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Manifest: Duty Free

Lawyer Rayhall: “My client is here to take full responsibility, but there are mitigating circumstances.”
Judge: “Ah, yes. The 828 caveat. You know, it seems to me you 828ers use that tired excuse to justify all sorts of things since your return.”
Lawyer: “Please, Your Honor, that's not fair.”
Judge: “You 828ers just can't seem to stay out of trouble, can you?”
Lawyer: “Your Honor, acts of others are prejudicial and have no bearing on my client's case. Perhaps you'd like to recuse yourself.”
Judge: “There's no bias, Ms. Rayhall. These are facts. Ben Stone was present at each of these events. And, quite frankly, heightened judicial scrutiny of 828 passengers is long overdue.”

Everyone seems to be at the breaking point, with the Callings burning up the passengers, mostly figuratively, but one of them is suffering literally.

Ben Stone is deservedly in prison for having assaulted Cody Webber. He has an appearance before a judge; it does not go well. His attorney was set to have him plea to one misdemeanor, but given the harshness of the judge, he pleads not guilty instead. Bail is set at a whopping half million dollars. This means he does not get out right away, and Grace has to scrounge to find the money. Grace is at the breaking point herself, and only a heart-to-heart with Michaela gets her off the couch.

In the meantime, many passengers are experiencing a shared Calling, in which they are being burned. Cal seems to be feeling it more. Also, he’s hiding Angelina, who was supposed to have left the Stones’ house, in his room. Which is weird. As Angelina needs to eat, he takes a lot of junk food up to his room. I rather liked how Manifest showed what a 12-year-old boy would choose to feed a secret guest; it’s one of the few comic moments in the episode. Angelina doesn’t complain, however. And she does help Cal interpret the Calling, although through her own lens, which is tinged with lots of Old Testament wrath. Nevertheless, she’s right; the Callings do seem angry.

Olive is still on her way back from Long Island. First, having her be away means fewer characters to juggle (Zeke also doesn’t appear in this episode). But the main reason for keeping her out of the way is because Olive, unlike her parents who are distracted by Ben’s bail and taking care of Eden, would notice that something is wrong with Cal (twin power). She would realize that Angelina is still in the house. Still, Manifest is not saying what is going on with her and Levi. Are they lovers? What happened to TJ?

The judge’s harshness is not a one-off; a clampdown of passengers is happening on a worldwide basis. As Vance points out, it’s amazing this wasn’t done before, because having 191 people reappear after so many years away is just too strange to ignore. Ben and others complain that they have rights, but do they? Marriage lasts only until the death of one of the parties. If someone has died, do they have rights? I’m with Vance on this. I can’t believe they were allowed to leave the airport. There may be talk of a registry; I’m surprised it wasn’t instituted immediately.

But the perspective of the passengers is also understandable. It’s really unlikely that such a registry would be benign in its approach to passengers. Captain Bowers tells Michaela about the execution of a passenger, Henry Kim, in Singapore, which has always been known for its strict and controlling nature. Michaela, who was about to book Saanvi, decides to quit the force instead, and she gets Saanvi out of there. This is an example of where I found the Callings confusing. They made Saanvi confess her murder of the Major to Michaela – but why, if Michaela is not to arrest her? But there don’t seem to be any ill consequences – at least not Calling-related consequences – to Michaela’s quitting the police force.

The fiery Calling keeps affecting all the passengers still receiving Callings: Cal, Michaela, Ben, Eagan, Angelina, Adrian, and others, not named, who phone Ben to complain. Saanvi and Grace no longer receive Callings, so they are not affected. Saanvi is convinced the problem is being caused by the testing being done on the tailfin.

Sometimes there’s a frustrating circularity in Manifest, but at least they acknowledge it. If testing on the tailfin is causing problems, then why did Callings lead it to resurface in the first place? Saanvi has a theory: her killing the Major, which she was not supposed to do, set things in motion. It was when the entire airplane disappeared. Another problem may have caused it to resurface (and the driftwood came up through Mount Ararat on the day the passengers disappeared). Note that this is an explanation, but it’s not a great explanation. I hope Manifest figures this out and tells us in the end.

Ben, Saanvi and Michaela all wonder how they’re going to manage to get into Eureka to destroy the tailfin. Given their situations – Ben is under house arrest, Saanvi has been fired from Eureka, and Michaela is no longer a cop – getting into Eureka seems impossible. However, one passenger goes: Cal Stone, with the assistance of Angelina, takes an Uber to the site. It’s a great end to the episode, with Cal announcing he’s there to see the tailfin, and all the higher-ups at Eureka nonplussed at the arrival of 828’s youngest passenger.

Title musings: “Duty Free” is the title of the episode. In the world of airlines it refers to the items you buy between different taxing authorities, somehow escaping taxes. In this episode, the duty does not refer to taxes, but to one's responsibilities.

Michaela quits the force, so it applies this way. She no longer has duties. Saanvi has been fired, so she no longer has duties at Eureka. Although Vance blathers about how he always puts national security first, he doesn’t arrest Saanvi, and he warns Ben, ignoring his duty in both cases. It's a great title.

Bits and pieces

So many cop shows need to build holding cells for their sets! Manifest must have more than one, because there’s the single with just Ben, but others with multiple holding cells.

In order to meet the outrageous bail set by the judge, Grace takes out a second mortgage and withdraws her deposit on the restaurant she was planning to start in the memory of her dead stepbrother. Given how broke the Stones were just a little while ago, I'm still wondering where she got the money for the deposit before this.


Michaela: Why have you been dodging my calls? Where are you?
Saanvi: Hey, I know you're probably mad...
Michaela: Mad? Yeah. I showed up at Eureka to bring you in for a crime that you admitted to me. Saanvi, don't you want redemption?
Saanvi: I do. I'm heading back to the city. I'm not on the run. You have my word on that.

Angelina: Is she gone?
Cal: Yeah, but we didn't have to hide you. She'd get why you're here. It's just, my mom doesn't understand we're connected. I knew you were coming to stay with us, even before my aunt found you in Costa Rica.
Angelina: You've been the only one who's been good to me this whole time.
Cal: The Callings, they brought us together. They still want you here. I know it. I just don't know why.

Ben: You're gonna arrest her?
Michaela: What choice do I have?
Ben: You can choose not to, Mick!
Michaela: She came to me! She's ready to confess. No, stop. Don't... Don't look at me like that. You have no idea how hard this is. I took an oath, Ben, and every single day, I have to toe the line between being a passenger and a cop.

Michaela: That was total crap. The fact that I'm a passenger has actually helped solve a lot of cases. Just yesterday, I saved a kid's life, and there's been a bunch of other saves that the Callings have led me to. No one knows that better than you.
Jared: You're right. I do. And the one tiny positive is that Bowers – she wants all 828 reports in this precinct to be filtered through me. I've got your back.
Michaela: I don't want you to have my back. I want to be treated like the damn good cop that I am.
Jared: Why do you think she put me in charge? She's looking out for you, Mick.

Ben: Are you behind all this?
Vance: It didn't originate with me. Fear towards the passengers has been rising as news of the Tailfin spread. And between you and me, talk of a clampdown has been circulating since the day you came back.
Ben: What, are you serious? To, what, treat us like criminals? Like lab rats?
Vance: What do you expect? I'm surprised you're not still quarantined at the airport.

Grace: I can't go on like this.
Michaela: Yes, you can. You're gonna go on like this for the next three years, and sometimes, yes, it will be hell, like it is right now. But before you know it, the Death Date is gonna be there, and the man who's putting you through hell... he's gonna live. And once you're on the other side, everything is gonna change. And it'll never be hell again. And I know that you are going to go on like this because... the man who put me through hell is on the other side, and I can't wait to be there with him. In the meantime, how can I help?
Grace: You just did.

Cal: It's time to tell my dad about these burns. They're starting to really hurt.
Angelina: Did you fall on a hot stove? Spill boiling water on yourself?
Cal shakes head.
Angelina: Exactly. These burns aren't manmade, so man can't heal them. This is how you get rid of those burns. You were tasked with a mission, and when that mission is fulfilled, you'll be healed. Aaron helped Moses realize how special he is. I'm here to do the same.

Michaela: You know, I stood here months ago, and I committed to playing by the rules. With each new case, I did everything to be a good cop. Even if it felt wrong. Even it meant going against my instincts. A passenger has just been executed. More are being brought in every single day. My own brother is being targeted, and now my value to this force is being erased. This is not what I committed to. This was not our deal.
Bowers: I'm appreciative of your commitment, but following the rules, playing by the rules, shouldn't have been an ask in the first place.
Michaela: Right. The thing is, the rules for the passengers are changing, and while the system could always rely on me, I can no longer rely on the system.

Overall rating

There is so much going on in this episode, that I didn’t even worry about the date (which still has to be August 2020). There are a few niggling logic issues, which may or may not be resolved. Three and a half out of four bags of junk food.

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


  1. Your reviews are excellent, but why wouldn't a resurrected person have rights? Rights attach to living people, regardless of any prior status. People routinely "die" a clinical death and are resuscitated; they still have rights. For that matter, even a dead person retains certain rights -- how much more so a person who comes back to life!

  2. Rights are something that vary by country and by current political attitudes. If people disappear for 5+ years and return essentially unchanged, there are bound to be questions as to whether or not these people are actually human. In the US, the passengers have rights originally but things change as more questions arise. Remember, during the time Manifest was filming, the previous administration was putting chilcdren immigrants in cages (something that Eagan brings up). And from the very first episode, when Ben and Michaela are getting their initial Callings, Ben warns Michaela not to let anyone know what she is experiencing, because the government certainly was still monitoring them.


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