Episode Title: Manifest
Originally Aired: September 30th 2016
The latest episode from Marvel and Netflix centers on my two favorite criminal cousins, and is full of shocking moments and missteps that will make Manifest an episode to remember. It is unclear to me what the title is referencing, is it in relation to how being raised by Mama Mable would manifest it in Cornell and Mariah as adults? Alternatively, it could be related to conversation Shades had that led to the death of a major character, because after that the result is not too shocking.
To me the first misstep is the importance Claire has been given in this series. While I really enjoy the character and Rosario Dawson brings out the best in Mike Colter, this was easily his best acting episode so far, she has too much to do too soon. She is lecturing Luke about who he should be and what he should do with knowing next to nothing about him. She is not a relative, a girlfriend she would barely qualify as a close acquaintance. Her big monologue of righteousness came before she knew his back-story, which we see him giving her in the final moments of the episode. You cannot know why people do things if you do not understand where they are coming from which she clearly did not at that moment. If Reva was still alive or if he continued his relationship from the first episode with Misty, she would have the place to say those things to him, so in the end, it was the right message but the wrong source.
The second misstep to me was the inclusion of a backstory that saw Mariah being molested by her uncle Pete. Before her major scene in this episode it was less than five words in a flashback, we had no time to appreciate what she may have gone through before her anger made her finally get her hands dirty. Something the young Cornell was not allowed to avoid, she would happily defend children in Harlem except for Cornell, he was forced to kill a friend and then his Uncle to become a man in her eyes. She was a horrible Mama instead of nurturing his gift she turned him into the criminal that everyone is working for or trying to bring down. Child sexual abuse is such a serious topic I do not feel it should be used in such a throw away fashion. With six episodes left I highly doubt it will ever come up again, they just picked something that could cause a person a lot of trauma and grief and used it as motivation for her encounter with Cottonmouth. I am fine with the topic being used as motivation it should have just been given more screen time and maybe show her dealing with it well before he made his hurtful remarks. Most kids who are abused and seek help, never forget but move on and become normal well-functioning members of society not someone who would kill a person over the wrong statement.
The real highlight of this episode was the acting, everyone gave a strong performance even the characters we met for the first time in flash backs at Mama Mabel’s. Alfre Woodard was the strongest of the group with truly convincing performance with her anger at Cottonmouth. My favorite moment of the episode goes to Luke, with his comments about being tired of buying new clothes and asking a crime boss if they have a hoodie in 2X. In addition, this episode has made me excited for next week, now we know Luke can be hurt, and are left wondering if Claire will be able to save him. Well, duh, of course, he is not going to die but how will this change his approach to the fight that lies ahead. Diamondback, Domingo, and the NYPD are all going to be after him, who will be on his side, will he be forced to go into hiding after finally deciding to stay and fight.