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‘Manifest’ converges ideas of faith and religion

When the first trailer for “Manifest” was released, it seemed to follow a very similar plotline that the hit show “Lost” followed. With speculation about the true inspiration that creator Jeff Rake had in creating the TV show, “Manifest” dives into the debate about faith vs. science. Even though the first episode was a disappointment in comparison to the trailers, it is a show that will likely utilize multiple cliffhangers to maintain viewership.

Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) and her family are returning to New York City from a vacation in Jamaica, Stone alongside her brother, Ben Stone (Josh Dallas), and his son, Cal (Jack Messina), who suffers from leukemia. They had decided to take a later flight from a previously overbooked flight the rest of their family was on.

In a twist of fate, and some extremely horrendous turbulence, passengers of Montego Air Flight 828 landed in New York City, five and a half years later, having all been presumed dead. In disbelief, all the passengers are reunited with loved ones and return back to their previous lives while the National Security Agency (NSA) works to find an answer to this absurd occurrence.

The show also follows the storyline of Saanvi Bahl (Parveen Kaur), a graduate school student and medical researcher, in parallel with the Stone family. Their paths cross when Bahl’s research, which she submitted prior to take-off, has reached the clinical phase, and Cal is admitted as a patient in the study to treat his leukemia.

All the passengers on the plane have differing experiences based on their own voices in their head, urging them to commit acts incessantly until they are completed. They are all drawn together at the end of the premiere, becoming increasing confused on the mystery that surrounds their flight and disappearance. “Whatever force brought us here did not want to be investigated,” remarked Michaela in the trailer.

The storylines of the 191 passengers on the flight are all interconnected, and I am interested in seeing how the producers choose to utilize all the passengers on the flight and if they will. With all the storylines seemingly converging back to the plane where it all started, the show highlights upon the unknown.

According to an article by Syfy Wire, Rake came up with the idea of “Manifest” during the fourth season of “Lost,” which premiered over a decade ago. With the idea going nowhere, the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in 2014 caused the idea of the show to resurface, but it was another few years before the show was ultimately picked up by NBC.

Having reached over 16 million viewers in its first episode, the show depicts an interesting topic by highlighting a character’s reversion back to her religion, following the extraordinary event that gave the entire cast a new chance at life. But experts believe that viewership may drop up to 20 percent in subsequent episodes.

The music that accompanies the show really adds to the effect and intensity of the scenes.  Danny Lux is a well-known American composer who has also had works featured in Grey’s Anatomy and Suits.

TV shows and movies seem to often overlook the musical composition of their production, focusing more on the shots of the characters. But, as a musician, I am always drawn to the score that the producers choose to use in their shows and films. It is what makes or breaks the show.

The ominous music resembles that of Hans Zimmer, maintaining the constantly serene but intense music that keeps the focus of the viewer on the show rather than distracted from other things. The lyrics that accompany some of the songs add an additional layer of depth in merging the picture with the sounds and creating a harmonious balance for the viewer to enjoy.

The first episode was a bit of a disappointment, given the intensity of the trailers leading up to the premiere, but hopefully the plotline of the show will follow more than just the Stone family. Looking into the storyline of all the passengers on the flight and having them converge into one larger story might be a memorable addition to a TV landscape currently overrun with reality and crime shows.

There are a multitude of directions that the producers are able to take with “Manifest.” Let’s just hope it can keep their viewership up and bring the storylines of seemingly different characters into one.


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