Red is the color at the end of the visible spectrum of light, next to orange and opposite violet. It has a dominant wavelength of approximately 625–740 nanometres.1
The most significant use of “red” through episode 9 is when Cal shows up unexpectedly at the Red Hook warehouse after Ben, Vance, and the others came up short looking for the missing passengers. Pointing to a red spot on his drawing, he surprises everyone as it marks the exact location of the entrance to the tunnels where the experiments were taking place. The red spot, however, was not made by any crayon. Earlier that afternoon, when Cal was in his room, he was able to feel Mr. Valeriev’s pain. At the time, hardly compelling (other than demonstrating to the viewers how serious the experiments at Red Hook were affecting Cal’s health), it later proves very significant. Just as when young Olive cuts herself while making a sandwich for her mom and “blood got on the bread” (105.7) was a sign for Grace to get help, the blood from Cal’s nose dripping on his drawing became a sign for Ben and Vance to find a way into the tunnels to help the passengers.
In this scene, the writers may have given us a clue for what to look for in the episodes. They may be using the color red in a way similar to the way the movie The Sixth Sense used it. In that movie, according to director M. Night Shyamalan, the color red indicated the scenes in the real world that were tainted by the other world. The color red, says the films producer Barry Mendel, “connote[s] really explosively emotional moments and situations”?
Previously, two other significant episode references of the use of “red” are the “red door” of the dairy farm where the missing passengers were taken (episode 106), and the name of the warehouse—”Red Hook”(episodes 108 and 109).
Red attracts attention. It is also the international color of stop signs and stop lights on highways and intersections. Perhaps the color red is some sort of signal to the viewer to stop and think what really is going on in a scene. Are the writers of Manifest using the color red in a way similar to the way the movie The Sixth Sense used it? In that movie, anything in the real world that has been tainted by the other world” (director M. Night Shyamalan), and is used “to connote really explosively emotional moments and situations” (producer Barry Mendel)?
Red as symbolic for one’s “living hell”: It is obvious that the missing passengers involved in the Red Hook experiments who are being tortured are experiencing a “living hell,” but what about the other characters? What about Michaela and Ben? Despite their experiences of suffering and tragedy, at least they have their mom’s mantra which can give everyone hope, “All things work together for good” (101.1). In the first episode, these two details are connected. When Michaela returns “home” to Ben’s house for the first time, she is unable to contact Jared on the phone. She sits in her room where the walls are painted a red orange color, and in front of her is a pillow that her mom made with the mantra written on it (101.6)—see feature image above.
Two other early instances of the color red being inserted into a scene occur just after the plan landed. While Vance tells the passengers that they have been missing for 5 1/2 years, there is a shot of a boy in the crowd with a red jacket. Although Michaela’s jacket is a dark maroon, notice that it’s inner lining is a bright red.
This hint’s that Michaela’s “living hell” may be just as real as, for example, the shooter of Carlos’ uncle in episode 7 who wears a bright red jacket (1o7.22). Her “living hell” is psychological and private. Notice too the bright red light behind Ben’s left shoulder. His “living hell” is akin to him wearing it as a “chip on his shoulder”. Therefore, will have a more public venue to it.
Connections between the color red and images of hell:
- Michaela comments on Grace’s use of “Le Rouge” saying that it “goes with her smokin’ hot eyes (108.19).
- We are given a close up of the American flag with its prominent red stripes at the 129th police precinct just as Jared says, “That’s a hell of a story,” after learning about the dog’s being set free (101.16).
Honorable mentions: This may be stretching it, but let it be noted:
- the letters “red” appear in Jared.
- the series has had a lot of “red” herrings, which have disappointed some viewers. Although these clues appear to be misleading and distracting, there may still be some overarching purpose that the writers intend.
- Georgia State University Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Spectral Colors”. HyperPhysics site. Retrieved October 20, 2017.