The Downside of ‘Second Chances’

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Montego Air Flight 828 from Jamaica to New York experiences a brief period of severe turbulence. What happens next is beyond unfathomable. NBC

Second Chances. How often do people want to get one? How often do people wish to get at least another one shot at something that has gone wrong? But, what if the second chance you get is ruining other people’s second chance? What if the second chance given to make things right is jeopardising others’ second chance to survive?

When Montego Air Flight 828 landed in New York from Jamaica, it received a bizarre welcome at the airport – an entire world awkwardly greeting them, full-on presence of the National Security Agency (NSA), a whole bunch of local and foreign media flashing their cameras and the bewildered relatives of the passengers. The catch? Montego Air Flight 828 left Jamaica in 2013; it was already 2018 when the plane landed in NYC.

NBC’s new supernatural series ‘Manifest’ has left viewers exploring once again about science’s great theory of space-passage ‘wormhole’, or the possibility of time-travel, or the presence of aliens, or the presence of God and the critical facets of getting a chance of living life the second time around. Presumed dead for the past five and a half years, all the passengers of Montego Air Flight 828 struggled to reconnect with their loved ones, who seem to be different people now, compared to the last hugs and last talks they’ve had before they boarded the plane.

Being bumped off from their original flight, thus separated from the rest of their family who took the flight ahead of them, siblings Ben (Josh Dallas) and Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) did not expect that things could become atypical when they land; that things could become completely strange and unlikely in a span of “three hours and 45 minutes”; that feelings and relationships could change that quick, at least for them who experienced normal flight time – or so they thought – onboard the plane. But for their loved ones who have suffered the pain of loss and have gone through the tough path of moving forward and finally reaching there, their sudden recurrence literally changed the whole equation. It blew the lid off the years of buried pain, mourning and thousand questions of uncertainty.

Ben (Josh Dallas), Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) and Cal (Jack Messina) are given “second lives” when their plane landed after five and a half years. But, are their loved ones ready for their comeback? Photo: NBC

Ben and Michaela’s mother has already died years after their disappearance. Michaela, who, in the plane, just decided to wear the engagement ring and was about to say yes to her fiancé, Jared (J.R. Ramirez), never thought that it would be her best friend who will eventually be married to him. Ben’s daughter, Olive (Luna Blaise), is now a teenager who has grown distant from him, while her twin brother Cal (Jack Messina), who was in the plane, stayed young yet still seriously sick – though the upside is that his life is prolonged and a cure for his cancer has been discovered. Even Ben’s marital life had a 360-degree turn as his wife Grace (Athena Karkanis) has moved on with another man. And although Grace chose Ben back over the other man, the struggles of re-establishing themselves as life partners were getting into them.

Executive produced by Academy Award-winning Director Robert Zemeckis, notable for his works like ‘Forrest Gump’ and ‘Cast Away’ that gave profound manifestation of emotions at its extreme highs and lows, ‘Manifest’ does not just give you a dose of ‘Lost’ and ‘This is Us’ (as how most fans of the show see it), or another fantasy-exploring storyline of time travelling. ‘Manifest’ thrusts the deeper subject of second chances and how they can positively or negatively impact you and every person around you. It goes beyond the supernatural genre, as it explores more the human element of the story, thus exposing the vulnerability of the characters, as each is reflective to present day-to-day encounters.

They may share the same birthday, but there’s a five year age difference now between the Stone twins Photo: NBC

As each character of the series traverses with the changing manifestations brought about by every scenario, one can ponder about how the balance of nature could, more often than not, be destabilised when man tries to redo or do-over situations. It would make viewers realise that sometimes, no matter how painful the situation is, the best way to deal is to totally accept and embrace its results, and never look back.

‘Manifest’ runs its sixth episode this week, still hooking the viewers’ baffled mind on what really happened to the plane when it disappeared, while at the same time, gripping viewers’ emotions as each character battles with each own personal issues.

As the series continues to resolve the mystery behind the disappearance and reappearance of Montego Air Flight 828, it also unravels each character’s dealings, as their past continues to collide with the present. The second chance given to those passengers onboard the flight to live again has considerably subverted the second chance to survive the pain of losing and moving forward given to those they left behind. For at least in the tangible world, everyone has already moved on; everyone is trying to be in a good place after years and years of aching process of acceptance. What makes it much worse is that guilt or any feeling of disappointment that every character goes through may be difficult to justify. No one is at fault, legally or emotionally – for everyone is in the right position to continue living their lives given this predicament.

‘Manifest, minus its supernatural-fantasy aspect, would take us back to old-school morale that “everything happens for a reason”; and trying to reshape it would mean consequences. Sometimes, perhaps it’s essential to accept that people leave so that we can learn to let go and appreciate goodbyes. Sometimes, life would require us to break apart so we can appreciate the journey of putting ourselves back together. Sometimes, we don’t actually need second chances but only the courage to accept things the way they are and eventually move on.

So now we question: Is getting a second shot at something essential to right the wrong. Is redemption always an absolute option for people to live?

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