'Manifest' episode 5 review: It all goes back to the origin
Cal is the harbinger of the callings, and maybe he is only one who was meant to see the light ahead of the other passengers of Montego Flight 828
Creator Jeff Rake has stated that NBC's 'Manifest' has nine episodes before it takes a break for fall, only to return in January for the season 1 finale. Within such a short span, Rake is required to go back and forth in the series in order to tell his story in a refined way, and the creator has shown his skill to fit in a gap of five years within just 55 minutes in the fifth episode of the mythological sci-fi.
The episode, aptly named 'Connecting Flights', goes back to the origin story of how it all began and the eventual incidents that began to take shape.
While on one hand, we see Cal's (Jack Messina) powers unraveling themselves, on the other hand, we get a flashback into the lives of all those who were told that the passengers on Montego Air Flight 828 have been presumed dead. With the two stories power lunching in the single episode, the fifth episode is even more gripping than the previous four which were chiefly revolving around the lives of other passengers in context to the lives of the Stone family.
The focus shifts back on the Stone family in episode 5. As Ben (Josh Dallas) tries to get back together with his family after claiming to his sister, Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh), that he would not involve himself with the happenings of the plane, he soon begins to hear a voice in his head that tells him, "It is all connected."
In order to escape the voice in his head, Ben takes his son Cal for a day out at the park. However, he continues to hear the voices, and Cal leads him to the subway where the duo get into a chase as Cal barges into the same underground cabin where Bethany and Saanvi had hidden Thomas.
With Bethany being arrested by Vance, Thomas has no one to help him escape, but with Cal bringing in Ben, it gives some hope for Thomas eventually getting away.
Cal comes out as someone who seems to realize things even before they happen. He knows if the knock on the door is that of a friend or an enemy. He knows which is the shortest way to reach a place without getting caught. Cal also seems to know what the voices actually are. In a flashback towards the end of the episode, we see Cal being the first passenger to witness the calling. He sees a light at the end of the horizon from the plane and mutters to himself the very thing that Ben has been hearing for so long. "It is all connected."
Probably that too is the reason why Cal looks at Ben with concern and apprehension everytime Ben is assailed by the voice in his head. Cal's powers can be the focal point of all that is happening, as creator Jeff Rake mentions, "The visual is something that we'll hold on to for now — what he's looking at. But in terms of his utterance, 'It's all connected,' that’s going to remain not only thematic but also a pivotal plot point as we move to the next four episodes and beyond."
With Cal's power playing the pivotal role here, it can be assumed that the Stone family is in for a lot more than they already have.
In this episode of flashbacks, we also get a glimpse into Grace's (Athena Karkanis) condition after the disappearance of her husband and son. Left with her twin daughter, Olive (Luna Blaise), Grace consistently finds herself delving into the deeper gorges of grief. However, she soon realizes that she needs to pull herself together for Olive who was barely 10, like her twin brother Cal, when the plane disappeared. This is the point where Danny comes into their lives. Although initially Olive was turned down by the fact that she might have to replace her father with another man, with the passing years, she begins to consider Danny just as much as her father.
This is probably for the first time in any show that an apparent betrayal does not seem to be so. Rake defines the dynamic as "exploring the concept of infidelity without moral culpability."
As Danny comes into the picture, we realize that no one is, truly, to be blamed for this betrayal. Grace had to get back on her feet, at least for Olive, and she did exactly that as she was told that her husband and son are not coming back.
She prepared her life accordingly and let in Danny, who had himself lost his family. Danny found comfort in Grace and Olive, and as he indicates later on in the episode, he developed a strong bond with Olive who was initially skeptical about him.
Danny was there for Olive during her teen years. He watched her transition from being just a kid to an adolescent, some of the most important years of her life, and the time when Ben was not around her. It is, therefore, fair that this character claims his rights over the family although he did leave after receiving the news about Ben's arrival. Ben, on the other hand, is not to be blamed for his disappearance as it wasn't something he had willfully done. Ben has been a victim to a fateful time lapse, and he is expected to be upset about another man getting into the family unit. However, it is from this point onward that the three characters' dynamics will be truly put to the test.
The trio's complication, in fact, not only involves the dynamics between Danny, Ben, and Grace, but it also plays a big role in Olive's life. Olive confessed to her mother that she does consider Danny as her father too. Danny had helped Olive cope with the trauma of losing her father and her twin brother, and during her teenage years, he helped her fight her own demons.
Danny was to Olive in the later years what Ben could have been, the only difference is that Ben wasn't around. Rake explains the relationship as "a metaphor for children who have grown up in divorce or separation and have had to deal with the conflicted feelings of being bonded to another adult figure who is not their birth parent."
The Stone family has been the central point of the story, and just like her brother Ben, Michaela too has found herself thrust in the midst of a romantic triangle with her best friend, Lourdes, and her former fiance, Jared.
With Michaela disappearing for five years, Jared and Lourdes were blessed by Michaela's mother to lead the lives that would make them happy. However, with Michaela coming back things got far more complicated since Jared clearly still feels for Michaela. Rake indicates that with the season approaching its finale both Jared and Michaela will be unable to deny their feelings for each other.
Rake explained, "By the time we get to the fall finale, they’re going to find themselves unable to deny the emotional pull. And that will take us to the most complicated and morally complex plateau they’ve been to since we first met them." With the introduction to all the chief characters coming to a close, soon the show will tilt more towards the mystery of the plane than the effect it has had on the passengers. Things might fall further apart for Ben whose son is gradually taking up the central point in the story.
'Manifest'; airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.