Manifest Writers: “What the hell is going on?”

Occurrences of “hell”, the color “red”, and “fall” in the Manifest TV series

by Don Kincaid |
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Dec 3, 2018

Future updates: c.f. glossary terms HELL and RED.

In the promo video of episode 10, we hear Michaela say, “What the hell is going on?” That is a question many viewers are asking, too. Are the writers using “hell” simply to express discontent or displeasure,  disregard for conventional procedure and precautions, or is there something more significant going on here?

References to the word “hell”

The writers may be using “hell” in a very creative way of depicting the character’s turbulent state of mind and being (i.e. “Turbulence” , the episode 3 title.) Although the common Christian concept of hell does not involve redemption, the writers might just be using a broader (i.e, a purgatorial) view.

In the first 9 episodes, one or more characters in 23 different scenes use the word “hell” at least once. In fact, in 106.14 Jared uses it four times to underscore that something not right is going on:

  • After Michaela pokes a hole in one of the front tires of the police car, he says, ‘Mick, what the hell?”
  • Then, after replacing the tire and they drive away from the security guard, he says, “Mich, what the hell? That guy had an automatic weapon.”
  • Then while Michaela is pointing her camera and taking pictures of a woman and a man approaching a red door to a barn, he says, “Mich, what the hell is going on?”
  • And then when a man comes out of the red door, he says for a final time, “Michaela, what the hell’s happening?”

This appears to be more than a cliché. The writers would not have used it four times in a scene unless they were trying to make a strong impact on the viewer that what was going on behind the red door was significant.

Scenes where hell is used
Slower! Slower! (101.11)
101.11 SYNOPSIS:  While taking the bus home Michaela hears a voice inside her head yelling "slower."  She yells at the bus driver to slow down, which he does in just enough time to be able to stop before a boy runs into the street.
Jared Helps Michaela (101.16)
101.16 SYNOPSIS:  At the precinct, an officer reveals to Jared phone footage of Michaela and Ben freeing the dogs.  Jared is willing to help Michaela out of her predicament, but she’s uneasy that her ex-fiance and her best friend are now married and she has been gone for  five 1/2 years.
Cleanup (102.1)
102.1 SYNOPSIS:  While firefighters are hosing down the plane, the NSA detains the passengers and asks why they were there at the fence. When Michaela says that they have no legal basis to detain them any longer, she gets everyone released, and they are told not to talk to the media.
Out of Place (102.22)
102.22 SYNOPSIS:  Michaela visits Lourdes who says she feels like a fraud or the second choice for having married Jared, but Michaela tells her  she was going to give the ring back after she returned even though in a flashback it’s revealed that she was going to say yes.
Kelly is Murdered (102.24)
102.24 SYNOPSIS:  While Kelly is watching herself on television news, a shadowy figure can be seen behind her, and then we hear a gun shot as Kelly's blood splatters onto the television screen.
Mr. Taylor's Mall (103.16)
103.16 SYNOPSIS:  Ben and Michaela make a visit to Kelly's mall and when one of the store employees sees her badge, she flees. They chase her in a backroom where she reveals that many of the store owners are illegal. They learn that Kelly was trying to own her truth and shut down the family business.
Save Him! (104.10)
104.10 SYNOPSIS:   Michaela  learns that Jared convinced her partner to take the day off so that he could have time with her to make sure she’s alright. As they start arguing, she sees the stone woman appear in front of her chanting “Save him.” She believes it has to do with their undercover asset and decides to move in on the operation, but it botches the whole mission.—>
Free Pass (104.20)
104.20 SYNOPSIS: Ben tells his daughter about a boomerang he once stole and why he felt like he did it. When he gives her a free pass for stealing the makeup, she opens up about not wanting him to see her a a screw up. Olive asks Ben not to tell Grace.—>
Who is Gray Woman? (104.22)
104.22 SYNOPSIS:  Saanvi and Michaela discuss their different visions of the gray woman . To Saanvi, she has wet footprints while to Michaela she had large wings. Bethany connects the two to the Angel of  Waters, a statue in Central Park, at Bethesda Fountain.
Flight 828 Missing (105.2)
105.02 SYNOPSIS: Jared is with Lourdes, paranoid that Michaela plans to turn down his proposal when he receives a call from her parents. They hope that maybe his badge will get them a little more info about what’s going on with Flight 828, but they are left with more questions than answers.—>
Gee, Grace, You look... (105.9)
105.09 SYNOPSIS: Grace sits down with a support group, which includes Danny, and shares her story with them. He approaches her afterward and instantly manages to make her laugh for the first time in a long time.—>
To Fight Like Hell (105.17)
105.17 SYNOPSIS: Michaela visits her dad and opens up about missing her mom and seeing the life she could’ve had with Jared. Her dad tells her to go for it because he never got over her and these are special circumstances.—>
Motel Living (106.6)
106.6 SYNOPSIS: Michaela meets up with the woman who discusses that she saw Marko get onto a bus to one of the government shelters set up for passengers with no place to go. She learns that the phrase Cal has been saying is “help me” in Bulgarian.—>
What the Hell? (106.14)
106.14 SYNOPSIS: They reach a large barn upstate that’s surrounded by drones and a guardhouse. They are escorted off the premises, but not before she’s able to snap a few photos.—>
Moment of truth (106.20)
106.20 SYNOPSIS: Grace questions Saanvi’s decision for her son when he starts to have a seizure. She demands antibiotics for her son, but Saanvi reveals that they won’t work because the seizure was caused by a viral infection. —>
Fiona Clarke (107.7)
When Ben realizes he has limited access to the company's server, he uses his supervisors ID card to find out that Fiona Clarke is working for UDS. He then learns a whole lot more information about her, thinking she may be responsible for what happened on the plane.
Angel of Death (108.15)
Inside Harvey's apartment Jared and Michaela look for clues as to why he committed suicide and who might be the people he said were dying. After Michaela sees "I am the angel of death" written on the wall, Jared finds the obituaries of two people.
Ben Tells All to Vance (109.8)
Ben takes Vance into the boiler room to show him Autumn. When Vance says the can't move until he finds out more, Ben tells him about the callings, how some passengers know things that no one else knows, how they receive impulses. Autumn tells Vance more about the "treatments" she received.
Red Hook Experiments (109.9)
Cal senses something is about to happen. Laurence is being told to proceed by an unidentified "Major" who tells him to double the charge. This time, not only does Cal experience pain, so does Ben, Michaela, Autumn and SaanviVance watches and says, "What the hell?" Meanwhile, Cal is drawing a picture of Red Hook as blood drips from his nose.
Red Hook Surprises (109.13)
Vance with Armed men enter the Red Hook facility, but they find nothing. Cal then shows up at Red Hook and shows Ben his drawing, telling them exactly where to look. They find a hidden entrance. Cal tells Ben that his dad has to go with them, as he is the only one who can “see them.” Michaela tells Ben its a call.
At the Hospital (109.19)
Riojas informs Michaela that Vance died, but don't give up hope. Jared still needs her. Michaela cries at Jared's bedside, and starts talking to the calling, saying "I can't lose him, please."
One Minute (110.18)
Ben tries to connect with Powell at a restaurant, but fails. Powell does not want to have anything to do with Ben.
Confrontation I (110.21)
Olive invites Danny over for dinner, making meat loaf.  Danny tells Grace that he and Olive are worried about her. When Grace says that "this is a family matter," Olive argues that Danny is family.
"Find Her!" III (110.28)
After Michaela experiences of the calling the third time, she realizes that the voice in her head is not hers, and that she is having someone else's  calling.
Unconventional Maneuvers (111.1)
A flashback has Captain Bill Daly and the co-pilot flying the plane when they encounter a storm and severe turbulence. Daly made an abrupt move and flew through the storm when the plane disappeared off radar.
Captain Future (111.5)
Daly drives Ben to a Long Island airport where he shows him a flight simulator which suppose to depict the exact weather conditions of Flight 828. But that storm was nothing like Daly experienced. He thinks its a government cover up. His evidence: A "cover-up" flight simulator report dated the day the plane disappeared.
Autumn is Arrested (112.2)
Michaela finds Autumn and arrests her believing she knows the whereabouts of Cal.
What Year? (112.20)
When Michaela shows up, she immediately recognizes the man as the one in her calling. The man identifies himself as Zeke. He doesn't realize it, but he has been missing for a year and thinks it is 2017.
Lists of Questions (113.2)
Zeke explains to Michaela how he cut his hand after the blizzard packed him in the cave and he did not have the tools to break through the snow or ice. Michaela changes Zeke's bandage. When Ben says he's ready to go back to the city, Zeke says he is not ready yet. Michaela agrees to stay with Zeke. Ben is suspicious of Zeke because Zeke does not mention or want to reconnect with family. When Ben mentions Jared, Michaela says she does not want to involve him right now.
"Go Back!" I  (113.5)
Meanwhile, back at the cabin, Michaela is trying to help Zeke process what happened to him. She describes her own reentry as difficult. They both have the same calling. They are transported to a rocky outcrop where they are under the night sky looking up at the stars. They both hear Zeke's voice say, "Go Back". Michaela thinks it means they need to go back to the cave.
"Go Back!" II (113.11)
Zeke and Michaela find the cave. When they go inside, they have another experience of the calling, "Go Back." Michaela asks Zeke what the stars in the calling might mean. He shows her the necklace he gave his sister for her 9th birthday. It has a gold star attached to it. Zeke says he killed (although he did not mean to) his little sister.
Undercurrents II (115.11)
Zeke is seen trying to gain entrance to someone's residence, and is apprehended by the police. Zeke is taken to the 119th Police Precinct where Michaela begs Jared not to book him.
Death by Drowning (116.12)
Griffin then stops, and a huge volume of water comes out of his mouth. He collapses and ends up dead. All the signs are that he drowned. Michaela sees Zeke in the crowd. When she asks him what he was doing there, Zeke stops short of telling her that he was going to shoot Griffin. Zeke tells her that he is fine.
Lingering Resentments (116.22)
Grace tells Ben she is six weeks pregnant, and the baby is more than likely Danny's.
"Stop Him!" IV (116.23)
Jared knocks on Zeke's door and barges into the apartment looking for drugs. Jared finds the bourbon, but Zeke tells him he hasn't had any. Jared tells Zeke to get out. They have a fist fight. Zeke pulls his gun out. Jared tries to grab the gun. As Michaela enters the apartment, the gun is fired. The screen goes black.


References to the Color Red

A similar connection also exists with the writer’s use of the color red. Is there something going on here which is similar to the way the movie The Sixth Sense uses red to  symbolize “anything in the real world that has been tainted by the other world” (director M. Night Shyamalan), and is used “to connote really explosively emotional moments and situations” (producer Barry Mendel)?

The two biggest ones, of course, are the “red door” of the dairy farm where the missing passengers were taken (episode 106), and the name of the warehouse—”Red Hook”— (episodes 108 and 109).  In episode 108, Michaela makes a comment on Grace’s use of “Le Rouge” saying that it “goes with her smokin’ hot eyes (108.19).

Whether the writers intentionally put these instances of red into the story or whether they are just coincidental, remains to be seen. But here are some other examples where the color red shows up in the series:

  • the red jacket worn by the boy on the tarmac (101.3),
  • the red jacket worn by the man sitting in front of the building in the background when Fiona is talking to Ben on her cell phone (108.11),
  • the red plant pot in the drive way when Grace tells Ben to stay away after he brings Cal home from the Red Hook warehouse explosion (109.18),
  • the red spray paint on the wall of Harvey’s bedroom (108.15),
  • the red shirt Grace wears in bed making plans for date night with Ben (108.4),
  • the red jacket of the shooter that killed Carlos’ uncle (107.11, 107.22),
  • the red rocks higher up on the wall that Olive is climbing (107.8),
  • the red vase behind Michaela while she is sitting with her dad on his front porch couch (105.17),
  • the red “See Agent” box on the airport screen (105.1),
  • the red-orange uniform of Bethany’s flight attendant uniform (104.12),
  • The red lipstick Olive puts on before being caught for shoplifting at the cosmetic store (104.9),
  • the red areas on the brain scans in Dr. Feldman’s office (104.5),
  • the red exit signs and red digital clock that reads 8:28 while Ben and Michaela are chasing Tammi in Mr. Taylor’s mall (103.16),
  • the red stop sign behind Isaiah when he is standing next to the police car (103.6),
  • the maroon blouse Kelly wears while watching herself on the news just before she is shot in the head (102.24),
  • the red glow from the police car lights when Blake is apprehended by the police (102.20),
  • the red bull’s eye in the target that Michaela used for shooting practice (102.11),
  • the red letters of Mr. Valero’s “Going Out of Business” sign on the window’s of the jewelry store (102.9),
  • the red super hero action figure on a box Cal is carrying home from the store when a zealot woman approaches him (102.8),
  • the red ball being chased by a small boy that rolls out into the street in front of a bus (101.11).


Some of these instances may not be significant. After all, red as a primary color is found everywhere, and the producers do not go out of their way to limit the color red like they did in Sixth Sense. But it will be interesting to see if and which scenes are significant.

References to the word “fall”

The word “fall” or the action of falling may also be used by the writers in a similar manner (e.g. Kelly having fallen at the mall in episode 3, Jared taking the fall for Michaela in episode 4).

One of the background songs used in episode 3 is  “Hurt Fall” by Twisted Box. It is the lead song on their album “Goddess” (2013) which also contains songs titled, “Supernova”, “The Fallen Will Rise”, “Our Last Stand”, “Fight for Life”, and others.

These songs all seem to have connections with Manifest. In episode 105.17, after Michaela visits her dad and opens up to him about missing her mom and seeing the life she could’ve had with Jared. Her dad tells her to go for it, saying, “I mean, if I’d been on your plane and come home and found your mother with some other man? I’d have fought like hell to get her back.”  Is Michaela and the others on Flight 828 involved in a “fight for their lives”? Is this their “last stand”?  Having fallen will they “rise”? Even “supernova” seems connected to the bright light that Cal sees looking out the window of the airplane (105.28).

The word fall is used in the following scenes
Saanvi Fights to Save Cal (101.18)
101.18 SYNOPSIS:  A medical team is reviewing trial applicants and come to a consensus that Cal falls outside the trial’s qualifications. This causes Saanvi to take up his cause to Dr. Cardoso that he be allowed treatment.
Passengers are called (101.24)
101.24 SYNOPSIS:  Michaela is in a church and is approached by a priest. She is curious if she is chosen for some higher purpose when Ben arrives. Michaela questions why they were chosen. Later, some of the passengers return to the airport and witness the plane explode on the other side of the fence from them.
Reunion at Rikers (102.7)
102.7 SYNOPSIS:  Ben and Radd visit Adio at Rikers who tells them that he did not steal anything from the jewelry store where he worked. Radd notices bruises on his face, and suspects he is being poorly treated while in jail.
Kelly's Housekeeper (103.9)
103.9 SYNOPSIS:  Michaela and Ben question Patrick, Kelly’s husband. His housekeeper Christine tells them Kelly bruised her arms when she fell at the mall.
Homeless Patient (104.5)
104.05 SYNOPSIS:  At the hospital, Saanvi gets another doctor to consult her on her own brain scan who reveals that its similar to a homeless man that was recently admitted and diagnosed with schizophrenia. As she leaves the office, she follows more watery footprints that arrive at the door of the schizophrenic patient Thomas who bursts out of the room asking for them to find the flight attendant Bethany. Hospital personnel are able to sedate him, but Saanvi is visibly shaken by this. —>
Code of Silence (104.15)
104.15 SYNOPSIS:  Jared takes the fall for Michaela leading to his suspension. Michaela wants to tell Jared everything, but Ben advises her not to.—>
Jared takes the fall (104.19)
104.19 SYNOPSIS: On the car ride home, Olive does not look at her father. In a flashback, Ben remembers a special moment when she was 10 years old bonding with him, and stating that he always makes everything better.—>
All for One (105.11)
105.11 SYNOPSIS: Michaela shows up at Lourdes house and asks for help with the Jared situation, but decides not to tell her the whole situation.—>

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