Manhattan: Was Abby's Shocking Trick Actually Helpful At All?

Spoilers for Manhattan’s “Overlord” below.

For Manhattan Season 2, things over in Los Alamos are quite different in a variety of ways. But in Episode 4, “Overlord,” some very familiar things are happening, from Frank’s reemergence to Abby impulsively changing someone’s life in a truly heinous way. And it’s that second point we’re going to talk about here, as I’m wondering who it was that Abby truly helped out in her devious act. If she actually helped anyone, that is.

I bet it seemed like everything would be wonderful for Charlie when he was put in charge of Implosion, but it’s turned out to be a much more stressful deal than he anticipated, and a lot of that falls onto the lap of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who has basically left his job behind and is splitting his time between pregnant wife Kitty and his other-city lover Jean. (Speaking of falling onto laps.) But when not even an in-labor wife, a desperate employee or a clearly suicidal mistress are enough to make Oppenheimer come to his senses, Abby takes it upon herself to make it happen, but in the most devastating way possible.

Initially posing as a telephone surveyor, Abby calls Jean and gets her to talk about her personal life for a while before the jig is up. But instead of just hanging up and shamefully getting back to her job, Abby sticks around, and when Jean mistakenly assumes she’s been talking to Kitty, Abby allows Kitty’s potential rage to vicariously flow through her and she makes a veiled threat. Jean clearly took all of that call’s inaccuracies to heart and committed suicide.

But who will this help in the long run? Certainly not Jean, of course, but will this actually turn Oppenheimer away from philandering and get him focused back on winning the war for the U.S.? Or will he just try to find another outlet for his needs and urges, unable to see the big picture anymore? I can’t imagine he’s the best person to continue leading a team with so much on the line, so I’m not sorry to see him go.

Should that happen, it really wouldn’t help Charlie a whole lot, if he is sincerely only wanting to get Oppenheimer back in charge, and is not gunning for his position like everyone else thinks he is. Of course, he might actually want to take over everything, even though he doesn’t outwardly seem capable of handling it all, at least without someone else involved. Maybe that’s where Frank gets back into the story, now that he’s back in Charlie and Liza’s lives, and Charlie could be his ticket back in.

And finally, does this really help Abby herself at all? I’m sure she feels like she did something responsible by stopping an affair from continuing, since that kind of behavior is just old hat for her. But will there be guilt if and when she hears that Jean wasn’t just spooked, but actually driven to suicide? I can’t get enough of a read on Kitty to tell if she gives a damn how Oppenheimer’s life is going, so maybe Abby is having sympathy anger, and this was mentally fulfilling in that way alone.

In the end, I think Frank is the clear frontrunner for those able to take advantage of Jean’s death. But we’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out for everyone when Manhattan airs next Tuesday night on WGN America.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.