Manifest stars Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh preview 'intense' third season
Manifest is about to jet back into our lives, and as you'd expect, the ride will be bumpier than ever.
Season 2 of the NBC supernatural drama ended on multiple cliffhangers, natch. After being kidnapped by some meth dealers, Cal (Jack Messina) was returned to his family, though not before falling into an icy lake; Zeke (Matt Long) died but then came back to life, thereby surviving his death date; and the meth dealers/shadows also happened to disappear from the frozen lake they fell into.
Elsewhere, a desperate Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) took drastic actions against the Major (Elizabeth Marvel). Oh, and then following Ben's (Josh Dallas) calling of Flight 828 exploding and pieces of it dropping into the ocean, the tail fin somehow showed up off the coast of Cuba. Yes, that would be the tail fin from the airplane we saw explode on the tarmac back in season 1. So yeah, we have questions.
Unable to sit alone with so many unanswered queries, we turned to Dallas and his onscreen sister, Melissa Roxburgh (who plays Michaela Stone), ahead of the April 1 season 3 premiere to try to squeeze some intel out of them. Here's how we did.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's get the COVID questions out of the way. How was getting back on set in this weird time?
MELISSA ROXBURGH: Everything's just a little bit more disconnected as far as mingling on set. I mean, it's still awesome. We are still having a lot of fun and stuff, but I think I forgot how to do my job for a little bit.
JOSH DALLAS: It's been incredible, and I'm so proud of us as a group of people that we've been going since September. It was bizarre. It was a different way of working, there were different protocols, but I've always said, and I stand by it, there is no more adaptable group than a group of filmmakers. We've been adapting in such a beautiful way, and we've found a great rhythm and now it just seems normal. I think it would be weird going back to the old way.
Was it a relief that the pandemic wasn't part of the story line? Sometimes it's nice to just be able to escape it.
ROXBURGH: Yeah, it's funny because when we heard about going back, COVID was still kind of a newer thing. It hit in March and then we found out June that we were coming back, and so I thought that the world would have gone back to normal by then — that two-week quarantine that we all thought it was gonna be. I've heard about a lot of other shows implementing COVID into their story lines, and I just don't think it works in our story. There's just too much. I like that we're able to give the audience an escape from COVID now.
DALLAS: Because our show is set in a particular world of its own, its own Manifest world, I think it would have been a distraction more than anything away from what our main story is. I just think we live in such a particular, specific Manifest world that doesn't have time for COVID. It wouldn't be a COIVD denier, but it doesn't have time for it. That's what's so beautiful about genre television or movies, it takes you into a world and it takes you into a different reality of storytelling, and what's more fun than that?
Where do we pick up with Ben and Michaela? Has much time elapsed since Cal was saved and Zeke died then came back to life?
ROXBURGH: It's about three months since [Michaela and Zeke] got married, Cal got kidnapped by those guys, and we thought Zeke was gonna die, then that changed and he lived. Season 3 picks up with Michaela and Zeke on their honeymoon, ignorantly thinking that life is normal for a second, and obviously on their honeymoon they get a calling. In the meantime there's this whole tail fin that's come from underwater in Cuba. That adds a massive element going into season 3 because if part of the plane that we all landed on is underwater being pulled, what does that mean for us? There's this potentially alternate story line of what might've happened to us. So there's that. Micheal and Zeke are in Costa Rica and she gets this calling and it leads her to find Angelina [Holly Taylor], who becomes a massive part of season 3 and a massive part of the Stone family.
DALLAS: We pick up not too long after where we finished in season 2. It's a few months after and there's this tail fin that's been brought up out the water. There's three things at play: (1) The tail fin. (2) Ben's last calling of the plane exploding. (3) Follow the callings and survive. So the idea that if we follow the callings and survive pushes Ben into being a big believer of this idea and puts him on this journey to spread the good word amongst his fellow passengers. But not everyone is going to be ready or willing to get on the board with this idea. This will turn Ben even more obsessive and ultimately push him into a very dark place by the time we get to the end of season 3.
So it sounds like the discovery of the tail fin is about to open up the story in a bunch of new ways?
DALLAS: The tail fin will be a big motivator for a lot of things throughout the season. You can bet at the very beginning of that Ben and Saanvi are going to take a deep dive into what this tail fin is. We all saw that plane explode on the tarmac in New York City. What is this tail fin doing in the ocean? Where did it come from? What is it? Is it part of the plane? Was that actually the plane on the tarmac? And what does that mean for the passengers? Are they in fact not the passengers? But maybe something else entirely?
There's so many questions!
DALLAS: There's so many questions. Not only is Ben trying to spread the good word amongst his fellow passengers — that this is what we have to do as a group in order to survive — but his constant question that's inside his head the whole time is, who am I now? If he believes now, as we see in the first episode of season 3, that we have been resurrected, that we died on that flight, what does that make us now? What does that make him now? Is he human or is he something else?
I imagine that when the public learns of the existence of the tail fin, that's going to cause a few problems for the 828ers too?
DALLAS: Yeah, that's a whole 'nother faction that will start to ramp up even more as we go through the season.
ROXBURGH: I don't know if this will go into season 4, but Jeff [Rake, series creator] definitely hints at the world kind of seeing us as demons almost, or otherworldly in a negative way. So it's not full-fledged [this season] but I think it's definitely hinted at, and I think it may even come into play more and more in the later seasons.
On a lighter note, how's married life between Michaela and Zeke, Melissa? They didn't really expect to get far beyond the wedding…
ROXBURGH: They're definitely in a good place. I think for the first time in a long time, they both think things are normal. But the whole thing with Zeke surviving his death date, it does change him and he no longer experiences callings alongside her. So she's kind of on her own again with that. He does have a new skill set, which helps. They're definitely not in a bad place by any means, but it does add complications to what they're all going through, that he no longer shares the callings with her.
Does the love triangle with Jared [J.R. Ramirez] still exist ? Again, maybe he was more okay with her marrying Zeke when he thought it had an expiration date?
ROXBURGH: I think it was hard for him to see her get married, for sure, because he still holds feelings for her. And I think vice versa. They were together a long time. They loved each other immensely. It's just both of their worlds have been flipped around and turned on their heads. Going into season 3, their aim is to try to be friends and trying to be co-workers for the first time in their relationship. Obviously that doesn't go very well, as the triangle still continues. It's not quite the same as season 2, but it's definitely got a bunch of challenges and tension and they're both trying to navigate how to have each other in their lives if they can.
Speaking of Michaela's work as a police detective, how is the show dealing with topics like police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement?
ROXBURGH: With everything that's happened in the world, one of the issues that we tried to at least nod to are the issues around the police force in America. Michaela tries to follow the rules this season. She tries to do everything right. It being a sci-fi show, she's still torn between being a passenger and following callings and that world, and her human life and her job and her duties as a police officer. It does come to a head, and she does have to make a choice.
One threat from the end of last season seemed to be dealt with when the three meth dealers fell into the frozen lake, but then their bodies were never found. How much of a threat do they continue to be in season 3? Or are the bigger dangers overshadowing them?
DALLAS: We should definitely be worried about them hanging around because as we've seen with Griffin [Marc Menchaca] and some of the other characters, they're definitely not out of the picture. They will definitely be something that will be concerning to the Stone family in the first part of season 3.
ROXBURGH: Their disappearance definitely gives us answers to the death date aspect, which catapults us into the theme of season 3 and the big discovery that we make about what it takes to survive. Their disappearance and the fact that we didn't find their bodies gives us a massive, massive, massive answer.
How is Saanvai doing this season after accidentally killing the Major? Is she in a downward spiral?
ROXBURGH: She's not handling it great. That's also a massive story line for season 3, her dealing with that and potentially the truth coming out and the fact people are gonna look for the Major. It's not like she's just going to disappear and no one's going to care. That's a huge thing for season 3.
DALLAS: Saanvai's extremely strong as a character, but this event with her killing the Major is of course plaguing her and her mind. And she holds on to this secret for quite a while. It plays out in a certain number of ways once we get to the middle-ish of the season.
We know there are still about 150 passengers from Flight 828 who Ben, Michaela, and the audience haven't met yet, do we get to meet anyone new this season?
DALLAS: We've got a great new character that comes into the Stone family fold. Her name is Angelina and I cannot wait for people to meet here. She's a fellow passenger and she is sort of family-less and we're going to take her in. She's a passenger to be reckoned with.
If you had to give season 3 an overall theme, what would it be?
ROXBURGH: How alone in our death dates are we truly?
DALLAS: My brother's keeper. Particularly for Ben, it's about protecting this group of people.
He definitely has a savior complex…
DALLAS: [Laughs] I think that's something that will really play this season. It pushes him down the path that is ultimately dark and destructive, and he becomes blinded by that savior complex.
Have you read the finale? Can you tease anything at all?
DALLAS: I'm filming the finale right now. This season just gets intense. It's heart-pounding and it's equally as heartbreaking.
ROXBURGH: The end of this season is going to shock everyone — even the actors who have been doing it for three seasons.
DALLAS: By the time we get to the end of season 3, it is a complete reset.
Season 3 of Manifest premieres April 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
(Video courtesy of NBC)