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Manifest: Destination Unknown

Ben: “It would explain why you and I of all people got this Calling. We've had to do our fair share of healing.”
Michaela: “I find it odd that Jonas didn't mention they went to Jamaica together. And that Rachel returned by herself when she wasn't feeling well. Why do I get the impression that everyone we've talked to is either lying to themselves or to us?”

The risks of the Lifeboat lead Ben to take greater risks, and Eureka receives an incredible artifact from the Vatican.

While at Eureka, Ben experiences a Calling of passenger pictures going up in flames. Ben can’t remember them all, but later he identifies one as Rachel Hall. Michaela’s fingers are also burned by the Tarot card with the volcano. Fire seems to indicate that something is urgently wrong, and Ben and she go off in search of the passenger Ben could identify.

828er Rachel Hall (now Evans) came back to a husband who had married her sister in her absence. Michaela can relate as can Ben; Michaela’s best friend Lourdes had married Michaela’s fiancĂ© Jared, and Ben’s wife Grace was involved with the really nice guy, Danny. However, in Michaela's and Ben's situations, all the characters were good people. In Rachel’s, ex-husband Jonas was abusive and controlling with respect to Rachel and is now abusive and controlling with respect to Hannah. Anyway, in order to rescue Hannah, Rachel is ready to murder Jonas, her ex-husband, and Ben – doing some dodgy acts himself, including breaking into a building – stops her.

In my review of the previous episode I complained about not being able to grok Dr. Gupta, and I have to repeat that complaint here. In this episode she decides that Saanvi – who she nearly fired in the last episode – is now in charge of all the scientists. Huh? I mean, it’s great for Saanvi, but this seems like a truly erratic choice. Maybe that explains Dr. Gupta? That she’s a committed scientist, with firm goals, but is erratic in her administration?

Furthermore, Gupta's threat that the 828 project was about to be shut down does not make sense. Given its importance to national security, the idea that the scientists were all about to lose their jobs is absurd. Maybe she was about to lose hers?

Still, the driftwood turning out to be a piece of Noah’s Ark is really cool and I hope something comes of it. Other storylines felt mostly like vehicles for getting points across. Cal and the book fair seem to be a vehicle to get a lecture from Zeke on how the gifts should be used (we’ll learn later). Grace is looking at a restaurant to show how Angelina is like family and how well Baby Eden responds to Angelina. Again, Manifest does a good job of using an occasionally grumpy baby at just the right time (they showed only her back when she was supposed to be crying but wasn’t).

I really appreciate how Ben’s actions reflect the desperation of the situation. He broke into a building, not just to save Jonas, but to save everyone on the lifeboat. In more than one way we have the conflict of obeying the laws of the society in which you live – it’s part of the social contract – versus the laws of higher Callings. This is an eternal issue. I mean some laws, such as the fugitive slave law, are completely evil, and should be broken, although you may have to be careful how you do it. Other laws, however, are merely inconvenient in certain situations. If you’re the only car at a red light, do you need to wait for it to change to green before you continue? These days, with cameras everywhere, I strongly recommend you wait, even when no one else seems to be around, but in the past, I sometimes looked both ways at an isolated intersection, and then continued.

Zeke has decided he will only use his gifts to help others, although it doesn’t seem he can control what mind reading he gets.

At the end, Rachel is in prison, but at least she is reconciling with her sister. As she had pulled a gun on Jonas, this makes sense. Her ex-husband Jonas is also led away in handcuffs, but I wasn’t sure why. For the car accident in which he nearly killed Rachel? Wouldn’t they need more proof?

I appreciated the observation of not knowing what really goes on in other people’s homes is excellent. So often we assume that everything is all right without knowing. I remember getting to know “the popular high school girl” much later in life and discovering that her parents had been divorcing during that time and she had been extremely unhappy.

Fire and volcanos play a big role in this episode. We have three instances of volcanos: the dormant Mt. Ararat, the tarot card, and Tarik’s old snow globe that now belongs to Cal. That has to be significant.

Title musings: “Destination Unknown” is the title of the episode and it seems to apply to this episode in a most unfortunate way, as the episode does not seem to know where it’s going. On the other hand, on rewatching it I realized how many deep metaphysical questions were being posed, and I appreciated it much more. Also, with the precariousness of the Lifeboat and the enigmatic nature of the Callings, the destination of the passengers is really unknown. A good enough title.

Bits and pieces

It's not surprising that a recurring book in Manifest is A Wrinkle in Time. I’m ashamed to say that I have never read it, even though I understand it’s very good.

Olive is on her senior retreat, which is kind of late because it has to be at least a week after June 13. Given the fact that we see tulips at one point (Jared gives them to Sarah) I suspect the episode was filmed in spring.

Olive’s closet, in which Angelina is rummaging, seems really tidy. Or perhaps it just seems that way because mine is so untidy.

I tried looking up extinct peacocks but I didn’t find anything. There are extinct members of the pheasant family, of course.

Lourdes has disappeared completely from the show.

How on earth can Grace have the money to open a restaurant? The Stones were broke earlier, and even if she inherited from her dead stepbrother, there’s no way she would have the money from his estate yet. He had a nice house, though, and plenty of property, so maybe it's worth something – but in NYC?

Ben could have used Eagan and his photographic memory in his Calling. His attitude toward society’s rules are also more in line with Eagan’s general approach.


Dr. Gupta: It may not look like much to the naked eye, but this piece of wood potentially reframes 828 as no longer a mere bewildering one-off, but as the next crucial piece in a metaphysical puzzle stemming back millennia. Indeed, it may just be the key to unlocking not only why miracles happen, but how.

Dr. Gupta: One last thing: I've instituted a change in our reporting structure. All department heads will now relay their findings to Dr. Bahl, who will in turn present them to me.
Dr. Bustamente: Excuse me, but why are we reporting to Dr. Bahl?
Dr. Gupta: You're without a doubt the best and brightest scientific minds ever assembled under one roof. And yet, for all your collective knowledge, not one of you were able to make the discovery she made. In other words, she's the reason you still have jobs.

Jonas: You know, we offered to give her money to start over. We found her a place to stay, a job.
Hannah: But the one thing that she wanted, we – we couldn't give her. We couldn't pretend that those five and a half years had never existed.

Michaela: That's the Major's daughter.
Ben: I thought that case was closed. Why is she bringing his jacket?
Michaela: Okay, Inspector Gadget, maybe they are dating. But he's a grown man and he's single.
Ben: Out of all the women in New York, he has to choose this one?

Saanvi: You never said anything about it being near a dormant volcano, and there's only one dormant volcano in that region... Mount Ararat.
Dr. Gupta: And what does that mean to you?
Saanvi: A seismic event on the day of our disappearance yielded a 6,000-year-old piece of extinct cypress, most likely a vessel transporting animals, laden with sapphire, found near Mount Ararat – which is historically known for one thing.
Dr. Gupta: Go on, Saanvi. You can say it.
Saanvi: Mount Ararat is believed to be the final resting place of – Noah’s Ark.

Zeke: Look, man, I get it. It's not like these powers of ours came with a rule book. But using your Callings or my empathy thing for personal gain, it puts us on some really shaky ground. These are gifts, and it's wrong to abuse them, you know what I mean?
Cal: Yeah. Sorry. I won't do it again.
Zeke: Look at it this way... maybe I didn't sense anything from Stella because you're supposed to figure it out on your own.

Overall rating

I had some problems with bits of logic in this episode, but I really appreciate the ethical and metaphysical problems. Three out of four cheesy snow globes.

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


  1. I wasn't that thrilled by the Noah's Ark revelation to be honest. This is because it seems to tie the miraculous fate of 828 closely to the Abrahamic religious tradition, whereas to this point, it's drawn from a broad range of mythological sources. But the main thing that bugged me (and maybe I'm being a bit pedantic) was that there's no way in hell an artifact dug up on Mount Ararat would wind up at the Vatican. Ararat is in Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, and a fragment of Noah's Ark would be Sacred to muslims as well as Christians and Jews. So in the HIGHLY UNLIKELY case that it was allowed to be taken out of Turkey at all, the most likely destination would be Mecca. More likely it would be sent to a mosque or madrassah in Ankara or Istanbul. Even if it were found by a Christian archeologist, they'd likely be orthodox and would send it to one of the two Orthodox patriarchs in Turkey (in Antakya and Istanbul), neither of whom recognize the supremacy of Rome.

  2. I’m surprised Victoria is not picking up on the creepy vibes Angelina is giving off. At first I worried that she might try to overtake Grace’s life/identity. Now I’m thinking she’s going to become obsessed with Olive’s. The Stones are far too lenient with her, esp in regards to Eden. Maybe her parents were right all along that she is mentally unstable.

    Dr. Gupta is also confusing me. And I’m saddened that Sanvi didn’t tell Ben abt the driftwood, but maybe she’s just being careful in case her phone is being monitored.

    Funny enough, I was thinking abt Lourdes too, this episode. And will we ever find out what happened to the Pilot and the other Doctor he kidnapped?

    1. Why I did not talk about Angelina: because at the time I reviewed this I, I knew what would happen in later episodes, but did not want to risk spoilers.


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