Last week's episode of Manifest took a huge step forward in handing fans puzzle pieces to solve the mystery of Flight 828. Though not all of our characters know it yet, the NSA has turned out to not be the enemy. In fact, Director Vance is more in the dark about what happened to the passengers of Flight 828 than those who were on the plane. Instead, a shadowy government contract Unified Dynamic Systems may be the one to blame, and with them, Fiona Clarke. Who is Fiona Clarke on Manifest? Warning: Spoilers for Manifest Season 1 follow.
This week, Ben Stone finally got a job after being out of work for five and a half years. But he didn't go to work just anywhere. Instead, he took a position where he could start following the money, at JP Williamson, the people who handle the finances for most large-scale Fortune 500s, including UDS.
His corporate espionage antics took up a good deal of this week's episode and introduced two new characters to the Manifest family: his new boss, Ronnie Wilcox, and the IT guy, David James. They both have access to UDS' files, and lead Ben to a fellow passenger who may have been in on Flight 828 the whole time: Fiona Clarke, whose name is labeled "(S.P.)"
The episode opened with a moment of Fiona, back when Flight 828 was boarding. As a passenger griped about being bumped back, Clarke was very zen about what had happened. After all, time only goes forward, nothing could be changed, and now "we're all in this together."
Saanvi does research on Clarke and discovers she has a degree in Neural Psychology but was drummed out of her field for "unorthodox beliefs." Turns out, those beliefs include "insisting brains could be networked like computers." Funny, but this sounds an awful lot like what Cal and Marko were undergoing last week.
Clarke is now on a spiritual speaking circuit, doing presentations called "The Mirror Factor." But when Ben confronts Clarke, she seems completely stunned. She's not aware of UDS. To her, it's a kindly non-profit called The Singularity Project who offered her a job four days after landing, and who pay her on retainer to give these presentations.
Now that Ben knows what (S.P.) stand for in the UDS logs, he's more determined than ever to get his hands on the data and uses his new IT friend to grab access and download it onto a flash drive. But the NSA, or at least Vance, has had his eye on Stone ever since he took the job. Vance's buddy Powell seems dubious Stone is onto anything, but Vance won't be dissuaded, and once he sees Stone data-dumping the S.P. files, he makes a play and grabs the flash drive.
Ben may be thwarted this week, but Cal isn't worried. Vance isn't the bad guy anymore. He's not even telling Powell and the rest of the NSA he has the drive or the data. At least when it comes to this arm of the government, the passengers have one on their team. And he's smart enough to know the old X-Files adage is the truest: Trust No One.