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Manifest: Why This Show is Taking Off

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Manifest has been compared to Lost, but it’s already flying higher. 

Manifest is a new American drama television series, created by Jeff Rake (Boston Legal, The Tomorrow People) and Hollywood heavyweight Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump). The series centers on the passengers and crew of a commercial airliner who experience some extremely life-altering circumstances, and has a strong, but relatively untried cast.

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Manifest’s fledgling cast. Source: NBC

Imagine boarding a plane from Jamaica, landing a few hours later in New York, just to be told upon arrival that you and everyone on board have been missing and presumed dead for the past five-and-a-half years. From your perspective, no time has passed, but for everyone not on the plane, the world has continued to move forward. This is the whole gist of Manifest. Only three episodes have aired so far, but the show has already garnered comparisons to Lost, and while there are similarities, it’s clear Manifest is carving out a unique lane of its own.

Here’s a few other reasons why you should check it out…

It’s not your average family drama.
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The Stone Family. Souce: NBC

No one wants to deal with family drama in their own lives, but if done right, it makes for great TV, and Manifest seems to have done so. Though 191 people were aboard flight 828, the show revolves mostly around the Stone family, particularly 30-something brother and sister, Ben and Michaela, as well as Ben’s son 9-year-old, Cal, who has Leukemia. Those three ended up on flight 828, after the opportunity for Ben’s wife, daughter, (who is Cal’s twin) mother, and father to stay behind—which would have granted them plane vouchers that could be used for Cal’s treatment—arose.

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By the time Ben and Michaela landed, their mother, who’d been in perfect health, had passed away. Moreover, both of the adult sibling’s significant others had moved on. In Michaela’s case, her fiance had married her best friend. And Ben’s wife has also moved on, though he doesn’t find out right away. As for Cal, his sister is now a teenage girl, who towers over him, while he’s remained the same age. Not to mention there’s been a medical breakthrough, which may end up curing his Leukemia, but he may not qualify for the trial.

You’ll have to find out what happened to that plane!
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The plane mysteriously explodes after the incident. Source: NBC

The Stone’s family issues may be prevalent, but the central conflict is based on just what happened on that airplane. Naturally, government officials waste no time in questioning various members who were onboard, looking for answers. It would seem, so far at least, that no one genuinely knows what happened, or why everyone disappeared for five years. What’s even more peculiar is the fact that we may be dealing with a sentient plane because, as twenty of the survivors return to the airport where the plane is being held, it spontaneously combusts. It’s clear that, someone, or perhaps, something doesn’t want anyone poking around yet for answers. That point is amplified after a woman, who implies to the press that she believes the government was involved in the plane’s disappearance, is murdered by a mysterious shadow in her own apartment.

The burning question is WHAT CAUSED ALL THIS? And the need to know will keep you coming back for more. Let’s hope they deliver a bit better in the ‘big reveal’ than Lost ever did.

Manifest has a supernatural element.
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Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) now has abilities. Source: NBC

Soon after flight 828 landed, Michaela, who’s a cop, started hearing voices inside of her head. Actually, she started hearing her own voice inside her head. Most people would call those thoughts, but given the mystery surrounding the flight, it would be naive to assume it’s as innocent as that, especially when “her” voice eventually leads her to the rescue of two little girls who had been abducted. The source of her ability has yet to be revealed, but it’s clear that it’s as connected to the flight, as some of the passengers are to each other. Ironically, or perhaps, miraculously (depending on what you believe) the doctor whose research inspired the cure that may heal Cal of his cancer, was also onboard flight 828. Interestingly, this number – 28 – shows up several times over the pilot, including a bible verse, Roman 8:28. It was also part of the address where the kidnapped girls were located.

Is it science causing all this, or is it something else entirely? Are they going to get biblical on us?

It’s still too early to tell whether or not Manifest will have the impact of Lost, which ran for six seasons. As intriguing as the premise is, the pacing needs to pick up a notch. The premiere did bring in 10.3 million viewers for NBC, and the ratings remain quite solid, so it’s clear people are still waiting it out to see what actually happened to flight 828. Manifest definitely has America hooked, and contrary to what many critics are saying, this new series is well worth giving a shot.

Manifest airs every Monday night on NBC.

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