October 22, 2018
On Not!Flight 828, Grace, Teenage Daughter, Grandma, and Grandpa return home on a completely uneventful flight, no wormholes, no bright lights, no mysterious voices. At one point, Grandma asks Grace if the trip “worked” to help her marriage to Ben — she can spot a marital repair job a mile away.
OK, STOP. First of all, back off, mother-in-law. What is happening in my bedroom with your son is none of your business and also EWW.
But second of all, if this trip was intended to help Ben and Grace reconnect, why on earth did they bring along the whole family? The last thing I need on a romantic vacation are my kids and in-laws.
Once they land, Grace notices that there is a note for people waiting for Flight 828 to “SEE AGENT.” And so they do and that’s how they find out that half their family has gone missing in the Bermuda Triangle or whatever.
Grace calls Ex-Boyfriend who at that very moment was whinging to Best Friend about how Michaela probably isn’t going to accept his proposal. On the bright side, Ex-Boyfriend gets to avoid the sting of rejection.
Six months later, Grace has become The Worst Mom Ever, wallowing in bed while her daughter cuts herself trying to make sandwiches with moldy cheese because Grace can’t be fucked to go to the store. This motivates Grace to finally get out of bed and go to a grief support group where she meets cute Replacement Dad/Husband.
As for Ex-Boyfriend, he and Best Friend bond over losing Michaela, and try to return her things to her parents, but Grandma is all, “Y’all keep it. We don’t need the clutter. Also, y’all should date because you’re cute together.”
Later, Best Friend meets Ex-Boyfriend at a bar to celebrate his promotion to detective. They kiss.
Also later, Grace invites Replacement Dad/Husband over for dinner and Teenage Daughter acts like an asshole. Replacement Dad/Husband, demonstrating his qualifications as a replacement dad/husband is patient.
Sometime even later, Grandma gives Ex-Boyfriend an afghan that she knitted along with her blessing for him to marry Best Friend. Grandpa, however, is SHOCKED! and knows that Ex-Boyfriend is still in love with his daughter.
Which brings us to the day the plane returned which also just happens to be the anniversary of Ex-Boyfriend and Best Friend’s first kiss. OK.
Over at Ben and Grace’s, after a quick group hug with Grace and Teenage Daughter, Replacement Dad/Husband shows himself out.
That’s it. That’s all that happened while flight 828 was missing. It’s exactly what you thought happened.
In the present day, Ben is SO MAD about this whole stowaway situation and wants NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, MICHAELA. GOOD DAY. As he stomps off in a huff, a voice comes to him that says, “It’s all connected,” because if there is one thing this show isn’t, it’s subtle.
Back at home, Ben suggests that he and Pre-Pubescent Son spend the day by not making any decisions, leaving what they do up to a flip of a coin. For instance: Bowling or Coney Island? Coin says: Coney Island. Somehow, Ben decides that this means they are being the “masters of their own destinies,” when in fact it is THE EXACT OPPOSITE.
At Coney Island, the coin chooses pizza over hot dogs and the subway as a ride home over Lyft, all the while the mysterious voice keeps screaming “IT’S ALL CONNECTED!” at Ben.
Once on the subway, Pre-Pubescent Son jumps off at the wrong stop forcing Ben to follow him which is bad enough. But then this little idiot slips through a locked gate all the while shouting back at his father that it is “all connected.”
Somehow Ben manages to follow his son — it’s never shown how he manages to get past a locked gate but WHATEVER JUST GO WITH IT, the writers certainly are — just as his son pushes his way through a vent that leads, surprise surprise, to the room where our stowaway, Thomas, is hanging out waiting for Flight Attendant Bethany to take him to a second location.
However, if Thomas is waiting for Bethany, he’s going to be waiting a while as she was arrested by the Beleaguered Federal Agent just as she and her wife were loading up the car for her trip upstate.
But back to the mall storage room where Thomas is waiting: To Ben’s astonishment, upon seeing Thomas, Pre-Pubescent Son announces, “You’re Thomas!”
This even though CRAZY SHIT HAS BEEN HAPPENING SINCE THE PLANE HE WAS ON DISAPPEARED FOR FIVE YEARS.
Thomas invites Pre-Pubescent Son to play chess while he chats with Ben.
And then Ben explains to the audience what we just watched because this is a dumb show.
Ben gives Thomas some money, as Pre-Pubescent Son suddenly gets a premonition that someone is coming and they need to leave NOW. However, he just as quickly changes his mind that the person now pounding on the door is a friend, and what do you know, it is: it’s Bethany’s wife here to spirit Thomas off to safety. Cool powers, kid. Really reliable.
Later, Michaela finds Ben in the garage making a conspiracy yarn board trying to make sense of the flight and its mysteries. Ben explains that Pre-Pubescent Son “knows things he shouldn’t,” that he’s “different” and he can’t walk away from whatever is happening to them. Or something.
And then the episode ends with a flashback to flight 828 when everyone was sound asleep except for Pre-Pubescent Son who looks out the airplane window to see a bright white light, which I guess is supposed to explain why he’s different which OK, but WHAT ABOUT THE PILOTS AND THE CREW? WERE THEY ASLEEP, TOO?
Over in the Michaela subplot, Ex-Boyfriend is continuing to take the blame for Michaela fucking up the ATF raid, despite her insisting that he do no such thing. Michaela swings by Best Friend’s house where she has a sad seeing Best Friend and Ex-Boyfriend’s wedding photo and the afghan Mick’s own dead mother knitted for them, and is all, “cool cool cool this is all very cool.” Michaela then explains that Best Friend’s husband is busy trying to get himself fired to protect her, and Best Friend is all, “COOL COOL COOL THIS IS ALL VERY COOL,” but she doesn’t really mean it.
Michaela then visits Grandpa and whines at him about Ex-Boyfriend, and he’s all, “You should totally break up their marriage. Go for it!”
Meanwhile, while being questioned by the NYPD about the ATF raid, Ex-Boyfriend sticks to his story that he heard a gunshot and went in. His questioners are skeptical since no one else corroborates his story and step outside. But they return a few minutes later to tell him his punishment will be 10 days with no pay. Yay!
However, when Ex-Boyfriend leaves the interrogation room he’s met by Beleaguered Federal Agent who is all, “You’re welcome. Now you’re going to tell me everything I want to know about your ex, Michaela, all the time, whenever I want.” Boo!
Later, Michaela meets Ex-Boyfriend at the same bar where he had his first kiss with Best Friend, but he’s all pouty so she just exits stage left.
Ex-Boyfriend’s shitty day doesn’t end there, though, because when he comes home, Best Friend confronts him about covering for Michaela and not telling her about it. He insists he only did it because he feels sorry for Michaela, but Best Friend is not convinced.
Oh and also, Replacement Dad/Husband shows up and Grace and Ben’s house and is all “WHY WON’T YOU TALK TO MEEEEEEEE.” And then they and Teenage Daughter have a sad about how he was her replacement dad and it’s very sad that he can’t be in their lives anymore. And it would all be a lot sadder if we saw any of their actual life together as a replacement family but this show is bad and stupid and shallow and incapable of any sort of real emotional depth so of course they just tell us that they were a happy replacement family and not show us that they were a happy replacement family.
Also, he was her mom’s boyfriend for maybe three years. Is it a little weird that they became so connected? Even a little creepy? I don’t think show is going for creepy, but I am getting full-on creepy.
In lieu of analysis, because this show does not deserve analysis, I will point out that in the reports about the return of 828, the name “Fiona Clark” is clearly mentioned, so look for this to be a Very Important Tertiary Character very soon.
But not that I actually care because this show is not good, y’all.
Manifest airs on NBC on Mondays at 9 p.m.