‘Manifest’: (I Am Reaching my) Point of No Return

“Point of No Return”
November 19, 2018

And we’re back on the plane again. This time it’s finally landing some five and a half years too late and Pre-Pubescent Son is complaining that he doesn’t want to be home because New York is where he has cancer. Oh, sweetie, no. That’s not how cancer works.

In the present day, Ben and Michaela eat ice cream and discuss stuff. Apparently, Pre-Pubescent Son wants to go back to school, Grace wants him to go back to school but Ben doesn’t think he should go back to school because Marko’s testing could start back up at any moment. And I’m just going to skirt over my questions about how Ben knows Marko was being tested on and assume that Pre-Pubescent Son gave him details off-screen BUT KNOW THAT I AM THINKING THEM. LOUDLY. Anyway, Michaela is all, “Pre-Pubescent Son should go back to school,” and Ben is like, “You have a point.”

But speaking of the Marko testing, at the new testing location, Big Baddie exposits that they had to move when Beleaguered Federal Agent sniffed out their previous location and blahblahblah LET THE TESTING RESUME!

The next morning, Ben wakes Grace up with a cup of coffee and the news that he’s fine with Pre-Pubescent Son going back to school on one condition: that she go out to dinner with him. Ugh. I hate them both.

And so that morning, Pre-Pubescent Son just …  goes to school? Like, there’s no paperwork, there’s no going into the head office and talking to secretaries and vice-principals. He just walks in, in the middle of the school year, with no explanation and attends classes?

Look, I have one kid who has been in HISD for 10 years now and at the beginning of EVERY DAMN SCHOOL YEAR I am delivered a tower of forms to fill out which takes an entire evening out of my life even though presumably the eighth largest school district in the country has a working computer system and presumably they could just send out forms that have a box at the top that you can check IF NOTHING AT ALL IN YOUR LIFE HAS CHANGED, BUT OHHHH NO. I HAVE TO TELL HISD EVERY DAMN YEAR THE KID’S BIRTHDATE AND OUR ADDRESS AND WHETHER OR NOT ANY OF US LIVE IN A MOTEL OR ARE IN THE MILITARY OR IF HE HAS ANY SIBLINGS WE ARE HIDING FROM HISD BEFORE HE IS ALLOWED TO START CLASSES, BUT THIS KID CAN JUST WALTZ INTO CLASS AS IF HE NEVER DISAPPEARED ON A MYSTERY PLANE FOR FIVE AND A HALF YEARS?

Anyway, at school his sister and all of his old friends welcome him back to their lunch table even though he’s in fifth grade and they’re sophomores because I left out the part where the elementary school and the high school are all in the same school which I know is a thing in some places, but somehow I doubt all the grade levels eat lunch together because that is just asking for trouble. Oh and we learn that Pre-Pubescent Son is a fan of tuna sandwiches because that’s the kind of attention to detail that makes this show so great.

Over in the Michaela storyline, she hears a voice whispering, “Don’t lose him,” and she first assumes that it’s about Ex-Boyfriend. But then the cops get a call that there’s a jumper at a college nearby and he’s a passenger from 828, so obviously, Michaela is tasked with talking him down. You know, even though she’s just a regular cop and not a member of a jumper squad which is a thing that exists in New York City and which requires literally months of specialized training. After all, you don’t want some idiot who doesn’t know what she’s doing going up there and saying the wrong thing.


Michaela — who now is sure that Jumper must be the “him” in the “don’t lose him” message she’s been receiving — and Ex-Boyfriend head over to the college where, sure enough, one of the people who showed up to the airport just as the plane blew up is standing on the ledge of a very tall building screaming at people to go away. Michaela goes up to the roof and tries to convince Jumper that she gets it! It sucks to come back and not know where you fit in anymore, amirite? But no, she’s not right, he explains, people are dying and the only way it’s going to stop is if he’s next. With that, he nosedives off the building and dies. R.I.P. Jumper. BUT MAYBE NEXT TIME SEND THE JUMPER SQUAD, YOU DUMB IDIOTS.

Over in Jumper’s apartment, Michaela and Ex-Boyfriend find that Jumper was a bit of a  drama queen and wrote, “I AM THE ANGEL OF DEATH” in red paint on his bedroom wall.

calm down beyonce

In a pile of Jumper’s papers, Michaela and Ex-Boyfriend find two obituaries clipped out of the newspaper and link the people in the obituaries to pictures of Jumper’s friends on his social media account — notably people he was hanging out with at a particular bar.

Michaela and Ex-Boyfriend swing by the bar where the bartender confirms that Jumper was a regular and something of a celebrity since he was on 828. In fact, he told anyone who would listen about how he was there when the plane exploded — he knew it was going to happen. Michaela decides that what is happening is the universe is killing off everyone who has heard about “the calling,” because that is clearly the most obvious conclusion. As a result, she is worried about Ex-Boyfriend’s safety and decides that maybe “the calling” wasn’t talking about Jumper, returning to the theory that it is about Ex-Boyfriend after all.

Back at the station, Ex-Boyfriend pulls the files on the dead people: Dead Lady stumbled drunkenly in front of a bus and Dead Man had a heart attack while jogging. Seems it was just bad luck all around. OK, BUT IF THE UNIVERSE WERE GOING AROUND KILLING PEOPLE, HOW WOULD IT GO ABOUT DOING THAT? HUH? RIDDLE ME THAT. IT’S NOT LIKE THE UNIVERSE IS GOING TO LEAVE A NOTE ON THE BODY READING, “KILLED BY: THE UNIVERSE!”

Meanwhile, Grace runs into Former Best Friend at the store who happens to be buying a fertility kit. Former Best Friend explains that now that Michaela is back from the dead, she and Ex-Boyfriend thought they’d really rub some salt in the wound and try to get pregnant.

When Michaela comes home from her extraordinarily stressful day at work, Grace is all, “Oh, by the way, Former Best Friend and Ex-Boyfriend are trying to have a baby …

… Alright, I’m off on my date with my husband whom I didn’t abandon when he returned from the dead even though I definitely considered it. Byeeeeeeee!”

When Ben and Grace return from their date, Michaela shares her “The Universe is Killing Everyone Who Knows About the Calling” theory with her brother, who is all, “OH NOES, GRACE AND EX-BOYFRIEND!” and Michaela is like, “yeah, you get it.”

Right after, Michaela receives a call from Ex-Boyfriend to alert her that something has happened at Jumper’s favorite bar. The two arrive to discover the bartender has been electrocuted TO DEATH in a freak accident. “THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT,” Michaela tells Ex-Boyfriend, “ALSO, I KNOW ABOUT Y’ALL TRYING TO HAVE A BABY SO GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.”

As for the Ben storyline, let me see if I can untangle this particular pile of stupid: Soon after Ben arrives at work, the fire alarm goes off, and as the building empties out, Beleaguered Federal Agent conspicuously passes Ben and motions for him to follow. They meet in a parking garage because no conspiracy is complete without a clandestine meeting in a parking garage, where Beleaguered Federal Agent snatches Ben’s phone out of his hand and stomps on it.

Beleaguered Federal Agent explains to Ben that they need each other before producing the USB that he stole from him in the previous episode. Apparently, he’s Team Ben now, expositing that he went out to the farm Ben and Michaela found and discovered that everyone had been moved. He’s hoping that maybe there’s an address on the USB somewhere, but that he can’t make sense of the raw data so maybe Professor Math Genius can decipher it? Beleaguered Federal Agent then hands Ben a new computer and a burner phone and sends him back to work.

At the office, Ben puts on his Smart Guy Glasses and gets to work on the data. Within seconds, he finds some numbers that he somehow decides looks like “brain activity.”

blackish skeptical what come on

He calls Dr. Judgy Lady who confirms these numbers correspond to her research and that the Bad Guys are clearly zapping the missing passengers with megavolts of electricity to try to link up their brains. This, she stresses, is VERY DANGEROUS.

Ben then goes to his idiot boss and convinces him to give him access to property files he shouldn’t have access to all the while openly and suspiciously eyeing Idiot Boss’ collection of Chekov’s security keycards.

Ben then meets Beleaguered Federal Agent for lunch — because all of this takes place between 9 a.m. and noon — where he explains that he now has access to a list of properties owned by U.D.S. but that he thinks they need Dr. Judgy Lady to plant a bug in Bad Guy’s office. Beleaguered Federal Agent is all, “NO, THAT’S A TERRIBLE AND ILLEGAL IDEA,” but then he’s all, “Oh, alright.”


So, not only do Ben and Beleaguered Federal Agent 1. get their hands on a bug and 2. manage to get it to Dr. Judgy Lady but then she 3. just walks into the Bad Guy’s office at U.D.S. without an appointment and slaps a bug under his desk. Meanwhile, in the MOST HILARIOUS MOMENT OF THE SHOW, Ben does a search on what I assume is some sort of internal computer network at U.D.S. for “include subdirectories + singularity project + experiment + flight 828.” Way to really keep this clandestine project secret, Big Baddies. Well done.

what is this show

Soon, a woman interrupts Bad Guy’s meeting with Dr. Judgy Lady and he tells Dr. Judgy Lady to go away now, he has an emergency to deal with. Then, as Beleaguered Federal Agent listens in, Bad Guy calls someone to say they have a problem: that someone from the accounting firm did a search for “experiments and flight 828” and alerts them that they have moved the passengers to Brooklyn before thanking someone with the title of “major.”


With the information that the passengers have been moved somewhere in Brooklyn, Ben and Beleaguered Federal Agent decide they can narrow down the specific location using cell phone data by secretly misappropriating government resources. The agent that Beleaguered Federal Agent assigns to this project has a suspicious when Beleaguered Federal Agent declines to give her a case number for it.

Later that night, Beleaguered Federal Agent calls Ben to share what information he has: that he’s narrowed the location down to someplace in Red Hook. However, according to the property files that Ben stole from Idiot Boss earlier, U.D.S. doesn’t have any property in Red Hook. But then Ben realizes that the property files are outdated, so this dummy goes into his office, steals his Idiot Boss’ security pass for U.D.S., uses it to break into U.D.S. where he wanders around until he finds the room labeled “SECRET DOCUMENTS,” and within moments finds a file labeled “SECRET EXPERIMENTAL TESTING SITES IN BROOKLYN.” All of this is very plausible.

The next morning, Ben sneaks out of the house again, leaving a note explaining that he’s out running some errands. Insert Arrested Development reference here:

that's why you leave a note arrested development

Ben and Michaela meet at Beleaguered Federal Agent’s house where they discuss again how Ex-Boyfriend and Grace are in danger from a really spiteful Universe, but they decide that finding the missing passengers might somehow protect them? I don’t know. Anyway, Beleaguered Federal Agent pinpoints the location where he thinks the missing passengers are being held and great news, guys! For reasons that are never explained, it’s the subject of a live satellite feed! Even though I don’t know of any satellites that hover 30 feet off the ground! But what luck! What good fortune!

Oh, and back at home, Pre-Pubescent Son is hit with a blinding headache. Guess the testing is back on!

Instead of trying to break this nonsense down, I’m going to ask you guys what, exactly, was the most implausible thing about this episode?

Ugh, this show is so dumb. And bad. And dumb.

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

One thought on “‘Manifest’: (I Am Reaching my) Point of No Return

  1. As someone who watches this with a blank mind and not blood red hatred, I completely missed the “SECRET DOCUMENTS” shit. Or it was so dumb, my brain just wiped the silliness. It’s so, so bad!

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