When Cal gets sick, Ben, Michaela, and Saanvi realize that it’s tied to MA 828 and several missing passengers. Our review of Manifest, “Off Radar”.
This week, Manifest returned from a brief hiatus. At the end of “Connecting Flights” it was quickly confirmed that Cal, either wittingly or unwittingly, would play a much bigger role in the MA 828 disappearance. And in “Off Radar” we learn that “it’s all connected” should be taken literally. YIKES.
#ItsAllConnected, to and through Cal
The episode opens with a flashback to the MA 828 flight. Before the plane lands, Cal is on his way back to his seat after using the restroom. There’s another passenger, who doesn’t speak English, who’s asking for help to fill out his U.S. Customs form. He asks Saanvi for help, but she doesn’t understand the language he’s speaking. The man gently pats Cal on the head as he passes by, and is eventually able to find help from another woman who does speak his language.
In the present, Ben, Grace, and Michaela are awakened in the middle of the night when Cal goes into distress. He’s repeating a phrase over and over again (in the same language that the man from MA 828 was using). At first, Ben and Grace think it’s a nightmare, but realize that Cal has a fever. They immediately take him to the emergency room.
Unfortunately none of Cal’s doctors are able to figure out the source of the fever. Saanvi is present and hears the phrase the Cal is repeating and remembers that she’s heard it before… on the plane! Saanvi shares this with Ben and Michaela. Ben has been doing significant research into the passengers on MA 828 and is able to help Saanvi identify the man as Marko from Bulgaria. And it turns out that what Cal has been repeating is “HELP ME” in Bulgarian. LAWD.
Things become even more mind blowing when we see that, in simultaneous, concurring timelines, Cal’s illness is a direct result of Marko. Marko is somewhere being treated/experimented on and is having a seizure. He calls out for help… and Cal is experiencing the exact same thing and also crying out, “HURRY” in Bulgarian. INCREDIBLE.
Someone is out here disappearing MA 828 passengers!
Saanvi is able to identify the woman that helped Marko with his customs form, Anna, and Michaela reaches out to her. The last time she sees Marko is getting on a bus to go to a shelter, Bus #5. Ben, Michaela, and Saanvi find that NYPD records and news footage only confirm four busses to the shelters. And on Bus #5 were mostly foreign nationals or those with no living relatives. It really looks like the government out here disappearing people!
Ben: “Busses just don’t disappear.”
Saanvi: “Why not? It happens to airplanes.”
The realest of real talk!
Is Jared our friend? IDK…
When Michaela figures out how Bus #5 was diverted, she plans to retrace the travel path. Ben asks Michaela to take Jared with her, probably for safety. However, knowing that Jared may/may not be beholden to Vance and the NSA, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Michaela and Jared end up finding a restricted area that’s heavily guarded by well-armed security. Michaela flattens one of their tires to delay being forced to leave when a guard approaches. It’s a highly stressful situation, as they try to change their tire with a military-grade weapon practically in their faces. As Michaela and Jared leave, she’s able to take some photos, which confirm that there are medical professionals and patients on the compound, too.
Jared is upset at Michaela for taking these risks and demands to know what’s going on. This time, she tells the truth, confessing that she, Ben, and other MA 828 passengers are seeing and hearing things. All I know is that Jared better keep all this to himself. HE HAD BETTER.
Still here, still shipping Ben and Saanvi. Judge me if you must.
This episode features an incredibly interesting dynamic between Ben, Grace, and Saanvi. When Ben tells Grace that what’s happening to Cal is ties to MA 828, she’s very skeptical and even becomes upset with Ben for wanting to solve this mystery. “I need us to be partners…” meaning that Grace wants Ben to prioritize being a father over being a scientist. But as many who live tweeted on Monday said, it’s totally reasonable for Ben to be both, especially for the sake of helping his son. And, when it’s all said and done, it’s Ben’s skills and deduction as a scientist that point us in the direction to best help Cal.
When Grace confronts Saanvi about encouraging Ben’s investigations, Saanvi says the same thing, that Ben can do both. Later, when Cal’s fever rears again, Dr. Williams suggests that they may have to choose between Cal’s cancer treatment and treating the fever. It’s a devastating choice. In that moment, Grace demands that they deviate from the cancer treatment course to give him antibiotics. Saanvi pleads with Grace to wait, that giving the antibiotics will disqualify Cal from the cancer treatment. And luckily, Cal’s distress does start to dissipate and the fever breaks. Thank goodness for Saanvi being a voice of reason here. Although, I’m not shading Grace in any way. When your son is so ill and declining, you’ll do anything.
With that said, it’s so clear to me that Ben and Saanvi are on the same page about how to proceed. They work well together and can count on one another in a way that I don’t think Ben and Grace can do for each other anymore. IDK, it’s super complicated. In any event, Ben promises Grace to be there from now on.
UNIFIED DYNAMIC SYSTEMS
In Ben’s frustration, he goes to the NSA offices and demands to see Vance. Ben confronts him about Bus #5’s disappearance and tells him that whatever he’s doing to Marko at that compound is affecting Cal. So, for Cal’s sake, STOP. Vance denies any knowledge of it, and interestingly, he isn’t lying.
Ben, Michaela, and Saanvi find out that, in fact, it’s a private company Unified Dynamic Systems, that’s holding those MA 828 passengers. And by the time Vance arrives at that compound, it’s been totally cleared out. But a bloody band-aid on the floor clues him into the fact that Ben is telling the truth.
11 passengers are missing and are being subjected to brutal experimentation. What’s going on???!!!! Who are UNIFIED DYNAMIC SYSTEMS and what are they doing with these people???!!! And why is Cal connected to them???!!!
Manifest airs Mondays at 10p/9c on NBC.