Dec 11, 2018
How Michaela Saves Carlos
In episodes 7, Michaela hears a heartbeat, and ends up saving a young man’s life who had just witnessed his beloved uncle Enrique robbed and killed (107.10). If it were not for Michaela, Carlos would have sought revenge and killed the man, in turn, with the gun that the robber had left (c.f. 107.14). Fortunately, Michaela is successfully able to talk him our of it and he hands over the gun (107.19).
Empathy is an important skill for anyone to learn which gives words an euphonious melodious appeal that can pull someone toward us. For Carlos, Michaela’s words were balm to the anger and fear Carlos experienced after the shooting:
“I know what it’s like to lose somebody. You’re destroyed, like a building imploded. But one day, slowly, you will start to build yourself back up, brick by brick,” she says.
“You finished building?”asks Carlos.
“Not even close.” (107.11)
As bricks are to building, a beating heart is to loving. In this way, Michaela is able to empathize with Carlos. She then waits until later that evening to tell him about the way she felt after Evie died.
“I know that feeling, okay? I also know what it’s like to take someone’s life because I did by accident. It haunts me every single day. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to do that on purpose.”
The challenge for both will be how do they live through their pain, and not pass it on to others and/or be destroyed by it.
Symbolism of the Bridge
Make no mistake about it, the writers do a great job in highlighting the significance of Michaela and Carlos’ conversation. At the police precinct, Michaela brings Carlos “the last hot chocolate in the break room…” (107.11). This is a tie-in to the previous scene where Michaela and Jared (just before receiving the call on the radio that there has been a robbery) stop to get a cup coffee. Notice that this scene occurs near a bridge (107.10).
Bridges are highly symbolic. Just as one crosses a bridge to get from one area to another which otherwise would be inaccessible, episode 7 involves a calling (i.e. the heartbeat) which emotionally connects Michaela not only to Carlos, but links her experiences of what is happening in the present with Lourdes and Jared to what happened in the past (i.e. Evie’s death). In other words, it’s no coincidence that Michaela receives the calling of a “heartbeat” at the same time Jared and Lourdes are trying to rebuild their relationship with Michaela and invite her over for dinner.
While she successfully builds an emotional bridge with Carlos, however, she is less successful in bridging the gap between her and Lourdes. Again the writers do a great job, by again using liquid refreshment (i.e. wine) as a kind of marker (107.13). Notice Michaela does not drink wine while having dinner with Jared and Lourdes. “I’m good,” she says. “I haven’t had a drink since that night (i.e. Evie’s death). This reveals that Michaela still has some unresolved feelings about what happened the night Evie died, and indicates we haven’t been privy just yet to everything that happened that night.
Why Michaela Loses Harvey
Now, contrast what happened with Carlos with what happens to Harvey in episode 8. Although Michaela does not hear a heartbeat this time, the writers instead strategically place in the soundtrack a rhythmic boom, booom, boooom (twelve of them) which begins faintly and becomes more pronounced as Michaela walks toward Harvey on the rooftop (108.12). Thus, in this scene, viewers hear a different kind of “heartbeat” than what Michaela heard previously.
It was a hollow sound, a heartbeat of death, if you will. Whereas in episode 7, what we hear is a life-giving beat that connects Michaela to Carlos, and eventually leads Michaela to his uncle’s killer (107.22); in episode 8, we hear something much more ominous. Although Michaela tries to connect with Harvey, and show him empathy, just like with Carlos, this time she fails. In fact, her words were a discordant grating denial of everything that Harvey understood to be true. They were enough to push him over the edge.
“I know why you’re here, okay? I know exactly what you are feeling right now…You’ve come back and the world’s moved on and you don’t know where you fit in anymore. I get it…you feel like you don’t belong here anymore, right, like, you’re not the same person?…Talk to me, please. I will understand. (108.10 and 108.11)”
“People are dying. It has to stop. I’m gonna be next. That’s the only way.”
Life vs. Death
So why is it that in episode 7 Michaela is successful, and in episode 8 she fails? The answer can be found in looking at what and who else is involved. The calling in episode 7 is connected to Evie who seems to be a life-giving presence (i.e. “Angel of Life) working behind the scenes involving Carlos and Michaela. By the end of the episode, this becomes obvious when Michaela finds a picture of Evie next to Carlos in the barbershop and learns that Evie was Carlos’ heart donor (107.24), and Ben and Michaela find Cal’s drawing of Carlos with Evie’s red heart (107.26).
In episode 8, the only clues we have is that Harvey saw himself as some kind of “Angel of Death”, and two photographs of people (i.e. Susan Creighton and Rick Moore) who “recently” died (108.15). But their obituaries say something different. Susan died on December 11, 1996 and Rick (Mr. Boyles???) died on January 24, 1985. How can that be? Is this a oversight on the writer’s part? Did they get lazy and use two real obituaries of people as props? Hardly.
Moreover, what about Cal’s other drawing. The one where a shadowy figure is lurking in the background (102.15). What is that all about? Could that drawing be a sign or clue for the viewers in a way that Cal’s drawing was a sign for Michaela and Ben in episode 7?
As so often is the case in Manifest, the writers give us only a few pieces of the puzzle as we go along, and then seem to forget about them, only to bring them back later. For the casual viewer this can be unsettling. Solving the mystery of why and how the passengers moved ahead 5 1/2 years is more complicated than just focusing on why the plane blew up. We are talking about people’s lives—both those who are living and those who have passed away. It’s about finding ways to successfully bridge the gap.