The #SaveManifest mission is complete. Following the show's cancellation by NBC after Season 3, impressive streaming numbers combined with a wave of fan support gave Netflix the Calling to green light a 20-episode final season of Manifest. That colossal chapter count is being split in two parts, with the first half arriving on Netflix on November 4th. Fortunately for fans of the first three seasons, Manifest makes a smooth move into its new home and has limited growing pains when it comes to settling in.
The biggest struggle that Manifest Season 4 Part 1 faces lies in the hierarchy of plot. Ben Stone's narrative is once again at the forefront, with a bulk of the early episodes focusing on the aftermath of the Season 3 finale, which featured Angelina Meyer (Holly Taylor) killing Ben's wife and kidnapping his daughter, Eden. Josh Dallas delivers another inspired performance in the role, consequently making Ben a rootable protagonist and his specific storyline a somewhat engaging narrative, but the surrounding subplots are just that much more interesting.
As trailer footage showcased, Flight 828's black box is recovered in Season 4. The mysteries and clues that lie within that item are significantly more crucial to Manifest's overall story than most of what goes on with Ben, whose main storyline in Season 4 is a personal endeavor. With this being the final season, many of the subplots are at least slightly interwoven now, making the jumps to different characters not as jarring.
Even if those jumps have some lingering connective tissue, it doesn't mean the show's overall pacing is perfectly retained. Even with his narrative being less intriguing, Dallas's clear commitment to the character of Ben make his moments move rather than stall. Melissa Roxburgh also impresses, as her character of Michaela Stone factors into multiple subplots at once and does a solid job of elevating the scenes that she's in. That said, the same can't be said for everyone.
This particularly comes with the character of Cal Stone, who is being portrayed by a new actor in Season 4. Ty Doran took over the role from Jack Messina due to Cal having an age jump at the end of last season. As evident by recent shows like House of the Dragon, evolving a character's age within a short gap between episodes can work, but Manifest's attempt is still finding its footing. The issue likely lies with Cal being elevated into a much more pivotal player, but the man wearing his uniform has changed. As the season progresses and Doran's Cal becomes more familiar, his performance does noticeably improve.
It's also worth noting that Season 4 Part 1 does make significant strides in exactly what happened with Flight 828, but those talking points are untouchable without getting into spoiler territory.
Manifest is very much a what you see is what you get type of show, in that the trailer footage is a clear indication that audiences should significantly suspend their disbelief going in, and Season 4 especially exemplifies that. Since its inception in 2018, the show's premise itself has drawn it comparisons to Lost. Just as Lost leaned into the fantastical in its later seasons, Manifest follows suit. The crux of this show is about a mystery that is set in a familiar world but is not at all rooted in reality. If that concept can be embraced for what it is, Manifest is a puzzle that fans will enjoy piecing together. The jury is still out on how the complete final season will shape out, but Part 1 tees up what appears to be a worthy conclusion to this modern cult classic.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Manifest Season 4 Part 1 streams on Netflix on Friday, November 4th.0comments