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Recap: 'The Manifest' Season Finale Is a Messy Disaster

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 19, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 19, 2019 |


It all came down to this. To this? Really? That’s it? Manifest couldn’t do better than shoehorning two exhausting cliffhangers — a Who’s the Daddy? pregnancy and a Who Got Shot? cliffhanger — into its season finale? It doesn’t bother to answer 95 percent of the questions the series has posed, nor does it endeavor to close-out any of many, many, many aborted arcs through the first season. Rather, the Manifest finale redirects its central mystery onto “the callings.” The government conspiracy? Forgotten. The corporate conspiracy? It’s as if the middle of the season didn’t actually exist. The Major? A very brief nod designed to hold open that storyline just in case the writers come up with a decent idea. The focus of the show now is not the time leap nor its origins, but arguably the least interesting thing about Manifest: The callings.

Briefly, here’s everything you need to know through 16 episodes to understand the finale: The passengers of Flight 828 departed but mysteriously landed five and a half years into the future. Though no time had passed for the passengers, many of their loved ones moved on with their lives, assuming the passengers had all died. Upon returning, the Passengers began experiencing “callings,” or basically visions of the future (some passengers experience them more strongly than others). Several months after Flight 828 landed, a guy named Zeke went hiking and mysteriously reappeared a year later. Soon thereafter, a man named Griffin time-jumped 80 hours and 8 minutes (get it? Like Flight 828!) while he was underwater. Also, a doctor named Saanvi on the flight was abducted and held at gunpoint by a patient and now she’s suffering from PTSD.

Got it?

So, in the finale, Griffin — the guy who leaped 80 hours and 8 minutes into the future — drowns on dry land 80 hours and 8 minutes after he returns. Before he time-jumped, Griffin was drowning, so basically, Griffin dies as he would have had he not drowned, by spewing out more than his body weight in ocean water.

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That fact, combined with Cal’s vision board made up of his callings, leads the Stone family to deduce that the Passengers on Flight 828 have an “expiration date.” They disappeared for five and a half years, so they will all die in exactly five and a half years, or on June 2, 2024. Cal’s vision board provided the date. See: The Roman equivalent of the Goddess Hera (whose symbol is the peacock) is Juno = June.


These two people = the 2nd.


And Cal’s popsicle-stick dragon = The Year of the Wood Dragon (or 2024).


You can’t make this shit up (actually, you can. And they did. And that’s the best they could come up with).

As far as the mythology of the series, that’s it. That’s all the series offers in the finale except that we learn that Saanvi — who is suffering from PTSD — is seeing a therapist, and her therapist is The Major (Elizabeth Marvel), whose identity within the mythology is still unknown. She’s had all of four scenes this season, but, you know: The writers came up with the idea of this character and went to the trouble of hiring an A-list TV character actor to play her, so they have to keep her around in case someone comes up with a bright idea as to how to use her in Season 2. Good luck with that, writers’ room.

As for the interpersonal drama? After Ben realizes that he may only have 5 years left before he and Cal “expire,” he learns that Grace is pregnant. However, he quickly realizes that the baby may not be his, but the guy Grace was seeing when the Flight reappeared. Oh no! This would be … devastating? … if anyone cared about Ben or Grace in the least, but as their characters deliver clipped dialogue in a dry monotone and grim expressions, it’s hard to muster much interest in them.

Meanwhile, Michaela spent much of the episode trying to reunite Zeke with his mother, who assumes Zeke was lying about disappearing in a wormhole for a year and spent the whole time doing drugs. Michaela convinces her otherwise and also develops feelings for Zeke. This does not sit well with Jared, the only character on this entire series who anyone ever gave a damn about until the writers turned him into a raging, jealous asshole. At the end of the episode, Jared and Zeke wrestle over a handgun, which goes off as soon as Michaela walks in. End credits. Who is shot? Michaela? Jared? Zeke? Literally, no one cares. No one. It’s hard to manufacture a cliffhanger when you want to push all three characters over a cliff.

That’s it. That’s the Manifest finale. It’s an incoherent snoozer, though I do admire EW’s writer, Ruth Kinane, for her ability to feign interest in this series while interviewing the showrunner, Jeff Rake. “Talk about a turbulent ride, Manifest-ers!”

How much must it have hurt to end that sentence in an exclamation point?

Did the finale play out the way you always intended, or did anything change over the course of the season? The board [sic] strokes all ended up playing out the way I had intended.

Jesus. Really? I would almost respect him more if he said that they were making it up as they went along because the idea that they intended this is almost too embarrassing to contemplate.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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