Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Manifest is a TV series based on a mysterious plane disappearance of Flight 828. The show takes its name from the manifest of a plane: the passenger list on flights. The pilot episode of the show was, by far, one of the best pilots I have seen and one of the best episodes on the whole show; it was short and snappy, just as every opening should be.
The beginning of the show introduces the main characters: Michaela, her brother Ben, his wife, Grace, their twins, Cal and Olivia, Mich’s fiance, and their parents. It starts with Mich narrating who her family are and revealing the hidden issues that lie deep within. It then escalates when Mich, Ben and Cal board another flight home to NY after their originally scheduled flight was overbooked, thus marking the start of their problems.
After boarding the plane, it’s a typical, normal flight. However, after take off incredibly heavy turbulence affects the plane, causing baggage to fall, passengers to fear for their lives and ultimately, a whole load of absolute craziness onboard.
The pilot is the most interesting character in this scene, because when they land the landing he helps to tie up all the events so well speaking with officers and the police who show up on the runway eerily stating, “You’ve all been missing or presumed dead for 5 and a half years”. This line, easily the best lines in the whole show, which is often circled back to, is also in Seasons 2 and 3.
Upon arrival to NY, passengers are left confused and tense, with officers conducting interviews on each of the them, and more so the pilot than anyone else because, of course, they would suspect there’s been some kind of altercation, attack or, even worse, terrorist involved.
However, nothing is too suspicious for Michaela, a cop, who seems to understand the situation well enough and comes to the conclusion that they’ve already suspected some passengers and have everyone on a list.
Despite the huge epic opening, though, everything seems to fall short in the next few seasons. Season 1 was probably the best, but the show was not renewed by CBS during the production of S2 and S3, hence the terrible storytelling.
As to be expected in a series, characters transition and grow throughout their time on the show, but unfortunately for some they remain far behind any sort of transitional phrase. The most annoying character this happens to is Ben, who’s too consumed in this mass hysteria of Flight 828 and the ominous callings he experiences afterwards (that he deems as being from God), that in his attempts to protect his family he actually ends up deeply hurting them and causing more pain and frustration. The only good outcome is that the characters realise he’s way in over his head and constantly reiterate this to him, which seems useful, at least most of the time. Another problem is that some characters' dismissal wasn’t properly explained, and this was quite strange. All in all, Season 2 and 3 are very complex and confusing series.