In Off Radar, we watch as the connections between the main characters on Manifest are either deepened or further strained. Everything is connected, but not all connections are going to remain strong forever. If the callings are tests, then they are, in part, a test of which connections the passengers are willing to risk losing, and which they’ll fight to keep.
In real life, radar uses reflected radio waves, broadcast over the air, to determine the speed and position of a targeted object. In Off Radar, Cal is the receiver, as he has been before in other ways. He’s receiving emotional, physical and mental information from one of the other passengers, a Bulgarian man named Marko. At the same time, Cal becomes gravely ill. It’s up to Ben, Michaela and Saanvi to interpret Cal’s symptoms and newfound ability to speak Bulgarian, determine if this is a calling, and what the calling wants.
It turns out Marko and ten other passengers have gone missing since the passengers were released by the Feds. Ben uses his data analyst skills to determine where they might be, then Michaela and Jared follow-up on the ground. This brings Michaela and Jared to a turning point in their relationship, when Jared demands that Michaela finally tell him the truth about the callings.
At the same time, Grace demands to know what’s distracting Ben, so he tells her about some of the strange occurrences since the plane landed. When it’s clear that it’s worth investigating a connection between Cal’s illness and the other passengers, Ben tries to give Grace a more thorough explanation.
She accuses him of finding excuses to pull away from her, the way she thinks he did before the plane disappeared. She wants him to leave the investigating to the professionals, showing that she has no interest in understanding what he’s going through, or what real dangers he and Cal might be facing. This also brings Ben and Grace to a crisis point in their relationship.
Meanwhile, Ben is making new connections. Saanvi can practically finish his sentences already, just as he can with her. Director Vance reluctantly meets with Ben. Later, thanks to Ben and Michaela, he discovers that other government agencies have kept him out of the loop on his own investigation. Vance can’t miss the fact that Ben’s investigation has gotten further than his own.
A resentful Grace is left alone in the hospital with Saanvi and Dr Williams to deal with Cal’s worsening condition. His condition continues to confuse the doctors, and there’s no definitive medical treatment for his situation. The best course of action calls for a leap of faith. But making that kind of decision requires patience and trust, two things that aren’t Grace’s strengths.
Throughout the episode, characters are asked to take large and small leaps of faith, and to decide who they believe or trust. Panels of scientists present theories about the plane’s disappearance based on little actual knowledge, and ask to be trusted based on their reputations alone. The regular characters confront the fact that they’re flying blind, with no way to know who to trust, other than to follow their instincts and the directions the callings send them in. Connections who can be counted on become more important as the dangers that surround the passengers start making themselves known.
As episode 6 begins, Flight 828 is preparing to land and Cal is returning to his seat from a trip to the restroom. He passes by a middle-aged man, who is speaking Bulgarian while asking for help with his US Customs forms. As Cal passes, the man, Marko Valeriev, pats Cal’s head in an affectionate way. Cal stops in front of his own row of seats and watches, with a concerned look on his face, as Marko asks Saanvi if she can help, and then receives help from a woman sitting behind Saanvi who speaks Bulgarian.
In the present, Cal wakes up in the middle of the night with a high fever, screaming what sounds like gibberish, alternating with shouting, “They’re hurting me!” and “Not the red door!” They decide to rush him to the hospital.
Luckily, Olive is spending the night at a friend’s house, so there’s no need to wake her up, or even inform her that her brother is in the hospital, for the entire episode. It’s a weird time to keep the twins apart, especially after all of the bonding subplots we’ve seen in the first few episodes. But Olive’s presence would have interfered with Grace’s storyline, so, after a single mention in this early scene, the adults in the family conveniently forget that she might be worried about her brother, or that he might be comforted by her presence.
It’s time for my favorite title card.
After the title card, we are treated to an argument about wormholes and the engineering specs of airplanes at the 6th scientific panel that the government has held to explore theories on the plane’s disappearance.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants all six panels put up on Youtube in their entirety, as of yesterday. We at least deserve to have the transcripts released. Someone should file a Freedom of Information request ASAP. 😉
What we do get right now is this lovely graphic showing us where the plane disappeared. The circle marking the potential disappearance site is conveniently located near Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the US government’s infamous naval base, illegal detention center and likely cover for all manner of unsavory extra-legal activities, carried out by the military and private contractors.
The graphic also shows the plane’s flight path, confirming that it passed through a corner of the Bermuda Triangle. If you wanted to hijack a plane and experiment on the passengers, but have a multitude of plausible-ish conspiracy theories as to what really happened, this was the perfect spot to choose. Sudden biblical-type storms/ wormholes/ electromagnetic storms/ aliens/ bioluminescent algae/ Krakken/ terrorists or airborne pirates of the Bermuda Triangle could be responsible.
Or agents sanctioned by the US and/or Cuban governments could have forced the plane down in order to carry out MKUltra-style experiments on the passengers. Until we get evidence suggesting otherwise, I’m assuming this is the real explanation, with aliens as an outside possibility for the identity of the experimenters.
NSA Director Vance and Deputy Powell observe the panel, but decide it’s a waste of time, just like the previous five. The world class scientists, “can’t even come to a consensus on the ground rules”, according to Vance. Powell asks if Vance saw the DARPA* report. Vance asks if he means the one that was buried in a 1,000 page document dump that was clearly part of the interagency territorialism that’s hampering this investigation.
Is it territorialism, or were they really hoping he’d miss the report? DARPA researches cutting edge and crazy stuff for the military. If they’re burying their reports, that’s very suspicious. How many different interests are purposely interfering with Vance’s investigation?
Powell asks if he should tell the other agencies about Jared, their potential inside man. Vance says to wait until they see if he provides any useful information. Vance already knows that Jared still isn’t going to be cooperative, and will require more “persuasion”. He’s hoping that he can eventually collect enough blackmail evidence to turn Jared.
Jared is currently assuming the worst when Mick asks for a personal day, then feeling terrible when he hears that Cal is in the hospital. She’s not taking the time off to answer a calling- yet. But it’s all connected.
Dr Williams explains to Ben and Grace what’s been done so far to help Cal, taking into account his weakened immune system, cancer treatments, and the lack of an obvious cause for his fever. They’ve ordered a full lab panel to look for the cause of his symptoms. Cal sleeps in the hospital bed, holding Art the Dragon, and looking like a very sick kid.
Grace follows Dr Williams out of the room to ask her, behind Saanvi’s back, if the new treatments might be causing Cal’s symptoms. Dr Williams assures her that no one else who’s been through this treatment protocol has experienced these symptoms.
Grace couldn’t just ask both doctors, while they were in Cal’s room, if anyone else has experienced similar side effects from the experimental cancer treatment? It’s a reasonable question, but the show makes it seem like Grace has something personal against Saanvi, the doctor who’s more likely to have the answer to her question.
Ben stays by Cal’s bedside, while Saanvi works on the computer on the other side of the bed. Ben remembers how helpless he felt when Cal first got sick, and says that he feels that way again. Saanvi tries to comfort him by reminding him that the treatments and Cal’s odds of survival are so much better now.
Ben realizes that he’s confiding in Saanvi instead of treating her like a professional, and suggests that she go home and enjoy her life instead of spending her time off in Cal’s room. She replies that her work is her life, so much so that she lives with her parents and can’t keep a houseplant alive.
Mutual confessions of vulnerability between Saanvi and Ben, in a completely appropriate way. 😍😍😍 Meanwhile, Grace is trying to undermine Saanvi’s authority. 🤔
Cal becomes restless and calls out in his sleep. It sounds like gibberish again, but Saanvi recognizes the Bulgarian phrases that she heard on the plane. She doesn’t speak Bulgarian, and can’t translate them. Cal suddenly opens his eyes wide and screams, “Help!”
Once Cal is calm again, Ben, Michaela, and Saanvi discuss whether this is a new calling, and decide it’s too unusual to be a coincidence. Ben pulls up his passenger files so that Saanvi can ID Marko as the passenger who spoke Bulgarian. They assume that Cal overheard him, same as Saanvi.
Ben has limited information on Marko because he disappeared after the passengers were released by the NSA. Ben explains that there are several passengers he hasn’t been able to track down, most of them foreign nationals, who probably went home. He’s assumed that the rest went into hiding after Kelly was murdered.
Saanvi remembers the woman behind her who helped Marko with his customs form. Ben has an address for her, so Michaela tracks down Anna Ross, who is a translator.
Anna is living in a motel, since her husband served her with divorce papers the minute she set foot outside the hangar when the NSA released the passengers. She quickly figures out that the Bulgarian phrase Cal was repeating is “Pomogni mi”, which means “help me”.
Mick explains that she’s looking for Marko, who was heard using the same phrase on the plane. Anna continued to help Marko the entire time the passengers were held in the hangar. She thought he’d continue to want her help once they relocated to the shelters, but she hasn’t heard from him since they got on separate buses.
The passengers who had nowhere to go were bussed to government-run shelters after the NSA released them. Anna watched Marko get on a separate bus from her. Mick says that according to the official file Marko checked out on his own.
Michaela calls Ben to give him an update. Grace overhears the conversation and asks what the other passenger has to do with Cal. Ben tells her that he’s not sure he can explain what’s going on, since it sounds so crazy.
Grace: “Have you not been following the news story about the dead people who came back to life on a magic airplane? I’m ready to believe just about anything at this point.”
Ben: “Grace, something happened to us on that flight. It keeps happening. Some people are seeing things, hearing voices.”
Grace: “Ben, are you hearing voices?”
Ben: “You just said you were ready to believe anything.”
Grace: “I am. I’m just…I don’t know. I’m trying to wrap my head around this.”
Ben: “Me too. I know this sounds impossible, but, Cal’s fever? I think it has something to do with what happened on the plane. Please don’t shut down now. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
Grace: “The last time Cal got sick, you went down a rabbit hole, looking for every remedy, shutting out the world, shutting out me, and so I spiralled and shut you out. I have replayed that again and again in my head over all these years. I want us to be different this time. I need us to be partners.”
Ben: “We are, I promise. But we need to know what happened on that flight. Who’s behind it? Is it the government or one of the other passengers? Some fluke of physics? We need to find out? We need to find out!”
Grace: “No! WE don’t. This is the biggest mystery in the known universe. There are other people trying to figure it out. Let them.”
Grace: “Ben, our son is sick. He doesn’t need you to be a scientist right now. He needs you to be his father. I need you to be his father.”
Ben looks at her, then at Cal, and sighs.
There’s a lot going on in that conversation, so let’s try to unpack it. First, let’s concede that Ben has been keeping secrets from Grace. Grace has also been keeping secrets from Ben. I believe we know more of Ben’s secrets than Grace’s, but we don’t know much about the specifics of his career pre-Flight 828. I suspect he was essentially in the data analysis side of the spy business, with security clearance that was higher than we expect. At the very least he consulted on some interesting stuff. I still maintain that he, and probably also Michaela and Cal, were handpicked by someone to be on that plane.
Anyway, I think Ben is in the secret-keeping business. He’s amassing large files on the passengers very quickly, and seems to already have the skills in place to find and organize the information. That goes beyond corporate security. But he only keeps secrets that pertain to information outside the family. He’s a straight shooter within his relationships.
Grace, on the other hand, keeps secrets that aren’t secrets. She withholds information so it can be used at the right time, when it will give her an advantage in a situation. She juggles information, people and situations so that she remains the one in control. When she loses control of a situation, she spirals, and will use manipulative, underhanded tactics to regain the upper hand.
I know this sounds harsh, and Grace has a good side, too, but it’s necessary to point out before looking at this pivotal conversation. Ben is afraid to share his vulnerabilities with Grace before the conversation even starts, with good reason, but she convinces him to.
If you pay close attention, she’s using condescending, dismissive language from the start to describe the profound experience the passengers went through. She refers to a “magic airplane”, as if this is a fantasy or children’s story someone made up. She refers to it as a news story, rather than something that happened directly to them, distancing the events from their lives. She calls them dead people who came back to life, something we associate with either Gods or monsters, but not reality. Nowhere in the conversation does she acknowledge that this is something huge that happened to three people in her family, and that it’s normal for them to have a deep psychological need to make sense of it.
Grace says she’s open to hearing what he has to say, then when Ben shares the thing that no adult wants to tell anyone, that he and the others are showing signs of hallucinations, she zeroes in on it. I can’t blame her for asking if he’s hallucinating. I can blame her for passing straight by the fact that he said something happened to them. Her first question should be, “What happened and keeps happening, and is it happening to Cal?”
When Ben calls her on her lack of open mindedness and support, she gives a vague answer. He keeps trying to explain the situation to her in good faith. He asks her not to shut down, but she does anyway. She leaves the current situation behind, and goes straight back to their previous marital problems from half a decade ago. Those issues have nothing to do with anything right now, but give her an excuse to blame Ben and shove him away, which is the real point of this conversation for her.
Grace wants them to be partners this time, and Ben promises they are. He just needs to also work on understanding what happened to his family over the last 5 years. But Grace shoots him down again, insisting that it’s the experts job to do this, while his sole focus should be her and Cal.
As a chronically ill person and the parent of a chronically ill child, I can address this one directly. Life doesn’t stop because one of your children is in the hospital. Her idea that he should never leave her side is outrageous. When you deal with chronic illnesses, you develop routines around them, and you don’t panic and spiral every time someone has a fever or almost goes into a diabetic coma (hypothetically speaking 😉).
But Grace’s longtime strategy within the marriage is to blame everything that goes wrong on her husband. Many things she’s said since Ben came back indicate that she continued to blame him for every difficulty in her life while he was missing. Her relationship with Danny was idyllic because of this blame shifting.
Ben tried to come clean about what’s been happening to him, Michaela and Cal, and Grace not only blew him off, she turned it into another conversation about her own emotional needs and Ben’s shortcomings. From the start, she had no intention of listening to what he had to say.
Ben’s mission statement is also buried in there: “But we need to know what happened on that flight. Who’s behind it? Is it the government or one of the other passengers? Some fluke of physics?”
This is the starting point for his investigation, and his top 3 initial suspects. Down the rabbit hole is exactly where he needs to go, because the passengers, as a group, have more information, consciously and unconsciously, than anyone else so far. Anyone else who has knowledge of what happened is part of the conspiracy.
Okay, back to regular recapping.
Mick brings Anna to the station to look over the NYPD duty logs from the time they were held in the hangar. She’s barely pulled up the logs before Jared walks by and side eyes her. Mick chases after him to explain why she’s there, sort of.
They speak in hushed tones as Jared asks reasonable questions about her personal day, and if Cal is even sick, while Michaela tries to give him non-answers. He eventually gives up and once again tells her he doesn’t care anymore, to just leave him out of it. Riiight.
I find Jared as hilarious as I find Grace annoying. He just can’t quit Michaela.
Michaela lets him walk away, for now, because of course he’ll be back to snoop around before long. She finds that the NYPD escorted 4 busses of passengers from the hangar to government shelters. Anna interrupts to say there were 5 buses, not 4. They went to FEMA in Long Island, DHS in Lower Manhattan (this was Anna’s bus), King’s Point, and Fort Lee, NJ. Anna distinctly remembers Marko getting on a fifth bus, even though it’s not listed.
Ben and Saanvi check news footage from the day and discover that it shows five buses. Ben rechecks his data on the passengers he can’t find and compares it to the news footage. There are 11 passengers who were released, but don’t appear on any news video. They are all either foreign nationals or without living relatives. In other words, people no one would miss. Saanvi and Ben think those were the people on the fifth bus.
Cal yells more Bulgarian in his sleep, this time the word for “hurry”. The medications aren’t bringing down his fever, so his situation is getting worse. But we also see Marko dressed in scrubs, with electrodes on his head, in a hospital bed, repeating the same word. How are they connected?
Michaela follows the electronic surveillance trail of the five busses until one disappears at Thruway exit 16 in Woodbury, NY. Ben gets out a paper map, then uses GoogleMaps’ satellite imagery to find buildings in the vicinity large enough to hide a bus.
Saanvi and Ben begin to wonder if the calling has to do with testing how far they’ll go to fulfill it’s wishes. Saanvi grows concerned at the need to blindly follow the callings, worrying that they’ll be asked to kill someone or blow something up. Ben is too engrossed in playing “Find the Bulgarian” to engage with her worries at the moment, even though he normally has the same thoughts. Saving Cal is a more pressing concern.
Ben photographs his map of potential bus stops and texts it to Michaela. He explains that the area is so rural that there aren’t many roads that the bus could have taken or buildings it could have been hidden in. He wants her to drive through the area and take a look at each one (from the car), but he thinks she should take Jared with heras backup, in case they stumble onto something.
Michaela reluctantly approaches Jared and shares some of the truth with him. She explains about the 11 missing passengers that she’s searching for. Jared tells her that she sounds like a lunatic on TV. Jared gets a meta joke!! Michaela won’t tell him where she got her information from, just that she, Ben and Cal could also be in danger.
Jared says that he still wants nothing to do with it, especially since she could be wrong again. Michaela says the magic words: “Fine, I’ll go alone,” and walks away. 5,4,3,2,1… Jared chases after her, like we all knew he would. He lives to keep Michaela out of trouble.
Cal shouts in his sleep again, saying, “Make it stop” and “The red door, no!” This time, Grace and Dr Williams respond. Dr Williams decides that they need to do more to get his temperature down.
Meanwhile, Marko is having experiments done on him involving repeated electrical stimulation at different levels. When the doctor arrives to observe, the nurse tells him that Marko is responding differently to the stimulus than the others. The doctor wonders if it’s because of his fever. He tells the nurse to use a higher setting.
Who really has the fever and who is reflecting it? Is Cal’s fever helping Marko cope with the experiments somehow, while the electrical stimulation moderates the fever somehow? Is Cal’s current condition totally caused by Marko?
Jared and Michaela have checked out so many places that Jared’s getting tired, while Michaela’s getting sick of his playlist from their Academy days. They laugh the situation off before they reach the next site, which turns out to be the right one. It’s surrounded by armed guards who’re very touchy. When one comes over to give them a hard time, Michaela gives Jared’s car a flat tire so they have an excuse for stopping there. She snaps a few photos of the building as they drive away, capturing one of the missing passengers and the red door from Cal’s nightmares.
Cal’s condition hasn’t improved, and Dr Williams notices that his heart rate is a bit elevated. She tells Grace and Ben that this suggests the possibility of an infection that the other tests are missing. Normally the next step would be to administer a wide band antibiotic, but doing so would make him ineligible to continue in the cancer treatment trial.
The doctor is worried that if his fever worsens, this illness will kill him before the cancer does. On the other hand, there’s no direct evidence that he has an infection, or that it’s a bacterial infection even if he does. Ben is against losing the life saving cancer treatments when they don’t even know if the antibiotics will help. His gut feeling is that Cal’s illness is caused by something else. Grace doesn’t say anything.
It feels like Dr Williams just wants to cover her own butt and use the antibiotics so that she can say she tried everything if Cal doesn’t make it, like Ben implied. While under normal circumstances they’d choose an antibiotic, it doesn’t make sense to give up the cancer treatments for a child who was so desperately ill a few weeks ago. Right now, it doesn’t even look like he’s in the ICU and getting all of the supportive care that he could be getting for the fever.
Once Jared and Michaela get some distance away from the site and are sure they aren’t being followed, he stops the car and insists that she tells him the truth.
Jared: Michaela, enough is enough. That’s it. Time for some answers. Like why did we just find a government black site, guarded by a bunch of Blackwater wannabes? And more importantly, why don’t you seem at all surprised? No, no, no, don’t even think about telling me you can’t explain, Michaela, or giving me some half truth. We’re way past that now.
Michaela: You’re right, okay? You do deserve to know the truth, but I don’t have the answers that you are looking for.
Jared: Try me. I’m trying to help you here. Can’t you see that? Please, tell me what’s going on.
Michaela: The cases that we solved, like the Pyler sisters, I had help. I hear things. Sometimes I see things, too.
Jared: Like hallucinations?
Michaela: I am not crazy, J. This is happening to a lot of us.
Jared: The passengers on the flight.
Jared: Ben, too?
Michaela: Look, you need to understand something.
Jared: Michaela, you realize that…
Michaela: Let me finish, please. These voices, they want us to fix things. It’s like a puzzle that we are being called to solve.
Jared: What does this have to do with that farm back there?
Michaela: I don’t know. But I think the government knows what is happening. And whatever’s going on in that farm, is a danger to all of us, especially Cal. I need to call Ben and tell him what we found. I’m sorry.
So we have our second big reveal conversation of the night, and it goes very differently from the first. Though Jared is angry with Michaela- she almost lost him his job and career, and Vance has attempted to blackmail him twice- he still treats her with respect throughout. Michaela is scared and nervous, but because Jared listens and responds with nonjudgmental language, she gets her story out.
Notice the difference between Jared’s response to finding out about the callings, versus Grace’s. Grace ignored that Ben said, “Some people are seeing things, hearing voices.” She went straight to personalizing it, asking if he was hearing voices, making it sound like he and he alone was hallucinating. Michaela words her confession more personally, using I statements, but Jared simply asks for a clarification, saying, “Like hallucinations?” He lets Michaela keep talking, and listens to her explain that this is happening to many of the passengers, not just her. (If he responded like Grace, the phrasing would be, “You’re hallucinating?”)
Jared sounds like he’s about to tell Michaela that no one will believe her or this sounds crazy, but he stops and lets her finish, so we don’t know what he was going to say. For the most part, he asks questions for more information and clarification, and takes in her answers without giving an opinion on them. We’ll have to wait to find out what he really thinks. What’s important right now is that he actually heard her out when she gave her explanation. Now he can use his own reasoning and detective skills to decide what he thinks about her answers.
Ben gets the call from Michaela, then tries to explain to Grace that he has a better understanding now of what seems to be happening to Cal, and he doesn’t think they should use antibiotics. Grace argues that they should use the same medical triage rules that they always do and treat the most pressing symptoms first. That means treating the fever with antibiotics.
I have a hard time believing she’d be so quick to give up the experimental treatments, unless she really hates Ben and Saanvi that much.
Ben explains about the missing passengers, the farm upstate, and the government experiments. She flat out tells him he sounds crazy. Wow, for someone who expects constant devotion and attention, she sure doesn’t give much back. But Ben has an inspiration about who he can talk to make progress with getting the experiments officially observed or shutdown. Grace can’t believe he’d leave in the middle of Cal’s crisis, and leave her alone. Ben asks her to give him an hour, and to hold off on the antibiotics that long.
Ben talks his way into a sit down with Vance at the NSA. He leads with accusing Vance of taking the missing passengers and telling him that the experiments on them are killing Cal. Vance sputters in complete shock. He has no idea what Ben is talking about. Ben shows them the photo Michaela took with the red door and one of the passengers, who Ben has already identified as Lena Rasmussen, seat 32-F.
It’s hilarious that Ben can even tell them where she sat on the plane, and they don’t even know that the 11 passengers have gone missing or that this site exists. Especially when Vance says that he’s a seasoned US intelligence officer, so Ben won’t be able to stare him down. Pretty sure Ben just did.
Ben threatens to go to the press with information about how they stole Kelly’s body and threw Bethany in jail. Vance cuts him off again and acts like he’s a crazy conspiracy theorist, then has him escorted out. As his parting words, Ben tells them that
the truth is out there the truth will come out.
As soon as Ben is out of the room, Vance asks for the files on the passengers on Ben’s list. Powell thinks he should ignore Ben, but Vance says that he can’t get a straight answer from DOD, Homeland Security or DARPA. He doesn’t know what to believe.
Jared finds Michaela doing more research on the passengers and tells her that she could have trusted him with this all along. She’s known him half her life and he’s never betrayed her. He would have believed her this time, too. Mick says that she’s the one it’s happening to, and she’s not sure she believes it. Plus, he’s married to someone else now.
I know she has to push him away a little because he’s married, but these two still bring me to the edge of tears sometimes. The trust and support between them are so strong and unspoken. Michaela’s a little spooked right now, but she’s wrapped up in their chemistry, no matter what her conscious mind says.
Jared thinks Michaela should make this an official investigation by bringing in Captain Riojas and the Feds. Mick tells him that she can’t, the Feds are in on it. The farm was bank owned for years, until Unified Dynamic Systems purchased it two weeks ago using a wholly owned subsidiary of one of their holding companies to disguise the purchase.
EvilCorp Massive Dynamic Unified Dynamic Systems is a multi-billion dollar corporation with interests in everything from kitchen appliances to hygiene products to airplane parts (!!), and they have extensive government contracts. The five buses that “relocated the passengers from the plane were contracted to the government by… Unified Dynamic Systems.” Everything Michaela is finding leads to UDS. And they disappeared the missing passengers.
Grace and Saanvi have ended up together in Cal’s hospital room, so Grace asks Saanvi if she thinks Cal’s symptoms are tied to the plane and whether they should give him the antibiotics. Other than believing that Cal should stay in the cancer treatment trial, Saanvi doesn’t really have definitive answers for her. Grace doesn’t listen to her any more than she listened to Ben. She actually rolls her eyes at Saanvi and tells her not to encourage Ben to chase wild theories.
Then Cal has another episode, with his fever and his pulse spiking. Whatever the experimenters are doing to Marko is causing a seizure, which also causes Cal to seize. The
torturer scientist tells the lab techs to abort if Marko gets worse. Grace insists that they give Cal antibiotics, now. Saanvi explains that the seizure means that Cal’s infection is viral, so antibiotics won’t help. Grace actually bats Saanvi away and tells Dr Williams to proceed with the antibiotic. Saanvi interrupts again to explain that, for real, he’ll be kicked out of the study if he takes them and his cancer will come back. Cal’s symptoms subside as the electricity is turned down on Marko. Saanvi asks Grace to give Ben a chance to help Cal.
When a nurse brings Grace some sandwiches, she asks the nurse to stay with him while she cries in the bathroom. The nurse knocks on the bathroom door to tell Grace that Cal is waking up. Grace is doubly rude to the nurse.
Cal and Marko both wake up and stare straight ahead. Cal’s fever has broken. Dr Williams says they got lucky, that his body fought off the infection on its own.
Powell brings Vance the files on the missing passengers. According to Homeland Security, the five foreign nationals have been returned to their countries, three of the missing are in the hospital, one is in prison because of an outstanding warrant, and two had no next of kin. So they’re all accounted for.
Lena Rasmussen is supposed to be in Norway, 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle. Vance realizes that there’s no way Michaela’s photo was taken that far north. He sets off to visit the farm.
Ben returns to the hospital and has to confess that he didn’t accomplish anything helpful. Grace tells him that he left her alone when she needed him and he can’t ever do that again. Ben says he’s sorry. He hugs her and looks disturbed.
I don’t blame him. He has a psycho wife who gets rude and physical with their son’s cancer doctor and nurses, who can’t handle a crisis on her own, and who’s more worried about her own emotions than their ill son’s needs. She was also h-lla territorial with Saanvi.
Montage time! The three Stones all sleep on Cal’s hospital bed, except Grace doesn’t sleep, she broods, after her hard day of being self-absorbed. Jared goes over the evidence he’s collected about Michaela’s activities since she’s been back, and glances over at the electronic photos of Mick and her family that he still keeps on his desk.
From the corridor, Mick watches Grace with a now-awake Cal. Saanvi and Ben join her. Ben gives Saanvi a cactus, figuring it’s a houseplant she can’t kill. They try to figure out what happened with the calling, since they think they failed it, yet Cal got better. Ben is certain that they were supposed to help Marko, and didn’t, but Saanvi and Michaela think the calling could have been about something else that they did. Ben doesn’t think this is over. He thinks they’re still supposed to find Marko. Saanvi has already figured out that he has a plan for that. Ben turns on his computer, and the home screen goes to Unified Dynamic Systems.
By the time Vance and Powell get to the farm it’s been cleared out. Powell thinks it’s all innocent, but Vance says that whenever he’s had to clear a place out, he leaves it looking like that. Then he notices a band aid from Marko’s arm on the floor. It’s still fresh. Now Vance is sure people were there earlier today.
Marko wakes up wherever the subjects are now being held. They’re crowded into a smaller facility. Lena Rasmussen in walking between the beds. Someone is looking at Marko’s brain scans. He tells them that he was in the hospital and he said Mama, please hurry, then they were worried.
A researcher talks on the phone to whoever supervises the experiments: “No ma’am, the subjects have been removed from the protocol. We had to terminate the experiment because someone from the NSA started poking around. But the disruption was only temporary. We just need to get the equipment set up, and we’ll be back up and running in no time.”
Ben: “Busses don’t just disappear.”
Saanvi: “Why not, happens to airplanes?”
😍😍😍😍😍😍😍 Saanvi keeps her head in a crisis, and even makes dry little jokes that sound simple but aren’t. She’s my ideal woman, even if she’s not Ben’s. I think she is Ben’s, though. She contributes to the problem solving, instead of leaving him to do it all himself while complaining that he’s not paying enough attention to her.
I said at the top of the post that one purpose for the callings is to test the passengers’ relationships to see which ones they’d fight to keep. Another aspect to that is to reveal which relationships have fundamental issues that would have led to them ending eventually, no matter what.
The way Grace and Ben cope with stress is fundamentally opposed. They’re unable to give each other what they need, and those cracks were already deep long before the plane went missing. Grace wants constant emotional attention and support, while Ben needs space to work through issues logically. We’ve seen that Danny understands how to give Grace what she needs, with flattery, a warm hug and a disarming joke to put her at ease. Saanvi works logically like Ben, but gets him to come out of his head and communicate with others, instead of disappearing. When times are good, Ben and Grace have a great “opposites attract” thing going. But when life gets rough, they are on such different wavelengths that they can’t function together effectively.
Jared, on the other hand, is intensely in tune with Michaela. He’s always aware of where she is in the room and what her emotional state is. Then, if something needs fixing, he usually tries to do something about it. He trusts her implicitly, and expects the same from her, which she gives him. Michaela knows that she can count on Jared to be there for her, even though he’s married to someone else.
Michaela never seems to come up in conversations between Ben and Grace at all, even though she’s close family and lives with them. Is there some bad blood between them? Michaela tried to apologize to Grace for something when they came home from the airport, and Grace told her that they were starting with a clean slate. What’s the story there? Why is Mick left out of the family worry sessions?
I’m wondering about the roots of Grace’s behavior. There may be some form of mental illness involved. She may also be gathering evidence for a divorce case and custody battle. Danny may be egging her on, having heard years of stories about how awful Ben was, and now listening to Grace describe his unusual behavior. They’ve laid the groundwork for Grace and Danny to be awarded full custody of Olive. Now they might be gathering evidence so they can take away Cal.
Deputy Powell spent a lot of time discouraging Vance from following his instincts in this episode, and trying to keep Vance from following the right leads. Is he the conspirators’ inside man on the investigation, meant to sabotage it any way he can?
Radar was developed for use in times of war, to spot incoming enemy airstrikes. So, the question is, who’s off the radar, and who’s on? The 11 missing passengers are off radar, and were taken further off by the end of the episode. Vance, Michaela, Jared and Ben may all have put themselves on someone’s radar by poking around into those passengers’ files and USD. It’s not a good sign that Ben has USD software running on his laptop already. Was that who he worked for before the flight? Depending on how closely they’re being watched, Cal may be on the USD radar because he and Marko are sharing a psychic link. Grace seems like she might have Saanvi on her radar as a threat to her marriage.
Territorialism goes hand in hand with the radar metaphor. It’s been an issue since the beginning with the season, as the passengers have struggled to reclaim their places in the world. This week we saw a new aspect of territorialism added to the mix, the infighting amongst the government agencies investigating the plane’s disappearance. And the tension in Ben and Grace’s marriage led Grace to become jealous of Saanvi’s connection with Ben. Lourdes is also territorial, but the narrative has relegated her to the sidelines for now.
What is the link between Marko and Cal? Was it created when Marko touched Cal’s head before Flight 828 landed? Or was it already there, and that’s why he was drawn to Cal? Did they switch consciousnesses? Were they in their own bodies, but aware of what the other was experiencing? Are the experiments on Marko and the other ten passengers a continuation of what was done to the passengers during the missing years?
During the moments we see of the science panel, Dr J Haskin says: “Sure, scientifically the potential for a highly localized discontinuity in space could lead to teleportation, but you have to understand, the structure of that airplane would have had to withstand extreme forces far in excess of what it was designed to withstand…”
A woman interrupts: “So you’re saying it wasn’t a wormhole.”
Haskin: “I’m not in the business of saying what things aren’t. I’m just saying that there are other possibilities.”
2nd woman: “Of course it’s a wormhole.”
Haskin: “We have to consider that the laws of physics as we know them may not apply.”
Someone in the writers’ room has been on the fan forums. 😉 I believe that this is being said directly to the fans, telling us that they aren’t ready to rule anything out as the cause of the mystery yet. And there are definitely other possibilities besides wormholes for the plane’s disappearance, especially since the plane isn’t a spaceship.
There’s also a loophole in this argument. Maybe the plane didn’t teleport, but the people did. We know the people died or came close to death and were revived. Personally, I think they’ve all spent time in stasis/cryo, and that’s why they haven’t aged. They could have been kept in a facility on Earth, maybe in Cuba, or they could have been teleported to another galaxy, but either way they were experimented on and kept in suspended animation, as we used to call it, when they weren’t needed.
*DARPA= Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research wing of the United States military which is responsible for “emerging technologies”. That means that DARPA is the place where all of the crazy, futuristic, scifi ideas are explored and made reality. They were instrumental in creating the internet. They really want to create an Ironman exoskeleton suit. They’ve researched flying cars, jet packs, neural implants, earthworm-like robots, smart bullets, you name it.
Researching whatever types of telepathic communication are being researched here would be right in DARPA’s wheelhouse. The callings are similar to military commands, and, as the gang has wondered about, the commands could become violent and be used for assassinations or to coordinate attacks.
Blackwater= notorious private military contractor (modern mercenaries) who were involved in several scandals in Iraq and with the CIA in the 2000s. The company has since changed its name twice to try to escape its reputation as corrupt and unnecessarily violent.
USD will undoubtedly have its own Blackwater-type contractors who are willing and able to accomplish whatever job the client needs done, no questions asked, whether it’s long or short-term in duration. But will USD be the client in charge of the experiments, or will it have been contracted to oversee the lab facilities and security for someone else’s experiments? Or will it be a joint DARPA/USD operation?
Respected researcher and Flight 828 passenger Fiona Clarke is giving television interviews this week. Michaela notices her while they discuss Marko for the first time:
Episode 7: S.N.A.F.U. Promo
Images courtesy of NBC.