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Manifest: Touch-and-Go

Jared: “Hey. You need to take a break, man.”
Ben: “I'm never gonna take a break. Does nobody get that? Not until I find her.”
Jared: “Ben, there's a reason the detectives aren't calling you back. The state legally declared Eden deceased. NYPD closed the missing persons file. I wanted you to hear it from a friend, not just some random suit.”
Ben: “No.”

In the two years that have passed since the last episode, things have changed for the passengers, and not for the better. They must report regularly to a registry. Eureka is shut down. And the biggest changes are in the Stone household.

Ben Stone is a mess. Grace is dead; Eden is kidnapped – at least Ben clings to this idea, although others think she must be dead – and Cal is now the same age again as his twin. Ben, no longer interested in passengers, shaving, or basic hygiene, has abandoned his house and is now living in his sister's attic. Possibly he can’t bear sleeping in the same room he shared with Grace, and maybe he had to sell his house, but he also can’t bear being around his family and so he has withdrawn. As obsessive as ever, or even more so, without Grace to tamp it down, Ben is consumed with his search for Eden. He can barely help the children who are in his life: Olive and especially Cal, whom he resents.

The reason for Cal’s doghouse status is because he told Angelina about the key. There’s a wonderful flashback where Olive pummels her twin for this: Olive always understands Cal better than anyone else does; in fact she is the first one to recognize older Cal as Cal. Angelina used the key to get inside. Now, to be fair, telling someone the location of a key is not the same as inviting them in to murder your mother and kidnap your sister. Besides, given how long Angelina lived with the Stones, she should have known where the key was anyway. But Cal did trust her in a way that Olive did not. Ben, so desperate to get his son back in the last episode of season three, can barely look at him in the beginning of season four.

Ben has followed lots of Callings, hoping they would lead him to his kidnapped daughter. He refuses to go see Anna Ross. Cal – using the alias of Gabriel – goes instead. Cal/Gabriel visits Anna Ross and finds out she has had a Calling with a windmill and some gravestones. They locate the area and Anna heads up to the area in a train.

In the meantime, the windmill in Ben’s daughter’s death certificate – delivered earlier by Jared, now in blues, demoted from his detective position – starts fluttering. Although Ben rejected the information in the Calling before, now Ben drives up to an area where he meets Anna Ross. They know each other a little. Ben says he’s looking for his kidnapped daughter. They do their best to follow the Calling, and find a child crying out “Daddy!” But it is a little blond boy, not a dark-haired girl. Ben is totally disappointed, but he does save the father of the little boy and he does drive Anna home.

We also get caught up with everyone else. Michaela and especially Zeke are taking care of people, which is necessary because Ben is not being a father to his teenaged twins, who must be about 19 physically but who is confused because he missed some stuff. Michaela is captaining the Lifeboat, while Zeke and Olive are out there earning money to support everyone else (apparently passengers have trouble getting work). We don’t hear about Olive’s work, except that she has shifts, but Zeke is using his empathic abilities to help people recover from addictions. Taking on the pain of others comes at a price; he feels their pain.

Cal – known as Gabriel to the outside world, and very proud of his fake ID – has not had a Calling in the two years that have passed since his return. When he’s at Anna Ross’s house, he gets a call (not a Calling) from Michaela about her Calling. He’s needed at the place where Vance and Saanvi are working.

Michaela’s Calling – cherry blossoms in the water, and a cargo container – sends her to the port where she finds passenger Henry Kim inside a blue cargo container with cherry blossoms painted on the side. In a previous episode, "Duty Free," we were told Henry Kim was executed by the Singaporean authorities. However, instead of killing him, Singapore turned him over to the Chinese. This makes much more sense than executing him. The entire world wants to know what happened to the passengers, and it’s easier to test a live passenger as opposed to a dead one, and even easier if everyone thinks he is dead.

Testing a live passenger may be easier, but it has risks. At some point, Kim did something with his mind to blast the people experimenting on him in order to make his way to a cargo container and escape to the United States. Of course, traveling by cargo container is not ideal way to travel. What did he eat and drink? What about hygiene? Also, for the previous two years, he was a lab rat. Hence, his physical condition is really bad. He gets helped by Zeke, who can also absorb some of the illnesses of people. This, however, is hard on Zeke and he nearly collapses in the elevator.

Kim wrote “Stone 828” on his arm, but he wants to see “the boy,” i.e. Cal and not Michaela. Turns out more – “the box” – is in the cargo container. Cal goes in search of it and discovers the black box (which is something between red and orange). It ticks, but only for him, meaning he's getting a Calling. Cal’s thrilled to be part of a Calling again. He has felt rejected by the plane but now it is speaking to him again. Moreover, he has found a part of it, and a very important part of the plane.

It turns out Angelina and Eden are alive – dramatically, of course, we expected this – and they have actually been staying with Anna Ross. The Calling that Cal/Gabriel followed for his father’s was not shared by Anna Ross. No, the Calling was Eden’s, in a drawing the little girl made. Anna Ross just followed it, but only after Cal/Gabriel showed up. Anna informs Angelina that Eden’s Calling was shared with Ben Stone. This alarms Angelina, and she prepares to run. In the meantime, it’s just sickening that Eden calls her mother’s murderer “Mommy.”

Title musings: “Touch-and-Go” is the title of the episode. In aviation, the phrase refers to a quick landing followed by an immediate re-takeoff. It’s used in pilot training. I think here it refers to how Manifest is landing the story long enough to let us know where we are, and is then taking off again. An excellent title, and I learned something about aviation landings!

Bits and pieces

Season three ended in what should have been August 2020 but the episodes were obviously filmed in some other part of the year (probably due to pandemic delays). Now we know the Death Date is about a year and a half away. We don’t have a precise date, but as the Death Date is June 2, 2024, but we should be in late 2022. Filming shows fall colors and they’re wearing light coats.

Melissa Roxburgh (Michaela) is now parting her hair in the middle. It looks much better, much cleaner.

Beverly is not in this episode, except in a flashback. Either she has died, or her dementia has become so bad that she had to be moved into a facility. At any rate, her only line in this episode is to say something meant to be comforting but actually painful to Ben.

Wouldn’t a cargo container from China usually go to a port on North America’s West Coast and not to a port on the East Coast? I guess there’s always the Panama Canal.

We learn Jared and Michaela have not seen each other in six months, and now they see each other twice in one day. He still has her back.

I wonder if Zeke, who has problems with addiction, also feels the drugs inside the people he’s around? If so, that’s got to be difficult.

It seems that Callings can be ignored sometimes without ill effects, but that they are more insistent on other occasions.

Eden was 16 months old when she was kidnapped. That makes her about three and a half now.

Olive is now wearing the necklace her mother always wore. I bet it’s a sapphire and I bet it will be important.

Did Henry Kim kill or just stun the experimenters? Because the Callings seem to react badly when passengers kill other humans. Even when they are humans who have been torturing passengers – remember Saanvi and the Major.

It seems strange that Anna Ross would harbor a murderer. We must remember that Eagan spread vile rumors about the Stones, especially Ben, and so maybe that has something to do with it.

I like the fact that Cal came back older. Jack Messina was OK, but sometimes he lacked the range, or either the writing or the directing wasn't good. I have the feeling Cal will be central to the remainder of Manifest and an older, more experienced actor may be needed to carry the story.

If there’s a registry, why aren’t they out looking for Cal? And Eden? And Angelina? Given that the Registry seems to keep tabs on passengers, it seems strange they have not found Angelina at Anna Ross's.


Olive: Okay, I have a double shift, so let's go.
Zeke: Let's roll. Bills won't pay themselves.
Michaela Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Zeke: That's not creepy. No need to thank us. Until the rules lighten up, the muggles are happy to work while the 828ers...
Michaela? Sit on their asses.

Ben: How many times did I chase Calling after Calling, thinking it would lead me to Eden? Never did.

Ben: Cal, the world thinks you're missing. I don't like you being out there if you don't have to be. If someone catches on that you're you five and a half years older, they'll lock you up in an NSA lab, and we'll never see you again.
Cal: How am I supposed to find what I'm looking for, what I was sent back for, if I'm just stuck inside this house? The Lifeboat needs me.

Olive: Mom kicked Angelina out. You were the only person who wanted her back in the house. How'd she get in the house, Cal?
Cal: I told her about the key.

Vance: All you Stones. You're like moths to a flame when it comes to danger.
Cal: Is that a metaphor? 'Cause I missed high school.

Cal: Mom's dead. Eden's gone. I'm – older, and I don't have answers for any of it.
Michaela: Cal, that's a lot.
Cal: The point is, uh, every day, I think if I can just get back to the plane, maybe I can fix all this, and today, I finally had a Calling again, and it feels like the plane's sort of come back to me now.

Overall rating

A few logic issues, but an exciting take off to season four. Three and a half out of four cherry blossoms. In part because my cherry tree is blooming right now.

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

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