Manifest can’t muster. That factor makes “Baggage” another meh episode.
Connecting Flights: “Flashbacks reveal how Grace, Olive and Jared coped with the loss of their loved ones after the disappearance of Flight 828. Ben tries to escape the voice in his mind by going on an adventure with Cal.”
“Flights” mixes flashbacks with “present day”, and that’s a mistake. A superior series would’ve resided solely in the past, a choice that would’ve allowed “Flights” to boast a more consistent through-line and narrative. As it stands, the flashbacks work well but the rest feels less interesting.
Off Radar: “When Cal has a calling that jeopardizes his health, Ben and Michaela set out to cure him by following the calling and looking for a missing passenger from Flight 828.”
Cal goes all ET/Elliott on us via a bond with a Bulgarian passenger. This adds some intrigue but often seems too silly to succeed.
SNAFU: “Michaela tries to make sense of her newest calling: the sound of a beating heart. Meanwhile, Ben goes to risky lengths to investigate the whereabouts of 11 missing Flight 828 passengers.”
That seems like an every episode occurrence: characters risk their necks to work out the mystery. This factor makes the shows blend together and lack the urgency they attempt. “SNAFU” follows this trend and feels like more of the same old.
Point of No Return: “Ben finds himself working with an unexpected partner to search for the missing Flight 828 passengers. Michaela fears for the lives of her loved ones after she has a mysterious calling. Cal returns to school.”
One of the less interesting episodes, “Point” does advance some story areas, but these seem mushy at best. More emphasis than normal on the series’ goopy melodrama makes this a blah program.
Dead Reckoning: “When a missing Flight 828 passenger shows up at his doorstep begging for help, Ben's quest to uncover the truth reaches a fever pitch. With NSA Director Vance's (Daryl Edwards) help, Ben, Michaela and Saanvi race against time.”
As the season progresses, the secret conspiracy comes more to the fore, and that seems like it should jack up the excitement. It doesn’t, and “Dead” suffers from the general lack of thrills that plagues the series. Even though it should become more and more compelling, it remains largely mediocre.
Crosswinds: “Ben struggles to trust a journalist who wants him to participate in a Flight 828 podcast. Michaela's callings rise to a whole new level when they are accompanied by hallucinations.”
Romantic hogwash comes to the fore here, and that makes “Crosswinds” even more of a slog than usual. The conspiracy plot points continue to drag, so “Crosswinds” delivers a weak show.
Contrails: “Captain Daly (Frank Deal) is desperate to prove that he is not at fault for the disappearance of Flight 828, and he needs Ben's help to clear his name. Michaela unknowingly lets a traitor into her home.”
For once, an episode manages to generate a fair amount of tension, mainly via the path Captain Daly takes it. Some sluggish spots remain, but this offers the strongest show in a while.
Vanishing Point: “Ben and Grace rush upstate to find a kidnapped Cal, using his drawings as clues to his whereabouts. Meanwhile, Michaela arrests and interrogates a traitorous Autumn (Shirley Rumierk).”
After the pretty good “Contrails”, we go back to the usual mediocrity with “Point”. It does manage to advance narrative areas but it does so in a less than engaging manner.
Cleared for Approach: “Michaela uses her skills as a detective to find out more about Zeke (Matt Long), a hiker who disappeared for two years and may be one of them. Ben's family is impacted as public disdain for the passengers of Flight 828.”
A fresh character should mean fresh intrigue, but instead, Zeke feels like little more than an opportunity to give Michaela a new prospective boyfriend. Maybe that won’t happen, though I do occasionally wonder why Ben and Michaela never meet anyone unattractive. This leads to another lackluster episode.
Upgrade: “Ben and Michaela try to figure out what Zeke's return means in the bigger picture. Meanwhile, Cal has another ominous calling and is nervous to connect with Zeke.”
My biggest problem with Manifest tends to come from its unfulfilled potential. The series boasts plenty of intriguing threads, but it devotes most of its time to mopey melodrama and over-done thriller material. These traits come to the fore with “Upgrade”, as it squanders compelling threads to rely on the usual blandness.
Hard Landing: “Another non-passenger appears to have come back from the dead, and Ben, Michaela and Saanvi want to know why: Why now? Why him? This mystery-man is also having callings.”
With little time left in the season, “Landing” attempts to build suspense, and it does fairly well in that regard, mainly because James Griffin (Marc Menchaca) – the “mystery-man” of the synopsis – provides a creepy presence. Other aspects cut it short, though, so don’t expect consistency.
Estimated Time of Departure: “Michaela, Ben, Zeke and Saanvi all have the same calling. After another panic attack, Saanvi is finally ready to see a therapist, but it may not be what's best for her.”
With a chance to conclude S1 on an exciting note, “Time” goes the cop-out route and ends with a cliffhanger! Spoiler? Maybe, but I feel so annoyed that the producers wouldn’t even attempt some form of season-ending wrap-up to something that I don’t care.
Not much about “Time” works. It teases different plot/character points but sends none much closer to resolution. It’s a terrible way to finish a season, though given the level of mediocrity that preceded it, I can’t claim to feel true disappointment.
To be disappointed, Manifest would’ve had to be consistently good. It’s not. The series comes with an intriguing premise and boasts the occasional quality episode, but most of it seems overwrought and half-baked. When Season Two rolls around, I won’t be there to see what happens.