Exxers Gon’ Give It To Ya
It was bound to happen sooner or later but this week unfortunately sees our fears manifest – NBC’s sci-fi mystery is back to soapy melodrama again and this time it looks set to stick. Between Olive’s woes with her family and the imminent love triangle for Michaela involving Zeke and his wife Courtney, Manifest abandons any hope of delivering answers with the answers pushed down in favour of propping up the ensuing soap opera and even more questions.
After a flashback involving Olive and a tarot reader, we cut back to her in the present at the Cult, where someone begins smashing up tables. This makes mainstream news too, which Ben winds up watching as he and TJ look into the origins of the peacock symbols on the watch. Midway through, Ben has a Calling as a whispering voice tells him to “save her”.
Michaela arrives at the smashed up church and implores Isaiah to help. He refuses to open up though, remaining guarded, prompting Michaela to speak to their leader Adrian instead. She pleads with him to help, telling him things could get worse and more people could get hurt if the “exxers” strike again. Adrian simply shrugs it off though and continues to spew details about miracles.
Meanwhile the Doctor runs tests on Grace’s baby after she was attacked earlier in the episode, as she and Ben believe the Calling is in reference to their unborn child. It’s even more evident when they learn they’re actually having a girl. At the station, Vasquez and Michaela try to get along but things are tense, to say the least, especially as the conversation turns to Zeke.
Zeke, as it happens, starts therapy before heading off to see Courtney and apologising for what happened between them in the past. She wishes him luck sticking with the program and seemingly leaves his life until she re-appears at the end of the episode at his door, hinting at a love triangle to come.
Before we get there however, Michaela sifts through the security footage and finds a possible suspect; a man named Walter. She calls him into the station and is convinced he has something to do with the beatings. Olive arrives at the station soon after and speaks to Michaela about the Church of the Believers, admitting that she was there that day and a definite witness.
Things get worse for Walter too as Olive recognises him as one of the men responsible. With a witness to back her up, Michaela hounds Walter for information and manages to find the location of the “Exxers” and organises a raid. Unfortunately, she finds nothing there which prompts the Captain to question her judgment while Michaela realizes they have a leak at the police.
Back home, Ben and Grace berate Olive for joining the Cult, with Ben of course blaming himself until Grace finds the watch with the peacock and realizes she’s seen it before. This happens to be one of the cards the tarot reader at the start of the episode presented to her. Grace interprets it as meaning hope and a way out of the Death Day rather than another grim sign. As the episode closes out, Ben heads to the Church and threatens Adrian to stay away from Olive.
One of the biggest problems with Manifest is just how few answers we’ve actually received across the entire span of a season and a half now. 21 episodes in we’re no closer to finding out what happened to the plane, what the deal is with the Death Day, how the Cult play into this and just why everyone is receiving a Calling. Even worse, this episode actually abandons some of the built-up tension last episode with Dr Lee’s missing research, failing to address any of that in favour of an upcoming love triangle, more soapy family drama and of course, even more questions.
Don’t get me wrong though, there is a vocal group that absolutely love this about Manifest and I’ll admit, I quite like a good familial drama if it’s handled well. However, the more pressing sci-fi and mystery elements (which ironically got eyeballs on this in the first place) fall by the wayside for a much more formulaic drama that lacks the same intensity and allure one may expect from such an intriguing concept. Of course, this may change going forward but this week answers nothing and does nothing to push the story forward beyond the vague assumption that Olive has a little more involvement in the mystery than we initially thought.