On April 7, 2013, Montego Air flight 828 left Jamaica bound for New York City. While en route, it experienced some rough turbulence, but nothing that felt too out of the ordinary to the passengers on board. However, when the plane landed, the passengers discovered that it was now November 4, 2018. For them, it was instantaneous, and they haven’t aged a day, but their families and loved ones on the ground had given them up for missing and dead for over 5 years! Some have moved on, some have still kept the candle burning, and on the flip side, some passengers unknowingly lost family members during the time gap.
NYPD cop Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh, Valor) had just been proposed to by her boyfriend/partner Jared (J.R. Ramirez, Jessica Jones) before she left for the family trip to Jamaica. She had been in a dark place, and was using this vacation to clear her head. However, she was still madly in love with Jared, and planned to accept his proposal upon her return. However, during the five year gap, Jared had moved on, marrying her best friend.
Meanwhile, Michaela’s brother Ben (Josh Dallas, Once Upon a Time) was also on board and is unaware he’s in a similar situation with his wife of 15 years. Grace (Athena Karkanis, Zoo) had already dealt with her mourning and had started to move on, but is now ready to forget that and make things work with her husband. Their terminally ill son Cal (Jack Messina) was also on flight 828. However, new advances in science over the those missing 5 years may now be able to save him, thanks to a treatment that passenger Saanvi Bahl (Parveen Kaur, Beyond, The Strain) had helped to develop just before the flight, and that has been in clinical trials for the past five years.
The creators of the series described it as being Lost meets This is Us, and to some degree that is accurate. At the core is this mystery of what happened to these passengers and why. Michaela, Ben and the other passengers are now inexplicably linked to one another, all experiencing “callings”—they hear voices and see things that give them warnings about bad things that are going to happen, or urge them to find or do things that usually result in helping someone in trouble. There were over 100 passengers on Flight 828, each with his or her own similar story, and so the series starts off with more of a passenger-of-the-week format, exploring the background and story of that passenger. Was there a reason these particular people were on that plane? What exactly happened to them, and have the passengers been affected in some way by their experience? That’s something the FBI and NSA Director Vance (Daryl Edwards) are eager to figure out, while the passengers just want to get back to their normal lives. However, they quickly discover that there is nothing normal about their new lives, and there is some deeper connection among them and some unknown force guiding them down a particular path.
Amidst this mystery, the series also follows the Stone family drama. Cal’s twin sister Olive (Luna Blaise, Fresh Off the Boat), who was not on the flight, is now a teenager, and Ben missed out on his daughter’s growing up. Cal is now younger than his twin sister, and they are at different stages of their lives. And his friends are also all grown up, so he feels out of place. Ben feels a bit distant from his wife, and Michaela doesn’t know how to act around Jared.
As the series progresses, it becomes less passenger-of-the-week, and more about exploring the general idea of what is going on with the passengers as a whole. In fact, the mystery starts to expand beyond just these passengers and flight 828. Their incident appears to be just the tip of the iceberg, and this thing could be much larger than we initially assumed. While I found some of the early episodes a bit hit or miss, and sometimes a little bit over-the-top and ridiculous, the season finishes quite strong, setting up some exciting twists and cliffhangers for the upcoming second season.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is only releasing this first season of Manifest on DVD (perhaps this will be a Warner Archive Blu-ray release in the future like some other TV titles, but I don’t know of any existing plans to do so). So, currently, if you want to see the show in its original HD format, you can purchase the digital release instead of the DVD. The picture quality of the DVD looks quite good, but it was still noticeably duller and less detailed than the show’s original HD airings on NBC. However I got used to this pretty quickly, and it did not detract from my enjoyment while binging the series for the second time. The 5.1 audio track sounds great, providing clear dialogue, and some immersive moments, such as when the plane encounters turbulence in the pilot episode.
The DVD release contains all 16 episodes of the first season evenly split across four discs. These are housed in a standard DVD sized multi-disc keepcase, which resides in cardboard slipcover. The keepcase also includes an episode guide sheet. Unfortunately there is absolutely no bonus material.
- All 16 episodes of the first season:
Disc 1: “Pilot”, “Reentry”, “Turbulence”, “Unclaimed Baggage”
Disc 2: “Connecting Flights”, “Off Radar”, “S.N.A.F.U.”, “Point of No Return”
Disc 3: “Dead Reckoning”, “Crosswinds”, “Contrails”, “Vanishing Point”
Disc 4: “Cleared for Approach”, “Upgrade”, “Hard Landing”, “Estimated Time of Departure”
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH
- This release contains no bonus material.
Manifest season 1 has an exciting premise, and the show does a good job of balancing exploring the mystery of what happened to the passengers on flight 828, with the character and family drama surrounding the aftermath of loved ones disappearing for 5 years and suddenly returning. Warner Bros. has only released the season on a barebones DVD, with no bonus material, and no HD option for those who want to watch the season the way it originally aired—for that, the only current option is to pick up the digital version and not the DVD. That said,based on the show itself, the DVD release still comes recommended for those looking for a physical disc option.