‘Manifest’ Cast on That Major Death & Cal Shocker in the Season 3 Finale (VIDEO)

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Manifest Season 3 finale “Mayday Part 2.”]

Manifest delivers one shock after another for the Stone family in the final moments of the two-part Season 3 finale. First, 828er Angelina (Holly Taylor) stabs Grace (Athena Karkanis) and kidnaps baby Eden. Then Cal (Jack Messina) returns after disappearing, only now he’s the same age he would’ve been (and played by Ty Doran) if he hadn’t been one of those on that flight who had been gone for five and a half years.

After that, TV Insider had to get answers and turned to creator Jeff Rake, Josh Dallas (who plays Ben Stone), and Karkanis. Watch the video above as they discuss that death, what’s next, and why Cal aged, then read on for more scoop if the series is renewed for a fourth season.

If you were shocked by what happened to Grace, you weren’t the only ones. The rest of the cast was as well, and that’s due to Karkanis. “When Athena and I talked about it, we said to each other, ‘Should we tell the other actors?'” Rake recalls. He left it up to Karkanis, who said, “No, absolutely. We have to keep it to ourselves and let them be shocked when they turn the page.”

Ben still has to find out about Grace’s death; at the end of the finale, he only suspects something has happened due to a Calling. It’s “the most fundamental, life-altering, devastating thing that could happen to [Ben],” the creator says. “A Season 4 of Manifest for Ben is absolutely centered around processing, digesting, coming to emotional terms with such an unspeakable loss, and then trying to find a way to seek vengeance, to kind of justify the act in terms of finding some meaning out of it.

“Why did this happen? Why would the Callings allow something so terrible and devastating to happen? And of course, it’s tied into so much other complicated stuff. The baby was taken. Cal came back all growing up. … So you can imagine Ben in Season 4 seeking vengeance for his wife, seeking meaning for the inexplicable, and it becomes the absolute driving force for his character not only in Season 4 but in the back half of the series.”

Grace Ben Stone Manifest Season 3

Peter Kramer/Warner Brothers/NBC

Speaking of the inexplicable, there’s the matter of where Cal was after he disappeared near the end of Season 3 before returning, having aged. “It’s for Ben and the others to figure out where he’s been, why he was there, what happened there,” Rake says. The sacrifice he made in giving up those years is one “he’s made for everyone in the world,” not just his family and the other passengers.

But one person who didn’t really need an explanation was his mother. If you thought Grace didn’t look as shocked as she should have been by the new Cal, that was by design. “A mother knows her child,” Karkanis says. “Also it would have been wrong to play that moment as, ‘Oh my God, Cal, look at you, you’re so tall now!'”

“I don’t know that I’ve ever worked with a more intuitive actor. Athena just knows where the heart and soul of a scene lies,” Rake adds, pointing to her performance in that scene, the last one they shot for the season, and remembering looking at the director and saying, “What Athena is giving us right now is exactly what this moment wants to be.”

Jack Messina Manifest Season 3 Cal Stone

Peter Kramer/NBC

That was also true of the family’s reunion in the pilot when Ben and Cal returned after 828 disappeared for five and a half years. “That moment was so important because it made the audience realize that we can love these characters through her because of her love running towards us and her emotions that were coming out towards those characters,” Dallas says. “It made the audience just lock in and realize the significance of them being in a way and how important those characters were to her character.”

Rake agrees, adding, “Athena basically broke her arm and still managed to give that unbelievably powerful performance. She, in that moment, and in so many moments, perfectly captured the power and the pain of every mother, every wife, every woman, and her ability to channel that emotional state again and again and again is why the audience is so deeply in love with Grace as a character and with Athena as an actress. And it’s why I’m sure people are tearing their hair out all over the world right now having seen what happened to Grace in that Season 3 finale. And for that, I’m sorry, folks.”

What the creator wants to make sure fans know is that they “did not make this decision [to kill off Grace] lightly,” he says. “There’s nothing flip about this. There’s nothing manipulative about this. There’s nothing spiteful about this. This was part of our story, and her significance in Manifest remains as strong as ever. Her character lives on through Cal, through Olive, through baby Eden, and of course through Ben as he tries to carry on without her.” And yes, the door is open to possibly see her again.

“There could be a spooky haunting!” Karkanis suggests.