What are the Callings? Who are the Called? For what Purpose? And Other Questions
With each episode the callings have proceeded from some unknown reality, and have descended upon Manifest's characters at increasingly deeper levels. Not everyone receiving these callings are strong enough to handle them (e.g. Harvey). Whether this is because of the effects of drinking or other vice, and/or an evil outside force remains to be seen. As we move into the second half of the season, viewers are wondering whether Ben and Michaela are up to the task.
Ben, who although at times gets tired (he doesn't get much sleep) and angry, doesn't seem overwhelmed about what is happening. Yet he questions whether the callings are a blessing or a curse. Although Michaela has found consolation from the callings, at the end of the first half of the season (having almost lost Jared in an explosion), she questions whether the callings are responsible for people dying.
What are callings?
Callings are thoughts, visions, sounds, feelings etc. that a character experiences "calling" them to say or do something to improve a situation or make something happen for a purpose they are not always sure of. Characters who have callings spend a lot of time discerning whether they are good or bad, or how to proceed as a result of them. In the process, they are realizing that they have a capacity to manifest something which offers one's blessings (or curses) as they move from relationship to relationship reaching out and drawing everything together.
The first time the word "calling" is used is at the crime scene of Kelly's murder when Michaela and Ben are speaking to her husband. After Patrick Kelly told Michaela and Ben that his wife describe her experience as a "calling" (103.6), it became a "shorthand" (cf. 107.16) for the passengers' experience.
Who are the called? (Who gets callings?)
In episode one, when Michaela asks the rector/priest of the church, "How do we know if we're the called?" he responds, "We know in our heart" (101.24). It isn't until episode seven, Michaela is able to realize this for herself (107.26).
As far as we know everyone on board Flight 828 receives callings. Many of them returned to the airport to witness the airplane explode, although they all understand them a little differently. For example, Rad, who hears music playing as does Ben, explains it this way, "For me, music is a higher power. So this music we hear, you and I together, it’s for a reason" (102.5).
What is there purpose?
Most of the callings appear to be sent to help other people. The first calling Michaela receives is when she hears a voice say, "Slower! Slower!' she tells the bus driver to slow down. If he had not slowed down, the bus would never have been able to stop in time after a boy runs out in front of it (101.11). There seems to be a relation between the callings and Karen Stone's favorite bible verse, "All things work together for good..." (Romans 8:28).
What does the process of discerning them look like?
It's messy. Some callings are sent privately to one person. Other callings have a party line feel to them. Here are three examples in which Michaela receives the same call as someone else. Whatever or whoever sent the calling, did they also forward it to Michaela, to assist, or what?
Second, after Kelly receives the calling "Own Your Truth," she first wants to live a more simple life, e.g. she did not want to wear expensive necklace her husband bought (103.9), she then carries the calling further by talking to media about a conspiracy even though she hated politics (103.9), and finally sees it being connected to the "family business" which extorts illegals working at mall (103.16). Each of the ways she understood the calling had its own set of consequences, and offers possible clues as who might have murdered her. Not overlooking Christine's "confession" (103.24), we can't be certain that the government was not connected to her death.
Third, when Michaela receives a calling "Save Him!" by an Angel with wings, she misinterprets it and as a result, she and Jared botch an ATF operation (104.10). Jared takes the blame and is suspended (104.19). By the end of the episode, the true nature of her calling is revealed—the person who needed saving was Thomas (104.22). That doesn't necessarily mean that everything else that happened beforehand was without merit. There may still be a connection (i.e. "All things work together...").
Who is sending them? What is the connection?
After nine episodes, we have yet to learn how or who is sending these callings. Some viewers see them as a divine interference that is somehow related to the deceased or to angels (both good and fallen). Certainly Michaela thinks so. Others, like Ben, would prefer a more scientific connection. Perhaps the experiments that are being performed on the missing passengers have created a mind to mind communication, that is, a collective consciousness among the passengers, which has taken on a life of its own.\See Kathy Munson-Klein's article "Fiona and the Collective Consciousness"\
Michaela has made two attempts to communicate: First, she asks the Angel of Waters statue, "What do you want?" but has so far received no response (104.26). Second, after the explosion, she asks that Jared's life be sparred. When Jared recovers, she believes it was because she "talked back" to the callings (109.22).
After Ben was unwilling to help Thomas, and in fact, walks away from him, Cal leads him through a subway back to Thomas (105.16). In the episode, Ben receives a calling, "It's all connected" (105.6) in his head, only to hear Cal himself later verbalize it. Then at the end of the episode, Cal has an encounter with a bright light outside the window of his airplane and again says, 'It's all connected." As father and son, and both having been on Flight 828, Ben and Cal, share a special connection. But so also does Cal with his twin sister (who was on Flight 537). As their grandpa Steve, states, "Being a twin is a heck of a special relationship. You always feel connected, no matter where you are" (105.1).
He never told anyone about his physical (frostbite) connection to Zeke (110.30). Not only was he physically connected to Marko and Zeke in a health-threatening manner, his callings mandated that the 10-year old travel alone to a shoot-out and explosion at the Red Hook facility (109.14).
There's definitely one thing callings care absolutely nothing about ... and that is ... child safety.
Michaela shared callings with the other 19 passengers who were compelled to return to the airport to witness the plane's explosion on the tarmac; and she also shared callings with Ben, Saanvi, and Zeke and the passengers held hostage at the Red Hook facility. Cal has shared callings with Marko, Michaela, and Zeke. Cal also shared mutual callings with the 20 passengers at the airport and with the passengers held captive at Red Hook.
So, yes, some callings have definitely had a party line feel to them.
"What is the purpose of callings?"