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Manifest: Return Trip

Saanvi: “Mrs. Prager, we know that you had a son less than a year after you took a trip to Jamaica.”
Orlena Prager: “Those are my three children. And that man is my husband of 10 years, and he's their father. And he's a good father. Please, just go.”

This episode pushes the plot along: Zeke and Michaela help a woman from his past; Ben and Saanvi answer a Calling that connects a passenger with his five-year-old son; Jared gets a terrible haircut; and finally, TJ and Olive go Tarot hunting and find pie.

Manifest, having introduced Courtney in the previous episode, has to dispose of her. Even though she announced she was Zeke’s wife – which would be a serious inconvenience and distraction to the plot – this is not legally true. In fact, Zeke and Courtney had, apparently, been split for something like a year before Zeke disappeared into the cave, so there isn’t even the emotional issue of “this was my girlfriend just before the grotto.” Although they may have taken some of the steps to get married, they are not actually married, because they did not file the paperwork. Michaela says, “She’s actually really nice, but I just want her gone,” and that’s how I feel about this storyline, even though I kind of liked Courtney's crazy cootie catcher approach to life.

Apparently the creators of Manifest agree. Courtney gets beaten up by her drug dealer’s thugs – again, Michaela’s apartment is trashed – and reveals she owes drug dealer Luke 20K. Zeke says he will deal with this, and Michaela assists by going undercover, which is an excuse to put her in high boots and a miniskirt.

I don’t know how drug deals work, but it seems unlikely that drug dealers would make you shoot up in front of them. And, if that is how it works, it also seems unlikely that having a couple fight would be the way to get out of it. Anyway, the drug dealers say what needs to be said aloud to get them convicted, and Drea arrives with gun and badge for the rescue. Presumably for dealing drugs, but maybe for battery on Courtney and for trashing Michaela's apartment.

Manifest has done its duty and when Zeke and Michaela return to her apartment, Courtney is, thankfully, gone. Zeke has made his amends, and we don’t have to waste more plot on her.

The second storyline involves Saanvi and Ben and a little boy who appears in a Calling even though he was not on the plane. It turns out he’s the son of a passenger who had a one-night stand. The mother, who has been married for 10 years, doesn’t want her family destroyed, but then we learn that the little boy needs a liver donation. Finn, the passenger, is a match.

Even though it wasn't especially exciting, I enjoyed this storyline. It was pleasant for Ben and Saanvi to make up after their fight and for both to demonstrate how compulsive they are (however, I'm not a Ben-Saanvi shipper). It was nice to see a Calling that made sense, even though it was just visual cues. And although it wasn’t exciting, in a way it was nice to see most everyone doing the right thing. Even Orlena, whose infidelity resulted in Theo, is not trying to punish Finn but to protect her family.

The storyline I enjoyed most involved TJ and Olive. Olive wants to go to Adrian’s church, but TJ is not crazy about it, partly because he wants to please Ben as well as Olive, and TJ expresses his reluctance to go against Ben’s will. Besides, as a passenger, his own attitude is more in line with Ben’s. But TJ really likes Olive and is willing to go along with it. Instead of the hard line of her parents, his approach is softer, and his cuteness is also persuasive. However, TJ gets off the hook of being an accessory to a crime, because Adrian says that Olive, as a minor, is not allowed at the church.

So Olive and TJ spend their time doing what they were supposed to do, tracking down information about a Tarot deck. This was fun; I liked how the Tarot reader they found wanted to be paid even when she wasn’t giving psychic readings. Olive’s interpretation of the Tarot cards for TJ was adorable, especially the interpretation of the heart and crown as a fancy strawberry pie. TJ later has a date with her, where the end is a strawberry pie.

We have less of Grace this time but when she appears, she makes the most unwelcome suggestion that they pretend the baby is Danny’s. Of course this totally upsets Ben, who must feel like he was finally reclaiming his life and his family. Grace, who certainly understand how her husband feels, would never suggest this idea except for how worried she is about the Callings, especially as they apply to her unborn daughter. “Save her” is mentioned and they don’t know what it means. This is a good reminder of how upsetting the Callings can be, and why Olive is attracted to the church where not everything is doom and gloom.

The episode ends with a really terrifying vision of lots of dead people – passengers but also not passengers – in a burned, hollowed-out airplane. The sight is worrying, but Ben, Saanvi and Michaela receive no real instructions about what they are supposed to do to stop it. They also don’t see Adrian, who is just outside, receiving the same vision.

Title musings: “Return Trip” is the title of the episode, and everyone knows what this means in the airline world: you go away, and the return trip is when you come back. In this episode it refers to Zeke and his going back to make amends in the trippy junkie world. Another interpretation is how Olive – with TJ – returns to the area where she once met a Tarot reader. Mention Al-Zuras and his return trip after what appears to have been a similar experience. “Return Trip” doesn’t seem to apply that well to the Finn/Theo storyline, although Orlena gets a trip back to the past. Still, I think it’s a good title.

Bits and pieces

Courtney is playing with folded paper to make a “paper fortune teller” or a “cootie catcher.” This way of making decisions reminds me of the first season episode, "Connecting Flights," where Ben and Cal decided to let a coin guide them through their decisions of the day.

It seems to me that if Luke's thugs were able to track Courtney down to Michaela's apartment, they should have known Michaela was Michaela and not Ella, and, oh, by the way, she's a police officer.

I am concerned about TJ’s source of funds. His mother is dead and he seems to have no other relatives. Sure, he could afford a few bucks to pay a Tarot reader, but how could he afford so many LEDs? Especially when he has to make the strawberry pie himself.

Some threads that got opened: Finn’s son Theo, who now has part of his liver, may now be genetically infected with the Callings. Also, Luke has threatened Zeke, calling him a dead man. Perhaps the latter doesn't matter as Zeke already has an expiration date.

I would like to know why the Callings are sometimes a voice and sometimes a vision.

Jared, attempting to fit in better with the Xers, gets an ugly haircut. I guess Tamara the barkeeper likes it. Drea does not.


Ben: Zeke just forget to mention he had a wife?
Michaela: No, to be clear, they were high as kites, so they never actually filed the paperwork. They were never legally married, and they broke up like a year before he went into the woods.
Ben: Oh. Okay. That doesn't make it weird at all that she's been on your couch for a week.
Michaela: Look, Zeke dealt with my drama with Jared. He carried it all the way to Rikers, so it's my turn. I mean, part of his sobriety is making amends with the past, so he's helping her. It's fine. It's awful. Look, I'm trying to be supportive, and she's actually really nice, but I just want her gone.

TJ: You know, I feel like an accessory to a crime. Didn't you tell your dad we're doing Tarot card research today?
Olive: And we will.
TJ: You know, my mom used to volunteer at a soup kitchen. There was this Buddhist Temple that had one in it. Sometimes I'd go.
Olive: So, your mom was Buddhist?
TJ: She was a lot of things.

TJ: I came here last year with a classmate. She's 25 now.
Olive: Was she your girlfriend?
TJ: I don't really have too many friends, much less girlfriends. Not that I wouldn't want a girlfriend. And, you know, it's, uh... It'd be different if I, you know, met the right person.
Olive: You just haven't met the right person yet.
TJ: I mean, I haven't not met that person.

TJ: What about the third card? The heart and the crown?
Olive: It's a strawberry. And that is a fancy pie pan. Which means you're gonna have a very fancy strawberry pie in your future. You, sir, have a bright, shining, and, uh, very lucky future.

Courtney: I don't get you. How many women would let their boyfriend's junkie ex stay with them?
Michaela: I'm a big believer in second chances.
Courtney: Zeke said that, that you were the biggest part of his recovery.
Michaela: No, no, Zeke wanted to get sober on his own. It had nothing to do with me.
Courtney: I don't know. I've seen Zeke try to get clean plenty of times. We'd swear we were gonna stop using, but he always had a backup plan. ... But with you, he seems pretty determined.
Michaela: We all have a limited time on Earth. And I think that he's just trying to live an honest life.

Ben: Orlena was pretty clear that her husband is a very involved, very loving father.
Finn: But I can insist on visits, right?
Ben: Legally, yes. But you'd be risking blowing up a happy family.
Finn I don't want to do that. But I should get to meet Theo. Just once. Do you think you can make that happen?
Ben: Are you sure? Because as a father, I have to say... I think it'd be harder to walk away than you think.

Finn: They say I'm a perfect match.
Orlena: And you'll... ?
Finn: I told you I wanted to give something to my son. Now I can. Part of my liver. I didn't need the whole thing anyway. Don't worry. It'll be an anonymous donation. You don't have to change your life or Theo's.
Orlena No. You're saving his life. You deserve to be part of it.

Jared: Alright. You want to know about me? How I ended up here? I'm happy to share. You're right. I do know Michaela Stone. And, yeah, yeah, we were gonna get married. Then she went to Jamaica. I swear to God she died on that plane. Because five and a half years later, whoever came back, hell, whatever came back, see, that wasn't her. This person destroyed my marriage, and then she threw me under the bus in open court to protect some drŐ˝g addict she barely knows. Which destroyed everything that I have worked for. Yeah, Billy, you want to know why I'm here? It's because Michaela Stone destroyed my life. My entire life.

Overall rating

This was a less exciting episode, but it moved the plot along. For the most part, it was consistent with everyone’s motives, but I think there were holes in the Courtney storyline. I am vacillating between two and half to three out of four strawberry pies.

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

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