A Hollow Victory
One of the best parts of Manifest’s previous episode came from the losses sustained as a result of the conflicted morals from our characters. It added some real tension and elevated what was otherwise an exciting episode into the stand-out chapter for this second season. Well, be prepared to be disappointed. Manifest throws all that good work out the window for an episode that sees a familiar face return unscathed and offers little substance during this 40 minute episode of pointless reflection.
Episode 8 of Manifest begins with Ben experiencing flashbacks, trapped in a burning building. The next day, in the aftermath of the fire, firemen find another charred body and this prompts the FBI to begin looking into the Church Of The Believers more closely. While they do, Michaela heads to Ben’s and gives Olive the bad news – they found the charred remains of a body and believe that this is TJ. The news hits Olive hard, who heads to her room alone.
In hospital, Zeke speaks to Saanvi and expresses his concerns, telling her he believes that he may be freezing to death but doesn’t fully understand how. She brings him into her lab and tells him she’s managed to cure the Callings. Zeke meanwhile, berates his own luck as the Death Day fast approaches.
Determined to figure out the meaning of the picture he found last episode, Ben heads into his study and looks again at the drawing, hearing choir singing in his head and believing it to be a new Calling. After dropping off flowers at the nightclub, he hears the singing again and finds himself at the Bushwick Meditation Center.
Back home he speaks to Olive, who tells him that TJ would have liked a proper tribute – a Buddhist send-off infact, which explains the chanting.
Michaela meanwhile, stakes out a bar and watches Vasquez leave. Believing there to be something more going on, she heads up to take a closer look and speaks to Vasquez’s new girlfriend. She offers them her help and after recording the entire conversation, she shows the evidence she’s obtained to the Captain, which in turn incriminates Vasquez.
After honouring TJ’s memory, Ben and Olive get up to leave but the chanting returns. Together, they head down to the basement and crawl through the tunnels, just as the chanting stops. They find TJ alive. They haul him to safety and at the hospital Ben relays on the good news to Michaela.
As the episode closes out, Michaela speaks to Zeke who tells her about Sannvi’s breakthrough cure for the visions, telling her he’s not giving up just yet.
Finishing this episode, you’ll likely be left with one big question. A question more important than anything else raised this season. What’s the point? What was the point of an entire episode dedicated to TJ’s memory only to find him safe and sound at the end? What is the point of this Vasquez sub-plot? And why should I care?
Given how much good TV there is out there, there’s no room for mediocre and even less room for a show like Manifest if it continues to deliver fake-out twists like this. It feels disingenuous to last episode’s high-stakes and losses, bringing with it a new wave of disdain for this show that’s taken its sweet time to get to any answers or wrap anything up.
While the rest of the season is likely to advance the plot somewhat, giving 30 minutes to mourn the loss of TJ only to then find him safe and uharmed discredits the entire episode’s premise and point of reflection, giving a real hollow meaning to the show. Perhaps Manifest will pull out all the stops and deliver a showstopper of a second half. Maybe the show will kick into high gear and deliver some big action set pieces. Whatever it does, it needs to do something because at this rate Manifest will turn away audiences hungry for decent entertainment.