'Manifest' Season 2: Can the show avoid the mistakes that 'Lost' made?

Many viewers were disappointed with 'Lost' after the third season. They felt that the writers had lost their grip on the show and that it was all over the place


                            'Manifest' Season 2: Can the show avoid the mistakes that 'Lost' made?
Ben Stone and Jack Shepherd (NBC/ABC)

Spoiler alert for 'Lost' and 'Manifest'

As far as television series go, 'Lost' was a phenomenon. It changed TV as we knew it and sparked an interest in fans like no TV show ever had. Reddit threads, podcasts, blogs and more popped up to discuss the show's mythology and hints. Even today, these discussions flourish. 

But somewhere along the way, 'Lost' lost its way (yes, pun intended) and by the sixth season — the final one — and many viewers started finding it tiresome. There were quite a few reasons for this.

Nevertheless, the influence of 'Lost' can be seen on many shows on TV now, like 'This is Us', 'The Good Place' and especially 'Manifest'. When 'Manifest' debuted on NBC last year, many called it the second coming of 'Lost'. After all, the shows had nearly a similar starting premise.

On one, a plane crashes on a remote island and its survivors have to learn to live together. On the other, a plane goes missing only to return five-and-a-half years later — only for the passengers, no time had passed.

But what happened to 'Lost'? What made viewers abandon the show, and even turn on it? And by looking at the mistakes of the ABC show, can 'Manifest' avoid those same mistakes? Granted, 'Manifest' is only in its second season so far — 'Lost' wandered somewhere during Season 4 (or 3, depending on whom you're asking).

A still from 'Lost' (ABC)

For many viewers, the supernatural elements of 'Lost' played a big part in their growing disappointment with the show. They felt that by employing the supernatural, the show had done a bad job in explaining what was going on. This, of course, is especially prominent with their opinion about the Smoke Monster, and they felt by making Jacob out to be the Smoke Monster, the writers took an easy route to answer some questions.

Of course, some of the revelations do not make sense when you rewatch the show — in the sense that the answers did not "fit" the mysteries 'Lost' raised in its first couple of seasons — and it felt like much of the story was being made up on the go.

Some viewers felt that the writers' intense engagement with the fans of the show, in the beginning, might have played into the downfall of the show. For instance, when many fans guessed that the island was purgatory, the writers denied it. However, with the flash-sideways, it felt like the writers wanted to use that idea, but could not because they had earlier denied it.

Simply put, midway through the show, it felt like the writers had lost their grip on what they started with and the show felt like it was all over the place. The question, now, is whether 'Manifest' can avoid those mistakes and manage to end satisfactorily.

As we said, it is still too early on in the show's life to determine whether 'Manifest' will unravel as 'Lost' did. That said, a certain storyline in the current season seems to be headed that way.

A still from 'Manifest' (NBC)

When Olive Stone (Luna Blaise) and TJ Morrison (Garrett Weaving) discover that a man named Yusuv Al-Zuras went through the same thing that the 828 passengers did, it led to TJ looking for more information about Al-Zuras.

TJ finds Al-Zuras's ancient manuscript and has it sent to Ben Stone's (Josh Dallas) office. At the end of last week's episode, Ben looks through it and finds a drawing that seems to predict him carrying Olive out of the burning building. Then, the book begins to glow brightly.

Now, Ben is starting to look like he might be divine, which is the very thing he does not believe and angers about Adrian's sermons about the 828 passengers being more than humans.

Yes, the plot is still in its early stages and we have not seen how it plays out. But when a main character's convictions are being tested, it feels a little odd to see the show pivoting on said character's said convictions. It's a minor thing, but minor things snowball into what eventually made 'Lost' end badly.

While 'Manifest' employed fantasy elements right from the beginning, 'Lost' added more and more as each season went on, so this perhaps works well in 'Manifest's' favor. The callings were never explained to be a scientific phenomenon, though 'Manifest' does try to explain it through a "genetic anomaly."

So far, the writers have a handle on what's going on. Showrunner and creator Jeff Rake also said he has a plot in mind for four more seasons of 'Manifest'. How the Al-Zuras plotline pans out will determine how well 'Manifest' avoids the bumps on the road that 'Lost' could not.

'Manifest' airs on NBC on Monday at 10 pm/9c. The next episode will air on March 2.

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