‘Manifest’ Stars on the Stones ‘Living’ With Grief & [Spoiler’s] Return

Melissa Roxburgh and Josh Dallas in 'Manifest'
Spoiler Alert
Netflix

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

“Flight 828, the gift that keeps on giving,” Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) says at one point in the first half of Manifest‘s final season, and you know what? After watching the jam-packed first 10 episodes, we are thankful for that — and for Netflix’s save — because a lot happens.

The 828ers are getting closer and closer to their death date of June 2, 2024 (those who return are back for as long as they were gone) — but that’s not just for them as they learn in Season 4 Part 1. Other key moments: Zeke (Matt Long) sacrifices himself to save Cal (Ty Doran), the government decides to detain all passengers on US soil, and Angelina (Holly Taylor) remains free to wreak (sapphire-tinted) havoc.

Read on as the cast breaks down those twists and more and teases what’s ahead in the drama’s final episodes.

Building to a Sacrifice

Over these 10 episodes, Zeke’s empathic abilities evolved, to the point that he was able to use them to save a dying Cal. “Back in November before we started shooting, I had lunch with Jeff Rake, the creator, and he told me about all of Season 4, including that moment, and I had chills at lunch and it was emotional even because he’s such an amazing storyteller and because I love Zeke so much,” Long told TV Insider. “The longer you play a character, the closer you feel to them.”

Because he knew that was coming, he knew it was all building to it. “This season, he’s gone through a real rollercoaster, sort of akin to the first and second seasons. In Season 3, he was much more centered and zen and observant and present. This year he starts that way, but then he really has a lot of ups and downs, and I was so grateful to have that. I love that stuff,” Long said. “I’m just really proud of it. But the last episode was incredibly emotional just to read. I love him so much and feel so deeply for him that just reading the script, you’re moved to tears and emotional. You’re saying goodbye to him in a way.”

But is that truly goodbye? “We already know that Manifest has a lot of flashbacks, especially in Season 4. We already know that we have tons of supernatural things going on. Anything could happen,” Long teased of seeing him again.

Matt Long and Melissa Roxburgh in 'Manifest'

Scott McDermott/Netflix

The Stones Must Grieve Again

Zeke did share a heartbreaking goodbye with his wife, Michaela, over the phone. “I’ve made this joke: Zeke’s died a lot. He’s really like pushed it, so at this point she’s like, ‘just go,'” Roxburgh quipped. “No, obviously it’s very, very devastating and especially the way he goes is so intertwined with the story of Manifest and the mythology and the fact that he is so empathetic with his death and the fact that he sacrifices himself for Cal is huge. I think that Michaela knows that it’s for the greater good, but it doesn’t take away the pain of losing someone. And I think she’s just experienced so much grief and she knows what’s coming up, that she puts it aside to figure out the death date.”

Her brother Ben is still grieving the loss of his own spouse (Athena Karkanis’ Grace, killed at the end of Season 3), and he’s “gonna try to be there for [Michaela] as much as he can,” Josh Dallas said of his character. “I think by the time we get to 410, he has started to not climb out of his grief but climb deeper within it to find a way to live with it. I think he will be available to her and be her brother and her friend and will always be there for her. But of course in true Manifest style, [Episodes] 11 through 20 create other obstacles between those two and how much they can be there for each other.”

Also grieving: Cal, who has been close to Zeke since the beginning and started off the season mourning the loss of his mother. “It’s now just magnified,” Doran explained. “Cal has, over the course of the show, been put in a lot of situations where he has to make some really tough decisions and other people have to make tough decisions and there’s a lot of faith and hope and energy put into him solving all of this for everybody. After Zeke dies, that’s just another thing that is weighing on him: Am I worth it? Am I worth all this? Can I be the person that I need to be for all of this to go the way that it’s supposed to? Can I be who I’m supposed to be?”

Jared’s Complicated Relationships

There are layers to quite a few of the relationships in Jared’s (J.R. Ramirez) life in Season 4. He and his ex Michaela get back to an OK place after the awkwardness he created by telling her he’d expected Zeke to be dead (due to his death date, which he survived). And in those first 10 episodes, the two men were on the best terms they ever have been.

“They’ve been through a lot and Jared’s put his heart and soul into protecting this woman that he loves. At the end of the day, I think all he has wanted was for her to be happy, and if it’s not with him, then… The writers did a great job of being able to bring the parallels of what Jared and Zeke have been through over their love for Michaela. Now you see this bonding, kind of acceptance between these two men and a mini friendship,” according to Ramirez. “I think the writers did a beautiful job of being able to show the humanity of these two people, really at the end of the day, just being honest and truthful and loving and wanting to protect the same person and only one person can win.”

But Jared wasn’t exactly single in Season 4, though he and Drea (Ellen Tamaki), Michaela’s former partner, did insist things were casual. (Don’t worry: Drea told Michaela. Girl code.) “I love the dynamic they have this year,” Ramirez shared. “Ellen’s incredible. She’s so much fun to play with. She’s become a dear friend and she’s super talented and you really get to see that that story evolve this year between both of them. They have a very intricate part in helping the Stones with this whole looming death date.”

Still, “Jared can’t seem to keep a girl for more than a few weeks. Jared needs to take some counseling on what he’s doing wrong,” he laughed. “He needs a win,” Long agreed.

A Cruel Gift for Ben

Angelina was able to create callings after getting her hands on sapphire, and she made Ben see Grace in order to trick him into bringing Eden to her after he’d rescued his daughter from her kidnapper.

“That was a great moment where Athena came back and we had this great scene together,” Dallas said. “It was so nice to have Athena back and to have that character even for a split second having Ben believe that it was her. It was emotional and heartbreaking and lovely and a great day on set because Athena was there.”

Can the Lifeboat Be Saved?

The Stones and their allies must now save the world since the death date isn’t just for the passengers. “The stakes are incredibly high, especially for somebody like Vance who has spent his entire life dealing in the rational world,” Daryl Edwards explained. “There’s always a rational answer for everything. And now you’re talking about pieces of Noah’s Ark and volcanoes and lava in Manhattan. For Vance, it’s like trying to stand on a teeter-totter.”

But hey, at least they have Ben and Michaela captaining the lifeboat. “As we go forward, I think we see Ben and Michaela being Ben and Michaela, and I think they are stronger, wiser, and more determined, and they’re back in the saddle again with each other,” Dallas confirmed.

And they’re not the only Stones getting stuff done. Cal and his sister Olive (Luna Blaise) are back on the same page after a rocky start to the season. When the second half begins, “they’re pretty tight,” according to Blaise. “They have a good idea of, ‘it’s go time.’ We’re really getting into the whole mystery and everyone’s kind of getting back on their feet.”

Doran agreed, adding, “It’s wild, but it’s consistent. We established really well in the first half how much Cal looks up to his sister and relies on her and how they work together to accomplish the same goal. Part 2, we’re off to the races. We’re solving everything.”

That’s good, because thanks to Dr. Gupta (Mahira Kakkar) betraying Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) and Vance, the government invaded their secret base at the end of Part 1. “She wants to kill Dr. Gupta, and if Vance wasn’t there, she probably would’ve,” Kaur admitted of her character. But we’re more worried about Saanvi potentially pushing herself to the point she’ll burn out than her killing anyone else. “She definitely does eventually kind of have that collapse later in the season and ends up doing some pretty risky stuff,” Kaur warned.

Parveen Kaur in 'Manifest'

Netflix

But perhaps we shouldn’t rule out Vance being able to get them out of that tricky situation. “That’s the thing about Vance that’s surprising to me. He seems to always have a favor in his back pocket,” Edwards pointed out. “It seems like throughout his career, he has done enough favors for other people inside and outside of the government that he always has a resource that he can go to.”

As much as they might hate it, Angelina is part of that lifeboat, but can the young woman whose crimes include murder (Grace) and kidnapping (Eden) be redeemed? “I always am hoping that [she] can be,” Taylor said of her character. “She does have this super power [with the sapphire] basically embedded in her hand. You just are always hoping that when they have that much power, they’re gonna come around and realize the effect of it. We’ll have to see. But it definitely does cause some catastrophic level things to happen. It’s really a game changer.”

Manifest, Season 4 Part 1, Streaming Now, Netflix