‘Manifest’ thrives with creative writing and unique premise


A plane takes off on a routine trip, but when it lands five and a half years have passed and the 191 passengers on board hadn’t aged a day. “Manifest” takes viewers through a three season journey that investigates what truly happened to flight 828.

The show opens with Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh), her brother Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) and his son Cal Stone (Jack Messina) staying behind from the rest of their family in order to take a later flight back to New York. The trio board Montego Air flight 828 and encounter extreme turbulence. The plane then lands shortly after, accompanied by police on the runway. As the 191 passengers stand on the runway after what felt like a three hour flight, they are told their plane has been missing for over five years and presumed dead.

The writers truly picked a perfect period of time for the plane to go missing: long enough that the world would begin to move on, but still fresh enough to feel the pain and confusion when these people return years later. The show has multiple sides to it, allowing for a complex viewpoint throughout the series. You can see the perspective of those who lived five years finally adjusting to a new normal and the turmoil that ensues when the passengers return. On the other hand, you can see the perspective of the passengers who were brought back into a world that had moved five years ahead without them. The show lives up to its description of a supernatural drama, with characters facing love triangles, marriage complications and other social dilemmas.

Shortly after integrating back into society, the passengers begin to have visions, dubbed “callings,” allowing them to see things before they happen. Some passengers have connected callings and visions, leading them to work together in order to save others or each other. The character most closely connected to these callings is Cal who boarded the plane as a 10 year old twin with terminal leukemia. In an attempt to not spoil the show, I’ll only comment that many ironic twists of fate carry on throughout the show, proving how detailed the writing is for this series.

The show not only provides viewers with a captivating supernatural mystery, but different perspectives of human beliefs as some characters in the show have a more philosophical belief system and others base their beliefs off of science. There are many layers to the passengers’ return, as some believe the returned are divine and were brought back to earth to do good by the hands of a god. Others, however, believe numerous theories about the returned passengers: they encountered extraterrestrial activity, they died and were resurrected, they’re currently in purgatory – the list both within the show and by fans goes on and on. With the cliffhanger finale of the series, fans are able to immerse themselves in the numerous theories online and create their own as to what really happened to the plane.

Each episode keeps viewers captivated in the experience with more and more clues, callings and obstacles every episode bringing the characters closer to finding out what happened to flight 828. The journey is not easy for the passengers though as they face conflicts against the government, society and other passengers. Later in the series, the plot of the show becomes more mind-boggling with clues leading the characters to believe the plane has connections to ancient mythology and biblical events.

Some reviewers state the show is “underdeveloped” and “predictable” while I find it to be the complete opposite. The plot is ever changing and keeps viewers’ minds turning to find out what happened to the plane. Every small detail is planned and perfectly connected and keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more.

The series was intended to run for six seasons according to writer Jeff Rake, but was ultimately cancelled by NBC after the third season was released on June 10. The first two seasons of “Manifest” are available on Netflix and, as of late June, has taken the internet by storm, holding the #1 spot on the streaming service for weeks. Season three is available for free on Peacock. Efforts to have the series picked up by a different company have unfortunately been unsuccessful.

Overall, if you are looking for an enthralling adventure to depart on this summer, flight 828 is boarding and there’s a ticket with your name on it.

Grade: A+