This review contains some spoilers for the pilot episode of Manifest.
From Oscar award winning executive producer Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future) NBC’s most anticipated fall drama, Manifest, kicked off Monday night, and ended with a literal bang. Advertised as a mix of Lost and This is Us, the pilot proved to easily be one of those shows that make an hour feel like nothing and have us already wishing it was next week.
What would you do if you lost five and a half years of your life? For sister and brother Michaela and Ben Stone (Valor’s Melissa Roxburgh and Once Upon a Time’s Josh Dallas), as well as the rest of the 191 passengers and crew of Montego Air Flight 828, that is just what they find themselves facing. After taking a later flight, due to their family’s being oversold, and some violent turbulence in the air, they land to find out that they have been missing for over half a decade, and their entire world has changed. Now, as they begin to try and reclaim their lives, strange occurrences start to happen to the siblings, deepening the mystery of what has occurred on that plane. Questions swirl around the characters, both from their time in 2013, as well as the ones that moved on when they thought that their loved ones were missing (and presumed dead).
Created and written by Jeff Rake (The Mysteries of Laura), the pilot storyline itself is predictable enough, but it doesn’t need to be overly complex to drive the plot along and engage the viewers. The pilot script does a good job of intertwining the connections with the characters while building upon a mystery where not many questions are meant to be answered just yet. You get just enough of the answer to want to know more, but not enough to spoil anything. It will be these connections with these characters that will keep people coming back week after week. People are going to want answers to these questions (and many more) as we get to know and love these characters.
- Where did the plane go?
- Why are the Stone siblings hearing voices?
- Where are they coming from?
- Will other passengers manifest similar powers or completely different ones?
- Who is Grace texting?
- Who is Evie?
It’s not that the big mystery takes a backseat to the rest of the drama, however we want to get to know these characters and learn what makes them tick all while having this unknown “big bad” looming over them. I am excited to see where this show goes and what they are going to do with the characters.
This cast is one of the most well put together casts since This is Us. The familial connection between Melissa Roxburgh and Josh Dallas already makes it feel as if they have grown up together (and if you watched the two of them doing press together you would truly feel like you have). Luna Blaise (Fresh Off the Boat) and Athena Karkanis (Zoo) look like they could easily be mother and daughter as Olive and Grace Stone. Parveen Kaur (Beyond) as headstrong researcher Saanvi, and newcomer Jack Messina round out the diverse cast.
I am honestly impressed with the maturity that both Luna and Jack have already shown as young Olive and Cal Stone. I have to say that I am already shipping and rooting for Jared and Michaela (a.k.a #Jachela) because J.R. Ramirez (Jessica Jones) and Melissa Roxburgh already have a subtle chemistry as a couple that may have gotten a second chance (even when it may seem too late).
In the end, this show is going to be more than just about people who went missing for over five years. It is going to be about families and how they put their lives back together after a tragedy and a second chance. And if the early ratings have anything to say about it, as Michaela says, “This was just the beginning…”