Feb 11, 2019
After Michaela discovers a pictograph on a rock wall of two stick figures holding hands with stars above them (113.24), she takes a photo and texts it to Ben. Olive, after doing some research, tells her dad that the petrograph represents the constellation Gemini, which means twins. She then wonders if the drawing is somehow related to her and Cal being twins (114.20).
In Greek mythology, Gemini is associated with the story of twin brothers, Castor and Pollux. They grew up as inseparable, never arguing or doing anything without consulting the other. As far as Cal and Olive’s relationship, episode 3 gives hints of something similar. They shared a “Twin’s Code” (103.3, 103.15, 103.17), before Olive says, “You and me, it’s us against the world. Twins rule” (103.25). Moreover, their conversation occurs while they are passing string back and forth in a game of “Cat’s Cradle” which symbolizes, in part, how interconnected their lives are.
When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let his brother share his immortality. Zeus then turned them into the constellation Gemini. When everyone presumed Cal had died (when remains of the Flight 828 were never found for 5 1/2 years), Olive never gave up hope. She even kept Cal’s toys knowing that one day he would come back (102.19). When Cal went missing again in episode 112, Olive says that she can feel him just like the last time and thinks that he was trying to send a message to her (112.10).
Once they obtained immortality, Poseidon gives the twins the power to save shipwrecked sailors. Ever since, they have shared responsibility for looking over the safety of mariners.
St. Elmo’s Fire
Over time, the twins became connected to a weather phenomenon, known as St. Elmo’s Fire, in which luminous plasma is created in the atmosphere during thunderstorms (sound familiar?), and which has been observed by sailors for thousands of years.
- Pliny, a first-century Roman writer wrote: “On a voyage stars alight on the yards and other parts of the ship. If there are two of them, they denote safety and portend a successful voyage. For this reason they are called Castor and Pollux, and people pray to them as gods for aid at sea.”1
- On his second voyage to the new world, Columbus wrote in his log seeing “seven lighted candles.”
- Magellan also reported sighting St. Elmo’s Fire “…on the summit of the mainmast, and thus remained for a space of two hours, which was a matter of great consolation to us during the tempest.”2
Prior to science fully understanding the phenomenon, ancient mariners looked upon the blue glowing balls of light, in different ways.
- Those who had a strong faith interpreted St. Elmo’s Fire to be a good omen sent to them by Castor and Pollux, who in Greek mythology (as noted above) were assigned the role of protecting sailors. Thus, when these sailors saw St. Elmo’s fire in a storm, they were comforted knowing that Castor and Pollux were keeping them safe.
- Other sailors who were not religiously inclined would be affected in other ways. They would see a solitary glow on the horizon, and mistake this natural phenomenon for lighthouse beacons giving them a false sense of reassurance that they were close to land. When they realized their mistake, they learned not to be so trusting next time. Interestingly, the Greeks began calling single glows “Helena” and interpreted them as signs of disaster.1
- Legends arose that St Elmo’s Fire caused a high degree of intelligence for the lucky few who had it flow through their body.
Interestingly, just as easily as St. Elmo’s Fire can appear on the tip of a ship’s mast, it can also occur on the tip of an airplane wing. The discharge of electrical energy can be continuous lasting for several minutes and creating a constant glow.3
Therefore, if what Cal saw outside the airplane window (105.28) can be understood as something like St. Elmo’s fire, then Cal and Olive (in Manifest’s mythology) may have a similar protective role as did Castor and Pollux. Except here, the ship is a plane, and instead of sailors, we have the passengers & crew of Flight 828 who need protection.
- In a “faith and science” debate, Ben says to Michaela in episode 2: “Look, there’s definitely something going on, but even if it isn’t just some series of coincidences, which it could still be, there has to be an explanation…God’s a catchall for things people don’t understand. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. We just need more information (102.20).
- In a “blessing or curse” debate, Ben does not think that the callings can be trusted. He tells Michaela, “These callings are pulling you in deeper and deeper. And what if the voices are bad? You can’t just follow them blindly” (104.25).
- And what about the “believers” (110.20) ? And the Church of the Returned and the legends that are being told (cf. 114.10)? Let’s not forget, too, Zeke’s flashback to Chloe’s science experiment. Did not the pickle glow after the electric current flows through it? (114.1)
Fortunately, if the Gemini (Twin) connection is correct, we can be thankful that Olive and Cal will be there for protection. But what if the entire first season is only showing us Cal’s role in all this? What if Olive has yet to achieve her full powers or manifestation of “immortality”? What if everything that the passengers are experiencing are not good omens, but more like those single occurrences of St. Elmo’s Fire that the Greeks called “Helena”? Then that would be “hell” for everyone involved, wouldn’t it?
- Ian Ridpath’s Star Tales: Gemini, the Twins
- Folklore: St. Elmo’s Fire
- How Stuff Works: What is St. Elmo’s Fire?