Millions of pixels have been lit theorizing what television show will be the next Lost. Nearly every word on this blog has been devoted to the subject. Some of the early contenders tried hard but didn’t last. Flash Forward and The Event come to mind. There have also been shows since September 21, 2004, that match or even exceed Lost’s brilliance. Breaking Bad, The Man in the High Castle and The Wire come to mind.
This fall season we had a new contender, and its parallels were obvious. Manifest (NBC) is about passengers of a flight that mysteriously went missing. After three episodes that seems to be where the similarities end. But three episodes of Lost barely scratched the island’s surface, so that’s something we’ll have to cover in a different post.
Now nearly a full season in, I’m comfortable declaring Manifest is not the next Lost but it is a pile of wreckage. It’s story—which should be interesting—is told with such little effort and depth that I had to quit watching after the fall finale.
Why the fall finale? Because it decided to make the cliffhanger for the entire fall season be the (not so) shocking reveal of a character introduced in this one episode to be a spy. Seriously? They had how many episodes to build a character whose shocking reveal would actually be shocking, but they chose to do it all in 42 minutes? Get out of here with that. An airplane survival story overflows with ways to sneak in a character who isn’t who we think it is (hello, Ethan Rom). Manifest tried to make it happen in one episode, which is lazy af and a privilege this show had not earned.
It most certainly isn’t something Lost would have done. Neither is the weak arc of Thomas, the stowaway being brought to America by a flight attendant. Instead of introducing him as a stowaway, why not establish the relationship he came here for and then put him in danger of being split from his boyfriend? Because that would have taken up valuable time when Ben was screwing up his marriage or Michaela was having a vision. Gotta have those visions!
This show sucks. It sucks and I’m mad just writing this blog about it.