In episode 5, Connecting Flights, we learn that “It’s all connected.” What’s all connected? Well, the subway system, for one thing, and it’s ancillary hidey holes. Olive and Cal, for another, though we’re still exploring the extent of their connection, and they don’t appear together in this episode. Beyond that, the use of the phrase is vague, other than definitely relating to Flight 828 and its passengers. We seem to be building up to discovering that the passengers and the callings are all connected, but there’s no telling what else might be part of the larger picture, and what this connection means.
Are the people who are close to the passengers connected? Did this connection direct their lives during the 5 1/2 years their loved ones were missing? There were, after all, two flights in the air that night. Just because one came home on time doesn’t mean it wasn’t affected by something. An episode title like “Connecting Flights” has to make you wonder. Did something more subtle happen to the passengers on the first flight, as well?
For now, the focus is on how the people who weren’t on Flight 828 coped with their losses. Some, like Grandma Karen, focused on the positive and tried to quickly move forward. Others, like Grace, couldn’t let go. A few, like Jared and Grandpa Steve, seem to have managed to find a middle path of mourning then moving forward, but never forgetting their losses.
Meanwhile, in the present day, the ramifications of the events of episode 4, Unclaimed Baggage, continue to absorb the characters. Jared faces the committee who’ll decide his future with the NYPD. Ben is determined to hunker down and put his energy into protecting his own immediate family, while ignoring this week’s calling. Michaela tries to protect Jared from the mistake she made last week and to protect Thomas from Vance.
Grandpa Steve steps in as the wise older parent we all wish we had, and I definitely want to keep him. As a regular. On my speed dial. Maybe he could live in my spare room.
But the major revelation of the week comes from Cal, who knows his way around the NYC subway system without a map, at age 10, after 5 years away. If you don’t think that’s a miraculous thing, I can’t even relate to you.
But seriously, Cal’s unique abilities continue to evolve, and Ben finally notices. Once Cal is experiencing callings that he can’t ignore, Ben is reinvested in the entire 828 situation. Now Ben needs to know everything, and solve every mystery, because his son’s safety is at stake.
Ben is not an altruistic character. If you’re outside of his inner circle, he’ll look you right in the face and tell you he’s okay with you dying, as long as his family is safe from theoretical dangers. This is becoming very off-putting for me. He looked right at Bethany and told her he didn’t care what happened to her family, as long as his wasn’t in danger of compromise. She’d explained that her family was in a life or death situation before the lost plane was even involved. He knows that Vance wants Thomas specifically because he’s off the grid. How thoughtless or cruel do you have to be to abandon someone in that situation, while your family is physically safe and comfortable at home?
The episode opens with a look into the other flight from Montego Bay to NY on the evening of April 7, 2013. We get a fake-out view from the back of a flight attendant who could be Bethany, but isn’t. Is that a subliminal suggestion that the flights were the same or connected?
Grandma Karen and Grace sit together on one side of the aisle, while Grandpa Steve and Olive sit on the other side. Olive, who’s in the window seat, opens her shade and looks outside, but there’s nothing to see, except darkness and water. That’s what we thought the first time they showed us 828, too.
Olive tells Grandpa that this is longest she and Cal have ever been separated. Grandpa says that being a twin is a special relationship, and she and Cal will always feel connected, no matter where they are. Is Steve a twin?
Olive will continue to feel connected to her twin for the next 5 1/2 years, no matter what anyone says, until Cal comes back.
Grandma Karen asks Grace if the Jamaica trip fixed her marriage to Ben. Grace tries to deny that they’re having problems, but Karen knows all. Grace hopes that the trip did what it was supposed to, but it’s too soon to tell.
At the airport, Olive wants to wait for the second flight to land. As they look at the arrivals and departures board, Flight 828 switches from “On time” to “See agent”. Everybody tries not to panic.
Jared and Lourdes are in a bar having a drink together, all cosy and alone in a corner booth, like a couple on a date. Lourdes is ostensibly convincing Jared that Michaela won’t turn his proposal down, but is really sinking her hooks a little deeper into him.
Grace calls Jared, so he and Lourdes rush to the airport. Lourdes already acts like she’s his girlfriend, walking and standing close to him, sometimes even touching. Karen has realized that both of her children might be lost, and is praying. An airport spokesman is talking to the rest of the family and Kelly Taylor’s husband. Steve sends Jared over to see if his NYPD badge will help them get more information.
Kelly’s husband is already questioning whether or not they’re being told the truth.
Lourdes pulls Olive aside so she’s theoretically spared the worst of the panic. Grace tells Jared that Ben, Cal and Mick chose to take the other flight in exchange for $400 each. Jared, true to form, assumes that Michaela didn’t want to come back to him. Grace is already blaming Ben for taking Cal away from her. Olive cries for Ben.
In the present day, Thomas, Bethany, Mick and Ben try to sort out Thomas’ situation. Ben’s sole concern is that neither he nor Michaela get arrested. He’s actually counted up the laws Bethany broke when she saved Thomas’ life by smuggling him out of Jamaica, like he thinks Bethany’s too stupid to understand her actions or he thinks she should have left Thomas to die instead.
Bethany and Thomas don’t want to endanger anyone else so they try to send the others away, but Michaela had a calling to help Thomas, too. She’s not willing to abandon him. Bethany has a friend with a cabin upstate that Vance won’t be able to trace to her. She just needs to get Thomas there.
Ben tries to leave, now that the Thomas situation is under control. Mick follows him, telling him that he can’t keep blowing the other passengers off. He says that he doesn’t believe that there’s some mystical force binding the passengers together and he thinks the callings are dangerous. The last calling has put Jared’s career in danger. Michaela disagrees with his conclusions, but Ben doesn’t care and starts to leave. He hears a calling, a voice telling him, “It’s all connected.” It doesn’t sound like his voice, but I’m not sure whose it is.
Michaela senses that he’s gotten a calling, but Ben refuses to admit it. He accuses Michaela of trying to blackmail him when she reminds him of the lives that have been saved because of the callings. That’s some twisted thinking, right there, when you get to the point of saying that asking someone to think about other people, instead of making the selfish choice, is emotional manipulation.
He walks out on her, insisting that he will continue to ignore this calling.
Vance is steaming mad that his people haven’t arrested Thomas yet. They’ve figured out that Bethany was at the hospital, and that Saanvi works there, so Vance wants those two questioned. Saanvi isn’t in this episode, so hopefully someone denied his request to bring her in. It’s really not suspicious for her to be at her place of work.
But why is Vance so anxious about this and worried about national security? Since the plane landed and burned, one murder occurred, which has been solved. No one else has died and no evidence for a conspiracy has been uncovered. Why the extreme urgency? I have to wonder if he’s getting pressured by someone above him to bring in certain people and find certain kinds of evidence. Otherwise his anger and need to blame the victims make him appear to be a one dimensional villain who’s out to get the innocent people who went through something he doesn’t understand.
Jared meets with his union rep, who advises him to blame Michaela for the bad call and save himself. Jared stands by his story and refuses to shift blame to Michaela. Then he lies to Michaela and tells her his job isn’t threatened.
Ben and Cal decide to spend the day together, since Cal will be starting school soon. Ben hears the voice whispering his calling again, motivating him to run away from it. He asks Cal if he ever feels like someone is controlling his life. Cal is a sweet kid, so he doesn’t give a sarcastic answer, just tells his father that, of course, his life is always being controlled by adults, like parents and teachers. Since he’s sick, he has the added bonus of doctors telling him what to do.
Ben suggests they randomize their day with some chaos theory, via a quarter and using “heads or tails” to make decisions. Guess he wants to find out if the entity that’s creating the callings can control a coin flip. First up is Coney Island.
As soon as they leave, Danny texts Grace and begs to see her. She tells him she has to work. Is he watching the house?
Grace remembers back to 6 months after the plane disappeared, when the media were declaring the plane gone for good. She was so depressed that she spent her days in bed. Olive brings her some soup and Grace notices bandages on Olive’s hand. Olive cut herself trying to make sandwiches, then didn’t have enough supplies to make them anyway, so she gave up and made instant noodle soup.
Grace’s major depression has led her to neglect Olive to the point where it’s gotten dangerous. But the most heartbreaking visual is seeing her sleeping on Ben’s side of the bed and using Cal’s pillow case. She realizes that this can’t go on and looks at herself in the mirror, telling herself to get it together.
Jared and Lourdes bring boxes from Michaela’s apartment to her parents’ house. They look at a few photos on the way in and remember better times. Steve and Karen find them chuckling over the photos, but feeling a little guilty about it. Karen tells Lourdes that, “Joy is never wrong.” She says that she knows Michaela would want them to be happy and gives them Michaela’s box of photos.
Grace goes to a support group, likely a bereavement group. She tells the group her story, and mentions how everyone notices her strength, but they rarely acknowledge her pain. She wishes someone would say, “Gee, Grace, you look like H–l.”
Danny is part of the group. During the social hour, he says to her, “Gee, Grace, you look like H–l.” They laugh and strike up a conversation.
They have ridiculous chemistry together. Also, I guessed correctly that Danny and Grace met in a support group in my episode 4 recap, but not the reason for it. But there’s still time for them to reveal that Grace had a foray into alcoholism.
Ben and Cal have fun with the rides and games at Coney Island, ending up playing Wack-a-Mole, the best game ever. Cal wins a rainbow stuffed monkey that he wears around his neck for the rest of the day. Ben hears his calling throughout the day, and pulls out his quarter for another coin flip every time. After lunch, the coin says it’s time to go home on the subway. Cal takes off in that direction, with Ben struggling to keep up.
Michaela stops by Lourdes and Jared’s house unannounced, probably something she would do a lot 5 years ago when she and Lourdes were best friends. Now she’s Lourdes’ husband’s ex-girlfriend, and Lourdes almost breaks her face trying to pretend she’s happy to see Michaela.
She lets Michaela in, complaining that the house is a mess, signaling that Mick should have called first. Mick notices that Lourdes has one of the afghans Karen crocheted. Lourdes offers it to her, but Mick declines. Her dad must have a house full of them. Then Lourdes gives the box of photos back. Michaela is slightly creeped out at this point by how much of her life Lourdes has in the living room alone.
She moves on to explaining Jared’s situation at work, and asking Lourdes to talk Jared out of taking the fall for her. Jared hasn’t told Lourdes about any of this. AWKWARD. Mick tries to leave, but Lou stops her, reminding her that they’re the three amigas and they help each other out. There’s still three of them, but now Jared is the third instead of Evie.
But Lou won’t help save Jared’s job, even though it’s his dream job, because she knows that he always does what he thinks is right. It wouldn’t be right for her to interfere. Lourdes remembers meeting Jared at a bar after he got his promotion to detective, two years after the plane was lost. She encouraged him to add more excitement to his life, and he responded by kissing her. They agreed the kiss was a good idea, and kept going.
Grace has Danny over for dinner around the same time, so that he can meet Olive. Olive has figured out that he’s Grace’s boyfriend, and she’s unhappy about it. She doesn’t want anything to do with him. Danny tries to connect with Olive over the fact that they both secretly can’t stand Grace’s meatloaf.
Probably the most important information we get from this scene is that Grace makes meatloaf because she thinks it’s Olive’s favorite, but it’s actually Cal’s. Plus, not only is Olive sure that Cal is alive, but she also intends to find him when she grows up. Could Olive have eventually followed their connection to him? Was Grace feeling Cal through Olive? Or on her own? Grace would have a physical connection to Cal, too, since she’s his mother.
Ben continues to hear the calling on the subway, and he’s recognized by other passengers. Cal takes off out the train door at the wrong stop, and Ben has to give chase again. Cal runs through closed areas and crawl spaces, with Ben frantically trying to keep up. Cal yells back to his dad not to worry, because, “It’s all connected!”
Bethany prepares to pick up Thomas to go to the cabin. As she’s saying goodbye to her wife, Georgia, Vance pulls up and takes her into custody for questioning.
Cal comes out of a crawl space directly into the room where Thomas is still waiting for Bethany. He knows Thomas’ name without being told.
Ben is panicking. He questions Cal, insisting his son must have known where he was headed, or have been hearing voices in his head, or have known about the room or Thomas ahead of time. Cal says that he was just being random. He meant that the subway is all connected, and he isn’t even sure where he is. He hasn’t heard any voices. And he just knew Thomas’ name. Like Saanvi’s first calling, when she pushed to have Cal included in the drug trial, his callings appear to be compulsions most of the time, an overwhelming need to do something or knowledge that he receives at the correct time to use it.
Thomas encourages Cal to set up the chess board so they can play, then he and Ben talk. Ben is now convinced that he’s meant to be involved with the callings and the other passengers. Almost losing track of Cal really scared him, and seeing what Cal can do has scared him even more. He needs to try to understand this phenomenon.
But in the meantime, Thomas is stranded in the boiler room.
Michaela brings a pizza to her dad’s house to share. He’s much happier to see her than Lourdes was. They cuddle on the porch swing and talk about how much they miss Karen. Then Michaela tells him that she went to Lourdes and Jared’s house, and it was like looking at the life she lost. He tries to reassure her that she can still have all of that.
Michaela is sad because she doesn’t think she can have it with Jared. Grandpa Steve tells his little girl that if she wants her man back, she should go get him. Steve is sure that Jared only took up with Lourdes because Mick wasn’t available, and has never stopped loving Mick. He told Karen that when she pushed the two of them together.
Mick asks what Karen would want. Steve hedges and says Karen would want her to be happy. He encourages Mick to tell Jared she loves him. If he’d been on that plane and come home to find Karen with another man, he’d have fought like crazy to get her back.
I’m not sure someone as religious as Karen would condone trying to break up a marriage. But if Michaela puts herself in Jared’s path and makes herself available, and the marriage breaks up on its own, and she’s ready to take Jared back… well, that’s another situation.
Steve remembers back to when Karen was dying and gave Jared one of her afghans because she knew he and Lourdes would be together soon. Jared admitted she was right. Steve was shocked at the news. Karen pulled out yet another platitude, “Love is never something to feel guilty about. It’s a blessing.”
After Jared leaves, Steve tells Karen that Jared is still in love with Michaela. But Karen has decided that it’s up to her to put Jared’s life in order before she dies.
Bethany refuses to answer Vance’s questions and asks for a lawyer. He doesn’t actually know anything about her connection to Thomas, anyway.
Jared sticks to the story that he and Michaela heard a gunshot, despite more pressure to change it during his hearing. When the verdict comes back, it turns out he’s only losing 10 days pay, a relatively light consequence. Jared finds Vance waiting for him in the hall. Vance renews his demand that Jared spy on Michaela for him. Or else. And don’t ask what that means.
Danny visits Grace to talk about Olive. He reminds her that 10 days ago he was part of their family. Olive called him from Blue Mercury, instead of Ben. He can find another girlfriend, but he doesn’t know how to move on from being Olive’s dad. Grace realizes that Olive feels the same way.
Michaela finds Jared in a bar and thanks him for standing by her. She starts to say that it’s made her realize… But he interrupts her and says he’s done thinking about the hearing. Then he walks away.
Why is Jared always in a bar? Is he the alcoholic instead of Grace?
Is he planning to keep his distance from her now, so that he won’t have much to report to Vance?
Ben gives Thomas the cash from his wallet and whatever other supplies he can rustle up, in preparation for Thomas setting off on his own. Then Cal wants to leave, NOW, because someone’s coming. Within moments there’s pounding on the door. After a minute, Cal figures out that it’s a woman and she’s friendly, so they open up the door. It’s Bethany’s wife, Georgia. She’s come to take Thomas to the cabin after all. Cal says that he just had a feeling that she was friendly.
Lourdes is waiting for Jared when he gets home. She asks about his problems at work and why he hid them from her. He says that it wasn’t a big deal and he feels bad for Michaela because her life has been such a mess since she got back, but that’s it. Lourdes made it clear that she was asking if he still had feelings for Michaela and protected her because of it.
Lourdes jealous streak is a mile wide. Jared reassures her, but I doubt it will be enough. She has to have known all along what his real feelings were, but knowing she won and was living what was supposed to be Michaela’s life was enough when Mick wasn’t there to be direct competition.
Jared remembers back to the day the plane returned . It was November 4th, their 3 year kissiversary. Lourdes comes home with a bottle of wine in hand. She seemed like she might have already been drinking. Because she knew he was still in love with Mick?
She stops across the room from Jared and asks him what’s wrong. He tells her that the plane is back. Jared looks a little happy while she looks confused.
Grace remembers that she had the news on when she learned the plane had returned. They mention that Dr Fiona Clarke, eminent scholar and professor, was one of the passengers on the plane. Danny packed his suitcase and told her he was leaving. Olive joins them in a family hug.
We all cry.
In the present day, Grace tells Olive that she understands that Olive needs Danny to continue being one of her dads.
It’s montage time! Everyone looks at their old photos and thinks about how their relationships have changed.
Michaela finds Ben in his secret garage lair. He tells her about Cal’s unusual version of the callings and how they’ve forced him to become fully involved with the mysteries of the plane. She says that the string connecting different parts of his board looks like a spider web. He says that they’re all trapped in it.
In a flashback to Flight 828, everyone is sleeping, but something wakes Cal up. He sees a bright white light outside the window and opens the shade fully to look at it. He says, “It’s all connected.” Is this his first calling?
The shot mirrors the shot of Olive looking out the plane window in the opening scene of the episode. Could she feel Cal being called? Then we get a shot of Cal looking out the window from inside the plane that’s very reminiscent of Steven Spielberg/Close Encounters/ET. Is this a hint that there are aliens involved? Or is that a heavenly light?
It seems obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Cal is associated with light. He was even before the last scene, but that made it undeniable.
The people who have heard the callings most were sitting closest to Cal and the window he opened, or were near other windows, like Captain Daly and Bethany. There were other window shades open in the turbulence scene shown in the pilot. How many received a significant dose of light? Did the light have to touch someone for them to be affected? Is the light really light, or is it a luminescent being of some kind?
Was Karen an alien? Was she body snatched and that’s why she talked the way she did? She said she’d be with Michaela soon- was she returning to the place where the passengers were held for 5 1/2 years? Seriously, she talks like a Stepford wife, speaking only in platitudes that oversimplify the world, rather than having actual conversations. The Karen we met in the Jamaican airport seemed more with it. Did her mind and body shut down after the loss of her children?
She also slightly misquoted her favorite bible verse, Romans 8:28, while sitting on the porch swing, saying, “All good things,” instead of, “All things work together for good.” It’s a slight change in wording, but it makes a big change in the meaning of the phrase and the verse, a verse that’s already frequently misunderstood.
The personalities of the three amigas seemed to have balanced each other out, with Evie being the sweet, free-spirited one, Michaela being the responsible, fair-minded one, and Lourdes being the calculating, ambitious one. Evie would have acted as a buffer between Michaela and Lourdes, so, with Evie gone, there were probably already cracks forming in their friendship before the flight disappeared.
I’m getting the sense that Lourdes has always had an insecure, jealous side that envied whatever Evie and Michaela had. Without Evie to be sweet and tone her down, Lourdes started to give in to that side. Once Michaela was gone, she took over Michaela’s life, the life she’d always wanted, with the help of Michaela’s mother, who wanted to see everyone she was connected to settled before she died.
That’s why Lourdes didn’t come to the airport to meet the passengers when the plane returned and why she said she’s always felt like a fraud. She knows she’s just a stand-in for Michaela and is resentful toward Michaela for coming back. She made Jared feel like he couldn’t go to the airport either, because that would make it look like he still cares about Michaela, igniting Lourdes’ jealousies.
We need to get to know Grandpa Steve, man of mystery, better. He has a much more complex outlook on life than his wife. Grandpa Steve is a realist that I can relate to. He’s a much better listener and gives much better advice than Karen.
Olive, Danny and Grace all have so much chemistry, look so right together and hug each other so hard, that it’s difficult not to root for them as a family unit. Cal, Ben, Michaela and Steve also feel like a family unit. I don’t actually care what happens with Jared and Lourdes, but I absolutely don’t want either Ben or Danny to get hurt.
Ben and Grace would make great co-parents and friends, while Saanvi would make a great addition to the family as Ben’s new partner. Everyone could be happy, if they’ll let Ben and Grace have an amicable split. Maybe we could find an older female passenger for Steve, too, since he’s getting lonely.
TooFab.com did some interesting speculation about the ramifications of this episode. I can’t believe that I didn’t think about Lourdes spying on Michaela for Vance behind Jared’s back. That almost has to happen.
If you’re looking for a great resource on all things Manifest, check out Manifest828.com, a comprehensive fan site.
Episode 6, Off the Radar, promo:
“Trapped in a spider web” episode highlight. The theme of being caught, trapped, contained, hunted or out of options has become one of the main themes of the show.
ETA 10/29/18: Think Story’s anaysis of this episode. He points out that the plane was probably over the Bermuda Triangle when it disappeared, and breaks down the shots of the reflection of the white light Cal sees. It starts out small, then grows, as if it could be a wormhole opening up.
Media courtesy of NBC.