‘Manifest’: Why the Solution to the Jace Problem Leaves Us With So Many Questions (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Manifest Season 3, Episodes 5 and 6, “Water Landing” and “Graveyard Spiral.”]
“We were wrong,” 828 passenger Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) says at the end of the back-to-back Manifest episodes on April 29. “We were so very wrong.”
As we feel tends to happen with every episode of the NBC drama, we’re left with more questions than ever about those who were on Flight 828. After disappearing for five years, they returned and hadn’t aged at all. Then they learned they all have “death dates”: They’ll die the way they should have after being back for the exact amount of time they were gone. Zeke Landon (Matt Long) survived his — after seemingly dying of frostbite as he would have — by following the mysterious Callings that lead all the returned to help people.
With the latest returnees, the Meth Heads — Jace (James McMenamin), Pete (Devin Harjes), and Kory (Dazmann Still) — the Stones and their friends witness something chilling when their death date arrives.
Testing, 1… 2… 3…
In “Water Landing,” Detective (and 828er) Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) and her partner Drea Mikami (Ellen Tamaki) scope out Jace’s trailer, thanks to his brother Pete giving him up. (Pete wants to survive his death date, to be with Holly Taylor’s Angelina.) There, they find symbols that turn out to match the ones on the papyrus 828er TJ (Garrett Wareing) has been recovering in Egypt and sending to the college for research assistant Levi (Will Peltz) and Olive Stone (Luna Blaise) to restore.
After having a Calling, Michaela knows Jace is coming for her. In an attempt to piece it all together, she and her brother Ben turn to the two Meth Heads in custody and more willing to cooperate: Pete, who’s been taken in for experiments by Eureka, and Kory, in the hospital after Jace shot him. Pete does tell them where to go — the lake where the Meth Heads came back — but insists on going, too. And with Pete going, Angelina joins them.
Meanwhile, Olive’s research leads her to believe that the three Meth Heads are playing out The Last Trial: Three prisoners were given a second chance to correct their mistakes. The first (Pete) used his chance to find love and was rewarded with a companion. The second (Kory) put past grievances to rest and was rewarded with peace. And the third (Jace) chose vengeance and a river of blood was shed. But, as Levi informs her, it was a test: If the last man had forgiven his enemies, he would’ve been rewarded. Jace must choose not to kill Michaela.
What They Thought They Knew
He has just that opportunity in “Graveyard Spiral,” and he chooses wrong — because he wants her to lead him to her nephew Cal Stone (Jack Messina). He sees the 828er as his “last chance” — because that’s what he hears him saying through this strange connection between the kid (who’s playing basketball and talking about taking a shot) and the Meth Heads. When Michaela refuses, he pushes her off a cliff.
Fortunately, she doesn’t fall too far, though she does dislocate her shoulder. And through the odd supernatural empathy ability that Zeke has now after surviving his death date, he feels his wife’s pain as he helps her up. That sends an energy wave that knocks Cal’s basketball off the windshield of a car … leading to Ben and Angelina having a Calling seeing it bouncing in the road in front of them. That sends them to Cal, who’s hiding out with his baby sister Eden, his mother Grace (Athena Karkanis), and Grace’s brother Tarik (Warner Miller).
Also heading their way, to Tarik’s cabin: Jace (after hearing about a police report involving an 828 kid via the radio in Michaela’s car he stole) and Lieutenant Jared Vasquez (J.R. Ramirez) after he called Michaela.
Pretty much immediately after Ben, Angelina, Pete, and the NSA agent guarding him arrive at the cabin and unite with the rest of the family, Jace opens fire, killing the agent. Tarik insists Grace and the kids hide in the root cellar while he goes back for his father’s rifle … and Jace kills him when he won’t lead him to Cal. Out for revenge for her brother’s death, Grace arms herself with that rifle and takes up watch outside the cellar, where the kids are hiding — and Kory is there to protect them “for as long as I can.” The Callings led him to Cal.
Kory’s also the one to tell Cal to remain quiet since Jace is using them to find him and thinks that if Cal dies with him when his death date comes, he’ll come back. (That might hold some water if Cal had died when the Meth Heads drowned, but he didn’t. Zeke saved him.) Grace is ready to kill the man who took her brother from her until Ben intervenes. Jace failed his test and he’s out of time, he tells his wife. Let it run its course. She does as everyone watches him succumb to his death date and drown in the middle of the woods.
Because of their actions to help, Pete and Kory survive their death dates … or so they think. Olive finishes restoring the final piece of the papyrus and discovers they didn’t have the complete picture before. “The Last Trial isn’t about each person being judged individually,” she tells Michaela and Ben over FaceTime. “They all came back together and now they’re all being judged together.”
That’s when Cal sees the dark shadow that has symbolized Jace in the past rise out of him — and go into Pete and Kory, killing them, too. Cue Ben’s “we were so very wrong” realization.
What does this mean for the passengers of Flight 828? As showrunner Jeff Rake previously teased for TV Insider, “We will come to learn a lesson in regard to the Meth Heads that will help us understand why they came back and what their return means for the future of the passengers. … They’re all pieces of the same ultimate puzzle that will help Ben and Michaela and others unpack from a mythological standpoint, what they as passengers returned for and how they may survive. It’s all connected and the Meth Heads’ return and their demise will be intrinsically connected to the passengers’ fate.”
Why did Pete and Kory have to die? Pete was willing to pay the price for his past crimes — he’d get a reduced sentence, but he was going to prison — and Kory was determined to protect Cal until his dying breath. Is it that they weren’t just judged together but judged based on their actions as a whole and their turns came too late? Will all the remaining 828 passengers be judged as a whole when their death dates arrive? (Zeke was the only one to return when he did.) Are there more symbols out there to hint at the 828ers’ destiny? Anything is possible.
One Bullet Dodged … Right?
Meanwhile, Saanvi (Parveen Kaur), who accidentally killed the Major (Elizabeth Marvel) in the Season 2 finale, has been stressing about the fallout of that act. And that doesn’t stop even when Vance (Daryl Edwards), back with the NSA and working on Eureka (investigating 828), comes up with a solution to get Jared off the case after the Major’s daughter brings it to the NYPD. There’s a cover story in place: An enemy spy killed her. It seems to be enough, at least legally, but Saanvi still fears what her actions mean for herself and the rest of the passengers.
Manifest, Thursdays, 8/7c, NBC