Giving as many answers as questions, Manifest introduces us to Danny and becomes steeped in even more religious iconography with the introduction of the weeping angels.
Before Episode 4 even began I knew Danny might be special. When we got our first look at the enigmatic Danny, Grace’s love interest while Ben was in the airline version of the “Upside Down” in last week’s trailer I knew this was not some dude that would just go quietly into that good night. For one he’s handsome as hell and two this is a great actor who a lot of people may not know, but are soon to appreciate. If you were a fan of FX’s Rescue Me(and you should have been) he played Franco Rivera and the underappreciated USA series Graceland where he played team leader Paul Briggs. He brings an intense likability that conveys both compassion and intelligence to every role. This will not be a “hit it and quit it” love affair for Grace but a real contender for the throne that Prince Charming is fighting to maintain.
Almost as interesting as the mystery swirling around our 828’s, the home drama that is Grace and Ben’s marriage is shaping up for something other than a slow motion train wreck waiting to happen. The close relationship Olive and Danny seem to have is very interesting and spells nothing but trouble for Ben. For this show to succeed we need far more of this situation fleshed out instead of just hinting at problems while Mich runs around saving people.
This week Mich and Saanvi again got the calling to save someone. This time it was another member of the 828 club that until now had been hidden in the shadows. A stowaway who was escaping Jamaica to be with his boyfriend the cousin of the flight attendant. As usual, Michaela is all in and diving headlong into any and all situations involving voices and visions that are in her head. Her act first strategy to life is getting Jared in trouble and making cautious Ben crazy, however.
The old adage look before you leap was never truer here as she runs head-long into an undercover sting operation blowing months if not years of preparation. An angelic stone statue is leaving wet footprints everywhere and in general scaring the crap out of gal pals Saanvi and Michaela. Per usual for this show the person who needs saving gets rescued through some sort of twisty serendipity, Grace and Ben get close to reconciling before the rug gets pulled out from under them, Ben reminds us he’s a math genius by calculating compounding interest on a wipe board(doesn’t take a math whiz to do that dude), Olive acts like a petulant teenager, and Jared says some creepy things to Michaela even though he’s married to her best friend Lourdes.
In the trailer for next week we are treated to another cliffhanger of sorts in the way of some kind of connection board. Who did it and why, are the mystery du jour for next week I guess. I’m all for formulaic story-telling but at this point things are feeling less smart and enigmatic and more desperate. The Weeping Angel was a nice touch though. For hard-core science fiction fans and art historians, the angels are important beings.
What exactly is a Weeping Angel? It is far more than just a convenient landmark for Mich and company to pinpoint. They are a terrifying race of evil beings from Dr. Who. They feed off the energy of people’s lost potential. That sounds confusing but the long story short of it is, they send people back in time to before they were born and then suck the energy left behind by the wasted potential of their life. In a pinch they can also leach energy from electrical sources. They can control time and memories when fully charged(sound familiar) and are more metaphysical than physical in nature. They are “quantum locked” when observed. That’s just a fancy way of saying they look and act like stone when watched. They can not move. When not watched they are powerful and lightning fast.
This has an interesting tie-in to quantum theory, specifically that of Schrodinger’s Cat. That part thought experiment/part quantum mechanics lesson posits that something is both dead and alive until observed to be one or the other. The Angels are both stone statues and living creatures depending on if they are being watched. More odd still the name Weeping Angel was given to the hacking tool invented and exploited by the CIA and MI6 to spy on people through their smart tv’s. The 2017 Wikileaks dump gave us this gem among others proving once again you can’t trust the government. With the shady government agency element this might be more important than we thought.
The referenced statue itself is the masterpiece by LGBT artist Emma Stebbins and is called Angel of the Waters. It is widely associated with the moving play by Tony Kushner Angels in America and is located in New York City in Central Park. In the play it is a symbol for healing. With Cal’s cancer and Saanvi’s chosen profession there is certainly a heaping dose of healing involved in Manifest. More importantly the concept that the statue sits atop a fountain and in fact stands in the water is the more relevant fact. Rigid time constructs have in the past led us to view time as an unforgiving forward-moving line as opposed to a fluid dimension all its own. The thought-provoking USA science fiction drama Falling Waters demonstrates that dream states and conceptual understanding have more to do with the nature of time.
With so many nods to science fiction and religious symbolism you would think this was another Lost. Manifest is not. It is its own beast. As a far-reaching ambitious story, it has some kinks to work out but if writer/creator Jeff Rake can focus the mystery and embrace the human element this might turn out to be a lasting show and not just one more sci-fi series for the scrap heap.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.