'Manifest' Boss Breaks Down the First Half of the Final Season, From the Omega Sapphire to a Character's Sacrifice

'If we think we have a bad situation going on for the passengers to deal with in Part 1, it's gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets any better,' says EP Jeff Rake.
by Lauren Piester — 

The cast of 'Manifest'


Warning: This story contains spoilers for the first half of the final season premiere of Manifest, streaming now on Netflix. Read at your own risk!

From one brutal cliffhanger to another. 

Manifest has finally returned after a long break and a rigorous journey, from cancelation on NBC to a revival on Netflix for one final, two-part season that promises to finally tell us whether the lifeboat survives the death date. It was a relief to find out that the show wouldn't just leave us on the end of Season 3, with Angelina (Holly Taylor) kidnapping baby Eden and murdering Grace (Athena Karkanis), but unfortunately, the first part of the final season has left us in a similarly devastating place. 

Zeke (Matt Long) gave up his life to save Cal (Ty Doran) after Olive (Luna Blaise) concluded that Cal could save the lifeboat, and Angelina has gone full crazy. She stole the Omega Sapphire that can be used to control the callings and decided she's an archangel, and after a fiery confrontation with Ben (Josh Dallas) and Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) in a church, she's now got the sapphire embedded in her skin and she's being trailed by biblical levels of lava, none of which is good. 

On top of that, all the passengers have been put in captivity thanks to Angelina's fake callings, and we also now know it's not just the passengers in danger of dying on June 2, 2024. That's apparently the date of the apocalypse for the entire world, and it's up to the passengers to save them all. Somehow. Even though as far as they know, the sapphire is as dead as Angelina. 

So what's next? What kind of madness will Angelina unleash, and is there a way out of this apocalypse? In a conversation with Metacritic, series creator Jeff Rake reveals that things are only going to get worse before they get better — and there's another time jump in store. 

Angelina has this all-powerful sapphire embedded in her hand now. What does that mean? 

She and the sapphire are now kind of one in the same, and so, the idea is that you can't separate her from this source of power. So, the implication is that her power now grows. It becomes part of her. Does it make her unstoppable? Well, we'll see. And, at the same time, she kind of crawled out from the muck and disappeared off into the night, and the fissures following her combined with the sapphire in her hand suggest this all-powerful nature. Also, this is all kind of privileged in the sense that we, the audience, are seeing her disappear off into the night. Ben thinks she's dead and gone, and so, when we come back, even the very fact that she is alive is a secret between the audience and Angelina. And so, it'll be a shock to the system when the Stones come to discover that she's still out there.

We've already seen how cruel she can be with the fake callings about Grace, so how much worse is she going to get? 

Yeah, that was a pretty terrible thing to do, and it's hard to imagine something worse than that — something more emotionally manipulative [than the Grace callings]. And I'll let you and the viewers be the judge in terms of whether what she does is worse from a place of emotional manipulation. But the power does become stronger in terms of what she's able to achieve, it's gonna take a lot in terms of Cal's abilities, and other people's abilities, to even just unpack what Angelina is able to do — and then beyond that, to try to stop her. That will be part of our storytelling for the whole front half of the final 10 [episodes], to even just get a handle on what she's pulling off because it's just a head wrecker in terms of what she's able to achieve. She's incredibly clever with her use of the power and, and when we finally do get a handle on what she's up to, it becomes incredibly challenging to try to stop her and then there'll be other things, of course, going on in the world in terms of how the government has amped up. They're clamped down on the passengers, and other unexpected things are going on. If we think we have a bad situation going on for the passengers to deal with in Part 1, it's gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.

There were so many plans to use the sapphire to save the day, so how much does this mess those plans up? 

It's a real wrench that's thrown into their plans because Saanvi and the others believe that accessing this piece of sapphire — as far as they understood — was their last hope. And so, they'll come into Part 2 believing that all hope is lost. Is there a way to get this out of Angelina's hands, which is what some people will believe — spoiler alert? There'll be at least one attempt to try to get it out of her hands. It won't sound like much of a spoiler, but you can't imagine that's going to go well. 

Can Angelina be reasoned with at all? 

People will try. Cal will certainly try, Ben will certainly try. There's one person — I'm not going to reveal who it is — but there's one person who will get through to her in a way that others won't, and that's going to lead to a very unexpected alliance that is really going to turn the tables in a very interesting way in the back half of the next block.


From left to right: Josh Dallas and Jeff Rake on the set of 'Manifest'


Will there be a time jump when Part 2 picks up? 

Yeah. By the way, that's been the biggest challenge in the writers' room from the beginning, and what I mean by that is moving the calendar along, closer to the death day, is very challenging to do when you typically end the season with cliffhangers. They almost always demand an immediate follow up. It's hard to jump a year or two years later, so we took advantage because we could and so, that's how we got to the two-year time jump. [The next time jump] is a number of months, and we're going to find the passengers in a very different environment when we come back, and that affects both their personal lives and where they stand mythologically, if you will. 

Speaking of personal lives, there has been so much talk of the love triangle between Michaela, Zeke, and Jared coming back, but there was no sign of it until this midseason finale when Zeke sacrificed himself. How will Michaela deal with that, and how will Jared play into it? 

We're never gonna stop finding ways to twist and turn that triangle. Obviously, Michaela has always been torn, to some degree. She never really stopped loving Jared even as she became increasingly convinced that Zeke was her soulmate. And Jared was super cool in these last 10 episodes. We remember well how ugly the relationship was between those two guys back in Season 1, and then cut to this season and Jared's a great friend to Michaela; Jared is quite friendly and gentlemanly and helpful to Zeke, allies to the end. Then when we come back, like I said, it'll be a number of months later and it begs the question, how long should someone have to grieve before it's appropriate to consider moving on? That's a personal question. It's different for everybody, and it's a question that Michaela is gonna have to ask herself, and we'll see it play out.

I think that the fans [of both relationships] will appreciate how Michaela navigates that path and how Jared navigates that path, and I think the fans will be satisfied with the path they both take. You can expect a satisfying resolution there, but the powerful bond between Zeke and Michaela remains. Zeke's been in the glow, and the glow is a powerful place. I don't think that fans should be surprised if somehow Zeke and Michaela manage to find a way to communicate. And that can be a complicated thing.

Will Cal be carrying some guilt over being the reason Zeke died? 

Yeah, for sure. Not dissimilar from the emotional baggage that Cal finds himself carrying at the top of Season 4 Part 1, where Cal is sort of a wreck. He's carrying a lot. Not only is it self imposed guilt, but we see his sister throw a lot of guilt at him, his dad, and that takes a lot of unpacking. Talk about a family in need of therapy! So Cal is dealing with a lot already, and now Zeke is literally giving his life so that Cal can live on. And so, Cal is going to have a lot of guilt going into part two as he comes to realize that — and it's not going to be easy for Cal to figure out how to [save everyone] just because somebody says, "Cal, you're the dragon, figure out how we all survive." That's going to be hugely complicated, and it doesn't come with a roadmap. Cal is going to have a lot of defeats before he starts to figure out the path, and that's going to make him feel doubly guilty.  

How would you describe the back half of the season? Is it fully action-packed or are there some quieter moments to sink into what is actually happening? 

Thematically, it'll feel like the show that [the fans are] very familiar with. It's deeply emotional. As you can imagine, in the final 10, we build to the final months, final weeks, final days, and ultimately to the death date. That becomes deeply emotional for everyone. Just as you would expect if, in real life, we were telling the story of the final months, weeks and days before we think it's the end of the world. And as you're completing your bucket list, as you're freaking out, as you're finally seeing the things that you feel you need to say to our loved ones to enemies, it all comes out for better and for worse. That's incredibly powerful. And so, our relationship stories will be more compelling than ever. Our action stories will be more compelling than ever because out of desperation, you're trying to save your lives in ways that you never had before — because you have no choice.

We're getting down to desperation days and without having found solutions in dire straits. You start trying Plan B and Plan C and Plan D, and that becomes really intense. And then the last thing I'll say on that is that there's a really unexpected shift right at the start in Episode 11, in terms of the environment we find the passengers in, which will be very surprising. Spending much less time at the Stone house, and much more time in a different environment that focuses our storytelling, more on the community of passengers. It's still primarily focused on the Stone family themselves and Saanvi and the passengers that we've grown to know the most, but in the context of the community of passengers rather than just the Stone family.

One of the big revelations of this first part was that the death date is actually for all of humanity. Will the rest of the world find this out? We've already seen how the world treats the passengers… 

The rest of the world will really be kept in the dark, though the government will find out about it. Vance knows, of course; Dr. Gupta knows. It's kind of a closely held secret by the government, so we don't get to a point where there's widespread panic in the streets. It's a carefully controlled secret, but, to your point, the passengers know about it, and the passengers come to realize that they are responsible for the fate of the world — all of humanity. But many of [the non-passengers] hate the passengers, and their lives have become attacking the passengers. That raises some biblical questions: "Do I want to save the people who hate me? Am I my brother's keeper?" It gets literally into some scripture about, "Why am I responsible for saving people who want to attack and kill me?" And there's just some heavy questions for the passengers to grapple with, even as they're trying to save themselves.

How much of a biblical metaphor is this all going to end up being? 

A lot. We started literally at that biblical place, Romans 8:28. And we've talked a lot about Bible stories like Noah's Ark, and we will continue to do so. But we also talk about a lot of non-western mythology. We get into Chinese mythology and some other non-western religion, and in the end, that was that was really important to me — not because I'm trying to preach, not because I'm trying to convert people to this religion or that, but all of these world religions, fundamentally come down to a couple of the same themes. Redemption, forgiveness. And that's what I wanted people to pay attention to. Be the best person you can be. We talk a lot about how it's all connected, and that's what I want people to take home — not necessarily to be a more religious person, not necessarily to say, "Hey, you should pray or you should believe in a God," [but] at its core, [the message] is to just be kind [and] to think about your place in the universe.