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Why Athena Karkanis From Manifest Looks So Familiar

As NBC's mystery box drama Manifest continues to unfurl, there are few certainties regarding the series' overarching narrative. It often seems that the only things we know for sure are 1) that we haven't a clue as to what's really going on with the passengers of Flight 828, and 2) watching the clues drop week by week has made Manifest one of the more engrossing shows on television.

Created by Jeff Rake, Manifest centers around on a man named Ben (Josh Dallas) who, along with his son and dozens of other passengers, were aboard Flight 828 when it seemingly vanished into thin air. When the plane suddenly re-emerges, Ben and the rest of the Flight 828 passengers are shocked to find that five years have passed, and that the world has moved on without them. Complicating their re-integration into society is the fact that many are hearing voices that may or may not be guiding them toward something bigger than they can imagine.

In case you hadn't guessed, the overall scope of Manifest is fairly epic. The series' creators, however, continue to keep the action of Manifest centered on Ben and his family, including his wife and teen daughter who'd luckily taken a different flight. To call Ben and his son's homecoming complicated would obviously be a massive understatement, but Ben's steadfast wife Grace has done all she can to ease the choppy waters of their return — even as she continues to deal with complications caused by their absence. 

Speaking of Grace Stone, we're betting some of you are thinking the woman who plays her on Manifest looks oddly familiar. Her name is Athena Karkanis, and you've likely seen her face somewhere before. 

Athena Karkanis traversed The Expanse for Amazon

As it happens, Manifest is far from the first small-screen mystery in which Athena Karkanis has found herself enmeshed. The last time Karkanis found herself searching for answers, it was as a detective on SyFy and Amazon's cult hit sci-fi series The Expanse.

Set a couple of hundred years in the future, The Expanse finds mankind advanced enough to have fully-functioning colonies set up throughout the solar system. That includes minor colonies making a go of things in a distant asteroid belt. Within that fascinating setting, The Expanse dives deep into tales of political drama and interstellar intrigue, and serves up a healthy dose of pulpy detective noir.

At the forefront of the noir-tinged charge throughout much of The Expanse's first five seasons is a missing persons case spearheaded by Thomas Jane's grizzled Detective Josephus "Joe" Miller. This missing persons case led Miller directly into a far-reaching conspiracy with potentially devastating impact throughout the system. Fans will also recall that Miller was frequently aided in the first season of The Expanse by a Star Helix Security Detective by the name of Octavia Muss — portrayed by none other than Athena Karkanis.

Athen Karkanis played games with Jigsaw on the big screen

The Expanse saw Athena Karkanis brilliantly playing a detective in deep space, but it was hardly her first venture as a hard-nosed cop. She got her first big break in Hollywood chasing down leads to bring in one of the biggest bads in modern cinematic history: John Kramer, better known as the puzzle- and torture-loving Jigsaw Killer from the Saw franchise

If you're having trouble placing Karkanis' face in the nine-movie-deep Saw franchise (including the now-delayed Spiral: From The Book of Saw), she first turned up in the twist-a-minute fourth film in the series, Saw IV. In the movie, Karkanis portrayed FBI Agent Lindsey Perez, who wasn't initially involved in the Jigsaw Killer investigation. Rather, she and her partner Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) were roped into the fray more or less by happenstance. They also weren't chasing down Jigsaw himself, as he ultimately met his end in Saw III. That being the case, Perez and Strahm ultimately found themselves targeted by one of Jigsaw's "disciples," whose ties to the agency are far more intricate than anyone could've thought. 

Karkanis' turn as Agent Perez was one of Saw IV's genuine bright spots, though we can't help but think she deserved a little better when she made her franchise return in Saw VI

Athena Karkanis played against a stacked deck on House of Cards

Though she's currently starring on a well-liked network drama in Manifest, Athena Karkanis has frequently looked to the land of streaming for work. On the mixed-bag final season of Netflix's flagship drama House of Cards, the actress made a distinctive impression when she turned up as the fiercely conservative political pundit Melody Cruz.

The final season of House of Cards was hindered dramatically by the dismissal of star Kevin Spacey in the wake of his many alleged misdeeds — not to mention a radically shifting real-life political landscape at the time that was proving far stranger than any small-screen fiction could conjure. Still, the House of Cards team tried to make the most of a turbulent situation, and brought the series home with a shocker of a concluding season that didn't quite stick the proverbial landing.

Part of the House of Cards creative team's strategy in their post-Spacey world was to bolster the narrative with a fresh wave of controversial characters. One of the more prominent figures in that landscape was Karkanis' Melody, who spends much of her time on the series skewering Robin Wright's Claire Underwood for her many trespasses. 

Though she ultimately played a smaller role on House of Cards' final season initially teased, Karkanis still brought fevered energy to the role, and helped make Melody Cruz both a despicable caricature and a brutally honest depiction of talking head culture in the current political ecosystem.