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Manifest: Bug Out

Saanvi: We're not waiting for Callings Unit to handle this, are we?
Ben: No, we are not. As my kids like to say, we're going on a treasure hunt.

Episode description: “Michaela finds a welcome distraction in helping Jared with an investigation. Cal tests a new ability. Ben and Saanvi try to decode a mysterious message.”

Angelina, who didn't appear in the last episode, is not dead – of course, Manifest can't kill off the villain before the end of the series! – and is living off the grid in a van, in St. Louis, Missouri, which she has parked in a sort of homeless camp. She’s spending her time flipping through religious texts, waiting for God to call her, and doing what she can to influence the mind of a young girl, reminding us of her undue influence over Eden. It’s a pretty good way to go off the grid. Like Cal – the other chosen one – the sapphire in her hand didn’t glow for a while, but now seems active again.

We finally see Grandpa Steve, fixing a leak at the house where Cal is, and we can forgive him for his not being around in the last episode. He’s returned to work, in a grocery store, in order to get money for his family. Despite vacationing in Aruba, it appears that Steve Stone's means are not that great.

Michaela, in the detention center, is bored and depressed, but the situation is alleviated by weird meetings with Zeke in the glow. Zeke cannot physically manifest, but her conversations with Zeke sort of spill into time with Jared, and Jared supplies Michaela the physical presence that Zeke cannot, even to the hug that Jared gives Michaela in their last scene together in the episode. Instead of feeling as if Zeke resents Jared or is jealous of him, it feels as if Zeke is using Jared. Which shows how much he loves Michaela and worries for her, even when he is on the other side.

The episode mirrors itself by spending most of the time showing the actions of two almost-couples, Michaela and Jared on the outside and Ben and Saanvi on the inside. Michaela’s following a Calling for a passenger called Joe, who is not allowed outside. Dr. Zimmer has decided to let Michaela leave the detention center to resolve Callings, because although the passengers are dangerous, saving the human race is a goal everyone wants. Michaela has a strict curfew, however, and she is chipped before she goes. She also gets to work with Jared.

Following the Calling is similar to many other episodes: figuring out from a few clues what is going on, and this time assisted by a conversation with Cal, who is able to access Joe’s Calling by somehow returning to a glow-version of the airplane and sitting in Joe’s seat. It takes work, leading us to Jared’s younger brother Luis, touring through city plans, checking out several jewelry shops and finally breaking down a wall to find Joe’s kid, who is being trafficked with several other kids. The jewelry shop owner is arrested and Charlie is placed with Luis, which means he will be brought regularly to visit his dad and Joe can breathe easier. I admit I got some sniffles when Charlie was talking to his father. Jared also brings Michaela her favorite Lithuanian lager.

Ben and Saanvi make up the other couple. Even though they are not each other’s first love, there’s always been a spark between them, and they seem more relaxed with that now, using kissing as a way to pretend they’re hiding to do that instead of hiding in order to keep from getting in too much trouble as they snoop together. I’m one of those people who believe that marriage is until death, and so I don’t feel as if Ben is betraying Grace – after all, in Manifest time, Grace died about three years ago. Still, I’m not a Ben-Saanvi shipper. Ben will always put his kids before everything, and Saanvi can’t enter into that. Also, Saanvi, although probably bi, seems more attracted to women than to men. Of course, given their circumstances, taking some comfort in each other is perfectly fine.

Following their Calling is more interesting than following Joe’s Calling outside of the detention center. It starts with Ben having a moment that reminds me of another fictional Ben, Ben Sisko, when he was writing on the walls in a vision, creating the story of Deep Space Nine. Ben Stone is writing the phrase “Wake Him Up” over and over. But what he writes on his wall is a map, with X marks the spot. Ben and Saanvi follow that map, and discover Bill Daly, the pilot, who has returned. We knew that from the end of the last episode, but now Ben and Saanvi know that too. They don’t have the chance to do much about it, though, except to wake him up with what is probably a syringe full of adrenaline, which seems to be out of Pulp Fiction. Bill Daly isn’t able to communicate, but it looks like a bug is crawling under Daly’s skin, reminding me of scenes in The Mummy.

Cal, although stuck at home, connects with Angelina in the airplane. He is not happy to see her. He also learns that by sitting in a passenger's seat, he can access their Callings – and apparently they seem to lose access to them. This seems like it will make it difficult for Michaela to get outside again, as she can hardly follow a Calling without any information, and they're not about to let Director Zimmer know that Cal is alive, well, really tall, and has special abilities.

At the end of the previous episode, after we saw Daly, I wondered what had happened to Fiona. Well, Cal, thanks to a Calling, finds her in a barn near the crash site, using an Über to get there. I guess Cal doesn't know how to drive, and besides, we learned that they sold the car.

The people running the detention center can't seem to make up their minds if they want to keep the passengers sedated or awake. Anyway, after Saanvi wakes up Daly, the officials go to his room. He tries to communicate, but when he opens his mouth, lots of bugs – looks like locusts! – swarm out. This seems rather Biblical.

Title musings: “Bug Out” is the title of the episode. In aviation, the phrase refers to a maneuver in flight. From Wikipedia: “An unloaded extension is a disengagement (bug out) maneuver often used by the pilot whenever there is enough energy and separation. The maneuver consists of slipping into a steep, straight dive and applying full thrust.” In other words, in the Manifest, a lot of tension and excitement. Most people know it also means to leave quickly – to flee – like a bug skittering out of the way. Michaela is like a bug trapped in the detention center, getting out for the day. But the most obvious reference is to the bugs that fly out of Daly’s mouth at the end.

Bits and pieces

Matt Langdon, as Zeke, shakes his head a lot. I don’t care for the gesture.

We get a new sort of rule. Zeke cannot tell Michaela about the future.

Note that a way to get over some depressions – not all! – is to get to work. Getting outside again helps Michaela a lot.

Polly goes very quickly from not telling anyone she is pregnant to telling everyone she is pregnant. I thought that was weird.

A bloody apple is associated with Angelina. I understand why there would be blood, but I don't get the apple.

Manifest did a great job casting a younger brother for Jared. Luis looks just like Jared, only younger.

Olive and Eden are both conveniently off-screen in this episode.


Steve: Cal, I wish I could stay and keep you company, but I gotta go to work. My 22-year-old boss, who goes by "Pooter," is considering putting me in charge of the frozen food section.
Cal: I hate that you had to go back to work to help support us. And I hate that I can't work at all. I wanna help out. I wanna go out.
Steve: Cal. You are unique, even among 828ers. You have to be careful. I cannot lose another family member to that godforsaken place.

Zeke: You know what's really crazy? I was at JFK the night 828 was supposed to return, driving my cab.
Michaela: How do you not remember that?
Zeke: I was doing airport pickups pretty much every day. I mean, by the time 828 was in the headlines, I couldn't remember exactly where I'd been. But from here, I see it all. All the "almosts" we had.

Michaela: So you're just gonna let me walk out the door – you chipped me, didn't you? That's barbaric. You can't.
Jared: Seriously?
Director Zimmer: An insurance policy. If you aren't back in this room by 5:00 p.m., Calling solved or not, you'll never see the other side of that wall again.

Overall rating

A solid episode, entertaining, moving the situation along, but without real philosophical epiphanies. Three out of four Lithuanian lagers.

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

1 comment:

  1. Victoria, Polly used the fake trip down the stairs to give Ben & Saanvi a chance to sneak in line. By announcing her pregnancy, she distracted everyone.

    I knew that older man in the antique store was going to end up being a bad guy,, but I didn’t realize how much of a creep he really was. That scene between Joe and Charlie got to me too. It was really sweet.


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