‘Manifest’ Boss on [Spoiler’s] Fate: ‘Dead Is a Loaded Word’ on This Show

Matt Long, Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas in 'Manifest'
Spoiler Alert
Courtesy of Netflix

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Manifest Season 4 Part 1.]

Netflix may have saved Manifest, but can the passengers save the world? That’s what they’re facing at the end of the first 10 episodes of the supersized final season.

Part 1 ends on a tragic note: Zeke (Matt Long), whose empathic abilities have been evolving, sacrifices himself to save Cal (Ty Doran) after a heartbreaking goodbye over the phone to his wife Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh). Ben (Josh Dallas) saved his daughter Eden from Angelina (Holly Taylor), but the Stones’ nemesis now has sapphire embedded in her — she was able to create callings just holding it!

Creator Jeff Rake teases what’s ahead.

Is Zeke really dead?

Jeff Rake: Zeke is really dead, but dead is a loaded word on Manifest. Sometimes characters manage to find ways back to other characters dead or alive. But Zeke is dead-dead.

What will we see of Matt in Part 2?

What I can say is that Zeke and Michaela have a very strong bond and when lovers have a strong bond like that on Manifest, don’t count them out. Because in the Manifest universe, strong bonds like that often manage to find ways back to each other.

Zeke and Jared (J.R. Ramirez) were in a much better place this season.

That was really important to me because that triangle between those three obviously is and has been fundamental to the relationship drama of the entire series from the moment that we met Zeke. That story and those characters and how they have twisted and turned together is really inherent to the lifeblood of the show. Zeke and Jared have been enemies, rivals, reluctant allies, I would say, and [now], one could argue friends.

It’s been important to not just me, but the entire writers room, that we explore all of those levels of a relationship between guys caught between a woman who they both love and care about so much. We just think it’s very relatable. It’s important for us to explore all of those facets and keep it gray because those murky relationships are ever present in all of our lives.

J.R. Ramirez, Matt Long, Melissa Roxburgh in 'Manifest'

Netflix

I felt that it was important for Jared and Zeke to be at a really good place when we lost Zeke, and it makes it particularly complicated on the B side, in the aftermath. When we come back, while there’s a time cut, it’s not nearly as significant as the time cut [in] the first block. Jared and Michaela will have had a little bit of time to grieve and move on, but it’s just a matter of months. As a result, it’ll be a gray area in terms of whether or not Michaela feels that she’s ready to move on. I think it’ll be fun and powerful and compelling for the audience to take that ride with Michaela and Jared as they navigate those waters and figure out, does that mean that it’s their time again? That’ll be one of the really interesting storylines that we follow when we come back.

Talk about having Ben see Grace and bringing back Athena Karkanis to play not-really-Grace.

Yeah, it was a really cruel misdirect of us to float Grace out there like that and really cool of Athena to come back to play with us. She’s so lovely and so game for anything. We were so lucky. I had to reach out to her many months in advance to make sure she was OK with this storyline and of course she was because she’s so great.

I’m assuming that a lot of people really gasped when they saw her appear onscreen. And then when we discovered what was really going on, [it was] unfortunate letting the air out of the balloon for the audience. I apologize to the fans, that wasn’t nice. But it was a really interesting role for the actress to play and such a terrible thing for Angelina to do and an interesting use of her abilities.

The Ben-Grace relationship was the baseline for all others to live up to in the series. In Season 1, Grace was a very unpopular character with many of the viewers. That was very troublesome to me. I like to think that I can kind of be the puppet master and predict and control what the audience is going to think and react to, and I was very taken aback about how the audience reacted to Grace. In retrospect, I suppose I understood. Back in Season 1, Grace was somewhat of a skeptic, didn’t necessarily believe the stories that Ben was telling about what was happening to him, to Cal. A lot of people turned against Grace by Season 2. Ultimately by Season 3, Grace really became arguably the most beloved character within the ensemble.

Then obviously in the aftermath of her death, there was great mourning out there and rightly so because she proved to be such a great and supportive wife, mother, friend, sister. That’s been a very powerful relationship in the series. And so for her to return in such an unexpected way was in a sense, I suppose, Grace’s revenge for all the viewers put her through during those early torturous times.

There’s the talk about Cal being the dragon and the one who can save everyone. What can you tease?

In a sense, we’ve been teasing that since the very beginning. The terminology has changed somewhat. He was the holy grail. We’ve held Cal out as this singular character: the character who stared out the window and said it’s all connected. Cal who drew things that no one else perceived, who knew where to go, who knew what was coming, who perceived the death date. He’s always had a special ability that Ben and the others have been trying to define even when he was younger Cal. Now as his older self, it’s the same thing.

Ty Doran and Luna Blaise in 'Manifest'

Courtesy of Netflix

That theory will bear out. As we get to the final 10 episodes, we will come to discover that Cal’s ability to perceive callings in a singular fashion, whether it’s with greater accuracy or in greater quantity, will continue to separate from the pack. We’ll come to discover that as the clock ticks down closer and closer to the death date, Cal’s singular ability will not only continue to separate even further from the rest of the pack with his abilities proving to be greater and greater, but that will prove to be even more vital as we get months and then ultimately weeks and finally days away from the death date. It’ll be more and more so all about Cal.

Is the story in the finale going to be taking place on June 2, 2024?

It certainly will be.

What does that time cut you mentioned mean for the passengers on US soil being detained?

I assume everyone was somewhat surprised to see — or the cynics among us not surprised to see — that the government had taken greater steps to keep an eye on the passengers with everybody subject to the registry. I thought that was a very important story to tell because I think it’s realistic and honestly, one of the less realistic aspects of the first three seasons is all the freedom that the passengers were given. Had the story of 828 happened in the real world, the passengers probably would’ve never been able to leave JFK. The fact that they got to go home in Episode 2 all the way back in Season 1, I think, is one of the biggest leaps of logic that we took in the show. But we had to make a TV show and let people go home and have a life so we had stories to tell.

I felt the imposition of the registry was kind of making up for that and that’ll get worse, again catching up with what I think would’ve happened in real life.

The government also burst in on Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) and Vance (Daryl Edwards), and as we saw, she really was pushing herself to the point that I’m worried she’ll have a breakdown. What does it do to her to have that work interrupted?

It’s very distressing, of course, but I’ll somewhat spoil that Saanvi’s knowledge and expertise that she has developed over these three and a half seasons now is too important to be shut down. And what we’ll come to discover in the second block is that that knowledge and expertise even the government will realize can’t be turned off. It’s too valuable.

What’s next for Jared and Drea (Ellen Tamaki), romantically and professionally trying to help the passengers? Their hands are basically tied.

That’s right. There’s a playfulness about them obviously that is so delicious. Just scene by scene, it’s fun to watch them interact with each other. And yet at the same time, you’re right, the dilemma that they are in, there’s nothing fun about that. It’s very real. They are conspiring in a very real and risky way, dangerous way to help the passengers. They’re really defying their employers. What they’re doing is against the law because they’re subverting the registry and so it’s quite dangerous. It’s noble. They’re doing the right thing, one would argue, I would argue, and yet, they probably could go to jail for the loyalty that they’re showing to the passengers. That’s only gonna become increasingly precarious as the government continues to clamp down even more tightly on the passengers. You can expect an increasingly complicated situation for Drea and Jared professionally and personally.

What’s the status of the lifeboat going into Part 2?

The lifeboat continues to float, but how long can the passengers patch the increasingly widening holes?

Now that Angelina has sapphire inside of her, can the passengers trust any of their callings?

That is a big concern because now that they see Angelina’s ability to control callings, which will become increasingly apparent, to your point, one never knows whether a calling is real or not. That will become increasingly problematic in the back half as Angelina becomes increasingly Machiavellian and increasingly powerful.

Zeke’s sacrifice — did he cure Cal or just save him for now?

The audience will have to wait and see, but one can presume that with Zeke’s increasingly powerful empathy that he took away all of the illness in inside of Cal.

Is there hope for Saanvi and Alex (Sydney Morton)?

There’s always hope on Manifest.

Manifest, Season 4 Part 1, Streaming Now, Netflix