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Manifest: Ghost Plane

Nina: “I came to say goodbye. I hope you see your daughter soon.”
Angelina: “I already have. And you were right. I know what I have to do now.”

That’s more like it! This episode features two familiar bad guys, and that always juices up an episode.

One of the villains is Eagan Tehrani. This character always brings a lot to a scene, mostly because his dialogue is consistently witty and because Eagan is so completely out for himself. Anyway, despite being stuck in the detention center, Eagan has figured out how to scam friends of passengers by selling them access – although access is actually free – but then it backfires as his partner in crime scams his own parents.

The grift is discovered through a Calling. The Calling does not come to Eagan; instead, it comes to Ben. Ben is still confined to the detention center – although in this episode he’s much more Zen about it than he has been in the past, perhaps a result of his deciding to commit himself as a captain of the lifeboat. Ben reports the Calling as honestly as he can to the powers that be. He, however, is not allowed to leave the detention center. The chipped Michaela is sent out with Jared.

The Calling leads Michaela and Jared to a marina and Eagan’s parents. They discover that Eagan’s mother has pretended to steal her own money in order to get access to her son. This leads to a sort of rapprochement between Eagan and his parents. We even see a d├ętente between Eagan and Ben. Eagan has always resented Ben. Possibly he felt life was unfair, as Ben’s position in society was higher despite Eagan's being more intelligent (at least Eagan thinks he's more intelligent). Ben, who is not just out for himself – OK, his family comes first, but he’ll make an effort to help others (to hammer this point in this episode, Ben’s always looking out for the older man called Russ). Given their history, Ben is much kinder to Eagan than he deserves. In this case, at the end, Eagan has reconnected with his parents and has displayed a little bit of unselfishness, leaving a piece of cheesecake with Ben and an extra milk carton with Ben. Small offerings, but that's what's available when you're locked up.

The Eagan storyline is entertaining because he’s always so much fun. The less fun but much more dramatic storyline involves Angelina and the Stone kids. Cal discovered Fiona hidden in a barn and has brought her home. But Fiona, who just went through a plane crash, is not doing well. In a cool use of his abilities, Cal generates a Calling in which he shows Fiona to Saanvi and Saanvi guides him through emergency surgery. It’s great how he loses the connection when things become too intense and he has to reestablish it. Anyway, the insertion of a sort of straw (made of what? Metal?) is really cool and I am glad that no one is likely to ask me to perform that surgery, ever.

Cal sees other things on the ghost plane: namely olive trees and even some olives that he brings back to the reality plane. Amazingly, our Olive can see the olives as well. This reminds me of the story of Noah, and how a dove flew back to the ark with the branch of an olive tree, a sign that the waters were receding.

Luna Blaise, who plays Olive, has double duty in this episode (which might be why she was off in the previous episode). She has to play the real Olive Stone and then a version in which Angelina pretends to be her. Angelina proves how awful and self-centered she is when she reproaches the homeless kid Nina for leaving her when the little girl gets an offer to go live with her uncle. Then she is even creepier when she uses Eden to murder Fiona. Nina, who has been manipulated by Angelina, finally looks dubious as Angelina announces that it is her duty to murder two witnesses to bring on the end of times.

Abilities are neither bad nor good; what matters is how you use them. Cal uses his ability to save a life while Angelina uses hers to kill someone, in the process involving a kid she views as her own daughter. But I still wonder about the morality, especially if we’re considering outcome-based morality when the whole world is at stake. Daly has been inflicting plagues on the detention center: locusts and then boils which killed two of the guards. Are plagues good or bad? They sure feel bad, although Olive reinterprets them as she points out Moses was considered good, at least in the Bible. Probably the Egyptians had a different opinion. Angelina is getting her instructions from the Bible, so is she good or bad?

Back in the detention center, the characters have trouble getting any answers given the lack of trust. Director Zimmer does not trust the passengers. Saanvi does not trust the director, because she locked them up. So no progress is made – even though Saanvi points out she knows Daly has been found – as Zimmer operates by the numbers.

So many tantalizing clues! Olive recognizes the insect as a locust and says that Grandma Stone used to always say may a plague of locusts be upon you. I still wonder if Karen Stone is behind all of this.

Title musings: “Ghost plane” is the title of the episode. In aviation, this refers to a plane that is flying despite being nearly empty. “Ghost plane” is also a phrase used to refer to a country using this sort of flight to move around prisoners or others that the country doesn’t want to be detected. And, as I do lots of math in real life, I must point out that plane refers to a two-dimensional flat level surface, but despite the fact that Ben is a math professor don’t see much of it here. Merriam-Webster lists a third definition, “a level of existence, consciousness, or development.” The title works on many levels, although the mathematical definition could be less so. We have Cal visiting an empty plane. We also have the level of consciousness for the divine or for manipulation is being exhibited by both Cal and Angelina, as Cal learns to do surgery and Angelina gets Fiona to kill for her, which is sort of ghost-like. We have all the people who are trying to behave like ghosts in the system, such as hiding Fiona from the authorities. The title is excellent.

Bits and pieces

I have wondered why Manifest gave Olive the name Olive. Perhaps she is a witness and Manifest considered using that tree and the Bible verse more than they did.

During the pandemic, many nearly-empty planes were flown in order to preserve airline landing slots, a practice that makes sense when there’s plenty of competition but which was very wasteful during the worst of the covid era.

Why didn’t they just call Cal’s doctor, Alex Bates, to get help with Fiona in person? Guess it’s not as quick as Calling 911.

I think it’s interesting that Manifest chose an extinct locust. According to accounts, the rocky mountain locust went from being a pest in huge numbers to extinct. Exactly why is not known, but most theories include drastic changes to their habitat.

Locusts always swarm and they fly further, unlike grasshoppers, which are more solitary and which are more likely to hop instead of to fly.

Poor Francesca Faridany, the actor who plays Fiona Clarke. Except for some flashbacks, she’s made up to look sickly and to lie around in this and then she’s murdered without getting to speak.

Gupta is mentioned, so I expect we’ll see her again.

Director Zimmer keeps saying that she’s operating the detention center by the numbers, which in this case means following the rules, but seems to make numbers sound bad. I like numbers. Ben, as a mathematician, should like them too.

Jared creates a flat tire so that Michaela can take a run. This reminds us of the time when Michaela created a flat tire in order to excuse staying awhile near the place where some of the passengers were being held. As someone who has recently dealt with some flat tires, they are more convincing when they occur in the tread and not the side.


Cheryl: Have you been eating gluten again? You look a bit bloated.
Eagan: Plexiglass adds ten pounds. At least they know how to make a guy feel good.
Cheryl: So sensitive lately. Maybe I shouldn't visit you as much.
Eagan: We both know you love these visits just as much as I do. Without them, you'd be broke...nhearted.

Michaela: This is Ben's Calling? He has just as much experience solving them as I do. He could be a vital asset if you put him out in the field.
Director Zimmer: I'm sure every passenger considers themselves a vital asset, yet this remains a detention center. We operate by the numbers.

Olive: We weren't expecting her until the 23rd. We had three plans. We went with plan B.
Ben: Just leave her on the couch until we figure out where to put her next. How is she? That was a long trip. She must have some interesting things to say about it.
Olive: Not really in a talking mood. She's just zoned out on the couch.
Ben: Interesting. Her travel buddy just landed in DC. I'd love to talk to him, but he's not feeling that well himself. Are you trying him "daily?"

Olive: That's not a grasshopper. That reminds me of what grandma used to say when she got really mad. "May a plague of locusts fall upon you."

Nazir: You are our heart, son. No matter what you do, we are bound to you. Your mother reminded me of this today.
Eagan puts his hand on the glass, but his father does not respond.
Nazir: Not yet. I'm still pissed at you.
Eagan: You hear that? He said, "Yet."

Overall rating

The episode keeps you watching, as it turns little Eden into an accomplice to murder and Eagan into a more complex and sympathetic character. It also raises so many questions that I fear getting answers to all will prove impossible. Despite my many questions, I was entertained. Three and a half out of four unripe olives.

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

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