Feb 17, 2019
All season long it was as if Jeff Rake and the writers of Manifest were rolling out a long strand of dough and having nothing to show for it but loose ends. But expect to see some twisting in the season finale. By the time it is over, the writers will have masterfully pressed down the loose ends in the form of a pretzel. By next season, we will all be eager to take a bite out of it.
Throughout season one there have been actors and story lines left out (loose ends) just waiting to return to the script. But rather than continue moving forward in the story line, what if there is a twist, and we see the story line start over?
Several “pretzel crumbs” have been dropped by the writers to suggest what might happen, not only in Ep 16, “Estimated Time for Departure,” but for the entire second season.
The Pretzel Twist Foreshadowed
“I hope you don’t get yourself in a twist” (115.20). These were the last words that Griffin said to Michaela at the police station. Then at the end of Ep 15, we are shown a closeup of someone holding a pretzel at a pretzel stand in Times Square (above photo). Unknown to all was that hidden below was a time bomb that was set to go off (115.21).
Like the twisted section of a pretzel, might Michaela and the others be about to find their reality folded over? At the end of the season will they find time itself twisted, or at least turned back on itself? Will there be some some kind of explosion? After all, in episode 13 Cody tells Ben, “All of [the 828ers] are just a ticking time bomb” (113.8).
“What if” questions abound. What if like Saanvi said in Ep 6, “A calling tells us to do something that we don’t actually want to do…like killing someone…what do we do then” (106.11)? Although at the end of Ep 15, the police successfully diffuse the bomb by cutting one of the wires of the bomb (115.21), what if there is another bomb, exploding airplane, etc. that sends ripples through the space-time continuum? What if the explosion sends everyone back in time to the beginning? That would be some twist.
The Connection between the “Go Back” Calling, Pork Rinds and Pretzels
Jeff Rake’s genius for detail is one of the thing fans have come to appreciate. It is one thing to talk about twists in a plot (and we have seen many already), but entirely different when one makes a jump to connect them to going back in time. So where is the connection?
The “Go Back!” calling, that Michaela and Zeke share, was initially understood as a call to return to the cave (113.5). It then became a step forward in admitting “the exact nature of one’s wrongs” (113.11), and ended up being a call to go back home (113.21). By the time the episode ends, viewers are already thinking that “home” might not be a spatial reference (i.e. New York City), but have temporal significance (pre-Flight 828). “I just keep wishing that I could redo my whole re-entry…” says Michaela (113.24).
Zeke’s craving for pork rinds, a “delicious salty snack” (113.5), what many may have overlooked as a insignificant detail, takes on a whole new meaning once we understand the significance of salt. In its natural state, its whiteness it denotes purity (cf. 103.22), and hence, reminds us of Michaela’s earlier encounter with Isaiah who told her, “When I die, I will return. I will be like you. I will be pure.” When Michaela tells him that she is far from pure, he responds, “Because you haven’t unburdened yourself, for there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, nothing concealed that will not be illuminated. What have you concealed, Michaela, even from yourself?” (103.22)
Pretzels, like pork rinds, are also a salty snack. Just as pretzels are rubbed with salt, newborns are sometimes rubbed with salt to indicate that the child be raised to have integrity, to always be truthful (cf. 103.2).1 Thus, Zeke’s craving for salt, and Griffins ominous warning to Michaela, are clues that both want to put an end to their grief and owning the truth by admitting “the exact nature of one’s wrongs” (cf. 113.11). After sharing the there burden of having “killed” a loved one, they both want to make amends and to set things right. One trope which makes this possible is going back in time.
Why the Timeline needs Twisting
Pretzels taste good with cheese. But what if the cheese is a metaphor which represents a bad situation? The first place the missing passengers were taken was to a dairy barn with big red doors. Interestingly, while driving there, Jared plays oldies music on the radio when Michaela asks, “How old is this playlist?” She then says, “I would’ve had to go back in time for it not to be cheesy” (106.14).
Cheese is the slang term for money derived from the fact that people on welfare used to receive cheese as part of their benefits.2 Except here, instead of cows being cared for, we have the missing passengers being experimented on by milking data from their premotor cortex’s neurons (cf. 109.7). United Dynamic Systems and its Singularity Project hopes to make a lot of money. Both Adrian and Griffin have also received money as a benefit of their callings. And we will have to wait and see if Cal’s picture of money on the table (which was meant to teach him that his drawings don’t cause the future, only predict it) come true? (114.22)
Going back in time is the only way to fix this timeline just as Michaela says while joking with Jared. During episode 106, of course, such speculation would have been a stretch, but with everything that has happened since (i.e. Daly’s plane, Zeke and Michaela’s “Go Back” calling, etc), it now makes a lot more sense. Moreover, the stakes are now even higher. We have people (e.g. Adrian and Griffin) who are using the callings to get rich, and don’t seem to be bothered that in the process they are destroying people’s lives. Griffin also wants to take the callings to a whole new level.
A Couple of Grim Pretzel Crumbs
Although episodes from next season may revisit what happened in season one episodes, don’t expect everything to be exactly the same. In the “Pilot” episode, Cal seemed to have lucked out on getting the cancer treatment he needed, and it was revealed that Olive got the short end, “growing up to fast” needing therapy when Cal and Ben were presumed dead (101.14).
At the beginning of this scene, while Ben, Grace and Cal are outside in front of the hospital, Cal asks his dad if he “can have a pretzel,” Ben says, “Pretzel? I guess.” In season two, will Cal find himself “in a twist?” And could last episode’s revelations about Saanvi’s PTSD symptoms and the hints of a person who was suppose to be with her in Jamaica also be related to some kind of twist for her?
- Pillai, K. C. Light through an Eastern Window. American Christian Press, 1987, p. 41