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Manifest: False Horizon

Vance: “Kudos to your audacity, but now the Major has your findings, the ramifications of which I can't even begin to describe.”
Saanvi: “Those vials were fake. It'll take them weeks to figure it out.”
Ben: “You set up a trap?”
Vance: “Oh, she is a much better spy than you, Stone.”

A lot of lies swirling around, making it difficult for our characters to know what’s happening. Grace and Michaela are both tenacious in pursuing their goals, but only one succeeds.

This episode is more centered on Saanvi than others have been, when she was useful to the Stone family but was not really the lead. "False Horizon" opens with Saanvi in holiday clothes on an airplane, waiting for her love, Alex, who does not show. Alex is not prevented by some sort of last-minute accident. And this is not just a drink or a movie, but being stood up for a week of vacation, in another damned country, without the chance to change her own mind. I can understand why Saanvi, as she tells her therapist, is still angry at Alex. I mean, why couldn't Alex tell Saanvi before they closed the doors to the airplane?


But Saanvi has other problems, that she does not know about. Vance, from following the money, has determined that somehow Saanvi is leaking to the Major. He decides to set a trap via Ben, by telling Saanvi about another passenger with (fake) incredible Calling experiences. Ben is reluctant as it means lying to Saanvi. Ben is right in understanding how much Saanvi will hate this; it’s because Saanvi was betrayed – for her it’s only a few months ago – by Alex, the one she loves most. She’s still feeling insecure after this. The relationship with the Stones, especially Ben, has helped her a lot, has made her feel like part of a group.

Ben can’t lie to Saanvi for long, and when he tells her the truth she is so angry and hurt, she tells Ben to go away. Saanvi destroys her phone (which contained her draft of her reproachful message for Alex). When she walks down a corridor, she eyes everyone suspiciously. She fires Troy, her eager beaver lab assistant. She also sets a trap and determines that her therapist is the one who betrayed her. With the assistance of Vance, our heroes learn (we already knew) that the therapist is not reporting to the Major; the therapist is the Major, one Katherine Fitz.

During this episode, Ben finally has a chance to get his life back on track, to resume his work as a professor, and as the last hurdle, he’s got a guest lecture scheduled. I really felt for Ben in his lecture, because I once had a similar situation, with a class acting up, and I was disadvantaged as it was not my first language. In this case, Ben is blindsided by the intense interest in 828ers, all asking questions. Ben gets thrown a lifeline by an astute question from TJ (yay! he's back), and he picks up and persists and gives a good lecture.

Something I like about all the characters in this is how they persist, despite difficulties; it's a good lesson for all of us. The two people to admire most in this episode are Michaela and Grace. Mick keeps trying to get Zeke out, from consulting a lawyer to arguing with Jared (and later throwing him under the bus) and even breaking into his prison and risking getting in trouble.

Jared, who has stuck out his neck for Michaela on several occasions, feels incredibly betrayed given how much he has done for her. On the other hand, none of Michaela’s missteps put an innocent person into prison, and Mick is right in that Jared had Zeke followed and that Jared entered her home without probable cause. Besides, we know from the speech Jared gave to the Stones at the beginning of "Fasten Your Seatbelts" that Jared knows Zeke’s shooting of Michaela was an accident. He senses that Michaela is attracted to Zeke. Of course, Michaela is aware how little time Zeke has to live, and doesn't want him to spend that time in prison (this last bit doesn't come up).

Grace gets a weird Calling when interacting with an expectant mother, and shows admirable perseverance and initiative in tracking down Erika. Despite that, I didn’t really like the Grace / gargoyle / open her eyes Calling. It didn’t quite add up. Erika was completely hostile to having her eyes opened and the gargoyle didn’t really make sense. Yes, there’s a gargoyle over at Astoria, but if it’s not Erika’s eyes who are to be opened, then whose?

Still, the interactions with Erika – her hope that Grace would lose her baby, about the most horrible thing I can imagine saying to a pregnant person – were illuminating. Grace realizes the hate for 828ers out there. And Erika’s husband is Simon White, who has just hired Ben to work in his department (Ben gave a great lecture).

Finally, Olive is finding some connection to others by going to services at Adrian’s church. At 16, young people are susceptible to cults, and so this makes sense. Besides, she’s in a weird position, where she was not on 828 but her life has been completely warped by the fact of 828.

Title musings: “False Horizon” is the title of this episode. In aviation, sometimes a cloud can get confused with the ground – which I suppose is better than a pilot mistaking the ground for a cloud! – and that is what is meant by a false horizon. This episode has lots of misleading stuff: The Major; Adrian’s church; Simon's hiring of Ben; and most of all, the Saanvi thread. Even the Calling seems false, as Grace wasn’t able to open Erika’s eyes. A good title for the episode.

Bits and pieces

Not exactly sure when this episode takes place. At least several weeks must have passed since the last episode, enough time for Ben to have jumped through hoops to get to the point of giving a test lecture. Future episodes will be able to be dated more precisely.

Usually when I am watching passengers enter an airplane, I hope they won’t be seated next to me, as I want more space on the flight.

Love how Manifest respects mathematics, even when it doesn’t get everything right (the twins are called 15 when they must be 16 in season one). From Wikipedia: Combinatorics is an area of mathematics primarily concerned with counting, both as a means and an end in obtaining results, and certain properties of finite structures. It is closely related to many other areas of mathematics and has many applications ranging from logic to statistical physics and from evolutionary biology to computer science.

Poor Troy, the lab assistant, suffers collateral damage from Saanvi’s suspicions.

Simon White is like a white supremacist in today’s world, hence the choice of the last name.

Hmm, maybe Grace was supposed to open Olive’s eyes? The problem is that the gargoyle appears near Erika, and not near Olive. Another alternative would be that Grace is supposed to open her own eyes to Erika's hatred, and the reason the Calling is in the third person is because it’s coming from the baby, even if it’s using Grace’s voice. That seems to be the only thing that works, but it's too convoluted (and, spoiler, it never comes up later). Anyway, at least Manifest acknowledges the fact that the Calling wasn't fulfilled. Does this mean that the writers are lazy or that we don't understand how Callings work?

Quotes

Ben: Yeah, well, now I can't get on any track. Soon as they hear I'm a passenger, I might as well have the plague.
Michaela: Mm.
Ben: Only reason I got this chance is because I ran into an old colleague.
Michaela: Mm.
Grace: She was a little more than an old colleague.

Ben: So not only do we continue to lie to Saanvi... We use her. This... This sucks.
Vance: No one said making the world a safer place was gonna be easy, but the sooner we find the Major, the sooner we all go back to our lives. And this leak in your friend's lab, it's our best shot. Set the trap.

Jared: You're asking for too much, Mick. I'm sorry, but I'm not gonna torpedo my career for some guy I barely trust. Just stop.
Michaela: Please. I am not trying to hurt you. Truly. But I'm gonna help Zeke, and I'm gonna do whatever it takes to do that. If you don't want to help me, that is your choice. But be prepared.
Jared: Was that a threat?
Michaela: Didn't have to be.

TJ: I read your thesis on combinatorial matrix theory. Couldn't that have been used to map the flight plan of 828?
Ben: Great question. We'll start simple and define some geocentric coordinates. Now, to compute the coordinates of "C" using Bancroft's method, we'll construct a four-by-four matrix with the satellites' coordinates and respective pseudoranges... not to be confused with pseudo-oranges, which taste terrible.

Troy: Now that we've had a breakthrough, what do we do? Are we modifying our approach?
Saanvi: You're always asking me questions.
Troy: Um, 'cause I'm your lab assistant?
Saanvi: Not anymore.

Erika: Your son is an abomination.
Grace: Oh, I get it! I get it now! I was supposed to open your eyes because you are a frightened, small-minded woman who's afraid of anything she doesn't understand.
Erika: I hope you lose that baby.

Michaela: I've informed Internal Affairs, the arresting officer, and my captain about this miscarriage of justice. I am tired of being told to let this go. I'm not going to let this go. I am the one that took that bullet. I am the victim. And I am telling you that this man is innocent.

Zeke: No one's ever done anything like that for me. You didn't just storm the castle... You burned it to the ground.
Michaela: Yeah, well, you weren't supposed to be inside.

Jared: How 'bout you turn that crap off?
Michaela: How 'bout some manners?
Jared: Can you turn that crap off, please?

Overall rating

Much of this episode was excellent. I don’t get Michaela’s attraction to Zeke – and it’s that attraction Jared senses that gets him to do wrong things – but I appreciate her passion for getting an innocent man out of prison. I loved the story, with some background, on Saanvi. I loved Ben’s lecture. What did not work for me, however, was the Calling for Grace, which didn’t add up – but at least they acknowledged that. Three out of four pseudo-oranges.

Victoria Grossack loves math, birds, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

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