The dark side of Jared's "Half a Life" metaphor
Nov 9, 2018
414 is half of 828. That's obvious, but there is a lot more being revealed here, and it's not just arithmetic! In the very scene we learn of the apartment's number, we hear Jared say that neither he nor Michaela "cheat[ed] death to live a half a life" (110.24). In other words, just as 414 is half of 828, there lives are half of what they could have been if the time anomoly didn't happen. The same is equally true for Ben who also lives in apartment 414.
Michaela and Jared would be married if Flight 828 had not disappeared, and its passengers presumed dead for 5 1/2 years, Instead, after waiting several years, Jared married Lourdes, leaving only half a life for Michaela when she returned. Since Jared does not love Lourdes as much as Michaela, his life was less fulfilling which was exacerbated when Michaela showed up (cf. 110.24).
Both of these triangle relationships have been a central part of Manifest. Having acknowledged this, for the sake of brevity, the rest of what follows will focus only on Jared and Michaela's relationship.
All Good Things...
While Michaela is at the cemetery visiting her mother's grave, Romans 8:28 is once again prominently displayed (i.e. "All good things..."). We hadn't seen the number 828 displayed like that since the first episode of the series (101.6). This suggests that if 414 signifies half-a-life, 828 signifies a full-life. To emphasize this connection even more thoroughly, the writers have Michaela cry out at the cemetery, "I want my life back" (110.1), a full-life, that is.
But what if that means the unthinkable? What if the only way to get her life back is "to fight like hell" to get Jared back. That was the advice her father, Steve Stone, seemed to give her (105.17). To do this, of course, would mean to destroy Lourdes' life in the process, and that would be tragic. Lourdes has done nothing wrong. She did not steal Jared away from Michaela. Michaela was presumed dead for 5 1/2 years. Lourdes who wants to start a family has only a hint of what is going on with Jared and Michaela, and does not yet realize how much they still love one another.
After Michaela lets Jared in, he tells her that she is his soul mate and that he loves her, and that neither of them should have to live "half a life." They then passionately kiss, take each others clothes off, and jump into bed (110.24).
The Wrecking Ball Metaphor
Make no mistake about it, wrecking a marriage is not a good thing. Michaela is all too aware of the consequences. She had just listened to Helen describe what it was like to live with Paul Santino, her abusive husband (110.17), and how on the day Flight 828 returned, she felt like a wrecking ball was about to destroy everything she had built while he was presumed dead for 5 1/2 years. Michaela fears, too, she might be "a giant wrecking ball smashing" into Jared's marriage with Lourdes (110.19). So if she knows how damning that might be, then why does she do it? Michaela has let her emotions control her.
Just a couple of scenes earlier, after hearing from Helen how abusive Paul was in their marriage, we watched Michaela walk toward Paul once she arrived back at the beach house. With each step viewers heard the loud clack of her shoes striking the floor. This can summon a wide range of associations (ie. having a heavy foot). Although here she is not driving a car, she drives right through the distress tolerance skill (i.e. a S.T.O.P. sign) and lets her emotions control her. The speed and force of her walk indicated she was about to exercise her authority, but for what purpose? This is all the more true because Paul doesn't even remember having a wife, let alone being abusive toward her. This, of course, is only a prequel. Whereas with Paul, driven by anger, she goes off on Paul. Now, driven by lust, she lunges toward Jared and lose all inhibition and they have passionate sex (110.24). In ways she did not intend, she is has quickly become the "wrecking ball" she only feared of being several scenes earlier (110.19).
Michaela's actions could have catastrophic consequences for Jared's marriage. But unlike her actions at the beach house where Saanvi intervened saying, "Stop!" Michaela hears no one say that word to her in the bedroom, not even Jared (which makes him equally to blame).
In the beginning of the episode, when Michaela comes in and finds Ben throwing a stack of articles about Flight 828 onto the table. She jokes, "This is my apartment, remember? If anyone has dibs to trash it, it’s me" (110.3). Since that apartment (414) represents half of 828, metaphorically speaking, it was as though she had said, "This is my life, if anyone is going to trash it, let it be me."
Note, too, that in that same scene, Ben explains to Michaela why he threw the articles in the first place. "If I can just put this to bed (finding answers to keep Cal safe), life goes back to normal." Isn't that basically what Michaela said at the cemetery, "I want my life back." Subconsciously, Michaela seems to believe that the only way she can return to normal is to go to bed with Jared. Of course, that kind of thinking is distorted, and Michaela knows it. Earlier she told Jared, "You found happiness. You deserve it. I am not blowing that up" (110.19). By throwing herself at Jared and having sex with him (110.24), she may have just done those things.
Michaela seems to have been trigered not only by Jared telling her that he loves her, but also by his "half-a-life" comment. In Michaela's mind, going to bed with Jared might be an example of how all good things can and do work together for a purpose. Who knows what else she might be thinking (e.g. Lourdes will be a lot happier if Jared divorces her, etc.) She may even be justifying her actions as a "do over" which Grace speaks about in the first episode: "The universe just gave all of us a do-over. Everything that happened before goes out the window" (101.6). Grace, of course, was speaking of "before" the plane disappeared. But what about after? In Michaela's mind "before" might very well mean the 5 1/2 year interim period that Grace, Olive, Jared and Lourdes experienced, and she did not. What might that bring?
All Bad Things...
As much as everyone has enjoyed the relationship arc of Jared and Michaela (cf. FanVids and Scenes on their relationship), it does have a dark side. My suspicion is that it is not going to end well. I wonder what the far reaching consequences might be if Michaela and Jared's reunion destroys Lourdes.
Michaela still has a lot of unresolved guilt, feeling responsible for Evie's death. I'm not sure she is strong enough to handle another crisis. All are mature adults, but if they continue to go down the course they are on, they will be held accountable for what happens next.
Could Lourdes be the next character to die? Suicide perhaps? Or if you want to even go crazier, what if Lourdes kills Jared? What if Michaela ends up losing Jared, after all,— i.e. Harvey Stein "Angel of Death" curse (cf. 108.18). At this point, all these "what if" scenearios are pure speculation. But these and other possibilities are what keeps the viewers coming back. If there were no tension and conflict, that would make for a boring show.
Good catch on the apartment number, Don.
I'm not normally ok with cheating spouses, but Michaela is just taking back what's always been hers. Deep in her heart, Lourdes knows that, in Jared's heart, she's always been just a replacement for Mick and she has said as much. I think she'll still feel very betrayed by them and act on it, so things will get ugly for a while. But we see so little of Lourdes that it could be that she'll make a graceful exit, leaving Mick and Jared free for more interesting storylines, instead of the soap opera story of 2 women fighting over a man. They're already dragging that storyline out with Ben, Grace and Danny. We don't need it with a second triangle already. I'd rather see Mick get pregnant from the unexpected sex and have an alien baby.
Olive would have definitely grown up to be a different person. Her mom and dad's influence in her life would have been immeasurable.
Excellent commentary, btw.