By Landon Hilst | Echo
NBC's new series "Manifest" grounds the interstellar concept of time travel to tell a story about second chances and new beginnings.
"Manifest" sparked a lot of excitement because of its unique premise. A family is split up at the airport due to a layover, with half of the family leaving early on flight 828, and the rest staying behind to wait. Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh), her brother Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) and his son Cal, who is struggling with leukemia, all depart on the same flight from the Bahamas.
All seems normal enough, with the family sitting together and the adults chatting about life problems, until midway through the flight when things start getting weird. A massive storm appears out of nowhere, throwing the passengers into chaos as the pilots struggle against immense turbulence and power fluctuations.
As the crisis passes and the flight lands near New York, things still aren't quite normal. An impressive squad of policemen, firefighters and FBI agents is there to greet the passengers as they disembark the aircraft. To their shock, the plane they were on has been missing for six years. The Stone trio learn they, along with everyone else on flight 828, have been presumed dead by their surviving relatives
"Manifest" takes off fast, setting up intriguing plotlines and conflicts for its characters. Michaela's then fiancé is now married, Ben's twins suddenly have a six-year age gap and Cal is now viable for cancer treatments unavailable in the past. Elements like these add a new layer to what would otherwise come across as a by-the-numbers drama.
Flight 828's passengers experience fallout from loved ones, jobs and relationships due to their disappearance but don't actively feel any difference in themselves. The characters have to completely change their ways of thinking to conform to this new life they find themselves in. However, scenes like these are held back due to weak performances and subplots. The pace suffers from trying to accomplish too much within the pilot episode.
"Manifest" shows a lot of promise, despite its problems. The freshman series would benefit leaning more into its Sci-Fi elements such as the plane disappearance and consequences of time displacement. But as one of the top-rated scripted shows of its premiere date, September 24, "Manifest" is off to a good start. There is plenty of time for the show hit its stride and level itself out to become something great. Viewers can catch the show Mondays at 10/9 Central Time on NBC or can stream it the next day on Hulu.