“Manifest,” the new and much anticipated NBC show had its series premiere last week, and the pilot episode was centered around the well-known verse Romans 8:28 (“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”). The show drew in over 10 million views, which outperformed returning shows like The Good Doctor and The Voice.
The show follows a family that boards a plane and goes missing for five and a half years. When they miraculously return, they have not aged one bit. The mysterious plot line addresses pressing questions about science and faith.
In crossing the two topics of faith and science throughout the show, Jeff Rake, the creator of “Manifest,” dives into something people normally shy away from.
“That debate is as old as time itself. It’s really the ultimate debate in human history: faith vs. science,” Rake told USA Today. “I challenge myself in every episode to tell the story of what would really happen if something this extraordinary ever occurred.”
PLOT SPOILERS BELOW
The show begins by introducing the Stone family, who are embarking on a trip from Jamaica to their home in New York. Sister and brother Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) and Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) decide to take a later flight than the rest of the family. Ben’s young leukemia-stricken son, Cal (Jack Messina), is with them as well.
The three board Montego Air Flight 828 and proceed to “go missing” for the next five and half years. In a crazy turn of events, the plane reemerges five plus years later and the families are able to reunite with the loved ones they thought they had lost.
Many changes took place while those on the plane were missing, including characters getting married, new dating relationships arising and children growing up without parents.
Although there are many dramatic and less than desirable consequences of being gone for five years, Ben’s son Cal was able to receive a cancer treatment that wasn’t offered when they originally left for New York.
Melissa Roxburgh describes Michaela as a “tragic character.” She wanders away from her faith, but in the end of the first episode, she is seen sitting in a church, reading her Bible. While sitting in the church, she is approached by a pastor.
“How do we know if we’re the called?” she asks him, to which he responds that its a matter of the heart, and feeling it.
“She’s got this glimmer of hope in her eye. She’s kind of looking at it like, ‘Maybe we’re being called back for a spiritual reason,’” Roxburg told USA Today.
Michaela isn’t the only character who is walking through a spiritual transformation — her brother Ben has questions and struggles of his own.
Dallas explained how his character Ben “deals in absolutes,” whereas he personally believes in “a higher power that’s guiding this whole crazy world.”
“Is what happened to them something that can be explained by science, or is it something much more spiritual, or does it somehow lend itself to both?” Dallas told USA Today. “Who knows, maybe Ben might be swayed.”
Although the show focuses on the element of physical mystery, the idea of spiritual mystery is seen throughout the first episode, and will be a driving force in the series.
“Manifest” airs on NBC Mondays at 10 p.m. E.T.
(H/T: USA Today)