On Monday night, NBC premiered Manifest, a supernatural drama that is clearly heavily influenced by Lost, though in this case, the passengers bring the mystery home with them: their flight lands five-and-a-half years after it took off. The majority of the pilot episode tackles the aftermath and how the main characters deal with coming back to a life that has moved on without them.
First up is the narrator, Michaela (played by Melissa Roxburgh), who spent the flight debating whether or not to get married to her longtime boyfriend Jared, who ended up marrying her best friend in the interim, and dealing with the aftermath of a serious car accident. Her brother Ben (played by Josh Dallas of Once Upon a Time fame) was also on the flight with his son Cal, who is suffering from leukemia. When they arrive back home, Ben’s wife Grace welcomes them all back home, but Cal’s former twin sister Olive is now five years older than him. Finally, there is Saanvi Bahl (played by Parveen Kaur), whose research revolutionized the treatment of cancer while she was gone. A lot happened in the pilot episode, which set up the rest of the season and left us with some burning questions.
1. What happened on Flight 828?
The biggest question everyone on the show (and the audience) has will certainly take the whole first season, if not longer to be answered: what happened on Flight 828? For the passengers on said flight, they simply experienced a “weather surge” that consisted of some heavy turbulence. For everyone else, the plane had disappeared and everyone had been presumed dead for five years. Did the plane go somewhere in between as the lead investigator believes? Whatever the case, something clearly occurred during that flight that changed the lives of hundreds of people. This is a question that will likely be teased out for the entire series to create a sense of intrigue that ties everything together.
2. What is the significance of the number 828?
Besides being the number of the missing flight, the number 828 crops up multiple times throughout the show, always in the most important scenes. The last words Michaela’s mother spoke to her were from Romans 8:28—”And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This quote is something Michaela latches onto in trying to figure out what is going on and why she disappeared. Finally, the number on the house where the kidnapped girls were being kept was 828. What does this number mean? Is it purely related to the religious significance or is there something else going on? One thing we can know for sure is that this isn’t the last we’re going to see of 828.
3. Who did Michaela kill in a car accident and how will this continue to affect her?
Throughout the episode, Michaela brings up her guilt, multiple times, regarding a car accident that killed a woman named Evie. For how guilty Michaela seems to feel, everyone else either ignores the issue or tells her to move on, which doesn’t seem to be very understanding or supportive of the issue. Due to the number of times it came up and how it seems to be affecting Michaela’s actions, we are sure it will play a bigger part in the series as a whole. The big question now is, who is Evie and will we ever see her in a flashback scenario? And could the accident be part of the reason Michaela is hearing voices?
4. Who or what is behind the mysterious voice affecting the passengers?
Speaking of hearing voices, who or what is the cause of the voice both Michaela and Ben, and surely other former passengers, are experiencing? Michaela told her brother the voice sounds like her own, so has she just become psychic and it is coming up through the voice in her head? Or is there a more sinister explanation? The religious overtones throughout the show might hint towards a more divine explanation; on the other hand, this could be a trick by the producers to turn our attention away from what may really be causing the commands. Either way, it seems like the voices are only working for good, from having Michaela stop a bus before it hit a child who ran out into the street to finding and rescuing two kidnapped girls.
5. Will Michaela and Jared ever get back together?
Throughout the episode, Michaela struggles with the relationship she has with Jared, particularly as she had made up her mind to marry him during the flight. During her disappearance, he ended up marrying her best friend, which is sure to cause some drama. There are still clearly some feelings involved, as seen by the lengths Jared goes to protect Michaela and his statement after she opened up to him that she still takes his breath away. We have yet to meet the best friend/new wife, but clearly this is not a great scenario for any of them to be in. We can expect some back and forth between Jared and Michaela throughout the rest of the season and will hopefully learn more about their history together as the show continues.
6. Who is texting Grace and what does Olive know?
One of the biggest plot twists during the 40-minute episode was when a mysterious number messaged Ben’s wife Grace asking if she had told Ben yet. Grace responded saying that she needed more time and that he had to understand her situation. The only conclusion we can come up with is that Grace had started seeing someone during her husband’s disappearance. But why all the secrecy? Surely Ben would understand the situation. There is also the question of Olive, who clearly knows what’s going on with her mother and the mystery man (or woman). Who will be the one to break the news to Ben and how will he and Cal react? Is it really an “affair,” or is there something more ominous going on? Either way, this is sure to kick up the drama of the show, at least for the next few episodes.
7. Who destroyed the plane and why?
In the last five minutes of the episode, the plane that had carried all the missing passengers blew up in front of a handful of the returned, including Ben and Michaela. Who blew up the plane? Or was there a supernatural cause as Michaela hinted in her ending narration? And why were only some of the passengers drawn back to the plane only to see it be destroyed? This seems like a bad move on the part of the being orchestrating these events, as it will only bring the lead investigator’s suspicion even more down on those present. The explosion also brings up the question of why such destruction was necessary. Was there something on that plane that gave a clue towards what happened to everyone on Flight 828? Hopefully we get more of an explanation in the second episode.
Manifest is clearly a show that aims to intrigue its audience and keep us all wondering what happened to Flight 828. The focus on human to human connections is also important, and makes it a much deeper show than it could have been. We can’t see what new action episode two brings!