In which I briefly consider forgiving ‘Manifest’ thanks to an amazing CGI wolf.

Manifest
“Upgrade”
February 4, 2019

So. Michaela brings this Hiker dude home with her and invites him to stay on the couch, which, SURE. OK. MAKES SENSE. Especially since her bedroom is separated from the living room by a set of french doors with no curtains. Every woman I know would be completely fine with this arrangement.

Anyway, Hiker has a completely useless flashback of his sister and a science experiment that involves a pickle. And honestly? If the answer at the end of all of this is: pickles, I’ll be fine with it.

Michaela warns Hiker to keep a low profile because oh by the way there are some shady military types who are kidnapping and torturing people from the plane and there’s a not insignificant chance he’s in danger, too. Hiker, for his part, takes this news extraordinarily well instead of demanding why the hell she dragged him out of the woods just to become the target of some sort of evil military/toothpaste company cabal.

Over at Ben’s house, Teenage Daughter is explaining to her father what petrographs are when Michaela calls to let him know that Hiker is staying with her and to exposit why it’s not weird that she would just let this TOTAL CAVE STRANGER FROM THE FOREST stay on her couch.

That night, Hiker (who I am now realizing I should have been calling “Caveman” this entire time, dammit) hears something scratching at the door. He opens it only to find a growling wolf that leaps at him.

Brothers and sisters, I had watched some 13 hours and 5 minutes of this show without a single moment of pleasure, delight or joy. This show has not made me feel anything in the half day of my life I have spent with it except pure, undistilled irritation.

But that all changed the moment Hiker opened that door.

I finally found my bliss:

JUST LOOK AT IT.

STARE DEEP INTO ITS SOULLESS EYES.

GAZE UPON ITS MISSHAPEN HEAD.

WONDER AT THE INEXPLICABLE WHITE AREAS AROUND ITS MOUTH.

PONDER THE MANY TENS OF DOLLARS SPENT CREATING THIS MONSTROSITY.

TAKE UPON YOU THE GLORY THAT IS CGI WOLF, EMBRACE CGI WOLF WITHIN YOU.

OK, so over at Ben’s house, Pre-Pubescent Son falls out of his bed with a THUD, and when Ben and Grace check on him, he merely says, “It’s coming.”

YES, IT IS, SON, AND CGI WOLF IS GLORIOUS AND BY GLORIOUS, I MEAN, “HILARIOUS.”

The next morning, Michaela drops Hiker off at Ben and Grace’s to be babysat, and there Hiker tries to get Pre-Pubescent Son to draw my new best friend, Comically Horrible Fake Wolf. However, Pre-Pubescent Son has decided that everything he draws comes true, and so he’s all, “NO,” but then he’s all, “Sure, why not,” and he draws a picture of my new patronus, HAHAHAHA I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE AN ACTUAL WOLF, YOU GUYS menacing Michaela.

So, remember how I noted that while they were driving to the cabin to rescue Pre-Pubescent Son a couple of episodes ago, Ben heard a radio report about an armored truck that drove into the river and he was all, “Hey, something unrelated to 828!” which meant it DEFINITELY was going to be about 828? Yeah, so in this episode, the cops are having to stand guard while the truck is recovered from the river. Michaela is there when they finally pull it out, and despite being underwater for 80 hours, the guy inside is still alive and lunges at Michaela. He also has a beard, therefore Bearded Guy = my new object of worship, Wolf as Animated by Someone Who Has Never Seen a Wolf.

Meanwhile, there’s this whole other very stupid storyline where Dr. Saanvi is approached in her office by a woman hoping Dr. Saanvi can use her magical kid cancer cure to cure her husband, but Dr. Saanvi is like, “No, because it’s a magical KID cancer cure, duh.” The woman becomes so flustered that she throws her papers all over Dr. Saanvi’s office, which, for some reason, convinces Dr. Saanvi to go to the woman’s apartment and look at her husband, I guess to confirm that he’s an adult man and really not a candidate for her magical kid cancer cure.

Also, as Pajiba points out: there’s nothing on the papers:

THE LAZIEST SHOW ON TELEVISION, Y’ALL.

So Dr. Saanvi goes to the apartment, takes one look at Husband and is like, “Yep! I can’t help him on account of him being an adult and very near death,” so Wife pulls a gun on Dr. Saanvi and is all, “CURE HIM OR ELSE.”

Ben, worried about Dr. Saanvi because he hasn’t heard from her in five minutes, goes to her office and discovers that she’s neither there nor the lab, and decides that SOMETHING MUST BE WRONG — instead of thinking that maybe she’s just at home, binge-watching Netflix and gorging on GrubHub. Ben notices some of the papers that Wife dropped on the floor, and fortunately for Ben, they happen to be some papers with something actually written on them: namely a brochure for the fucked-up cult that believes the passengers are angels straight from heaven or whatever.

Ben swings by the cult’s headquarters which is run now by that one passenger who a few episodes ago was like, “You know, it would be awesome to be the next L. Ron Hubbard, now that I think about it.” There, Ben, somehow, manages to find a post-it with the same handwriting as was on the brochure, and conveniently, this post-it has a name on it. Ben has Michaela find an address, and then the two of them go investigate where they happen to see Dr. Saanvi in the window acting very much like a hostage.

Also, Ben uses the term “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

I WILL NEVER GET TIRED OF THIS.

Ben goes upstairs and blah blahs some cult talk at Wife who lets him into the apartment long enough for Michaela to swoop in, disarm and arrest her. The end. Oh, and Dr. Saanvi again mentions this person with whom she was supposed to go to Jamaica but who broke up with her or something so this will definitely be a thing later.

Ben later confronts Cult Leader about giving these people false hope.

Cult Leader:

85885-Stephen-Colbert-eyebrows-shrug-yBHa

Bad Guy is in the church at the time and later reports to The Major who explains that she wants to see what Ben will do next. Oh, she’ll get around kidnapping Pre-Pubescent Son, she explains in this amazing ham-fisted bit of exposition: “Whatever power they possess, our job is to understand it. That’s the only way to protect the country. Once we’ve done that, if we can, we weaponize it.” Twirling her mustache, she then excuses herself: she has an appointment to tie a damsel in distress to some train tracks.

Even later, Teenage Daughter explains to Ben that Michaela’s petrograph is a representation of a constellation: Gemini, the twins. Kinda like her and Pre-Pubescent Son. Because obviously.

And finally, over in the boring love triangle business, Best Friend senses that Ex-Boyfriend just isn’t into her anymore, and she confronts Michaela about it. Michaela is all, “Whoops, we slept together!” and Best Friend leaves Ex-Boyfriend. Ex-Boyfriend is first SO MAD at Michaela, but then ten seconds later, he’s suggesting to Michaela that they get back together, but she’s like, “Nah.”

OK, but I mean, you guys, think of all the adults who had to sign off on this:

I just don’t know how one person, much less multiple people could look at this animation and be like, “Yep! That definitely looks like a terrifying wolf that would scare a grown-ass man and not a hilarious cartoon drawn by a not particularly talented child, we should definitely go with this and not consider rewriting the whole damn thing to eliminate all wolf references.” How? HOW?

This is a dumb, lazy show and I hate it. But at least as of this episode I’m moderately amused by its shittiness.

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

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