‘Manifest’ Season 4 Part 1 Review: Back and Better Than Ever

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Prepare for takeoff, Manifest fans. The former NBC drama, now safely at home on Netflix for one final 20-episode season (split into two parts), is picking up the pace when it returns with the first half of the final season on November 4. Set two years after Grace (Athena Karkanis) was brutally murdered by Angelina (Holly Taylor), who then kidnapped Ben (Josh Dallas) and Grace’s daughter Eden, we find the Stone family still picking up the pieces of their lives as their dreaded death day inches nearer — now only a year and a half away. With Ben distracted by his exhaustive search for Eden and Angelina, Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) has taken control of the lifeboat, trying to save everyone from meeting a grisly fate. But, much has changed over the last two years of the passengers’ lives, making this task even more difficult.

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The biggest change of all is the introduction of the 828 registry, where passengers are forced to check in once per month (or more, if you are summoned) or they will be immediately hauled off to jail. This is one of the government’s ways to supposedly keep track of the passengers for their own safety, given that there are dangerous individuals that wish them harm. But, ultimately, it feels like a punishment because of the terrible acts committed by some of the frightened and otherwise awful passengers that accompanied the Stones on the flight that completely changed the trajectory of their lives.

Despite this governmental interference, Vance (Daryl Edwards) and Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) continue their work from Eureka as best as possible since it was shut down after the plane disappeared in the final moments of the third season’s finale. But, they are severely short-staffed and without any real funding, as this operation isn’t supposed to exist anymore. Meanwhile, Olive (Luna Blaise) and aged-up Cal (Ty Doran) are learning to step out on their own, embracing adulthood as much as possible after the trauma they’ve experienced, but still struggling with losing their mother, sister, and essentially their father all on the same day. This is especially true for Cal, who is blamed for Grace’s death by both his sister and father because of the sympathy he showed Angelina. As Cal points out early on in the season, Ben has hardly looked at him for the entire two years we’ve missed. They’re also now living with Michaela and Zeke (Matt Long).

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In addition to the Stone family and the passengers, Manifest Season 4 also focuses much more on the various players in their lives that haven’t ever really gotten their due time on the show but are now able to because the episodes have been extended by 5-8 minutes on Netflix. Zeke, for instance, has really stepped up to provide for the whole Stone family in Ben’s near-constant absence. He’s become a father figure for Olive and Cal, giving them much-needed advice and love, while using his complicated empathic abilities to help counsel others struggling with addiction, the job he uses to provide for the entire family with Ben and Michaela out of work. Technically, Ben lives with them too. But, as we very quickly learn, Ben’s car has become something of a home for him as he’s constantly out looking for leads on Eden and Angelina, who the police have put little effort into finding since the very beginning.

Drea (Ellen Tamaki), Michaela’s partner from the NYPD, has a new turn that is one of the most intriguing of the season, as we catch up with her now working for the 828 registry. Meanwhile, Jared (J.R. Ramirez) has suffered a major setback during our time away, but his role in what’s going on with the passengers becomes much more active. (And, he even gets a family in flashbacks!) We also catch up with the other passengers, passengers like Adrian (Jared Grimes) and Eagan (Ali Sohaili), and what they have been up to over the last few years.

Altogether, the first half of the final season is a fantastic continuation of the series. The move to Netflix coincides with a major tonal shift, as well, something that I wonder if the series could have pulled off if it had stayed on NBC. After losing Grace and being tracked by the 828 registry, the cost of the Callings and the life they are now being forced to live — if they want to survive — weighs on the characters more than ever. There is a darkness surrounding them and the entire series, which is needed as we build toward their ultimate judgment day. Their journeys are meticulously planned out, and each character is on an exciting path in these episodes — yes, even Jared and Olive, who have both often been treated as afterthoughts next to what is going on.

The series feels entirely revitalized. Every thread to the complex story is exciting in its own way. Those who have felt like the overarching story with the Callings has been moving too slowly are surely in for a surprise as things begin to move much quicker with the characters (and the viewers) hardly having enough time to process one shocking thing before we’re moving on to the next — and this is a good thing — but not before showing that the writers have known all along what they were doing, and certain things that may have seemed insignificant at the time are actually quite important.

One thing is for sure: It is all connected. This season of Manifest proves that more than ever, as the characters are taken back to various aspects from the previous three seasons that had seemingly run their course, only for a new surprising twist to be introduced and blow our minds. So many familiar faces return, which is thrilling and also really helps to emphasize that the passengers are in this mess together whether they want to be or not. Their stories aren’t over until the death day arrives, and absolutely nothing will prepare you for where the first half of the season leads.

These episodes also really showcase everything that was lost with Grace’s death, too. Love her or hate her, she held the Stone family and the show together in inexplicable ways. She was truly the heart of the show. The loss of that heart is surprisingly, but appropriately, almost palpable in this season. The outlook on the future is much gloomier for many, particularly Ben and Cal, the latter of which has experienced more than his fair share of trauma already with more on the way. Nonetheless, Manifest is back and better than ever, fully taking advantage of its new life on Netflix to keep everyone on the edge of their seats until the final moment of this flight.

Rating: A

Manifest Season 4 Part 1 premieres November 4 on Netflix. The first three seasons are streaming now.



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Las Vegas News Magazine

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