The debut season of NBC’s New York City-set "Manifest" has left us with more questions than answers. What really happened to Flight 828 after its mysterious disappearance? How are the 191 passengers on board connected? Why does Cal Stone keep seeing visions of a wolf? And what’s at the root of NYPD Det. Michaela Stone’s "callings"?
"In season one in particular, it was about asking questions because every one of these episodes plays out through the prism of what would really happen," says Jeff Rake, the creator of the show that can be described as "Lost" meets "Resurrection." "I challenge the writers’ room to put the questions in the characters’ mouths that we would all be asking."
Rake dreamt up a plan that includes the answers to all of these burning questions — and more — when he pitched the premise of the series to NBC in the summer of 2017. His "calling": a story that stretches exactly six seasons, with breadcrumb facts, and some teasers meant to throw you off course, sprinkled throughout.
"Every season, moving forward, we’ll have an increasing amount of clarity and I think the audience will feel somewhat clearer about the uber-mythology after they watch the season one finale," he says. Aware that his script could easily be compared to its predecessors, Rake feels having a plan in place for the series will serve as an "insurance policy" of sorts.
"I know where it’s going. I’ve got pretty much all of it. That’s not to say I know what’s going to happen in every single episode, but the big beads have been in my head since the very beginning," he explains.
The season 1 finale laid the groundwork for a sophomore season that’ll begin actually providing some clarity for fans gripping to each and every episode clue, from references to the Bible to astrology.
"I am shamelessly addicted to the Twitter feed and I look at the Facebook pages and some other boards where people are theorizing about the show," he admits. "I do read a lot of people’s theories, but it’s not going to change the direction."
The biggest theorized clue strung through the series is the repetition of 828 and its variations. Flight 828 is connected to Bible verse Romans 8:28, Rake explains. The verse reads, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.”
"That’s a guiding light for Michaela. It was her way into the story. As she’s one of the core heroes in our journey, that theme will continue and the relevance of that theme and that verse will continue to be important to her as she interprets what’s happening to her," he says.
When it comes to the biggest question of all, the looming why, Rake says we’ll have to hold on quite a bit longer to figure out the mystery behind the flight that disappeared from Jamaica and returned in New York five and a half years later.
"The ultimate question of why — why this plane and why these passengers — that’s a series mystery that will spill out over the seasons," he says. "I’ve tried to offer incremental pieces of information through the seasons so people have something to latch onto. We’ll get clarity about what happened in the past."
"Manifest" stars Melissa Roxburgh and Josh Dallas, who play siblings Michaela and Ben Stone. It was renewed for a second season on April 15.