General spoilers below for anyone who isn’t caught up with NBC’s Manifest.
In Manifest‘s highly rated first five episodes, everything we’ve been shown has added major complications to the various characters’ lives. Some viewers may think Michaela, Ben and the other time-jumping plane passengers have it the hardest, but those not on the flight have absolutely suffered in kind, if not more so. Grace, in particular, faces a multitude of issues that quickly derailed the comfort she’d only recently rediscovered. Speaking with CinemaBlend, star Athena Karkanis talked with me about how being outside the plane mystery has affected Grace’s life.
I think it would be similar to any kind of situation where a loved one is going through, or has gone through, something extreme that you have not experienced with them, but you are trying to support them through it. You know, imagine your partner is dealing with sickness or an accident, or a loss in their family. I think it’s hard, because you can’t understand exactly what they’re going through, but you are trying to be as close to them through it as you can. And yet there’s no way that you can fully predict their needs, and their everything, because they’re experiencing something totally different than you, even if you’re watching them experiencing it, or you’re alongside of them while they’re experiencing it.
Grace hasn’t always come across as the most sympathetic Manifest character, even though she literally upended her life to welcome Ben back in the least traumatizing way. So by most counts, she deserves the benefit of everyone’s doubt. Grace’s worries are so plentiful, it’s a wonder that she has any scenes where she gets to smile about something.
On top of the five years of worries and woes that she went through, as well as all of the changes she had to make upon hearing about the plane’s return, Grace then had to tack on other forms of anxiety tied to Ben and Cal’s returns. Without being fully n the know about their various callings, Grace can’t properly understand Ben’s erratic behavior and impulsive decisions, and nor is she fully able to grasp either Cal’s physical or emotional state.
Not only is Grace struggling to understand how others are dealing with everything, but she can’t even take part in the pleasure and feelings of accomplishment that come when Michaela and Ben’s “voices” led to positive outcomes. Star Athena Karkanis described the solitude that comes attached to being a relative outsider within the NBC hit‘s big mystery, saying:
Luckily Ben and Michaela have each other, but it is kind of a lonely thing, and it must also be frustrating for the other partner to watch their person struggling and suffering, and not be able to predict exactly what they need to just make it better.
Speaking to the loneliness and sense of seclusion that Grace feels, Athena Karkanis said that she was able to look to her own life for a sense of inspiration. As a mother, Karkanis said that being pregnant was similar to her Manifest arc in that an expectant mother is taking on a wealth of body changes and hormonal shifts that cannot be properly shared by a significant other.
To that end, Karkanis said:
I remember, during my second pregnancy, having this epiphany that pregnancy is a very lonely thing. Because as much as? my partner was extremely supportive, and? I have no complaints about how he [handled it],? I just remember things like the nausea, and it’s all, like, nothing [for him]. He can? feel bad for me, and? make me a cup of hot ginger water or whatever. But there are these things that, it’s just me. I’m doing that.
Note that Athena Karkanis was only making those specific comparisons between her real-life pregnancy and Grace’s situation, and that she wasn’t speaking to the myriad blessings and positive moments that being pregnant can provide. Such positives just strengthen the argument anyway, though. Just like Grace can’t share in any of Michaela’s happier calling-related feelings, a mother’s love and joy are entirely her own to experience. Unfortunately, there’s just not that much joy floating around the bulk of Manifest‘s characters at the moment.
The more days that go by following the return of Flight 828, the more Grace’s personal problems are compounded. Perhaps her strongest relationship on the show is with daughter Olive, and that’s been strained by Grace’s dishonesty with Ben about boyfriend Danny. Which says nothing of the extremely uncomfortable wall that now exists between her and Danny, who is placidly waiting on the sidelines for Grace to figure everything out. Of course, that’s assuming such a solution exists.
When talking to the delightful Athena Karkanis, I brought up how in almost any other context, Danny would be the person Grace confided in and talked to about all of her emotional turmoil. Even though that situation could end up becoming a reality one day, it’s not the current status quo, and Karkanis talked about her off-kilter love triangle, as well as how she thinks the situation could be resolved.
So she’s also lost that, and then feels extreme guilt for, you know, having what feels like now an adulterous relationship, or adulterous emotions toward this other person. And then at the same time, there’s all these wires crossed because Ben, in trying to protect Grace, is not sharing with her what’s going on. But you know he thinks he’s doing the right thing by not exposing her to all this crazy stuff that he’s dealing with, and not wanting to worry her. Whereas maybe what would actually be better for the relationship is if he was completely open with her, so that she could help him.
If Ben fully opens up about the weird things that everyone on Flight 828 has experienced upon returning, I can’t imagine Grace’s reaction would involve “full and unquestioning acceptance.” (Which is smart, mind you, considering how wacky Ben’s confession would be.) It’s going to take some inarguable proof to bring Grace around to hear and believe everything that Ben would need to confess. So it’s hard to say when or if Grace will find an escape from this loneliness.
If you’re like millions and millions of other TV viewers on Monday nights, you’re already set to watch the next episode airing on NBC at 10:00 p.m. ET, as well as all the emotionally harrowing installments that will follow in the 16-episode season. For anyone needing more shows to stay busy with during the rest of the week, our fall TV premiere schedule.