Manifest: Crosswinds

"Welcome to the Impossibly Cool Beach House."
"This is gonna sound crazy."
"I think our operational baseline is ten points up from crazy."
"Yeah, well this is gonna turn it up to eleven."

It's ten days after the events of the previous episode.  Marko and the other people rescued from the secret underground laboratory are still in a catatonic state from the effects of the electroshock experiments.  They're being tended to by Fiona, Saanvi, and Autumn in an architecturally stunning seaside mansion (which I shall hereafter refer to as the Impossibly Cool Beach House, or ICBH for short).  Meanwhile, Ben and Michaela are living in an apartment, and Jared is out of the hospital and returning to work.

Oh, one more thing – nobody has had a calling in ten days, either.

No one has had a calling, that is, until Michaela, on a visit to the ICBH, has a super-lucid first-person hallucination of stumbling through a snowstorm while a voice whispers "Find her."  At that precise moment, one of the experimental subjects, an attorney named Paul, wakes up.

Paul doesn't remember who he is, or how he got on Flight 828, or much of anything about himself.  He'd ended up in the experiment because he was one of the ones who had no one come to the hangar to pick him up.  His wife Helen not only didn't come to the hangar, she seems to have dropped off the grid completely.  (He doesn't remember her, either.)  From this, Michaela interprets the snowstorm vision as a direction to find Helen.

Fiona and Saanvi convene a meeting at the ICBH of passengers who returned to the plane to watch it blow up.  All of them are having a hard time adjusting.  Flight attendant Bethany complains that the "Believers," the 828 groupies who first appeared a few episodes ago – officially "Believers" with a capital B according to the closed captions – were waiting for her outside the courthouse when she was released.  (She's not the only one having Believer issues, either.)  Another passenger, Andre, complains that he was an "entrepreneur wunderkind" before the plane disappeared, and wants his life back.

When Fiona suggests that maybe it was her destiny to be on 828 to act as "as an interpreter" of the "shared consciousness" experience, the pilot, Captain Deal, stalks off.  He suggests to Ben that Flight 828 might have been Fiona's "twisted science experiment."  One might say he's a bit on the paranoid side.  Of course, as the saying goes, just because you're paranoid....

Michaela and Jared go to Helen's house, where they find piles of unopened mail and a milk carton left out on the counter which has an early November expiration date.  They eventually trace her to a motel, where she is hiding from her abusive husband.  "Paul coming back was like this wrecking ball smashing into everything I built."

Upon returning to the police station, Michaela tells Jared she doesn't want to work with him any more because she doesn't want to be "a giant wrecking ball smashing into everything in your life."  She then goes back to the ICBH and gives Paul a good hard verbal napalming for abusing his wife.

Ben, meanwhile, has gone down another metaphorical rabbit hole of inquiry, where he meets Aaron Glover, a freelance journalist who runs a podcast called 828-Gate.  From Aaron, and Autumn, and Director Vance's right-hand man Powell, Ben learns enough to deduce that that the mysterious "Major" is a woman, and she's running a black-budget investigation into Flight 828 in search of what she calls "the Holy Grail."

Grace is spiraling into depression again, and Olive (who has seen this movie before) decides to do something about it by inviting Danny over for a visit.  This does not go over well with Grace, and it gets even more uncomfortable when Ben, responding to a text from Cal, arrives in mid-argument – and comes to realize that his return was a metaphorical wrecking ball with respect to Grace and Danny.  (That metaphor sure gets a workout this week.)

As this is going on, Jared shows up at Michaela's apartment and declares his love for her, leading to some rather improper physical activity IYKWIMAITTYD.

I should also mention that Autumn, having seen what the experiments did to her fellow passengers, decides to stop spying on Ben.  However, The Major is not the sort of employer who calmly accepts an agent's two-week notice.

At the very end of the episode, Cal has the same first-person snowstorm vision as his aunt did, complete with whispered voice message.  However, Cal's vision goes on for a second or two more, and we see that whoever is stumbling through the snow is carrying a picture of Michaela.

"828" Watch

Lots of "828" sightings this week!
  • Romans 8:28 is referenced in the inscription on Karen's headstone.
  • Ben and Michaela's apartment number is 414, which is half of 828.
  • Helen's house number is 1829½, probably symbolic of her "moving on" after Flight 828 disappeared
  • Her motel room is room 28 – but it's not at a Super 8 motel.  (That would have been a really clever little gag.)
  • The Believers have "828" all over their signs.
Also on the manifest...

According to government statistics, domestic violence is (unfortunately) common enough that if the 192 individuals on Flight 828 (191 on the manifest plus Thomas the stowaway) are a representative sample of the general population, there would be at least one abuser among them – and more than one victim of abuse.

If Paul really has permanently lost his memory as a result of the electroshock experiments, is he still morally responsible for his past abuse of Helen?  There was a very powerful episode of Babylon 5 which explored this theme: "Passing Through Gethsemane."

One scene takes place at Director Vance's memorial service, where the speaker makes mention of the Director's wife and kids.  Guess he's really, for-sure, permanently dead.  I'm going to miss that guy.

There's a short scene where one of the Believers asks Andre, the former "entrepreneur wunderkind," to let her touch him.  You can almost see the wheels turning in Andre's head, figuring out how he could perhaps make a living as an object of worship.

While teenager Olive is very good at reading her mother and recognizing that she's spiraling into depression again, she's not mature enough to anticipate just how badly pulling Danny back into the mix could (and did) backfire.  That's very believable.

This week's gold stars for acting go to:
  • Melissa Roxburgh (Michaela) for the scene in the cemetery where she's talking to her mother.
  • J.R. Ramirez (Jared) for the wordless scene where he comes home from Michaela's apartment and sees his sleeping wife Lourdes.
  • Jack Messina (Cal), for perfectly portraying a little boy who can't understand why his parents are separated.
The picture of Michaela we see at the very end in Cal's snowstorm vision looks to be a page out of an article in a celebrity fluff magazine like the ones you see in the grocery store checkout line.  I tried freeze-framing it, but I couldn't make out any of the print.

If I've figured the in-universe timeline correctly, it should be mid- to late December by now.  Yet, we've seen no Christmas trees or decorations, even if only in the background.

With all the repeated use of the phrase "Holy Grail," I kept waiting for someone to reference Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Unless I missed it, there were no Python references, not so much as an unladen swallow's worth, anywhere in the episode.

While that was disappointing, the showrunners are to be commended for resisting any compulsion they may have felt to use "Torn Between Two Lovers" (Mary MacGregor, 1976) or "Wrecking Ball" (Miley Cyrus, 2013) as licensed music in this episode.  Unfortunately, the record company back catalogs are brimming with thousands of other equally dreadful pop songs that could be (mis)used in future episodes.  Stay strong, showrunners!

Quotes

Michaela, to her mother's headstone: "'All good things.'  What I would do to hear you say that one more time.  I wouldn't say I don't believe.  I would say that I want to because there has got to be a reason this is happening to us."

Olive: "Frozen waffles.  This is bad."
Cal: "They still taste good."
Olive: "She's in a dark place."
Cal: "She misses Dad."

Captain Deal: "You weren't in that cockpit.  No one is blaming you for what happened to MA 828."  So who is blaming him?  Or is he blaming himself?

Ben: "Podcast.  That's still a thing?"

Conclusion

This was overall a pretty good episode.  I found it far too neat that everyone came to the immediate conclusion that "Holy Grail" was a codename and not just a metaphor (or a Monty Python reference), and as in previous episodes, Ben's investigation developed at a little too fast a pace.  On the other hand, the "Enoch Arden" scenario involving Ben and Grace and Danny and Olive was realistically developed and very well acted, as was the rapidly-evolving Jared-Michaela-Lourdes triangle.  It will also be interesting to see what develops with Autumn.

Three out of four metaphorical wrecking balls.

Baby M has been in a couple of wrecks, but none of them involved a wrecking ball.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Still really digging this show, it's by far my favorite new show this season. The situation with Ben & Grace is a mess, but I suppose it would be in real life too. I'm not terribly invested in who Grace decides she wants to be with, I just hope the relationship between Ben & his daughter Olive doesn't get messed up, I really like their interactions. And if they broke up Ben & Grace so that Ben could eventually hook up with Saanvi, I'm not gonna say no. :) (seriously, the two of them are great together)

I was a bit disappointed that Michaela & Jared slept together, it felt like a cliché. I just don't feel the chemistry between them, Michaela is much more interesting when she's working with her brother or the other returnees.

I'm glad Autumn decided to stop spying for the Major, whoever she is. I hope they can keep her safe. As big a fan as I am of the Stone siblings, I like seeing a growing coalition of returnees working together. And now they've got this podcaster getting in on the action. I can't wait to see how much they're actually going to reveal in this first season.