‘Manifest’: The greatest trick this show ever played was convincing people it was any good

Manifest
“Dead Reckoning”
November 26, 2018

The TL;DR version: Our heroes find the poor guinea pig passengers and save them from the bad guys, but in the process, Beleaguered Federal Agent is killed and Ex-Boyfriend is TV injured (i.e.: he slips into a coma that he comes out of 5 minutes later). Grace kicks Ben out the house because he sucks and the writing sucks and everything sucks.

We begin on the plane again, but just for the brief moment of turbulence. After, the passengers are questioned, and one woman whom we’ve never seen before explains that it was “awful” and it felt like they were going to crash, but then all of a sudden the emergency path lights turned on and they landed. After she tells her story, this woman, a Ms. Cox, is informed by our Beleaguered Federal Agent that she has several warrants out for her arrest and is going into custody. Welcome to 2018! Now enjoy the future from prison!

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In the present, Beleaguered Federal Agent, Ben and Michaela are discussing the Red Hook facility where they believe the other passengers are being held. Ben and Michaela want to RAID IT! RIGHT NOW! BECAUSE PRE-PUBESCENT SON! OR SOMETHING! LET’S GO! But Beleaguered Federal Agent is like, “Hey dummies, remember last time you scouted a facility and the baddies figured you out and they moved all the passengers to a new location and you had to do 8,000 illegal things to figure out where they had been taken? You want to go through all that again or do you want me to try to make arrangements that won’t end in a giant clusterfuck?” Ben and Michaela agree to the Not Giant Clusterfuck, take some burner phones and go home.

At home, Grace informs the kids that she’s planning a surprise backyard barbecue for their dad and that its their job to keep them out of the house until 4:30. To that end they come up with some story about him taking them to laser tag that never goes anywhere. Instead, Ben ends up playing basketball on the driveway with Pre-Pubescent Son which is where Ms. Cox, limping and disheveled, finds Ben and, calling him by name, asks him to help her and collapses in his arms.

Ben takes this Autumn Cox (whom he recognizes from his conspiracy board) into his conspiracy garage where she explains that a voice in her head told her where to find him. He immediately begins asking her questions about where she was being held and what kind of tests they were running on her even though I do not recall her telling him she was being tested upon but whatever. Autumn Cox describes the farm before explaining that she escaped, somehow, from the van when they were in transport, and can I just note that it was awfully nice for her captors to take the time to give all of their prisoners their clothes back and giving them enough time to change back into them  –which considering how drugged up they were probably took a while — before rushing them away from their super-secret lab.

Ben takes Autumn Cox to the boiler room, explaining to the kids that laser tag is going to have to wait, but he’ll be back home by 4:30, he promises, OKBYE. He is met at the boiler room by Michaela, Dr. Judgy Lady, Dr. Saanvi and Beleaguered Federal Agent. Dr. Saanvi is all, “WHAT IS HE DOING HERE?” before seconds later being like, “Oh, whatever.”

They explain to Beleaguered Federal Agent the whole “calling” thing and Beleaguered Federal Agent, this guy right here, pulls a Grace and is all, “BUT THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!” But a plane that goes missing for five years is just all in a day’s work, I guess. And just at this moment, the baddies conveniently begin their super-secret testing again, giving poor Marko a super-dosage of voltage, and giving everyone (but Dr. Judgy Lady, curiously enough) a SUPER MIGRAINE while Beleaguered Federal Agent looks on.

As soon as the testing stops, Ben calls home to ask Teenage Daughter to check on Pre-Pubescent Son, and she reports back that he’s fine. But, y’all, he’s NOT fine, and instead drawing a picture of the Red Hook facility and dripping nose blood all over the page. Gross.

The collective headache is enough proof for our Beleaguered Federal Agent to call in a tactical team to raid the Red Hook facility, and Ben is all, “GREAT, LET’S GO.” Beleaguered Federal Agent is like, “No, of course you, civilian, can not come along on a dangerous government mission that is going to involve, like, a TON of guns,” but seconds later he’s all, “Oh, whatever.”

Meanwhile, back at the house, it’s 4:30 and the backyard barbecue is happening and there is no sign of Ben and he’s not answering his phone and Grace is getting pissed. Her mood is certainly not improved when some goons show up at the party looking for Ben and to inform her that her husband has been fired from his job that he has had for three days.

Over at the Red Hook warehouse, Beleaguered Federal Agents, his “tactical team,” Michaela and Ex-Boyfriend all go rushing into the warehouse looking for the missing passengers, but LOL, the building is empty.

Just as everyone is ready to head home, Pre-Pubescent Son shows up with his drawing and explains to his father that the passengers are there, pointing to the nose blood-splatter spot on his drawing. Gross. But, sure enough, the tactical team find a secret tunnel exactly where the nose blood was. As they head inside, Pre-Pubescent Son insists that Ben go with them, because “only [he] can see them.” And Beleaguered Federal Agent is just totally cool with this, allowing an unarmed civilian to tag along on a dangerous mission because WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

The tactical team heads in, and are soon met with gunfire. Shooting shooting shooting shooting, and the baddies, in a panic, leave the passenger-prisoners strapped onto their gurneys and blow the equipment on their way out the door, because: bad guys. As a result, all the passengers go into Mega-Migraine mode, making it more difficult for Ben to unstrap them. But he does, and Dr. Judgy Lady — who also is allowed to tag along on this mission despite also not being a properly trained agent — grabs as many files as she can. It should be noted that she still is not headachy. Then there’s fire because oxygen tanks and so HURRY! MUST GET OUT!

Beleaguered Federal Agent and Ex-Boyfriend chase down the baddies while Ben and the rest lead the drugged passengers out of the tunnels. However, it’s smoky, and confusing, but then Ben sees path lights — like the ones on an airplane — illuminate on the tunnel floors, and he follows them, leading everyone to safety.

The passengers are loaded up into a truck with Dr. Judgy Lady and they drive off to … somewhere.

HAZ SUSPICIOUS

Back inside the tunnels, however, Ex-Boyfriend and Beleaguered Federal Agent are still chasing down the baddies. They manage to catch them, but then they have no idea which way is the exit which is how they are inside the tunnel when it explodes.

Ben is knocked unconscious by the explosion, and when he comes to, he briefly sees a peacock.

Michaela, who had stayed behind with Pre-Pubescent Son, FREAKS OUT, and heads into the tunnels to find Ex-Boyfriend BECAUSE THAT JUST SEEMS LIKE A SAFE AND REASONABLE THING TO DO. She finds Ex-Boyfriend unconscious inside the tunnels and has a sad. As for Ben, he takes Pre-Pubescent Son and drives home as fast as possible, not bothering to wait around to make sure his sister is safe. OK SURE.

Unsurprisingly, Grace is not happy with Ben when he arrives home with their son and explosion-scarred car and screams at him to stay away. But he does not stay away because later the two have a conversation on the patio where she kicks him out of the house.

At Ex-Boyfriend’s hospital bed, Michaela learns from the police captain — who is all, “Wait, explain to me again how you and Ex-Boyfriend ended up on this federal anti-terrorism operation?” Michaela is all, “Don’t worry about it,” and Captain is like, “OK, I won’t.” — that Beleaguered Federal Agent died in the explosion. R.I.P. Beleaguered Federal Agent. I have to be honest, typing “Beleaguered Federal Agent” was becoming tedious.

Michaela kneels beside Ex-Boyfriend’s bed and prays to … whatever this thing is, begging it to spare him. She then promptly passes out in the chair next to his bed, and thus is conveniently there when he finally comes to, and asks her to stay with him.

OK, BUT WHERE IS HIS WIFE? ISN’T HE MARRIED? IF MICHAELA HAD ENOUGH TIME TO TAKE A NAP IN HIS HOSPITAL ROOM, HOW COME WIFE DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL? WHY ISN’T WIFE THERE IN HIS ROOM, WAITING FOR HER HUSBAND TO COME OUT OF HIS FAKE COMA? WHAT IS THIS TERRIBLE SHOW?

After saying goodbye to the kids, Ben goes to the boiler room, which is weird enough, but then Michaela joins him there and is like, “Welp, I guess this is where we’re living now!” Why? Did Grace kick her out, too? And if so — which seems extreme and shitty — couldn’t they afford a hotel room somewhere? I know Ben was just fired from his job, but last I checked, Michaela was receiving a paycheck. Or couldn’t they ask THEIR FATHER FOR A PLACE TO STAY?

This show is dumb.

ANYWAY, at the boiler room, Michaela tells Ben about praying to the Whatever, and he’s like, “THAT’S RIDICULOUS AND NOT SCIENCE AND NOT LOGICAL,” and I very nearly throw a goddamn brick through my television.

Oh, and then Autumn Cox who is also there, I guess, takes out a secret phone and secretly calls the Big Baddie and then we flashback to shortly before Autumn Cox stumbled into Ben’s life: she is inside a van, being instructed by Big Baddie to earn Ben’s trust and learn who he’s working with.

And with that, she pulls a reverse Keyser Soze.

I know there has been much digital ink spilled in the past several years about what a disappointment Lost ultimately ended up being. While I whole-heartedly disagree with it, I understand the argument. So color me FUCKING BEFUMBLED that this series, this Lost-but-Written-by-7th-Graders-with-ADD show continues to be one of the most popular shows on network TV this season. How? How? Why? How?

im befumbled confused bachelor dumb

The characters are uniformly unlikable, there is no nuance or humor or introspection in the writing, it doesn’t say or mean anything deeper, there’s nothing to digest or untangle, the twists are predictable, and when main characters are not busy declaring that something is IMPOSSIBLE! despite the fact that they themselves have traveled through a wormhole and now have ESP and shit, everyone appears to be completely disinterested in the fact that a PLANE went MISSING for FIVE AND A HALF YEARS. As if it wouldn’t be THE BIGGEST FUCKING STORY ON THE PLANET AND THE FOCUS OF EVERYONE’S UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. At least on Lost, they had the good sense to come up with a cover story for when the passengers returned because they knew that a mystery like this would BLOW EVERYONE’S MINDS and make life impossible for the survivors. Not here though! They just go back to being math professor accountants and cops and school kids and never spend a half a second worrying about what batshittery took five years of their lives, instead running around chasing after red herrings and macguffins and other things that seem like they should matter, feel like they should matter, but ultimately mean nothing. Just like this entire show.

This is a bad show and I hate it.

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

2 thoughts on “‘Manifest’: The greatest trick this show ever played was convincing people it was any good

  1. My husband somehow likes it so I hate watch it with him (and am surprised that my eyes still exist in my head with the sheer number of times I roll them at this show). I will say that my husband has a real issue with Michaela’s runaway eyebrows!

  2. I really wanted to like this show, it had such promise. And I keep watching it (1) hoping it will meet that promise and (2) ’cause I’m curious where it’s going. I may not be there for season 2 thought.

    As for being popular when Lost was better and was not, this is a dumbed down version of Lost. Lost demanded attention; Manifest does not. You don’t need to understand it, just roll with the action and ignore/accept the plot flubs.

    -Jim

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