'Manifest' Season 1: Autumn Cox's character is a victim and so it's a bit unfair to blame her for her actions
Her tragedy is she did not know any better when her daughter's life was threatened, but once she got the chance to make her situation better, she grabbed it
The characters in NBC's 'Manifest' are mostly static in nature and Shirley Rumierk's character, Autumn Cox, is no different. Starring alongside Josh Dallas as Ben Stone, Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone, Parveen Kaur as Saanvi Bahl, and Athena Karkanis as Grace, Autumn was one of the 11 passengers who was abducted from the airport the moment Montego Air Flight 828 landed.
Along with the other 10 passengers, Autumn too was subjected to electrocution as a part of the Major's plan to track the "Callings" the passengers were receiving. However, there is a little twist in her story. As we already know, the 11 passengers were either foreign nationals or convicted criminals, basically people who had nowhere else to go when they landed in New York.
It was also said of them, they had no family in the city, but Autumn's case was not so. Episode 12 revealed Autumn had a daughter who was taken away from her before she boarded the plane. Once she returned, the Major began using her daughter as bait to make Autumn do things she would soon regret doing, like spying on Ben and Michaela, and Ben's son, Cal. That is the tragedy of Autumn, her story lies in her inaction over things to improve her situation, more than the acts she committed.
As a character who is somewhat stagnant in nature, we do not easily develop any kind of sympathy for Autumn even when she almost rebels against the Major by disposing her phone into the sea. The character is like a puppet in the hands of the characters leading the plot.
She is certainly a puppet to the Major as she almost acts like a spy (albeit a very bad one), and transfers information about Ben's findings on the plane. She is also a puppet when it comes to being a part of the gang who are now trying to find out the Major's true intentions. Let's just say Autumn truly does not have ground of her on this show, and that makes her all the more vulnerable as a character.
However, being a victim, Autumn counter-balances this when she manages to put all her suffering behind and chooses a moral path. A victimized character becomes relatable to the audience when he/she stands up against the disdainful situation they are in, and takes charge in changing things without compromising their morals.
That is exactly what we saw Autumn doing in Episode 12. She came out clean to Michaela and explained to her why she was obligated to assist the Major in her pursuit of the "Callings". Once she came clean and confessed everything, there was, immediately, a change in her situation. Michaela handed over her daughter's information which asserted the fact that Autumn need not resort to unethical means to get what she wants the most.
This is the very reason we can't blame Autumn for whatever she did. Creator Jeff Rake has shown us in many ways how the plane's delayed return has affected the lives of innumerable people. We know Ben's family fell apart when he went missing, Michaela's former fiance ended up marrying her best friend, Captain Daly's (played by Frank Deal) career came to an end because he was blamed for what happened on that plane, and several people resorted to suicide when they realized they had missed five years of their lives.
Autumn's life actually took a dangerous turn as she was initially taken into custody because there were several outstanding warrants for her arrest for crimes, she said she did not do. Later, her daughter was taken from her and she had to do things she despised.
Autumn is just another piece of collateral damage in the plane's mishap, and we will find out which alliance she finally chooses, when the show returns to NBC January 28 at 10 pm.