‘Manifest’: ‘Doctor Who’ called. It wants its angels back.

Manifest
“Unclaimed Baggage”
October 15, 2018

Technically, this episode begins with Bealeaugured Federal Agent taking dead Kelly Taylor off of his Big Conspiracy Board of Flight 828 Passengers — but only 20 of them, because the other 180 passengers on the flight don’t matter? Look, I know the story is that the government is only paying attention to the 20 people who showed up at the airport to watch the plane explode, but I am pretty sure the feds could afford enough people to keep an eye on all 200 people who MYSTERIOUSLY VANISHED FOR FIVE YEARS. Or, even more likely, WOULD HAVE THEM ALL UNDER QUARANTINE. Anyway, this is a long way to go for Beleaguered Federal Agent to exposit that they are keeping eyes on some (but not all) of the passengers, and on Kelly Taylor’s mall.

But really, the episode begins with a flashback to The Flight and Flight Attendant Bethany who appears nervous as the plane is preparing to land. She collects some things from her purse, including a phone and cash, and gives them to a fellow flight attendant, urging him to stay calm. They are going to be landing in an airport in the middle of nowhere, so when the plane lands, he needs to climb into the cargo hold, climb out via the landing gear and run like hell. If the cops find him on the plane, they’ll know he’s a stowaway. Solid plan. A+ plan.

In the present, Dr. Saanvi has a vision of wet footprints leading down the hallway in her hospital, a vision that ends with a Doctor Who Angel getting all up in her face.

This prompts her to pay a visit to the head of neurology to show him her brain scans and get his opinion on what could be causing “the patient’s” visions. Dr. Neurologist suggests that it is schizophrenia, and notes that the scans are similar to another patient, a homeless one who was brought in recently. He’s in room 810 if Saanvi wants to check him out for herself.

When Dr. Saanvi leaves his office, she sees the wet footprints again, which lead to — whaddya know — room 810, where the Stowaway comes bursting out, hysterical, saying “it was Bethany.” But he’s tranquilized before Dr. Saanvi can press him for more information.

Ben meets with Dr. Saanvi at the hospital because he’s got literally nothing better to do. There, she tells him about her vision of an “all-gray woman” who led her to the patient who told her “it was Bethany.” Dr. Saanvi knows that he was referencing the flight attendant, but, alas, she has no way of getting in touch with her. And that’s when Ben texts Saanvi Bethany’s contact information because that was the entire point of this scene.

So Dr. Saanvi goes to Bethany’s apartment where Bethany immediately confesses to stashing her cousin Leo’s boyfriend, Thomas, on Flight 828 because it had become too dangerous for him to be gay in Jamaica. Or something. However, by the time Flight 828 returned, Leo had gone missing, and she had no contingency plan for finding Thomas. The passengers at least had the federal government to tell them they had been missing for five years; Thomas had no way of knowing and that’s probably why he was acting like a crazy person and got himself put into a psych hold at Dr. Saanvi’s hospital. Dr. Saanvi calls the hospital and learns that Thomas hasn’t been discharged, but will be moved to another facility in a few hours, SO THEY MUST HURRY.

Meanwhile, in a remarkable coincidence, the Beleaguered Federal Agent and his team have also learned that there was a stowaway on the plane and that his fingerprints match a patient that showed up at Dr. Saanvi’s hospital. SO THEY MUST HURRY.

Dr. Saanvi and Bethany arrive at the airport and convince a nurse that Bethany is Thomas’s mother here to collect her son, but before he can be released, Thomas goes and breaks himself out. WELL, SO MUCH FOR THE PLAN, THOMAS.

While all of this is going on, over in Michaela and Ex-Boyfriend’s precinct, the cops are planning on helping with Very Important ATF Gun Trafficking Raid. Their job: sit and be cool until they get the signal from the undercover ATF agent.

After a whole tedious thing where Michaela discovers that Ex-Boyfriend paid off another officer so that he would be on the stakeout with her, Michaela also has a vision of a Doctor Who Angel who yells at her to “BLNK SAVE HIM!”

Michaela assumes the Doctor Who Angel is talking about the undercover ATF agent and convinces Ex-Boyfriend and the other cops to storm the warehouse ahead of the signal. But haha, NOPE. And now Michaela has blown a very important raid that the ATF had been working on for months and blown the cover of one of their agents. Whoopsie! But then Ex-Boyfriend takes responsibility for the call to protect her or some nonsense.

While Ex-Boyfriend gets chewed out by the captain, Michaela calls Ben to tell him about her vision of a gray woman with wings that made her go done fuck up a Very Important Raid. Ben tells her about Dr. Saanvi’s similar vision, before insisting that Michaela NOT TELL EX-BOYFRIEND ABOUT HER VISIONS BECAUSE THE MORE SECRETIVE THEY ARE ABOUT ALL OF THIS, THE LONGER THEY CAN KEEP DRAGGING OUT PLOT POINTS THAT OTHERWISE WOULD BE EASILY RESOLVABLE IN ABOUT FIVE MINUTES.

Anyway, Ex-Boyfriend comes out and tells Michaela that he’s been suspended pending an investigation, and demands that Michaela tell him what’s going on, but she’s like, “My brother says I’m not allowed,” before grabbing her keys and leaving with no explanation.

And because it’s how coincidences work on this show, she pulls up to the hospital just as Bethany and Dr. Saanvi are running out of it looking for Thomas. Michaela and Dr. Saanvi compare their similar visions, and Bethany realizes they are talking about the “Angel of the Waters,” the statue on the top of Bethesda Fountain, a central location for the play Angels in America, which her cousin Leo loved. If he had planned to meet Thomas someplace, it would have been there. And then Michaela is all, “WHEN THE DOCTOR WHO ANGEL TOLD ME TO SAVE HIM, “HIM” MEANT THOMAS,” while everyone else in the car is like, “no shit, Sherlock.”

Quite the detective, this one.

Sure enough, they find Thomas at the fountain because of course they find Thomas at the fountain, and Bethany explains to Thomas that Leo isn’t coming because he’s been missing for two years. The women are able to convince him to come with them so they can hide him from Beleaguered Federal Agent.

They take him to the boiler room at Kelly Taylor’s mall where they set up a cot and get some supplies for his detox. And it’s there that Michaela calls Ben to tell him what is going on and he’s all, “THIS IS A BAD IDEA AND I CAN NOT ENDORSE IT,” but Michaela is like, “yeah, whatever.”

Over in the D for Danny storyline: Grace realizes that the death insurance she received after Ben’s “death” will need to be paid back and she freaks out. Ben is like, “Allow me to do the complicated maths because I am a maths teacher … ” and comes up with a solution: what if they paid the insurance company back … over time? GENIUS. Oh, and in the process of working on this problem in the garage for no damn good reason, Ben happens to find a box of photos and other trinkets of Grace’s other boyfriend, Danny. After going through a few photos, he replaces the box, because NOPE.

While all that is happening, Teen Daughter goes makeup shopping with Token Gay Friend. When she can’t afford a lipstick, she slips it into her purse and is promptly caught by a bored security guard.

Teen Daughter calls her mother to come pick her up from the mall, but Ben offers to do it because he literally has nothing else to do. However, when he arrives at the makeup store, the clerk tells him that Teen Daughter is already with her dad, and that’s when she and this Danny guy emerge from the back. Everyone is very embarrassed because this is an embarrassing situation and dumb writing.

As Ben drives Teen Daughter home, he has a sad thinking back to a time when Teen Daughter was Pre-Pubescent Daughter and she made a model plane that broke, so he turned it into a boat and floated it in … WAIT FOR IT … Bethesda Fountain.

When they arrive back home, Ben tells Teen Daughter a dumb story about how he stole a boomerang once and his mom let him off the hook because everyone deserves one free pass — which is what he is giving her now. Teen Daughter explains that she called Danny instead of him because she didn’t want him to know what a screw-up she had become, and then begs him to not tell Grace about any of this mess because she’s caused enough trouble for her mother recently.

And it’s a great plan until Danny texts Grace about bailing Teen Daughter out. And now Grace is all mad because Ben didn’t tell her about Teen Daughter shoplifting. And Ben is like, “OH YEAH, WELL HOW ABOUT YOU STILL GETTING TEXTS FROM YOUR BOYFRIEND?” before stomping out of the house to “get some air.”

AND I MIGHT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT BEN AND GRACE’S MARRIAGE IF THERE WERE A SINGLE IOTA OF CHEMISTRY BETWEEN THESE TWO. There’s more chemistry between Ben and Michaela. Hell, there was more chemistry between Grace and the random guy that was rummaging in their coat closet last week.

Ugh. And look, I could go into a long thing about the history of the Bethesda Fountain and how the statue was the first major work commissioned from a woman in New York City, one Emma Stebbins who happened to be a lesbian, and how the entire terrace’s central idea was supposed to be about “love,” and how the water that filled it was from one of the first clean sources of water delivered to the city via an aquaduct and as a result the water was considered to have healing properties and this is referenced in the Biblical quote that was included in the statue’s dedication: Gospel of John, Chapter 5, verses 2-4:

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, [a]Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, [b]paralyzed, [c]waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

And that for all of these reasons, Tony Kushner used it as a central location in his historic play Angels in America, which is about, of course, homosexuality and the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. BUT WHAT’S THE POINT? The gay characters on the show aren’t real people, but instead just plot contrivances to bring the characters together. We never really get to know Thomas as a person, Leo is MIA (although I am sure they’ll find him in some “significant” way that will tie some other character together OR SOMETHING) Token Gay Friend is just a signifier and including the references to the “Angel of the Water” and Angels in America are just more examples of the show believing that it is clever. It is not clever.

AND WE ALL KNOW ABOUT THE DOCTOR WHO ANGELS. YOU DON’T GET TO JUST STEAL THE DOCTOR WHO ANGELS, SHOW. NO. STOP IT. COME UP WITH YOUR OWN THING.

Guh. This show is not good, guys.

Manifest airs on NBC on Mondays at 9 p.m.

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