as rescuing the kidnapped children from another house of the same number 828, or asking the driver to drive slower so that he doesn't hit the kid on the road. All of this indicates that the survivors have returned to fix all that could have gone wrong.
There is also another striking similarity between the two flight numbers, as both 828 and 370 are considered to be Angel's numbers. While MH370 is about the universal message to continue the spiritual development along with the several purposes and missions in life, the number 828 largely indicate the fact that when one door closes another opens. Considering this, it can be said that while the passengers of Flight MH370, unfortunately, did not get the chance to fulfill their purposes, the passengers of Flight 828 have received a second chance after almost coming back from the dead.
If the mystery of Flight MH370 will be resolved or not is probably off-topic, but 'Manifest' has certainly brought back some heartfelt memories of the past. As we wait for the upcoming episodes, it can be safely assumed that the show has a lot more to offer than just being another story of a plane crash like 'Lost'.
As mystifying as it could get, 'Manifest' is at its core a story about hope, redemption, and second chances.
Watch the promo for Episode 2 below: