The second season of the NBC supernatural drama came to fiery end on Monday night — and Jeff Rake teases what's next for the passengers.

By Ruth Kinane
April 06, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
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Heidi Gutman/NBC

Turbulent doesn't cover it.

On Monday night, the season 2 finale of NBC's supernatural drama Manifest crashed onto our televisions, with more ups and downs than Flight 828 itself. We cannot stress this enough: STOP reading right now if you haven't yet watched the season two finale. SPOILERS AHEAD. 

During the final hour, Zeke (Matt Long) — having spent the back half of the season slowly decaying towards death by frostbite — finally met his fate on the ice after saving a recently-kidnapped Cal (Jack Messina), but then...came back from the dead(?), leading Ben (Josh Dallas) and Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) to believe that if they follow the callings, they too can defeat the death date. Plus, the meth-head criminals, who captured Cal, disappeared completely after plummeting to what (should've been) their deaths in an icy lake!

Off the ice, a desperate Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) took drastic actions against the Major, thinking it'd lead her to save Zeke's life and wound up in an even darker place than she's been most of the season. Then, when everything was calming down just a little, Ben had another calling of Flight 828 exploding, but this time, he saw the plane burn in the air and its pieces drop into the ocean below. Cut to a scene of some very real, not-just-part-of-a-calling fishermen, pulling an airplane's tail fin out of the ocean — the tail fin from the very same aircraft that come back to New York City intact in the pilot episode!

Confused? Overwhelmed? Full of questions about what it all means? We figured, so we chatted with series creator Jeff Rake to try and coax some answers out of him about what this all means for our beloved 828 community and a possible season 3.

Before we get to the fire and ice of the last few scenes, let's talk about something else equally shocking that happened in this finale: Saanvi killed the Major. Granted, she didn't totally have that intention, but it seems like she's going to be in a pretty dark place going forward?

Yes, Saanvi probably had the most challenging season 2 of any character. The psychological betrayal of thinking that you're getting emotional help and then to discover that ultimate betrayal that it was the Major pretending to be a therapist — it's impossible to fathom, especially at your most vulnerable. We understand the desperation that that led Saanvi to show up in the park that night at the end of the season finale with poison and not necessarily with the intention to kill the major, but she knew she it was a worst case scenario and the worst case scenario has come to pass. That has tee’d up an incredibly challenging season three for Saanvi. I think of it as two-tiered: We have her going forward with the real-world turmoil of having committed a terrible, terrible crime and that raises all sorts of real-world questions. Will Vance (Daryl Edwards) help her try to cover this up? Will he be able to help her cover this up even if he wants to? Will any of the cops that we know and love be involved in that? Could Saanvi get away with murder? That's half the equation that's going to play out throughout season three in a very suspenseful, compelling way. Then there's the mythological side of the equation. It seems like we've learned at the end of season 2: Follow the callings, survive the death day. That's what we learned from Zeke and that's what Ben and Michaela conclude in the garage. If you believe that the callings are representative of good, then Saanvi, mythologically, goes into season 3 with a huge check against her. She has to be asking herself, "Even if I follow every last calling that comes to me from now on, will I ever be able to overcome the terrible crime that I just committed?" That's going to weigh heavily next season.

Speaking of things that will weigh heavily in season 3, I'm assuming we've not seen the last of the shadow men/meth heads. Do they have a big role to play going forward?

They for sure do. I will spoil a little bit here in the sense that throughout the two seasons of Manifest, we've seen a couple examples of others, outside of the Flight 828 community, experiencing this idea of death and return. We saw first with Zeke, then soon after with Griffin and now we're experiencing it with the meth heads. When the meth heads return — and I don't think I'm giving away too much because I think that 99 percent of the audience deduced from the season finale that we haven't seen the last of these guys —  that is going to reinvent the dynamic of others outside the 828 community, who experience death and return. How these three individuals experience their return and what they choose to do with it, is going to have mythological implications that are probably more significant than anything else that has happened since the pilot. That shoe will drop by the middle of season 3 and it's going change the playing field for the rest of the series going forward. I can't overstate the importance of these three individuals.

I'm also delighted that Matt Long will be back since Zeke died but also came back in the finale. Can we talk about how incredible his acting has been this season? That scene where he and Michaela said goodbye in the car...

That was an incredibly powerful performance from Melissa and Matt in that scene. Yeah, to your point, Matt's arc was an incredibly challenging one. He's an incredibly talented and committed actor. He and I spent a lot of time talking about his decline physically and emotionally. He really brought it.

So, to touch on Zeke's death/resurrection, if he essentially died the way he would've (freezing to death), had he not been brought back, does that mean that to survive the death date, the 828 community has to first die a fiery death like they would've on an exploding airplane?

That is a completely reasonable, understandable, and deducted theory based on everything that you have seen, and I will give you absolutely no comment. [Laughs]

Fiiiiiine. I tried! Okay, let's talk about the the exploding flight 828 calling and then the fisherman finding part of the wreckage in the ocean at the end. I know you can't tell us what that all means, but is that going to be the crux of season 3? Getting into what really happened to the airplane that night?

Yes, it's a massive part of season 3. You’ll recall Ben saw that calling of the plane exploding over the course of a couple of episodes at the end of the season, but it was only in that final one right there in the last 30 seconds of the finale, where you saw the whole calling. That is, we finally saw that it exploded over water with the pieces breaking apart and falling down into the water. That then set up them pulling out the tail fin piece from the ocean. The plane exploding is telling us two things: It's metaphorical in terms of danger — we saw that with episode 12 and going into at episode 13 — but it's also sharing with us some specific mythological information. We saw the plane land in New York and then we saw it blow up on the tarmac by the end of the pilot episode and yet, now you're telling us that the plane also blew up over water and that they’re pulling an intact plain fin out of the water. How can those two things be true?

Yeah! How, Jeff?

That’s a metaphysical impossibility. Once that tail fin becomes worldwide news very early in season three, the entire globe is going to be asking that question and that’s going to point fingers at the passenger. If the materials they’re testing in fact bear out that they're identical to the tail fin that landed in New York, what does that say about our passengers? Who are they? If they are not the people who landed in New York, who are they? What are they? That opens a real can of worms in season three for the passengers, as everyone becomes scared to death of them over again. But it also opens a mythological and psychological question, as the passengers ask themselves, "What are we?!"

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