TV Review: Manifest

Image of characters looking concerned, from NBC's show Manifest.
Now there's an overdue flight! Unsuspecting passengers disembark in New York only to find they have been missing for over 5 years. I'd be concerned too! Image courtesy of NBC.

Maybe It Was Their 'Manifest Destiny' to Time Travel...

by Garry Murdock



Imagine this.  You are separated from your family at the airport due to overbooking, and when your plane touches down a few hours later, everything has changed.  You discover five years have passed, and although the family members that accompanied you on the flight are still the same (maybe...), the ones that went on ahead of you on a different flight are not.  That's because their flight landed like it was supposed to.  You, on the other hand, have literally transported through time, and now you've step out onto the tarmac into a new world. 


This is the pretty cool premise of NBC's Manifest, a one hour long drama that deals with these passengers, the repercussions of their long absence, and their new lives.  Passengers of Flight 828 from Jamaica to New York City now have a lot to deal with.  Family members, friends, lovers - mourned and then continued their lives without them.  And of course, there's also the mystery of what exactly happened to them.


Image of Manifest star Melissa Roxburgh, getting out of vehicle.
Manifest's cast is led by Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone.

Manifest's cast is led by Melissa Roxburgh, who plays Michaela Stone, a New York City police officer who now literally hears her own urgent voice talking to her in her head - instructing her what to do.  Now she can solve crime better and in the premiere (spoiler ahead!) she's able to find two abducted girls the entire police force is searching the city for.  Unfortunately I found myself wishing that Stone was not a cop, maybe just a regular civilian instead like most of us.  I suppose being a police officer will allow for more intrigue because of the nature of her work, but I feel making her cop made this feel like a lot of other shows. 


Stone's brother Ben, also on the flight, is listed in Wikipedia's description of this show as an "Intelligence officer" but the show didn't get into his work in the premiere.  Played by Josh Dallas, Ben is apparently unemployed - but since he too hears a voice in his head instructing him, I imagine he will be back to work very quickly.  Another intriguing story is that of Cal Stone, Ben's son, who was dying when he boarded the flight, may now have time working for him.  This is because advances in medical technology in the last five years could now save his life.  What's also interesting is the fact that his twin sister was not on the plane - and now is five years older. 


Although ratings were great for the first episode, I didn't love the premiere - I felt the trailer promised a lot but didn't really deliver.  Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to delving more into the mystery of Flight 828, and I hope the good ratings continue.  It's just that the first episode didn't feel as special as I hoped it would.  I also felt there was some plot oversights - like nobody on the NYPD asking the question - How did Michaela know where to find these girls?  (there's no way she could not be a suspect, yet here she's merely congratulated on her good work).  Also, in no universe do I believe passengers missing for five years (and who haven't aged) would have simply been allowed to go home as quick as they were.  I felt the crew and passengers of 828 would have been held in a secret facility for a long time, probed and prodded until it was determined that they posed no threat.  No way would the public be notified until much later. Lastly, I feel it's likely the NSA would be running the investigation a lot differently than they are in this TV show.  


I imagine Manifest will not be the next Lost, but I am hopeful it will be a cut above standard TV fare and last a few years. 

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Andy Doerksen (Monday, 18 February 2019 20:00)

    It's an intriguing show. I'm hoping precisely that it will NOT turn out to be the next 'Lost': i.e., great setup and utterly disappointing "resolve."