Monday, September 24, 2018

REVIEW: 'Manifest' - A Missing Plane Mysteriously Reappears with New Gifts for Its Passengers in 'Pilot'

NBC's Manifest - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Returning to New York from Jamaica, the Stone family is separated when adult siblings Michaela and Ben, along with Ben's son Cal, are bumped to a later flight, while Ben's wife, daughter and parents fly ahead. When that later flight lands, the passengers are bewildered to discover that five and a half years have gone by. They attempt to reconnect with the loved ones who mourned their passing and moved on long ago, and try to make sense of a mystifying phenomenon steering them to act in ways they don't understand.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of NBC's Manifest.

"Pilot" was written by Jeff Rake and directed by David Frankel

Numbers have significance in cultures all around the world. This premiere immediately establishes that 828 is very vital to the ongoing mythology of what is going on. Of course, there is also the sense that it is all completely random. The passengers on the missing flight weren't selected. People had the choice themselves due to an overcrowded flight to get a voucher for a later one. Ben and Michaela made the decision to escape from their family or to save money. It wasn't a decision made for them which would have to be the case if they were chosen for whatever happened to them for a reason. The show absolutely gets things right in saying just how mysterious all of this is for everyone involved. And yet, it's hard to tell if the show is going to be an earnest investigation into what happened in the sky or a grounded family drama where people use spirituality in order to make a difference in the world. There is definitely the sense that there is a bigger picture that is going on. The forces at play took the plane out of the sky during the turbulence and then brought all of the passengers back to the airstrip to watch the plane explode. The FBI is looking for answers and coming up with nothing. They will probably have even more questions considering this loss of evidence and their missing individuals all being present when it happened. That's immediately suspicious. And yet, the show is playing things more to the family drama of Ben and Michaela trying to adjust back to their lives even though their loved ones mourned their loss. The universe seems to have a different purpose for them as well. They are being called to save the lives of innocent young people. Michaela stops a bus from running over a kid. Then, she discovers the two missing girls that her former fiancé has been looking for. All of this is played through some bland understanding of Christianity though. The numbers appear all over the place highlighting the importance of all of this for the Stone family. However, numbers mean different things in different cultures. The show could be expressing that these beliefs are actually real and some higher power is making their presence known. And yet, it would be more fascinating to spend time with someone on the plane who didn't believe in that faith and now has to question everything. That's not what the show is doing. It's so intently focused on the Stone family. They are the ones leading this intrigue into their new lives. And right now, their family drama is pretty boring. It's hard to really care about Michaela's former fiancé now being married to her best friend or Ben's daughter now being a teenager who regularly goes to therapy.