Manifest Season 1 Episode 1 Recap – Pilot
Published 2 years ago
So I’m sure you know about the hit show Manifest. It’s got a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 9.4 on IMDb — pretty impressive for a sci-fi show, right?
I will not go into the details because no one cares about that stuff except those who watch shows like this. But the gist of it is: a plane disappears mid-flight, then five years later, they all come back — only they aren’t who they were when they left. They’ve been gone for five years, and everyone they knew, all their connections have moved on without them. They have to pick up the pieces of what’s left of their lives while helping people in need. You know, save people from burning buildings or something like that.
But here’s the catch: there’s a voice in each one’s head sounding like their own telling them what to do at a certain point in time. The voice has knowledge coming out of nowhere—knowledge that makes them think they’re helping strangers when in reality, they might not be doing anything good at all. It’ll just keep telling them “do this” until they do it despite how hard and whatever the result may become.
Don’t you just love when a show starts with an immediate situation pulling you in and makes you care? It’s precisely what the first episode of Manifest does.
Season one, episode one introduces the Stone family. Ben (Josh Dallas) and his wife Grace (Athena Karkanis) are at the airport with their twins Olive and Cal on April 7, 2013. Ben’s sister Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) narrates the events as she waits to board an aircraft. Karen (Geraldine Leer) and Steve (Malachy Cleary), Michaela and Ben’s parents relax in the boarding area, challenging Michaela about her boyfriend, Jared (J.R. Ramirez), and the fact she doesn’t want to get married yet. Michaela reveals Cal (Jack Messina) has leukemia and his parents are desperate to find a treatment that might help halt the disease’s progress and decrease his chances of getting killed by it. She also confesses she dreams about a car accident. Karen even quotes a favorite Bible verse: Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good.” The voice on the loudspeaker abruptly tells them there’ll be an overbooked flight with a substantial credit involved if anyone takes a later flight. Michaela, Ben, and Cal jump on the chance. Michaela wants more time away from home. Ben wants more money to help pay for Cal’s treatments. Cal wants time with Dad. They take Montego Air Flight 828.
Suddenly, the plane starts dropping rapidly. There is a high-pitched whine that could only be described as an airplane screamer—those sounds you can make when you run your hands along with the wings of an airplane, making a noise. It lasts for about a minute, and the plane seems to drop the whole time. The captain says it’s turbulence resulting from a weather surge that was not on the radar. He assures everyone the engine and controls are okay.
They successfully surpass the sky of New York City. Upon safe landing, the passengers and crew are no closer to understanding what happened in their five-year gap. The NSA has taken over the investigation. They’ve interviewed each passenger and crew member, but there’s something strange about their stories. When asked about where they were for the past five years, every one of them said they were on a plane. How is that possible?
Meanwhile, Ben Stone reunites with his family. His daughter Olive (Luna Blaise) is now fifteen years old, but his son Cal is still the same age when they left their house; he’s learning to navigate his new reality as a father of two teenagers. He’s also trying to understand why he couldn’t grow old with his wife, Grace. Michaela Stone is coming to terms with her own tragedy: Karen died while she was gone; she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. She finds comfort in her mother’s last words: Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good.”
Michaela borrows Grace’s phone. Grace brings down some pillows. When she tries to call Jared, she is directed to his voicemail. Before Grace heads upstairs, Michaela reassures her she’ll be out of their house as soon as she can. Grace soothes Michaela’s concerns and misgivings about herself, telling her their reunion is an opportunity for a second chance. Michaela suddenly hears her own voice speaking to her, saying, “All things.”
Later, Michaela returns to the precinct, asking if her previous position is still available. She sees Jared and learns he’s been promoted to detective currently working on a case involving two abducted girls.
Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) happily reunites with her parents, who are relieved to have her back and well. Saanvi is excited to get back to her research. She tries to tell Dr. Cardoso (one of her colleagues) about it, but he laughs and tells her they’ve been using it for three years, treating cancer patients. Ben Stone meets her daughter, stunned to see how much she has grown. His daughter has been seeing a therapist for several years now because of what happened five years ago. Meanwhile, Michaela hears her own voice again saying, “Set them free,” as she passes by dogs behind fences, barking. Ben admits he hears his own voice, but he hasn’t figured out what they mean yet.
Ben rips the chains; the gates open. Surprisingly, the dogs’ violent barking ceased. Then the dogs go out, not harming Ben and Michaela. The sibling’s felony is reported to Jared the following day; Jared confronts Michaela about it. She deflects his question. Instead, a torrent of pain and remorse pours forth from her mouth. She makes a list of everything she’s lost in the five years she’s been gone. She still feels guilty, as if she killed Evie in the vehicle accident. Jared scoops her up in his arms, but he is adamant why they burst open the fence. Finally, he persuades Michaela to accompany him to save her career.
Meanwhile, Saanvi attends a conference where doctors choose candidates for her research’s treatment. Cal happens to be on the list by chance. But the doctors turn him down; he does not meet the treatment’s requirements because even if Cal hasn’t aged a day, Dr. Cardoso (Joel de la Fuente) still considers the time he went missing. Saanvi tries to vouch for Cal, but they still turn her down in the end. After the meeting, Saanvi personally consults Dr. Cardoso on the matter. Cardoso admits they’re in the middle of being bought by a big pharmaceutical company, and they can’t take in any risky patients. Saanvi continues to hold firm, exploiting her position as a researcher to have a voice in the situation.
Jared takes Michaela to surrender the dogs they freed. She hears the voice again, repeating the same message to set someone free. Jared heads in first. Michaela follows suit, responding instinctively as she listens to the voice. She walks through the yard, littered with trash, and discovers the dogs waiting in front of a locked shed. Jared and the dog’s owner arrive, seeing her unlock the door. She finds two girls inside as the door swings wide. Michaela screams. Jared ducks just in time, avoiding the dog owner’s attack.
After apprehending the criminal, Jared put in a good word for Michaela to their captain. Michaela expresses her gratitude. He admits she continues to take his breath away. But she chooses to walk away. Meanwhile, Ben and Grace stand by, watching as Cal receives the treatment for which Saanvi struggled. With tears in her eyes, Grace explains she felt rage for Ben for snatching whatever time she had left with Cal. But she understands it may have been the key to Cal’s survival all along.
As Ben is having dinner with his family, Grace excuses herself from their family game night and goes to the kitchen. She checks her phone; someone messages her if she has already told her husband. Their daughter Olive comes into the kitchen and asks her what she is going to do. Ben watches TV. He sees a news report about the two girls being rescued.
Later, he discovers Michaela in a chapel. She wonders aloud how he found her, to which he responds he simply knew. As they speak, they find out they may not be the only ones hearing voices among the passengers. True enough, a call is heard throughout New York by a select group of passengers.
Ben, Michaela, and the rest of the strangers make their way to the area where the NSA’s jet has been abandoned. The investigation was scheduled to be torn down piece by piece. The plane explodes, leaving no trace of the voyage as the party watches in disbelief.
Many people can’t wait to see the next episode of Manifest. And I’m not surprised because it had a lot to offer to start with the first episode. The show is about a flight returning to its origin after five years. The passengers are thought dead, but they are in an airport in New York City. There are stories of them meeting in the airport, but it doesn’t mean they were all on the same flight because some were from different parts of the world. So we get to see how the passengers get through their daily lives and why the plane disappeared for five years. Many questions are left unsaid at the end of this first episode, and I’m sure we all want more answers.
The cast did a fantastic job with their performances, especially Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, J.R. Ramirez, and Athena Karkanis. It was cool seeing them all work together to create an exciting and suspenseful story we can’t help but want more of! It’s a show about a family banding together during an extraordinary time at the end of the day. It will be exciting to watch how the events of their lives — and the world around them — will change these characters for better or worse as they move into the future.