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Manifest: Emergency Exit

Adrian: “Ben? What are you doing here?”
Ben: “What do you mean? I came for that drink.”
Adrian: “With me? I said all I need to say to you.”
Ben: “You texted me to meet you here.”
Adrian: “Couldn't scare me with the lawsuit, so now you're trying to gaslight me?”

A trap is set for the passengers, and despite a terrible Calling experienced by several of them, they can’t stop it.

Most of this episode concentrates on the main story, a terrible Calling that keeps showing dead passengers and non-passengers in a destroyed version of the 828 plane, with broken champagne bottles around them. Apparently several passengers – Ben, Michaela, Saanvi and Adrian – have been having this Calling for a while, and it has been filling them with doom and gloom. Ben and Grace react protectively, worrying, trying to keep their kids close. Cal is upset that he’s not allowed to do anything, and Olive completely explodes at her parents, threatening to quit school, which she has not been attending regularly anyway.

The Olive arc may seem inconsistent, but teenagers are inconsistent. Of course she’s mad at her parents, who are complete downers, which seems odd as two people she lives with literally came back from the dead, which is a pretty hopeful phenomenon. She’s at the point in her life when it’s time to rebel. Of course she listens to TJ instead, because he’s cute and at Olive's age, hormones often trump logic. Besides, he’s gentler in his attempts to persuade. Ben and Grace are yelling and grounding; TJ is listening and talking.

After some prodding from Saanvi’s dad, a mystery is finally solved: we meet Saanvi’s ex, Alex, who is female – hooray for genderless names – despite Saanvi having met a male Alex in a previous episode. The attraction and the tension between Saanvi and Alex are well done. Alex is married, to a male, and it sounds like they have kids. Anyway, I hope this stops the Ben-Saanvi shippers; Saanvi seems to prefer women.

After consulting with Alex, Saanvi manages to make a retrovirus serum to get rid of the DNA anomaly. We see her Callings in reverse, as they are taken away from her. When she swabs her cheek and tests her DNA she discovers the anomaly is gone. That seems like really quick action to me, but there’s only an hour of TV and at this point in its existence, Manifest was still giving up time for commercials.

At the beginning of the episode, Michaela lays a trap for Zeke the addict by accusing him of putting pills in his razor. He can’t even find his razor and he’s annoyed that Michaela doesn’t trust him. She rightfully points out that addicts lie, something he told her. He later finds pills in his razor, and we never completely pin down if he was lying or if Courtney put them there. (I’ll go with Courtney doing it because I think if Zeke were doing it, he would know exactly where the razor was at all times.) The checking up on Zeke by Michaela was unpleasant, and, as we find out from Ben later when he’s talking with his sister, Michaela tends to sabotage relationships when they get too close. Later – perhaps with the shock of the fire – when Zeke tells her he loves her, Michaela is able to reciprocate and say she loves him too.

But the big deal in the episode is, of course, the fire at the nightclub. Ben and Michaela – helped by Zeke and Jared and even TJ – get most people out. It allows for lots of excitement and our heroes get to show they are heroes, first in figuring it out, and second, getting most people out. TJ is still inside when there is a big explosion; tears pricked behind my eyes when I saw Olive go “no, no, no,” as she realized what it meant.

Besides the emotional impact, this episode focuses on one of the many reactions to the return of 828. The believers have the idea that if these people came back once, they will come back again, which is what Adrian has been pushing. Isaiah, the most rabid believer, has decided to create a situation in which more people come back, but he decides, for it to work, passengers need to be among those who die. Well, one can say he is committed to his beliefs as he decides to stay in the fire.

However, for me, the problem with this episode is too little attention to details. Here are some examples:
  • Alex says, “five years!” – but by now it has to be six years. Alex is a doctor; she ought to be able to count.
  • Olive may be grounded for skipping school, but she’s still getting out a lot. She’s in TJ’s room; they go to a nightclub.
  • Given how much TJ is into his studies – advanced Latin and ordinary differential equations – Olive’s skipping school seems kind of odd. You would think she would want to impress him.
  • It seems as if Isaiah is the only manager working at that nightclub, which seems unlikely and impossible on a free champagne night. Especially as it’s so popular, given the size of the crowds both inside and out. It also seems unlikely that no one else working there would notice what he was doing.
  • Isaiah has to do A LOT to commit this crime. Invite lots of passengers under false pretexts. Spike the champagne. Serve champagne. Block the cell phones. Pour accelerant. Padlock the doors. It seems like it’s just way too much for one mortal.
  • Despite there being a fire, apparently no one pulls the fire alarm. Did Isaiah disable those, too?
  • Given that Isaiah spiked a lot of the champagne (using a method that would probably not work) people should have been noticing problems earlier.
  • Doors in places such as these are supposed to open out, not in, for reasons that we see here.
  • Adrian’s idea that the passengers can’t die should be refuted over and over by the deaths (Kelly and Harvey) we already know about. I can understand that the believers would not bring them up, as those committed to certain ideas work hard to ignore inconvenient facts, but those who do not believe would certainly mention them. But these deaths don’t come up at all.
Title musings: “Emergency Exit” is the title of the episode, and everyone knows what this means in the airline world: the way you get out if there is an emergency on the plane. This meaning is literal as the nightclub catches on fire. There’s a secondary meaning as Saanvi exits from the Callings. A good title, as it naturally evokes tension, and that tension sure existed in this episode.

Bits and pieces

The champagne served by Isaiah, “Maison du Revenir” means “House of Returning.”

I was sitting next to an emergency exit when a flight attendant asked me if I was able to handle it in case of an emergency. I replied that I thought I could, but I had never done it before. The passenger next to me then let loose the fact that he had survived 5 (!!!!!) airplane / helicopter crashes. He was military, and they were all related to that. I wasn’t sure if sitting next to him was good or bad luck.

I really liked how Cal complained about not being allowed to have fun. What’s the point of coming back for a few years if you’re never going to have fun?

Although the Stones are not perfect parents, I love how they sleep with suffering children.

I wonder how many sets of the plane Manifest has. The hollowed out set does not seem as if it could double as the regular set.

A conversation between Zeke and Michaela lets us know this episode takes place on a Saturday.

What’s the point of this Calling if our heroes were not given enough information to stop it?


Ben: Champagne glasses, burnt-out plane cabin, melting walls.
Grace: You will figure it out.
Ben: Will I? Seems to me, I figure out one Calling only to get another one even more terrifying. Grace, I felt a... hopelessness, like whatever we're meant to save the passengers from, it's coming... and it's violent.

Michaela: I needed to know if you were using again, Zeke.
Zeke: How about you just ask me?
Michaela: Addicts lie... you were the one that told me that.
Zeke: You know who else is an addict? Courtney.

Olive: Seriously? Wow. You're gonna hold your own son captive just because you're scared.
Grace: Olive, how about you let us handle this?
Cal: What's the point of even having five more years to live if I can't do anything fun, ever?

Saanvi: I mean, only that I can't figure this out and lives are depending on me.
Saanvi’s Dad: I seem to remember you being in the same pickle with your cancer work. And what did you do then? Talk to your immunologist friend at Boroughs Regional. You said she helped you think about it in new ways.
Saanvi: Yeah, I haven't talked to her since I've been back. There's some baggage there.
Saanvi’s Dad: Sorry, my bad. I thought you said lives depended on it.

TJ: Yeah, I've heard his theory on how we can't die.
Olive: Well... you did come back once.
TJ: Honestly, Olive, I'm with your dad. I think Adrian's full of it. So, you don't believe in the miracle? I'm not an angel or some god. I came back the same exact person who left, except I didn't have a mom anymore. Or friends or a home, for that matter. Tell me... how is that a miracle?

Ben: So, how are things going with Zeke now that Courtney's gone?
Michaela: I'm starting to think I might gravitate towards the wrong guys.
Ben: Come on. Zeke's a good guy. So is Jared.
Michaela: Whose side are you on?
Ben: Yours, always. But I have noticed a pattern. Come on. You get to a point, and you pull away.

Michaela: Bethany?
Bethany: Michaela! Get out! You're here, too?
Michaela: Yeah, what are the odds?
Michaela realizes the odds are wrong, and that’s when she snaps into action. Michaela may not be the mathematician her brother is, but she has an instinct for probability gone wrong.

Alex: It's just... My God... five years. Can we please... Can we just talk about us for a minute?
Saanvi: No, Alex, really, this is about the work.
Alex: Can I at least say I'm sorry?
Saanvi: The time for "I'm sorry" was when I came back. It's been months.
Alex: You don't know how many times I picked up the phone.

Isaiah: No, we'll be okay. We believe. We'll step into the light together.
Ben: Isaiah, let her go, or we'll all be dead.
Isaiah: No! We will all be miracles and transcend death just like you did.

Saanvi: Wait, something's odd. These aren't burns.
Zeke: What do you mean?
Saanvi: This looks like frostbite.
Zeke: Like from the cold? Like what I had when I woke up in the cave? Griffin drowned on dry land. Is that what's happening to me? I'm freezing to death?
Saanvi: I don't know. You might be.

Overall rating

Lots of action. But also lots of plot holes. Three out of four bottles of Maison du Revenir champagne.

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

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