You know how you try to give a character the benefit of the doubt, so you avoid saying strong statements like "Man, I hate that character?"
You don't want to jump the gun. Who knows what direction the plot may go? Maybe every irritating quality about them will make sense down the line!
Well, eff all of that because Manifest's Grace Stone is the absolute worst.
The best thing about Grace is that she brings the entire Manifest fandom together -- united in their hatred of her. Sometimes that extends to Olive, too, but there isn't a time when Grace doesn't top the list of annoying characters.
Every time you want to give her the benefit of the doubt or sympathize with her, she does or says something so agitating you wonder why you even bothered.
The patrons of Flight 828 and their families are in a unique position. There is no rule book to guide you through coming off of a flight you thought was an hour and discovering you were presumed dead for five and a half years.
There's also nothing to prepare you for your loved ones returning after five and a half years without aging a single day. Nothing can prepare anyone for this.
Logically, this mystery is confounding, and everyone including the government wants to get to the bottom of things. Everyone but Grace who would rather stick her head in the sand and pretend like none of this is happening.
There were hints that maybe Grace and Ben were having issues in their marriage before the flight. Cal was dying, and that was taxing on the whole family but especially on the Stones' marriage.
Yet, if your husband returned from the dead half a decade later, wouldn't you be thrilled? Grace was not. She was happy about her son (and yes, she uses "my son" frequently as if Ben doesn't have a right to his child), but she treated Ben as nothing more than a complication.
It sucked because Ben sure as hell was happy about seeing her again. Of course, he was unaware that two years after he disappeared Grace had moved on.
Rob: This is gonna sound insane, but I'm a little protective of Danny. [pause] Kind of seems like you're cheating on him. [Grace scoffs] Sorry.
Grace: No. Honestly...it feels a little that way for me too.
Here's the thing. Grace had every right to move on. She thought her husband was dead, and it was normal for her to want love again. No one can begrudge the woman that, so that should have made her more sympathetic, right?
Nope. Grace didn't have the decency to tell Ben that she fell in love and was playing "happy family" with Danny until the day the flight returned. She kept Danny a secret for way too long. Grace probably wouldn't have told him at all if messy Olive didn't have Ben piecing it together.
On top of that, she was cold to Ben, which left him wondering why his wife showed zero interest in reconnecting, and every opportunity he gave her to talk to him about it, she didn't.
Because Grace's default is to whine about how he has been missing for five and half years, a line she says so often it probably can be found in a Manifest drinking game and leave one hung over after every installment.
As if the people who came home five years into the future aren't also struggling with this weird phenomenon.
On Manifest Season 1 Episode 4, we realized how close Danny was to the family when Olive called him to get her out of trouble. Ben had to find out that some guy Olive had known for 3 out of her 16-year life was considered her father.
Manifest Season 1 Episode 5, however, was when we were supposed to see how difficult things were for Grace in the five years Ben was gone and again, it was supposed to evoke sympathy for her, but it made matters worse than before.
For one, Grace only mourned Cal. She spent her days curled up in his room and barely mentioned Ben at all. It was her son she grieved, and for a long time, it came at Olive's expense.
She was so depressed she barely took care of her other child, and when she finally got it together, it was because she went to a support group and met Danny.
It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth knowing it took a handsome new guy to get this single mother on the right track. He inspired her to pull herself together and start a business, incur a crazy amount of debt, and go through her entire settlement.
If you wanted to root for this woman because she pulled herself together in Ben's absence, it was marred. Danny was the most stable parental figure while Ben was gone, and it interfered with Grace's agency.
Grace could barely stand on her own without Danny and the village she built to help her take care of Olive, and it was disappointing. The episode also put Olive and Grace's tense relationship into perspective.
Olive is a daddy's girl, except she went from Ben to Danny. During the Grace-centric hour, the impression that was given was that Danny was more adept at taking care of Olive and being the stable parent than Grace was.
Even her centric episode meant to shed light on her character and endear her to fans did her no favors. It's OK if Grace isn't into Ben anymore, but with or without Danny, her treatment of Ben is why she has gained the ire of Manifest fans.
Grace is whiny and perpetually annoyed when it comes to Ben. She treats him like he can't do anything right and that his very existence and everything related to the flight is inconvenient for her. It's not that anyone is suggesting life or this situation is easier for her, but she acts as though she and only she has a monopoly on pain.
"For five and half years," she thought her son was dead, and she mourned him. Yeah, we know. We get it, Grace.
Something unknown but realistic enough happened to Grace because she was left to presume her husband and son died in a plane crash. Missing planes aren't a regular occurrence, but they have happened.
An event happened to Ben, Michaela, and Cal that can't be explained by science or logic. It's a mysterious phenomenon that is unlike anything that has happened to anyone ever (that we know of).
Ben lost five and half years of his life without realizing it and came back without aging a day to a teenage daughter, a dead mother, no job, and a boatload of technological and social advances.
Cal came back middle-school aged with altered cells that have extended his lifespan and to his near grown twin dating his near grown best friend.
Grace has to adapt to them miraculously being alive and the effects on her new life. They have to adapt to a world that didn't stop in their absence and freaky supernatural shite.
They have to process all of this while appearing just traumatized enough to avoid suspicion, but also, they have to rein in the weird crap happening to avoid ending up in a government lab somewhere.
Grace, honey, it's not about you.
Grace had two to five and half years to mourn, grieve, adjust and adapt and process life without Ben and Cal. She won't even give Ben ten minutes. She both wants him to pick up where things left off as if time hasn't changed, while also reminding him every ten seconds that life went on and things changed because he wasn't there.
As if he had a choice in the matter. Instead of helping them adjust, she spends most of her time annoyed with Ben for, hell, breathing. She's frustrated about his job process like it's easy for him to find a job after being presumed dead for half a decade, or the entire world doesn't view him as a freak show.
She's annoyed at Ben for the ways he chooses to bond with the teenage daughter who is foreign to him, and when he tries to parent Olive, she infringes on that as if Olive is just her kid and not his. How can Ben cultivate a new bond with his daughter (who also seems to prefer Danny), if Grace won't give him the space to do so?
She also exercises this same territorial quality when it comes to Cal. Never mind the fact that Cal was with Ben all of those years.
Instead, she resorts to resenting Ben for his absence during that time, and when that isn't enough, she reaches back to pre-flight days to beat him over the head with all the ways he failed her while Cal was sick as if she was the only parent dealing with Cal and suffering then too.
She berates Ben for not being there with the family when he's off investigating, but she belittles and ostracizes him when he's at home and makes him feel like a stranger in his own home.
Grace nags Ben for not communicating, which is absurd given all the things she didn't tell him about Danny, or all the people with keys to their house, or their financial situation, or Olive being a troubled teen.
She also fails to consider that when he does communicate with her, she shuts him down and doesn't want to listen. You can't have it both ways, Grace!
The flight Stones have no idea what happened to them while they were missing. None of them have aged, and they all have acquired some abilities. Cal isn't the same terminally ill kid who went on the flight, and the government is monitoring them.
Why wouldn't they want to look into what happened to them? Of all the non-flight main players Grace is the least considerate when it comes to this.
She's also the most willfully naive. Ben has tried explaining things to her, but instead of accepting that her child and husband have returned to her unaged years later so some supernatural stuff might be going on that she can't comprehend, she would rather pretend things should go back to normal.
Normal has flown out the window.
She's not the least bit receptive to Ben (who we learned has always been pragmatic and logical) and his theories. Given the circumstances, why wouldn't Grace entertain the idea that they're dealing with something illogical and that her husband is on the right path to figuring it out?
Why wouldn't she give him the benefit of the doubt and realize that they are in danger including Cal? Instead, she opts for repeatedly telling her husband that he's crazy like the whole freaking situation isn't crazy.
Manifest Season 1 Episode 9 had Grace at her most annoying to date. She had a tendency of blaming Ben for just about everything before, but berating, attacking and kicking Ben out for not bringing back Cal who disappeared on her watch took the cake.
When Cal ran off of on a vision quest when he was with Ben, it was Ben's fault. And when Cal ran off on a vision quest when he was with Grace? It was also Ben's fault!
It's as if Grace has been waiting for an opportunity to kick Ben to the curb without feeling like an insensitive asshole, but she doesn't realize that it's too late because she has been that way the entire time.
She has been waiting for the chance to rekindle things with Danny, and she has been looking for excuses. She could have spared everyone the trouble early on.
What's most unfortunate, is she kicked Ben out without giving any thought to how it affects the kids.
For five and a half years she felt the pain of not being with one of her children, but she's comfortable depriving Ben of both of his. Olive is still getting to know her father again, which may get difficult upon hearing Ben request to take Cal with him.
But Ben is the only one who can look after and protect Cal because Grace refuses to believe anything he has been explaining to her.
If Grace isn't the worst already, taking his kids away from him and depriving her kids of their father fuels the fire. She didn't think about the effect on Michaela either. She didn't directly kick her out too, but she may as well have. No way Michaela will stick around after that.
If Ben returned to a married spouse as well, it would have been more interesting. If Grace married Danny, it could have been about her and Ben figuring out how to raise their kids together in this complicated situation.
It would have at least made Grace more likable because right now, I'm sure most of us can agree that Grace sucks.
Go on and hit the comments with your thoughts. You can watch Manifest online here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.