{Television}Manifest Episode 6 ‘Off Radar’-Recap and Review

It’s all connected in a government conspiracy rich episode of Manifest that points a finger at Unified Dynamic Systems.

Manifest Episode 6 Off Radar Michael and Jared
Courtesy of NBC

In the world of Manifest, the government is just as bumbling as it seems, big corporations are just as evil as we assume they are, and marriages fall apart.  Its kind of like the real world.  Relationship drama and science fiction hokum mix to create a mystery that may be worth revealing.  A great deal was discovered this week without actually giving any concrete answers.  It was the Manifest version of Robert California(James Spade) of The Office,technique of talking a lot but not saying anything.  At first blush, we gained a lot of information.  Vance is just as clued out as our passengers. Cal is connected stronger than anyone else. There is a medical experimentation angle that someone from the government has sanctioned for unknown reasons. Grace is still really angry with Ben. Saanvi and Ben have killer chemistry as do Michaela and Jared. Everyone else aboard the flight is completely irrelevant.  For all that insight we had little story advancement.  Everyone is still in their respective ruts and we are no closer to finding out what happened on board the flight.

At a panel for the investigation of flight 828, it’s business as usual for the US government.  We get a whole lot of pontificating, even more posturing and very little actual results.  Sorry, it’s election day for us Americans and I’m feeling extra salty.  Cal has developed a mysterious fever in conjunction with a Bulgarian man who someone has taken hostage and is experimenting on in a secret lair.  Cal has also picked up a special skill by way of telepathy and a foreign language.  His “calling” is much stronger than the others probably because of his youth and he isn’t just being compelled to help others he is literally connected to everything they are going through.  For a child who is immunosupressed, this spells trouble.  As his body tries to fight the psychic onslaught, Grace and Ben fight to hold their marriage together.  I’m usually a very pro-marriage girl, but in this case, move over Grace and make room for Saanvi.

Grace claims she could believe just about anything from Ben and he is eager to share some of the burden with her.  Grace is not as ready as she initially argued, however as she shuts down Ben’s assertion right away and even provides a side of guilt about their relationship prior to the missing five years.  As Grandma Stone alluded to at the airport in episode one, their marriage was rocky.  Too much stress and too little communication has led to a situation where they were civil but not connected in any appreciable way.  They are two ships passing in the night–each lost in their own grief and worry–both sure they knew the best course of action.  This beat of realism grounds this enigmatic story.  We often see estrangement in cases of parental grief caused by death or prolonged illness.  The stress of the situation, uncertainty, and crushing potential loss are heady elixirs that pickle the brain and heighten emotions.  It would be normal for them to have these feelings even without the five and a half year absence. 

I don’t understand why it is necessary for Grace to be written as such a harpy.  There are ways of allowing her to have differences of opinion without being relegated to the sniping wife.  The shrillness in which Grace is being portrayed is not attractive.  Athena Karkanis is a quality actress that is being under-utilized.  She is excellent in the most recent season of House of Cards so the writers need to find a new lane for her immediately.  I get she needs to be out of the way for Saanvi and Ben to unite but the girl needs to chill.  The writers have taken the easy way out and given us a one-dimensional character that is so brittle and harsh it is hard to feel any sympathy for her.

Things are far different for Jared and Mic.  He is shaping up to be an ideal Girl Friday.  He seems willing to follow her to the ends of the earth(or at least Woodbury) with little more than a weak explanation.  She needs his help and protection.  Sure, he may protest briefly, but he’s still in love with her and quite frankly can’t say no.  Jared goes with her to find the missing fifth bus and discovers a well-guarded farm reminiscent of Area 51 with armed, Kevlar vest wearing, black-tinted window SUV driving, earpiece communicating, military-style, security. 

Nothing to see here people….Michaela does her best “just a screwdriver in the tire” routine to avoid suspicion.  What part of that lie or the fact that two obvious cops were spying on the facility and taking pictures seemed like a plausible idea I will never know.  The conscious choice to drive the relationship narrative away from the overtly creepy romantic overture to a much more organic camaraderie is successful and I hope continues as these two continue to rebuild their friendship.

If you are going to experiment on humans it is important to pick people that no one will miss and will have no one looking for them, or at least that is what it says in our shady government handbook.  Evidently, it does not say to scrub news footage or  to check for a video of a fifth bus you are trying to hide. The government’s role in things is far closer to reality than typical science fiction fare which is frustrating but kind of nice.  The government of Manifest is a bunch of under-informed, bumbling boobs who like to poke, prod, manipulate, and electric shock the facts out of people.  There isn’t a smoking man from X-Files among the group, just a bunch of confused scientists and morally-bankrupt doctors.  This would normally bother me, but I actually appreciate the realistic tone this show has taken. 

After a lot of seizing, sweating and yelling(mostly by Grace) Cal finally breaks his fever and wakes up.  In the secret research lab, the Bulgarian is no longer being experimented on but it is only a matter of time before the facility is operational again.  With the intense connection Cal shares with these people it’s crystal clear this is one part of the puzzle that must be solved right away.  Now that Vance is heading toward team Manifest he should be able to provide some intel and support that will be very useful to our crew.  Next week look’s to continue the trend of promising a ton but giving away very little.  This show is a TV tease and I can’t decide if I like it or not.  All I know is I’m like a pathetic teenager, I just keep coming back for more.  Manifest Episode 7 S.N.A.F.U. should be filled with all kinds of mayhem.  With a name like that I have high hopes.

Stray Thoughts

1.  I see a red door and I want to paint it black.  Of course, it’s a perfect idea to leave the door to a clandestine medical experiment facility bright red.
2.  Grace is mad when Ben is too analytical and mad when he starts paranormal juju.  Her one-note personality is tiresome at best.  She is either screeching at Ben or completely giving up on Danny who she claimed to be in love with.
3. Unified Dynamic Systems is the company name of our shadow medical group. That company does not exist, but Dynamic Systems Theory is a cognitive science theory that questions how we process information and Unified Dynamics is the theory that we are all connected.  That seems super relevant.
4. Now that Vance knows about the secret facility, what will he do with the knowledge?  He strikes me as a bulldog investigator and I would love a Jared and Mic/Vance team up.

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