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Series / Manifest

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"The problem, ladies and gentlemen, is your plane departed Montego Bay, Jamaica on April 7, 2013. Today is November 4, 2018. You've all been missing, presumed dead, for five and a half years."

Manifest is a supernatural drama TV series that began airing on September 24th, 2018 on NBC. It depicts an airline flight that vanished and was presumed crashed, only to reappear and land safely five and half years later. The authorities are faced with a seemingly unsolvable mystery, and the passengers and crew must now deal with the lives they unwittingly left behind.

The first act can be viewed here.

The series was cancelled in June 2021 after the season three finale before being saved by Netflix for a fourth and final season in August.


This show provides examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Five years is a long time, so if your romantic partner wasn't on Flight 828 with you, odds are they've moved on.
    • Michaela's boyfriend grieved for two years but then moved on and ended up marrying her best friend. As of "Upgrade", Lourdes has walked out.
    • Grace started seeing someone but she and Olive had kept it secret from Ben at first. After he learns this, Ben understands and she gets back together with him.
    • One passenger relates how she thought she was coming back to her husband in the suburbs. Instead, as soon as she stepped out of the hanger, she was served with divorce papers.
  • All or Nothing: It is eventually revealed that if more than one person is brought back, then they are all judged together. When the three meth heads are brought back, even though Pete and Kory manage to redeem themselves, they still die when their death date arrives because Jace failed to change his ways. This also means all the Flight 828 passengers are being judged together, and if even one of them fails then they will all die.
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  • Anachronistic Clue: Averted. The FBI spends days going over every item found on Flight 828 but find nothing that was made after April 7, 2013.
  • Arc Number: The number 828, or anything similar/related to it, is seen in every episode. To wit:
    • Michaela's apartment number is 414, which is half of 828.
    • The bible verse mentioned below.
    • The address where Michaela frees the dogs and later finds the lost girls is 828.
    • Jared and Lourdes's house number is 3528. 3+5=8, so again 828.
    • Ben and Grace's house number is 2414. Again, 2 times 414 is?
  • Arc Words: "It's all connected."
  • As the Good Book Says...: Michaela's mother quotes Romans 8:28. It was the last conversation they ever had.
  • The Atoner: The passenger murdered in the second episode had been working with her husband to use immigrants in what amounted to slave labor for their mall. Losing five years caused her to realize her mistake and she was working to end this and give them regular paying jobs.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Michaela took Flight 828 so she could get away from her mother nagging her about making a decision about marriage. When she lands she finds out that her mother is dead and her boyfriend has married someone else.
    • Ben and Grace have been praying for a miracle that would save Cal's life. They get their miracle, but at a tremendous cost to their family.
    • Kelly, angst over being forced to take another flight home, tells the person she's calling that at least the flight is short. She says she never wants to fly Montego ever again, that she'd rather be dead.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: In the second episode, the people in charge of solving Flight 828's disappearance decide to keep an eye on the passengers, especially the ones who'd returned to the airfield to see the plane blow up. Later, one of the passengers, Kelly, gets shot in the head after being on the news talking about a possible government conspiracy.note  Ben and Michaela learn from her husband and housekeeper that there were black SUV vans outside the house.
  • Big Brother Bully: Jace is one to Pete, especially for trying to make Cal more comfortable.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Discussed. The characters quickly conclude that what is happening to them is too contrived to be just coincidence.
    • Openly lampshaded by Jared when he notes how Michaela just happened to be on the scene at the right time for two crimes.
    • Michaela even believes she's probably being punished for the car accident.
  • Connected All Along: So many developments and connections between the passengers, what happened to them, and what happened in the past and Present are made that the Arc Words of the series are "it's all connected".
  • Crisis of Faith: Olive suffers this following TJ's apparent death.
  • Cult: The passengers of Flight 828 apparently inspired people to think they've come to save them. By "Upgrade", one of the passengers Adrian formed one, called the Church of the Returned. Olive joined them.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • In her narration, Michaela mentions she still has nightmares from a car accident. This turns out to be one in which her friend was killed.
    • On a similar note, in "Cleared for Approach" Zeke reveals how he unwittingly caused the death of his little sister.
  • Dead All Along: In "Tailfin", Ben believed that the reason they found a piece of Flight 828 is because the plane actually exploded and they died. And they've been resurrected, including the plane until it exploded at the end of the first episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Captain Daly is a minor example, judging by his reaction to the ATC and the cops. "We have 191 souls on board, all of whom would love to touch down on one of your runways."
    • In "Dark Lightning," while attempting to recreate the conditions leading to 828's disappearance, he mutters "See you in 2024."
    • Eagan Tehrani has some priceless one-liners:
    (upon being offered a glass of water) Exactly what I need. More water.
    (about Ben) I was supposed to pay a visit to Professor Dark Clouds.
  • Domestic Abuse: Helen, the ex-wife of one of the 828 passengers who was experimented on and now has amnesia, is initially untraceable when the passengers return. It turns out her husband was abusive and she states she was relieved when the flight went missing. When the husband learned about this, he was pretty distraught.
  • Dramatic Irony: Michaela was reluctant to marry Jared, and was gonna tell him "no" after Flight 828 lands. But, presumably shaken up the mysterious turbulence, she changed her mind and texted "yes", but her message didn't get through, and it was already too late.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: At a club, Ben meets Adrian, thinking he texted for a meeting but Adrian claims to have no idea what he's talking about. Adrian replies he has no idea what Ben is talking about as Michela comes up, relating how, like Ben, she's realized most of the club is made up of passengers from the plane. They go back and forth on it before realizing someone lured the passengers here to kill them all.
  • Face Death with Dignity: While everyone tries to save Zeke from his frozen death, he accepts his fate.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Angry at Michaela for releasing Zeke from jail, Jared joins the Xers.
  • Fair Cop:
    • Jared is definitely this, courtesy of the handsome J. R. Ramirez.
    • For those who like women, Michaela isn't a pain to watch either.
  • Fantastic Racism: Calvin Webber, who believes the 828 passengers are a threat.
  • Flash Back:
    • Each episode opens with a bit of one of the passengers on the plane either during the flight or just as it was landing.
    • The episode "Connecting Flights" is packed with flashbacks showing how Ben and Michaela's family dealt with the plane's vanishing and the 5-year period where they believed they were dead.
  • Forensic Accounting: Ben needs to find out what Unified Dynamic Systems is up to so he gets a job with the company that does UDS's accounting. He hopes to gain access to their financial records and thus track their activities.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The black NYPD animal control van seen when Flight 828 lands has a motto on the side that reads "Professional, Empathetic, Trained", or "PET".
  • Good All Along: In season 2, Jared appears to have a Face–Heel Turn due to Michaela choosing Zeke over him and throwing him under the bus to get Zeke out of prison. He seems to join the Xers against Michaela and the other passengers, even getting a new haircut to fit his new antagonistic role. But it is eventually revealed he has actually been working undercover against the Xers, and ends up saving Michaela and Zeke's lives.
  • Gilligan Cut: Ben plans to join a company in hopes of finding clues to who's been setting up the mysterious farm. He assures Michaela he won't make waves and "I'll just blend in." Cut to Ben in the lobby as his young supervisor yells out "Flight 828 in the house!"
  • Happily Married: Before the flight, Ben and Grace were together for 15 years.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Michaela almost always is wearing her black leather jacket, even indoors, and is the only character on the show who wears one. She's never once worn it zipped up, oddly enough.
  • Hero Antagonist: Vance. When a plane magically reappears after 5 years with no one having aged a day and he's handed the job of investigating it, he is incredibly, and reasonably, suspicious of those involved. He's not a bad guy, just trying to do his job right and get to the bottom of something impossible.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Ben is briefly mentioned as being an atheist, but except for some snarky comments by Michaela, this isn't portrayed poorly.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Taylor's reason to speak out, according to her husband. He warned her not to, but she didn't care, she had a "calling" telling her it had to be done. Ben and Michaela believe it's the same calling they've both been having since they returned home, and possibly why she was killed.
    • In "Contrail", it's revealed that pilot Captain Daly used "unconventional" methods to fly through the strange storm. Because of this, everyone blames him for it.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: One of the passengers asks for a drink after the plane makes it out of the turbulence. The flight attendant admits she needs one, too.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Michaela tells her best friend, Lourdes, that she understands she is now married to Michael's former boyfriend. Michaela states that she had been about to break up with Jared and Lourdes "is no fraud replacement." In reality, when the plane landed, Michaela had been about to accept Jared's proposal but realizes she has to accept he and Lourdes have moved on.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title (including 'Pilot') is about something that has to do with taking a flight.
  • Ignorance Is Bliss:
    • Used as a defense by Grace for not telling Ben she's been seeing someone else as he's so happy being back.
    • Michaela goes to see the parents of her best friend Evie. The mother is now suffering from dementia and calling out for her daughter. Her husband enters to "remind" her that "she's at the market." He tells Michaela that he stopped telling her their daughter was dead because he couldn't stand seeing the agony of his wife happen over and over again.
    • The reason the parents hated Michaela is because she got Evie killed while she was driving drunk. What Michaela never told them was that Evie was far more drunk and Michaela wanted someone to drive them both home. Evie refused so Michaela drove despite being under the influence. She never told the parents the truth because she didn't want them to know their daughter was such a mess in her last moments on Earth.
    • Played for laughs when Olive reveals she's been keeping a lot of Cal's stuff in storage. Cal is happy as he hangs up a poster of Derek Jeter.
    Grace: Jeter retired.
    Ben: We'll tell him next season.
  • I Just Want to Be You!: As of "Bogey," Angelina seems to be going down this path regarding her relationship with Olive. She dyes her hair to match Olive's, wears her clothes, and tries to kiss Levi after Olive told her about her crush on him.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: This all started when the family's scheduled flight was overbooked, and some of them decided to use the airline's offer and go home via Flight 828. It was supposed to be a few hours' delay, but it turned out to be much longer.
  • It's All My Fault: Captain Daly blames himself for the passengers missing five and a half years of their lives.
  • Jump Scare: The living stone angel in "Unclaimed Baggage".
    • The wolf is some episodes.
    • The gargoyle in "False Horizon".
  • Just Plane Wrong:
    • The plane involved in the incident is repeatedly stated to be a Boeing 737-200. This model has a maximum capacity of 136 passengers, yet in the first episode Captain Daly states that he has "191 souls on board", which is a lot more than should be possible.
    • When asked for his aircraft's callsign, MA828, Captain Daly says it the way an ordinary person would: "Em Ay Eight Two Eight." A professional pilot would give it as, "Mike Alpha Eight Two Eight", especially if there was any suspected confusion.
  • Karma Houdini: Calvin Webber is not arrested for vandalism and threats of Ben and his family.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Michaela is already dealing with losing five years of her life and her mother. Then, when she comes back to work on the police force, she finds that the man who, from her perspective, was her boyfriend just a week ago is now married. Then she finds out it's to her best friend.
    • When Grace calls out Erika for her irrational fears of the 828 passengers, the woman responds by saying she hopes Grace loses her baby.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Throughout season 2 the Xers attack and antagonize the flight 828 passengers, including Ben's family, and Simon White, the leader of the Xers, acts as a False Friend to Ben and his family so he can spy on them and figure out what they know. Eventually in "Course Deviation" Jared, who was acting as a mole to infiltrate the Xers, lures Simon, his wife Erika, and three other Xers into a trap when they try to execute Zeke and gets them all arrested.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Montego Air Flight 828 flew through some severe, unexpected turbulence en route to New York, which resulted in their time travel.
    • Happens again in the Season 2 finale. Lightning strikes the frozen lake that the drug dealers are trapped under. It seems kind of out of nowhere, until the NYPD are searching the lake for the bodies of the presumed-dead dealers and turn up no bodies at all... implying that they time traveled in the same way as the 828 passengers.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Saanvi and her ex-girlfriend, who are both very feminine.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Cal is suffering from leukemia, before and after the time jump. However, five and a half years of advancements in medicine have led to a possible cure.
  • Loophole Abuse: With Ben and Cal turning up alive, the insurance company comes looking to take back the payout for their life insurance. Ben counters that since there was naturally no clause covering something like this particular incident, it's perfectly legal for them to pay it back in tiny installments over several years.
  • My Beloved Smother: In her narration in the first act, Michaela bemoans that her parents — especially her mother — are trying to control her life by encouraging her to get married to Jared. Her attitude changes once she reunites with her father, and finds out her mother died during the time skip.
  • Never My Fault: In "Return Trip", Jared tells the Xers that he blames Michaela for destroying his marriage, ignoring the fact that he was the one who wanted to get back together with her. When she rejected him for Zeke, he believes it's not the real Michaela. It's revealed that he used that anger to infiltrate the Xers.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: The trio of drug dealers who kidnap Cal fit this dynamic. The hot-tempered, vindictive leader Jace is mean, being the most willing to kill Cal; Kory is the most neutral of the three, making him in-between; and Pete is nice, showing kindness to Cal by giving him a blanket after seeing that he's cold and ultimately cutting him loose while the other two are busy arguing.
  • Not Helping Your Case: In "Cleared for Approach", Ben threatens Calvin Webber to stay away from his family, which only convinces Webber that he's right about the 828 passengers being a threat. The confrontation went online, which gets him more followers.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: In "Dead Reckoning", the whole situation made Grace realize how much her family's changed.
  • One Degree of Separation:
    • Saanvi was working on a revolutionary new leukemia treatment, which five years later has been implemented and just so happens to perfectly fit fellow 828 passenger Cal. This understandably convinces her there was some deliberate purpose to the whole thing.
    • Ben tries to help Radd when Radd's son is arrested for robbery but there is not much he can do. He goes to retrieve some of Cal's stuff from a storage locker owned by his wife's new boyfriend and it turns out the real robber has a storage locker just a few feet away and is cataloging the loot just as Ben walks by.
    • Michaela investigates the murder of a passenger who had a necklace stolen. Later, Michaela stops the mother of a late friend from being hit by a car. The driver of the car turns out to be the killer and the necklace is in plain view as proof of guilt.
    • Michaela is investigating the murder of a shop owner and keeps hearing a strange heartbeat. She bonds with the owner's son as she talks him out of seeking revenge on the killer. At the episode's end, Michela discovers that the young man got a heart transplant from her late best friend, Evie, who died in an accident Michaela was responsible for.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Melissa Roxburgh's native Canadian accent is....pretty apparent, for most of the series.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Ben and Grace were facing the horrific possibility that their son would be dead of cancer in a few months and there was nothing they could do about it. When Flight 828 disappeared Grace had to deal with the possibility that she would never see her son and husband alive again.
  • Overnight Age-Up:
    • From the perspective of the passengers, their families have all suddenly gotten older. This is first demonstrated with Olive and Cal, who are twins. Olive has grown into a teenager, while Cal hasn't aged at all.
    • Cal and Ben are thrown to find Cal's best friend, Kevin, is now a fully grown teenager. Cal is also jarred to realise Kevin is dating Olive.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Type 2. Olive is shown in flashbacks to have taken some time to warm up to Danny, but in the present, she directly tells her mother that she thinks of both Danny and Ben as being her father.
  • Papa Bear: Ben towards Cal.
  • Platonic Co-Parenting: One couple who were on 828 asked their neighbor to babysit their kids while they went on what they thought would be a brief vacation. When they find themselves five years into the future, they learn that their neighbor adopted their kids. Thankfully, she's very understanding about the whole thing and readily agrees to share custody, though the situation isn't easy for anyone involved.
  • Product Placement:
    • The characters mainly use the iPhone as their personal mobile device.
    • Cal Stone collects LEGO, mostly the City, Batman, and Marvel theme.
    • The Stone family and many of their allies seem to have a fondness for driving late-model Chevrolets.
  • Red Herring: Ben, Michaela, and Saanvi believe the NSA have kidnapped some of the passengers and are experimenting on them. Unbeknownst to them, the NSA discovers there's another group at play.
  • Refusal of the Call:
    • Adrian confessed that he's been ignoring the callings, because he fears they're all the catalyst of the apocalypse and the callings are to give false hope. He formed the Church of the Returned to help the passengers stray away from them, but backfired horribly, which only further convinced him that the calling are bad news.
    • In "Airplane Bottles", it's revealed that many people had gotten the Callings. When they tried to ignore it, they went mad.
    • In "Unaccompanied Minors", Michaela ignored the calling, which is telling her to let Kory go. She's worried about the consequences.
  • The Reveal: In "Course Deviation", Adrian and Cal both have visions of three mysterious shadows of human forms. Adrian assumes they are demons controlling the passengers. In the next episode, they're revealed to be the shadows of Jace, Pete, and Kory whom Michaela arrested, ignoring the calls telling her not to.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: When Michaela went to see the parents of her friend Evie, she finds that the mother has Alzheimer's. The dad stops reminding her about the accident since he can't bear to see her break down every 15 minutes, so she tells him she went out and will come back soon.
  • Science Marches On: An In-Universe example. In 2013, there was no treatment for Cal's cancer and he was given six months to live. A potential treatment is just a theory researchers are thinking about. Five years later, the theory has been successfully developed into a treatment and Cal has a good chance of surviving his cancer.
  • Secret Chaser: Robert Vance, the director of the NSA who leads the investigation on Flight 828, is determined to find out where it had disappeared to and whether or not the passengers are a threat to national security.
  • Secret-Keeper: Michaela knows Grace is seeing someone, and tells Grace she should tell Ben before he finds out on his own.
  • Secret Test of Character: In "Wingman", Olive and Angelina believe that the resurrected are being judged, and should they fail at their second chance by their Death Date, they will die.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force: In her narration at the end of the first episode, Michaela believes something chose her and rest of the passengers of Flight 828, it gave them a supernatural ability, summoned them back to the airport to watch the plane suddenly explode, and doesn't want anyone else to know about the circumstances of the passengers' disappearance. It sent them five and a half years into the future for some other reason besides giving them a second chance in life. Michaela outright suggests that it was God, though Ben is skeptical, citing Clarke's Third Law regarding this.
  • Shipper on Deck: Michaela's parents are introduced via them trying to convince her to marry Jared. It's shown Michaela's dad was never happy about Jared moving on to someone else. In the present, he encourages Michaela to go ahead and fight to get Jared back even it means hurting Lourdes. It's not revealed how he feels about Michaela being with someone else now.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The meth heads' story arc in Season 3 ends up being this. Even though Kory and Pete managed to redeem themselves, all three of them died because Jace failed to change his ways.
  • Shout-Out: Probably unintentional, but the living stone angel in "Unclaimed Baggage" resembles a Weeping Angel.
  • Spanner in the Works: Flight attendant Bethany managed to smuggle Thomas onto the flight so he could avoid the persecution of gay people in Jamaica and find his boyfriend in New York. The plan was for him to be hidden on board and then leave with the other passengers when they landed. She never counted on the plane being diverted and scrutinized upon landing, or that five years will have passed.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The 4400, where people vanish over the space of fifty years, come back all at once without having aged at all, and demonstrate strange powers.
  • Technology Marches On: The show pulls this off in spite of the short time span.
    • In-Universe example. The first sign to passengers that something is off when they land is that their cell phones have no service as they're completely outdated for the current service plans (five years is a long time for a smartphone).
    • When Ben tries to check out his place for bugs, he notes that given the way technology has advanced in the last five years, he has no idea what such devices would even look like.
    • A passenger was a "tech wunderkind" in 2013 only to find he's hopelessly behind the curve today.
  • There Are No Coincidences
  • They Would Cut You Up:
    • Michaela tries to tell Ben about the voice she is hearing in her head but he tells her to not to talk about it because the government is just looking for an excuse to lock them all up and run experiments on them.
    • In "Off Radar", it's revealed that the NSA aren't responsible, but a corporation called UDS (Unified Dynamic Systems).
  • Time Travel:
    • It somehow took five and a half years for Montego Air 828 to fly from Jamaica to New York.
    • Zeke's mountain day trip took a year for some reason.
  • Truth in Television: After a weird event in both real life and the show the authorities don't let any of the passengers go home right away; everyone is kept in a nearby hangar and interviewed separately.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Saanvi was involved with another woman. Both are also women of color (Saanvi's Indian-American, her ex-girlfriend's African-American). Saanvi is thus far the only woman of color or LGBT character in the main cast.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Michaela initially is the only member of the cast who has a religious bent, and alone suggests the force behind the callings was God. She's also seen praying for guidance. Later though a passenger sets up a church based on the idea they are divine chosen ones, which Olive gets interested in.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: In the second episode, Kelly tells Michaela she should have "played the cop card 8 hours ago".
    Michaela: You're welcome!
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Michaela and Jared since she returned after five and a half years. She still loves Jared who has moved on and married her best friend. However in "Crosswinds", it's revealed the reason he didn't see her at the bunker when she returned is because he still loves her. But in the next episode, Michaela realizes it was a mistake and doesn't want to ruin her friend's marriage. In season 2, their relationship has become more complicated due to his problem with her growing relationship with Zeke. Angry at Michaela for releasing Zeke from jail, Jared begins to connect with some Xers, and is seeing someone else.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: If Kory is to be believed, Jace wasn't always the Jerkass we see on the show. He reminds Jace how he was "the guy who was always looking out for everyone."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: It's easy to see similarities between this and the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in 2014. Word of God confirms that MA 370 was the inspiration for the show's premise. The show even premiered 6 months before the fifth anniversary of the incident.
  • Video Will: In "Wingman", Glen (the father of Mick's best friend Evie) left a DVD before dying of a heart attack, saying that he arranged for his wife Beverly to live at an assisted-living facility and given their house to Mick.
    Zeke: Did he just gave you his house?
    Mick: I think he gave us the house.
  • Wham Line: The page-top quote.
    • Also:
    Michaela: What year is it?
    Zeke: 2017.
    • "I'm [Zeke's] wife.
  • Wham Shot: The pilot ends with some of the plane's passengers compelled to gather together at the airport... to watch as the plane suddenly explodes.
    • A literal example as the second episode ends with Kelly, the passenger who had been talking of a possible government conspiracy watching footage of herself on the news... just before she's shot in the head.
    • The second season premiere ends with Ben kidnapped and finding himself met by a very much alive Vance.
      Vance: You're not the only one who can come back from the dead.
    • The final scene of the season 2 finale as a group of fishermen are baffled to find what appears to be... the wreckage of Flight 828.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In Season 1, Olive is dating Kevin. In Season 2, Olive begins dating TJ, and Kevin is never seen nor mentioned again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In "Dead Reckoning", Grace kicks Ben out for allowing Cal be near danger, as well as lying to her.
    • Jared also gives one to Ben in "Cleared for Approach" for threatening Calvin Webber.
    • In the season 2 finale, Ben gives a real loud one to Michaela for ignoring the call to let Jace go.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Grace is initially unsure whether Danny or Ben fathered her baby. It turns out that Ben did.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • In "Cleared for Approach", Calvin Webber asks Ben if his son bleeds.
    • In "Call Sign", the trio of drug dealers kidnap Cal to get to Michaela. Though only the leader Jace was more than willing.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: According to the crew and passengers, it took 3 hours and 19 minutes to fly from Montego to JFK. According to the outside world, it took five and half years.
  • You Are in Command Now: Captain Daly says this to Ben, saying that he must be the leader of the other passengers now, before he flies a plane into a thunderstorm with Fiona to try to recreate traveling in time and prove his innocence.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Ben and especially Cal say this a lot.