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Manifest: Squawk

Cal: “What's going on?”
Olive: “Dad knows where Eden is?”
Vance: “He didn't tell you. Ben is gonna get himself killed going wherever he went alone.”

One character finally comes home while another character’s house gets blown up.

If you read my review of the previous episode, you have to know I was not pleased at all by the bad decisions that led to Ben’s getting conked on the head and tied up in the basement of Adrian’s refuge for passengers. I’m going to try to stop those negative impressions from influencing my feelings about this episode, where we seem to finally make some progress on the great mysteries.

Anyway, Vance realizes Ben is missing, and he alerts Michaela and the rest of her family – Zeke, Cal and Olive – in the middle of the night in order to report this information. Given how withdrawn Ben has been over the last two years, his family did not even know. They traipse up to his very messy attic to search for clues.

Michaela follows up with Eagan at his prison; he refuses to talk to her. This means the actor doesn’t get any screen time, but the writers do, and they capture his voice perfectly in the note he sends her, with his calling her "Goldilocks." Again, I am frustrated by Michaela’s refusal to follow an obvious lead. Why doesn’t she ask for information about who, besides Ben, visited Eagan? Maybe the people at the prison wouldn’t tell her, but they would certainly tell Drea and anyone else from the registry. Still, Michaela's honeybee-filled Calling and Drea's assistance help them figure it out. Making honey is one of the things Adrian has been doing, and Jared just returned from Adrian’s with a jar of honey.

Jared went to Adrian’s in order to find out why Erika has been purchasing such large quantities of fertilizer. She fobs him off with reasonable-sounding excuses, but he’s still suspicious. He should be. Erika is a whack job, and his first instinct was correct, because she is building bombs, something that even Adrian does not like.

I am uncomfortable when shows have whack jobs in them; people who do bad things for illogical reasons. On the other hand, we’ve seen before that Erika is unstable, and that she has violent tendencies. Besides, the world is full of illogical people.

As I said before, Ben is tied up in Adrian’s basement. Chasing a honeybee that she sees in a Calling, Eden goes to the basement and sees her father for the first time since she was taken away. And then in a scene that turns my stomach – but it’s supposed to – Angelina comes and takes Eden away, calling Ben a bad man and making him watch Eden call her Mommy. But later Donovan, a passenger whose muscle has been used before by both Eagan and Adrian, comes to feed Ben. Ben’s gag has to be pulled down so he can eat, and Ben can now talk, too. Donovan is actually reasonable. After hearing awful things about Ben for years, Donovan is not inclined to believe him, but at least he investigates, and he learns the truth. Donovan – and several other passengers – do not want to protect Angelina, who is both a murderer and a kidnapper. Unfortunately, whack-job Erika gives Angelina control of the detonator to the bombs she made.

In flashbacks, we see some of Angelina’s first moments after she left the Stone house with Eden: her crazy time on the bridge and her crazy time at her mother’s house. I didn’t like Noelle when she locked Angelina in the basement, but maybe Angelina’s mother had a point. Angelina should be locked up, instead of out in the free world, insisting that everyone needs to have a trial by fire.

Donovan leaves the plate, which Ben somehow breaks into shards and uses to cut through his bonds. He doesn’t break the window in his cellar in order to escape. Instead he writes, in his own blood, the seat numbers of the passengers on the window, letting others know who is in the house, in the hopes that someone will see them. It seems an odd choice, but maybe it’s not so odd, because Michaela does see it and she does figure it out.

One moment I love is the exchange between Zeke and Michaela about how Jared and Drea are having relations. It shows Zeke doesn’t read all of Mick’s thoughts, how friendly Drea and Mick are, and how Mick is really not bothered by Jared/Drea coupling. The language in this scrap of dialogue is excellent, too.

Cal and Olive stick to Vance like burrs and go with him to the Bird’s Nest. This gives Saanvi the chance to do some testing on Cal, and we learn something important: the Callings appear to be memories. At least for Cal.

Cal insists on going with Vance to Adrian’s. He uses his connection with Angelina – she needs a moment to recognize him, which she does from his words and not his looks – to distract her so that they can get Eden and most of the passengers out. Cal walks out into the sunshine, apparently uninjured.

I mention sunshine because the scene then segues from day to night. Now, to me this is weird. I would think Ben would insist on getting Eden and Cal home immediately. Sure, some people need to stick around to search for survivors, but they wouldn’t do this with a traumatized toddler. Besides, what are they eating and drinking? Of course, it's December, when days are at their shortest in the Northern hemisphere, but still.

It turns out that Erika has survived the explosion. She comes out with her gun, ready to shoot Michaela. Zeke senses it – he is overwhelmed by Erika’s rage – but he turns it on her, grabbing Jared’s gun and shooting Erika dead. I’m not sure why Manifest needed Erika to die at this point in the story. Maybe, instead, we need to see that Zeke can be overcome by his empathic connection to others.

The Stones have a good moment at home, but Cal’s coughing up blood in secret cannot be good. And, of course, Angelina survived and is found by Adrian, who gives her a lift, even though she just blew up his home. Maybe the Callings are trying to make him into an agent of the apocalypse, which is what he always feared.

Title musings: “Squawk” is the title of the episode. In aviation, SQUAWK refers to the communication that comes from an aircraft's transponder — or the radio equipment that a plane has that allows it to communicate with the radar system of air traffic control on the ground. In dictionary definitions, squawk means either a harsh scream or loud or vehement protests (Merriam-Webster).

I am not sure how the word applies to this episode. The theory that Callings may be memories? The harsh scream made by the explosion? The protests of the passengers to the presence of Angelina and Eden at Adrian’s? Or the sound that peacocks make when they are not communicating at ultra-low frequencies? I don’t think the title is a great fit, but if anyone else has an argument to make, please post it in the comments.

Bits and pieces

Timing: it should be the same as the previous episode, so December 2022.

Saanvi mentioned how peacocks communicate at ultra low frequency. This seems to be a thing: peacocks really do communicate using sounds too low for us to hear called infrasound or infrasonic. See the Scientific American blog.

I wonder how Adrian can afford such a large house. Is it money from the church he was running?

Angelina pretended her name was Violet in a previous episode, so maybe these two passengers have met before.


Ben: I'm telling you, Angelina is here with my daughter.
Donovan: They're both dead and gone. It was all over the news.
Ben: I saw them with my own eyes.
Donovan: You know, Adrian said you were nuts.
Ben: All I've ever done is try to help 828ers. We're all in the same Lifeboat. I'm not here to hurt anyone. I just – I just want my daughter back. If you keep listening to Adrian, ignoring the Callings, harboring kidnappers, murderers, how's that gonna help you survive your Death Date?

Zeke: Sidebar, marital code. I think there may be something going on between Jared and Drea.
Michaela: Oh, yeah, they're having sеx.
Zeke: You knew?
Michaela: Yeah. Drea told me. Girl code.

Eden: It's snowing.
Angelina: You see it too? Yes, my angel. Very special snow. Sent to both of us. Now I know why we were brought here. "The righteous shall be protected, and the deceivers will perish."

Overall rating

It’s satisfying to make some progress in our understanding of Callings, and it was great to see that some of the passengers – Donovan and Violet – are totally against murder and baby-napping. It is wonderful to see Eden back with her father and her brother and sister. Still, faulty logic brings down the episode some. Three out of four jars of honey.

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


  1. I found myself really impatient and infuriated with the babynapping, but that might not have been the writing. I think I was unhappy with Ben's character assassination. I'm relieved that this plotline has concluded.

  2. I agree, Ben has not been pleasant, but I'm not sure if it's inconsistent. He has always been obsessive, and now there's no Grace to hold him back.

  3. The term "squawk" derives from an old nickname for transponders: "parrot." That's why air traffic control will tell a pilot to "Squawk" a particular transponder code. Bonus fun fact: the phrase "strangle your parrot" is an instruction to shut the transponder off.

  4. I guess the search for Ben could be likened to searching for his transponder. Anyway, thanks, Baby M!


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