Feb 3, 2019
As with earlier episodes, episode 13 has left us with a lot of unanswered questions. In “Cleared for Approach” many of these questions have to do with Michaela and Zeke (e.g. What is the purpose of their “Go Back” calling? Who is supposed to help whom?”)
As pure speculation, what if this “Go Back” calling involves sideways time-travel (which is more accurately called inter-dimensional travel)? This is well within the realm of possibility since Robert Zemeckis (Executive Producer, Manifest) was a writer and director for Back to the Future Part II, a film where Marty McFly goes back to an alternate timeline.1
A basic tenet of sideway theory is that reality/universe as we experience it actually divides (ie., parallel universes) whenever a choice has to be made. Any decision to do or not do something in one reality has the same person doing the opposite in another reality, which creates an alternate timeline.
Several clues seems to be suggesting that this might be the route Michaela and Zeke may take. Even if the sideway travel theory does not pan, and the writers take another route, these clues are sure to come into play. So read on!
Saanvi’s Trip to Jamaica / Seat 8B
GRACE: Don’t you ever take a vacation?
SAANVI: Well, I went to Jamaica.|
GRACE: [CHUCKLES] Right. I guess that kind of went sideways.
SAANVI: Actually, it went sideways even before the plane disappeared. The person I was supposed to go with Just didn’t work out.
BEN: Right. 8B. The seat beside you was empty. I can’t believe I never—
Might this also be related to Zeke’s back story?
Although later in the episode Saanvi gives her Aftershock Theory (113.13) which explains why Zeke traveled into the future, here the writers may be laying the groundwork for the Sideways Interdimensional-Travel Theory in which Zeke and Michaela “Go Back” to a certain point on the timeline and change things. These theories appear to be linked and/or interwoven, and are the “driving force” of the character arcs (tracks) that have been laid out.
Michaela’s Wish to Redo her Reentry
ZEKE: It is beautiful up here. I have an idea. How ’bout we just stay up here and forget the world? I’m starting to like this place again. But I’m assuming you have something to get back to.
MICHAELA: I’m not exactly sure. But, yeah, I should probably go deal with it. I just keep wishing that I could redo my whole re-entry, but I’m not sure what I would’ve done to change the way that it turned out.
ZEKE: Maybe that’s why I was supposed to find you to help me change mine.
Here the writers seem to be suggesting that a whole string of events might be changed (i.e. redoing Michaela’s whole re-entry) by changing just one thing (i.e. although she’s not sure what). At the very least, this will allow Michaela to continue to reflect on her life. But might it also allow her to revisit past choices and move forward on a different timeline, too?
And what if future Michaela on timeline C-D, then not only goes back in time, but cross paths into timeline A-B and meets our Michaela? The experiments that the Major is in control of are called the Singularity Project. Is she trying to get all the timelines to converge into a single one? Free from any paradoxes, given the inter-dimension framework, that might make for a good story. But is that Jeff Rake’s story? Probably not. There are just too many possibilities. We will just have to watch and see.
Two times we have watched the Stone family play Bananagrams, a game in which players form their own crossword collections of intersecting and connecting words independently of each other until they have used up all their tiles.
- In the “Pilot” episode, Cal is easily winning even though he just learned how to play (101.23). In this scene, Ben gets dizzy while having a calling to go back to the plane, and after Grace receives a text message from Danny, Olive wonders when her mom is going to tell Ben about him.
- In “Cleared for Approach”, the Stone Family is playing again just before Jared visits wondering where Michaela is (113.8).
This game may be a metaphor for what would happen in an anomaly where sideways travel (parallel divergent universe travel) would occur. Just as players in Bananagrams rearrange words that have already been layed out to allow for newly drawn tiles to be placed into one’s grid (see photo/description below), we may soon find that the characters in Manifest have to rearrange circumstances and events that already have taken place in one reality/universe (i.e. season one) to allow for new circumstances and events to happen (in another reality/parallel universe).
An arranged word grid with a newly drawn tile, “T” (left). In order to fit the “T” in, the “D” at the end of “F O O D” can be moved to another position at which it spells a valid word, yet where “T” would not spell a word, so that “T” can take “D”‘s current position (right).2
If this theory does hold true, don’t expect to understand exactly how everyone and everything will be affected or how it relates to the story line we’ve been following in season one. There are just too many pieces. In other words, it’s impossible to speculate what the consequences or stakes might be.
Finally, if all this talk about time travel and inter dimensional parallel universes worries you (e.g. the show is getting too complicated), fear not! I have a lot of confidence in Jeff Rake and the writers that even if some of the fans miss some of the details, the time that is being devoted to character development and back story will keep viewers watching until critical aha points are revealed/explained in the script.
- Interestingly, Robert Zemeckis also directed What Lies Beneath (2000) which is on the movie marquee that Ben and Grace drive by in Tannersville (112.8). For more information on this theory how it was used in Back to the Future Part II click here.