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Manifest: Precious Cargo

Eagan: “So, I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that's some kind of clandestine government facility.”
Michaela: “I have no idea what we're doing here. Or what's going on.”
Eagan: “Maybe the real question isn't what we're doing here, but rather, why isn't Ben Stone on this side of the fence – with us?”

After the deaths of the Meth Heads, our stars are gripped by grief and fear. Ben is working at Eureka in order to save the passengers, but the Callings don’t seem pleased with him.

Dr. Gupta is understandably annoyed that Pete was returned dead to Eureka. She doesn’t trust either Saanvi or Ben. I don’t blame her for that, but I must say I don’t quite get her. She strikes me as neither completely good nor completely bad. And I kind of think that is not because of me but is because of Manifest, in which the consistency in personalities and motives can sometimes be ignored to suit the plot. Perhaps she is simply a scientist with her own rules, in which the science and the US government always come first. Dr. Gupta wants Ben and Saanvi out of her lab – but does she have the authority to do this? I thought Vance was in charge. But when Saanvi proves useful, Dr. Gupta is willing to include her – does she suddenly trust her? – and she almost smiles.

How does Saanvi prove useful? By working with Troy – who conveniently minored in geology – to determine that sapphire is a commonality among the returned, applying to both humans and artifacts. With this discovery she prevents herself from being fired. However, I'm surprised that no one discovered this before.

Angelina is mourning Pete’s death. She no longer has any faith in the Callings, or in the Stones – especially not in Olive, as Olive told her Pete would survive his death date and he didn’t. Angelina says she wants to leave, even though Cal and Olive ask her to stay. At the end of the episode, she bonds a little with baby Eden. I was impressed by how they managed to get a real baby to cry and smile at what seemed to be exactly the right moments. I can always applaud getting a baby to smile, but no one wants to make a child that young cry. Maybe the directors made the most of a grumpy moment.

Angelina isn’t the only one mourning. Grace is mourning her dead stepbrother, and Cal is mourning his Uncle Tarik (it makes sense that Olive, who barely knew him, would not really be affected). Grace and Cal grieve together, sometimes angrily, and Cal blames himself. Grace says no, it’s not his fault. It wasn’t. I still think it was mostly hers. She’s the one who decided to go there and automatically put Tarik in danger. She doesn’t acknowledge it, though.

Several passengers, after seeing an enormous dark cloud in the sky, are drawn to Eureka. Outside the fence, Michaela meets the flippant Eagan, who wants to know why boy scout Ben is coming out of the government facility. Later that evening, Eagan and his beefy minions kidnap Ben Stone. They drug him and Eagan demands answers. Ben wants to know why Eagan simply didn’t stop by for coffee, but the ominous cloud was pretty freaky. This action on Eagan’s part moves him into the negative category, but he does have his reasons. When he hears that both Ben and the government think they have all returned from the dead, he is even more alarmed. It’s not as if human nature has improved much in the last few centuries. Ben, however, keeps trying to make a bond with Eagan, because they are in the same lifeboat.

Michaela’s hands start to glow, which tells her that Ben is in trouble (a heartbeat is a signal for anyone in Evie’s family). She goes to Ben’s house, stops the place from burning down, and realizes he’s been kidnapped (a plot reason for everyone else to be up at Tarik’s taking care of stuff is so Ben could be kidnapped without interference from his family).

A clue from Ben – sending a signal via a fridge – and clever sleuthing from Michaela and Drea lead the detectives to where he has been taken. I rather fancy the idea of squatting in a demo house, but I wonder how well it would work. Wouldn’t realtors be dropping by at inopportune moments? I also think Ben should have been able to get out of a window; even if he was in the basement, there appeared to be a window leading outside. Also, would model homes feature a kitchen in the basement?

Ben tried to make a friend, or at least an ally, of Eagan, and even pays his bail. At the conclusion, however, they are not friends. Ben also sees the dark cloud over Eureka.

Title musings: “Precious Cargo” is the title of the episode. The term doesn’t seem to have a precise definition in aviation, but appears to mean whatever people hold most dear. It can refer to children, such as unaccompanied minors, or even to pets. It can also mean precious items such as gemstones.

In this episode, the phrase has several interpretations. It applies to the passengers, who are trying to stay alive together. It can apply to memories of those who have died, as discussed by Grace and Cal, or to items that belonged to them, such as the volcano snow globe. It could refer to sapphire, the precious gemstone associated with all the returnees. And, at the end, it could refer to the mysterious package brought to Eureka by people wearing hazmat suits. The symbol on it looks pretty religious to me.

Bits and pieces

No one’s mourning for the FBI guy who died in the previous episode. Sorry, dead FBI guy.

I am going to make a prediction, which I have been informed is permitted, even though it may turn out to be a spoiler. We learn in this episode that sapphire is important in the Callings, or with the returnees, both people and things. Well, Grace has been wearing the same necklace in nearly every episode, with a rectangular dark blue stone. I bet that is a sapphire, and I bet it will be important. Eventually.

Jared is now seeing Sarah officially. This is awkward, as she’s the daughter of the Major, infamous passenger torturer.

Manifest seems more religious in this episode, and it seems to be committed to the idea that these people were dead while they were gone.

Lifeboat is a great metaphor for the predicament facing the passengers.


Ben: I used to be a skeptic, too. Only focused on science. But once you've been a part of enough miracles, you realize you need to give in and embrace the miracle. You need to believe what happened out there.
Gupta: I never said I didn't believe you.

Saanvi: The Meth Heads share a unique DNA marker, just like how we share our own distinct marker. Possibly explains why the death of one of them led to the death of all of them.
Ben: So, by the same theory, on our Death Date, even if one of us fails the test, we all die.
Saanvi: Yes, it would be consistent. Any one of us could sink that Lifeboat.

Olive: Come on. You've barely eaten in days.
Angelina: You told me if Pete solved the Callings, he'd survive.

Ben: But now it's not just about us following the Callings. Now we have to make damn sure that every single passenger does the same thing. We sink or swim together.
Michaela: You have no idea who or what would sink us.
Ben: Which is why I have to go back to Eureka and test. We might find some kind of scientific work-around that can save us. Because suddenly now I have very little faith in us saving ourselves.

Ben: What the hell do you care about Callings? The last time I saw you, you were only out for yourself.
Eagan: Hey, I've followed every single Calling that's fallen in my lap. Did I skim a little off the top? Sue me. But I'm not an idiot. So when a dark cloud the size of Texas shows up in a sunny sky, I'm there. Then, to my surprise, it's Boy Scout Benny Stone, who shows up in my inbox once a week telling me how to save myself, waltzing out of some kind of super-sized evil lair.

Overall rating

Some of the characters seemed inconsistent to me. Dr. Gupta went too far in both directions, and Eagan was over-the-top in his approach to Ben. I mean, Eagan’s a careful guy. Or did he like showing off his power with the 828ers? As he is short and keeps calling Ben “big guy,” he may have an inferiority complex. On the other hand, there are some promising developments, and I appreciate the arc of the Meth Heads being gone and us being left with the dreadful new insight into the Callings: one’s fate depends not just on one’s own deeds, but on the deeds of those in one’s group. Three out of four demo house refrigerators.

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

1 comment:

  1. They probably should have made Troy an amateur gemologist rather than a geologist. A geologist would identify corundum as the most common aluminum oxide mineral (and I also agree that it's bizarre the aluminum oxide bath hasn't been noticed before. Sapphire is a term used for gem-quality corundum of certain colors. The other elements (iron, titanium) is that those impurities are present and give color to the blue and green varieties (according to wikipedia) but that's rather specific knowledge you wouldn't be likely to get in a geology course.

    I hadn't thought about the blue pendant and you may be right about it playing, possibly as a fallback. They have mentioned that Mikaela's ring is a white sapphire, but maybe that won't work because it is likely almost pure aluminum oxide without the impurities.


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