[Warning: This post contains spoilers from Manifest's Season 2 finale. Read at your own risk.]
For those of you left dumbfounded by Manifest's completely bananas Season 2 finale, you're not alone. The episode delivered a rollercoaster hour with life-and-death stakes, jaw-dropping twists, and a mind-blowing reveal that raised an entirely new set of questions about that alleged death date. Yeah, it was a lot to process and I'm still scratching my head.
The hour picked up with a distraught Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) immediately regretting her decision to ignore the Calling to let "him," aka that meth dealer, and his friends go when she learns that Cal (Jack Messina) has been kidnapped. It didn't help that Ben (Josh Dallas), also emotional, yelled at her for the costly mistake. Anyone else hate it when these two fight?
As she and Ben raced to save his son, Zeke's (Matt Long) fast-approaching death date hung tightly around his neck like an albatross. Questions loomed about whether or not there was still a chance to save him, which led Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) to reach out to the Major (Elizabeth Marvel) for answers. But alas, the Major had no intention of helping her, revealing her ultimate plan to weaponize the passengers' genetic mutation in order to infect others. After learning that Saanvi poisoned her to leverage the antidote for answers, the Major chose to die instead, and Saanvi was left to drown in her own guilt over the situation.
Elsewhere, Zeke and Michaela's emotional goodbye seemed to confirm that the former would, indeed, die soon. However, at the last minute, Zeke received a Calling that led him to the frozen lake and right to Cal, who fell through the ice after being held hostage at gunpoint. After diving right in and saving Cal's life, Zeke died in Michaela's arms. But then something strange happened: he came back to life. Whether his survival is a coincidence, the act of a higher power, or the result of him following the Calling all remains to be seen. What we do know is that that head-scratching twist was just the tip of the iceberg. The episode wrapped on another shocker when a group of fishermen pulled what appeared to be a piece of the Flight 828 plane -- the one that exploded on the tarmac in the pilot episode -- from the ocean. Wait, what?
With so many questions looming, TV Guide hit up showrunner Jeff Rake to explain what happened in that shocking Season 2 finale and how those game-changing reveals set up a potential third season. (Note: The NBC drama has not yet been renewed for Season 3. )
With this death date looming over his head, Zeke follows the Calling to a frozen lake and saves Cal. In doing so, it appears that that has prevented him from dying. What happened in that scene? Is the death date no more?
Jeff Rake: Our characters will have different theories about this, [as will] the audience. In that last scene in the garage between Ben and Michaela, Ben theorizes that they seem to have a tentative answer, that Zeke followed the Calling and survived the death date. I think the statisticians or the mathematicians watching the show would point out the difference between a correlation and a connection. Does that mean Zeke followed the Calling, therefore he survived the death date? Well, that's an open question, and that's something that the characters will be debating as we move into Season 3. Ben, certainly, and we'll see if Michaela follows along, leaves Season 2 believing that they have a very clear directive: follow the Callings, survive the death date. Ben, the mathematical guy, the science mind, is going to be looking to confirm that theory however he can, and also at the same time, spread that word to more and more passengers. Even though the viewers are so familiar with all of this, there are many passengers out there who we've yet to encounter, who are going to need to get that message and a lot of them might not believe it. A lot of them might choose to defy it, and that's something we're going to learn a lot more about in Season 3.
We saw what happened with Ben this season, obsessing over that death date. After seeing what happened with Zeke, is that going to send him into another obsessive spin or will he stick to his promise to Grace and mellow out a bit?
Rake: Ben, more than anyone, is going to leave this season with a clear, optimistic belief: follow the death dates, survive the calling. He's going to want to get that message out, but it's a message of hope. It's a message of optimism. I would say he goes into Season 3 believing that he can try to achieve spreading that word even while he's being a good husband and father, but there's two asterisks to that. One is this issue of the plane part [at the end of the episode] and the other is the issue of these meth heads. Everybody who watches the finale is going to be under the impression that we haven't seen the last of these guys and when that turns out to be the case, the reappearance of those characters is going to force Ben to go back in the garage and try to figure out if the fate of these meth heads in any way contradicts, or otherwise informs, his theories about how they survive the death rate.
Let's get into that mysterious plane piece the fishermen found at the end of the hour. We know that the plane exploded in Season 1 and now here's what appears to be a missing part retrieved from the ocean. How does this set up Season 3?
Rake: InSeason 3, the entire world is going to find out about this plane part and that is going to re-trigger global scrutiny of Flight 828 and all of its passengers. We saw the plane land in New York, we saw the plane blow up on the tarmac a few days later and so, the question of whether this plane part that has been pulled out of the ocean is, in fact, the identical tail fin from Flight 828 is going to captivate the imagination and the scrutiny of the entire globe. Because if it is confirmed to be the actual piece, that obviously presents a metaphysical impossibility. It can't have been in two places at once. It can't have both blown up and not blown up. And so, that is going to invite all sorts of theories, kind of reopening Pandora's box about whether the Flight 828 passengers are, in fact, themselves. The mind can run wild with alternative theories. If they are not themselves, who are they? And that will be a season-long investigation that plays out throughout Season 3.
One of the other shocking moments of this episode was Saanvi poisoning The Major. Though Saanvi didn't mean to kill the Major, she is still responsible for her death. So how will that weigh on her? She looked pretty distraught in her final scene with Vance.
Rake: That's obviously a huge deal for Saanvi. She has taken another life. She may not have intended to kill but she was aware that that was a possibility and it's happened so that is going to really monopolize Saanvi's arc in Season 3. There is the law and order side of the equation as the police are trying to figure out who's responsible for [The Major's] death. That opens up a kind of cat and mouse investigation and [the question of] will Saanvi be caught? Will Vance be able to cover this up? Is he willing to cover it up? But then on the mythological side of the equation, if this notion of following the Callings allows you to survive the death date. And if you can extrapolate that to mean all things work together for good, which is that Romans 8:28 directive that Michaela has been following as her watchword since the pilot episode. In other words, if we're to believe that all those who are doing right and good in the world are going to survive the death date, Saanvi has just really compromised her ability to survive, hasn't she? So there is guilt, shame, and there is also the fear for her that she may never able to recover from her actions even though she follows whatever Callings appear moving forward.
What else are you excited to explore in a potential third season? And where does the Zeke, Michaela, and Jared love triangle fit into that?
Rake: The Michaela-Zeke-Jared triangle has become complicated all over again. Michaela married Zeke believing it was kind of a fulfillment of his dying wish. Now, we discover that they, in fact, have an opportunity to live out their happily ever after. But at the same time, Jared is still there. He has been nothing, if not a gentleman... Selfless, incredibly noble as he stepped out of the way and allowed this marriage to happen. At the same time, he believed that this marriage was short-lived and so, the question becomes is there room for both of these men in Michaela's life, and how does she navigate that going forward? One last thing I'm excited about is that in Season 3, we're going to have an opportunity to start to meet a lot more passengers from the flight. We've gotten to know a lot in these first two seasons, but in fact, it's just the tip of the iceberg. As we all know, there were 191 passengers on that flight and 175 of them, more or less, have never even crossed our television screen. Michaela and others are going to have very important reasons to communicate with a lot of them. We're going to discover her friends, but we're also going to discover her enemies and that's going to really ramp up the stakes as we move into Season 3 and beyond.