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Manifest Season 3 Episode 1 Tailfin Review- Season 3 Opens With Enormous Promise

The 828’ers are back with new mysteries and the same old problems. Manifest Season 3 Episode 1 lets us know there will be turbulence.

Shooting a large ensemble cast during Covid is challenging. Keeping all the plates spinning in the air is nothing short of a Herculean effort. Manifest Season 3 opens on schedule by utilizing multiple locations and clever plot beats. That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of togetherness for our cast. It’s just that they are paired up a little more, which makes for more complex storylines. Manifest Season 3 Episode 1 is off to a great start. It is back with more conspiracies, more spirituality, and lots more intrigue.

Ben Stone, who lets face facts, has turned into the math world’s version of Indiana Jones has flown to Cuba to locate and haul back the tailfin from the Montego Air Flight 828 found at the end of Season 2. It’s been several months since we saw our group, and after the nearly catastrophic ending of the season, things have been relatively smooth sailing. Constant callings no longer plague the group; in fact, Zeke doesn’t have them at all. Cal is no longer having visions of 3 shadows, aka the meth heads, and Saanvi has reestablished her research even if she struggles with mountain-sized guilt.

When last we saw Saanvi and Vance, she was reeling from killing The Major, and he was covertly running a side operation to help our group. Vance has set up shop in the back of Bronx MD Urgent care. Not only is the space inconspicuous, but it allows Saanvi a place to continue her research and earn back some good karma.

Ben and the tailfin

It sounds like a name to an 80s pop band, but there wasn’t anything sunny about this storyline despite the gorgeous Cuban setting. He arrived in Cuba with 10,000 dollars and Vance’s backup. Ben located the San Antonio who found the tailfin in the closing moments of Season 2. He also begins to have a vision that Mich and Cal share. His “callings” now are part explosive harbingers and terrifying screams. The images this time are chilling. These aren’t symbolically vague pictures, but fiery crashes and strange black and white digitized negatives that feel as negative as they look.

In between the new horrifying “callings” and locating the tailfin, Ben managed to get thrown across the room and knocked out when he touched the plane. Touching the plane gave him another vision of the three stones screaming plus the mysterious fourth woman. It also oddly left him with a shimmery hand. Why did the tailfin affect him that way, and what does it mean? Ben speculates that they all died in an actual plane crash, and something brought them back. He doesn’t know for what purpose and who did it, but he thinks this piece of the plane was part of the original plane that blew up.

Unfortunately, before Ben, Vance, and his associate can leave with the tailfin, the Cuban police chase them down, and Ben is forced to leave Vance behind. Considering we know this tailfin is very important, I doubt it takes long for Vance to negotiate his release. He should arrive stateside with the tailfin soon.

Manifest Season 3 Episode 1
MANIFEST — “Tailfin” Episode 301 — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone, Matt Long as Zeke Landon — (Photo by: NBC)

Zeke, Michaela and Angelina

Manifest Season 3 Episode 1 opens with beautiful beaches. Zeke and Michaela have been enjoying an extended honeymoon in Costa Rica, that is until the group “calling” sucked Mich back in. Regardless of who sent the “callings,” the one thing Michaela knows for sure is there are consequences to ignoring them. Zeke has a second or third chance at life, and Michaela is an altruist. She can’t help herself. It is why she became a cop. She needs to help people. The new “calling” sends her and Zeke looking for a scared girl.

The last time anyone saw the girl was shortly after all of the 828’ers returned. She came from a deeply religious family who was not as pleased to find her experience on the plane changed her. When Zeke and Mich question her parents, they indicated that she was different. She had “lost God’s light.” They tell Zeke and Mich that one day she took her passport and left. They assumed she returned to New York. Angelina’s parents did not act concerned even after Mich told them she was worried Angelina was in trouble.

A second trip back to the house gives Mich and Zeke a chance to work together and find Angelina. Mich asked to use the restroom, and while she was gone, Zeke fainted convincingly. He is no longer getting the “callings,” but he seems to be in tune with Mich. That is an interesting new angle for them to explore. Melissa Roxburgh(Michaela) and Zeke(Matt Long) have an easy chemistry that this type of connection could play with nicely. Michaela searched the house and found Angelina locked in a small room. Since the Meyer’s had to call an ambulance for Zeke, they couldn’t cover up Angelina’s rescue.

The girl from 24D is headed back home with the Stones just as Cal predicted. She plays a pivotal role in Manifest Season 3, so consider her the new TJ. What part she will play in this greater conspiracy we don’t know yet. She has been through a lot, but I doubt her parents are the worst of her problems. Her friend Elana said she was paranoid after returning. Who might have been chasing her? Was it The Major’s group or yet another opportunistic organization?

The Major and the three drug dealers

The Major continues to trouble the group. Saanvi may have killed her(or at least thought she did), but that doesn’t mean her influence is gone. Her daughter is looking for her and engaging Michaela’s ex-partner Jared and Michaela’s new partner, Drea. At this point, there are too many loose ends to keep everything contained. Even Vance may not be able to cover all of this up. This plot beat is intriguing because the Major’s specter continues to loom, but it also allows Ellen Tamaki(Drea) and J.R. Ramirez(Jared) to stay involved. Both are gifted actors that bring a more grounded energy to the sometimes flighty series.

The meth heads are back. Of course, these three less than savory sorts survived the ice bath along with Zeke and Cal. Where they went and how they got back, we don’t know. Probably the even bigger question is why are they back? Others have died and stayed dead, but these three were brought back for some greater purpose Manifest is only beginning to reveal. Cal is insistent that he isn’t having nightmares anymore, but he does say he is feeling the same level of fear. With Ben now questioning whether they were all resurrected, it raises serious questions about angels and demons. If some were brought back for good, it would be reasonable to assume others are employed to fight on the other side. What do they want? What is the point of this looming battle of good and evil?

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Manifest Season 3 Episode 1 hasn’t lost any of the magic of the previous two seasons. The formula of smaller callings coupled with larger mysteries works. It works great, to be honest. It’s simple, give Michaela something to investigate, allow Cal to draw pictures and worry boyishly, let Sannavi pensively try to solve the 828’ers callings, and have handsome Ben gallivant from one improbable situation to the next. It shouldn’t work, but it does. We will have to wait and watch Season 3 unfold. Follow all our Manifest coverage and theory cast here.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Spirituality continues to play a significant role in Manifest. Even with characters who are less inclined to believe in God or higher powers, something is humming just below the surface. Some believe they were brought back for redemption. Others think it is to right wrongs and prevent tragedies, while others think the 828’ers are demons sent from Hell. It is why the terrorists last year wanted to corner and kill all of them in the club, and it is why Angelina’s parents locked her in a room.
  • Olive and Grace are back to having not much to do beyond drive Cal around. Grace’s stepbrother, Luke Cage’s Warner Miller, reluctantly helps the family later in the season, and that should set off some major fireworks.
  • Cal is looking noticeably older. At some point, we may have to have a time jump that allows for his increasingly more mature look.
  • I’m referring to Ben as Indiana Stone from now on.