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Manifest: Airplane Bottles

TJ: “So, what makes you so convinced that this journal is the key to everything and we're the ones who were supposed to find it?”
Olive: “Because the tarot card that led to all of this, it... it came to me when you guys were missing. And the book is in Latin. And you know Latin.”
TJ: “Oh, so my life was spared because the Callings don't know how to use Google Translate.”

Things are not what they seem: the storm is not a storm; Internal Affairs is investigating the wrong case; and Saanvi’s cure has some problems.

Zeke goes to see Saanvi because she might have a cure, and as he’s already suffering from frostbite, he needs one soon. But Saanvi is totally messed up. This is the episode where I really, really begin to like Zeke. Before his good heart was mostly directly at Michaela, with the exception of the Courtney digression. In this episode he totally takes care of Saanvi. As an addict, he was the perfect person to recognize she was in trouble. He takes charge; he fetches help without endangering her position. It also meant we get to see the adorable Dr. Alex Bates again.

The storyline at the precinct was less interesting to me, because it’s a trope we’ve seen in many other shows. Internal Affairs is supposed to be investigating one person, but it turns out they’re investigating someone else. I don’t like it when people twist the truth so much. Of course, I know it happens in real life often enough, but TV is supposed to be a respite from real life.

Anyway, not only is Michaela nervous and frustrated by the direction that Internal Affairs (“the rats,” Jared's words) are taking, so is Jared. Jared recalls that the union rep is also an Xer and realizes he will kill Michaela if given a chance. To keep her from being driven to where she would be murdered, Jared arrests her and warns her, “I just saved your life.” This indicates Jared is probably a good guy after all – or at least not so far gone that he would want her dead.

The storyline that is most involved with the Callings is the one in the Stone house. To me, this storyline has aspects that work and don’t work in it. Cal is trying to build something, a sort of web. Why is he getting a Calling this way and not being told to draw it, which he could do much more easily? Of course, drawing the answer would not allow him to kick over his efforts and to complain a lot. It’s not bad acting, but it’s not, in my opinion, entertaining acting. Some of it feels that it’s just an excuse to draw out the episode to the required length.

TJ – who is staying with the Stones during his recovery – is hobbling around on crutches. He’s grateful to be alive, of course, but he can’t understand why his life was spared when so many others were taken. As he translates the Al-Zuras journal, he becomes crankier and depressed. He thinks he’s the reason for the terrible storm outside, and that it will only stop if he departs.

However, it turns out, there is no storm. And it turns out having a person around who is not subject to Callings is pretty useful. Olive can’t get the others to see the sunny weather by opening the door, but she can whip out her phone and show them what the current report is. We know the Callings are no good at Google translate; apparently they don't impact smartphones either.

Ben realizes the only way to stop this very long Calling is to build the web Cal wants to build. They finally do that, and the four characters impacted by Callings – Ben, TJ, Grace and Cal – are transported to what appears to be Al-Zuras’s ship. And at that point, in a bit that is kind of cool, they see what Al-Zuras described as a silver dragon in the sky. Except it isn’t a silver dragon in the sky: it’s flight 828.

Although I did not like the camera movement to simulate being on a ship less than other episodes – and part of this may be me; I have always suffered from motion sickness – the episode does seem to give us some insight into the “rules” of the Callings.
  • Lightning is key. We have seen that before, but we get confirmation.
  • TJ is convinced that for every good thing a price must be paid. I’m not sure we’ve seen this before.
  • The only way to survive the Death Date is to follow the Callings; all other ways lead to madness.
  • And, of course, it’s all connected. We’ve heard that a lot, but now we get an example, when flight 828 appears in the same time and space as the Al-Zuras ship.
In "Emergency Exit," Michaela wondered about her taste in men. Well, it turns out she has great taste in men. Jared was quick thinking and saved her life while not endangering his undercover position (although she’s not quite sure what’s going on yet). Zeke did something similar. He realized Saanvi was out of control and he found a way to treat her without endangering her.

Title musings: “Airplane Bottles” is the title of the episode, and from what I can tell, the phrase refers to the little bottles you get on airplanes, usually of various alcohols. I guess the episode title deciders chose this title because we have numerous characters who may not exactly be drunk, but who are certainly acting under the influence. We have Saanvi. We also those with the prolonged Calling: Cal, Grace, Ben and TJ. They're all out of character: Cal is frustrated; Grace is seasick; Ben is snippy; and TJ is in despair. Jared also seems to be under the influence of the Xers. Also, this episode involves no new sets, so it’s kind of a show in a bottle. TJ and the Stones are doing something like building a ship in a bottle. Guys, I’m stretching here. What do you think?

Bits and pieces

Enough time has passed since the end of the previous episode for Zeke to have passed his physicals and for TJ to get out of the hospital.

We can see Saanvi’s face in the Al-Zuras journal, among those who have gone mad after defying the Callings. That can't be good, but I really have to admire whatever artist or computer program captured her facial features with just a few pencil strokes.


TJ: I mean, all those people died, and the Callings saved me. I guess I just don't get it.
Ben: TJ, there are so many things I wish we understood about the Callings, but right now all that matters is you're safe. And the only thing you need to do is heal.

Zeke: I'm not the doctor, but it doesn't seem all that minor.
Saanvi: It's just a temporary side effect. The Callings changed our brain chemistry, and now that they're gone, it's gonna take just a little bit of time for my body to get back to normal. Put your arm out. Let's get started.

Zeke: Uh, I'm not sure an impulse-control issue is the best thing for a recovering addict.

Saanvi: It's just a temporary issue. It's just my brain chemistry's getting back to normal.
Zeke: You're repeating yourself.

Olive: It's beautiful outside. 65 and sunny.

Simon White: Ben Stone's office is just down the hall!
Jared: The hell do I care? You get to blow up my job and I got to stay clear of yours? This is not why I gave you Michaela's case files.

TJ: According to this, some of Al-Zuras's men tried to get rid of the Callings but ended up going mad. Some even threw themselves overboard.

Ben: Here. You translated it yourself. "There is no way to be rid of the Voice. The only way to survive is to accept".
TJ: Accept the Voice?
Ben: The Callings. Now, he's telling us following the Callings is the only way we have a chance.

Michaela: I don't care if I burn this entire precinct down. I will out you for every remotely questionable thing – you've ever done!
Jared: Mick, shut up! You have to keep your mouth shut. I just saved your life.

Overall rating

This is a tough one. I was bored and annoyed for part of the episode, which is a really bad sign. On the other hand, I loved Zeke and what he did, and I loved some of the discoveries. Three out of four airplane bottles.

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

1 comment:

  1. Not my favorite, either. And as a librarian, I kept cringing at the way they were tossing around that obviously rare book.


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