Manifest Showrunner Unravels Season 2 Finale

Jeff Rake, executive producer and showrunner of Manifest on NBC, helps us break down the remaining mysteries after the season 2 finale.

Cal and the meth dealers in Manifest
Photo: Craig Blankenhorn / NBC

This Manifest interview contains spoilers.

The Manifest season 2 finale left quite a few cliffhangers for fans to speculate about as everyone anticipates a possible season 3 renewal. Part of the fun is trying to predict where things might be headed, but we figured why not just go straight to the source? We asked executive producer and showrunner Jeff Rake to clarify a few points from the final moments of the season to make sure the many fan theories were on the right track. Because Rake joined us via Zoom, you can watch the full interview below or read on for the transcipt!

DEN OF GEEK: Before we get into the finale, one thread that remains in play is Al-Zuras. Is his story still going to be in play if Manifest gets a season 3?

Jeff Rake: That’s for sure on the board, and everyone should keep it in mind… Our passengers have come to discover that they themselves may not, and in fact they’re now realizing are not, the only people to have gone through some type of phenomenon like this, whatever it proves to be. As early as season one when we met Zeke, we came to discover, “Oh, well, there’s at least one other guy out there in the world who seems to be going through some version of what we’ve gone through.”

The mythological strand that TJ, Ben, Olive, and others were really honing in on in that run of episodes from 205 to 209 suggests that this might not just be a contemporary or new phenomenon but that perhaps what all of these contemporary figures are going through connects back to something that — at the least — is centuries old if not older.

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Was it your intent that viewers should connect the dark lightning strike that broke the ice to the disappearance of the three meth dealers?

I think that a lot of savvy viewers online jumped on that right away as I noticed on social media, and that’s of course a thread that will be picked up at the very top of season 3. And I should say we don’t have an official pickup yet, but I’m going to speak in optimistic tones hypothetically assuming a season 3. One can expect that we’ll be picking that thread up right where we left off.

Did Zeke survive his death date because of his heroic deed, or is there more to it than that?

These are all the exact questions that I’m glad you’re asking and that I’m hoping the audience continues to ask themselves… Let me say that I think that people are right to assume that the notion of a death date now, in light of Zeke, appears to be conditional. That is to say it would be reasonable to conclude that there is a needle to be threaded by which one can overcome their death date. So exactly how and why Zeke overcame his death date — was it because he followed the calling? Is he the complete, utterly autonomous agent of his destiny?

These are questions that we’re going to continuing to ask ourselves as we go forward, and what I can tease is that, should we get to a season 3, the ultimate fate of the three meth heads will tell us something much more specific and concrete in terms of our heroes’ understanding about the death date itself and how that death date can be overcome. So Zeke surviving his death date is an important data point; Griffin failing to survive his death date is another important data point.

Even in the pitch room when I sold the series, I walked them through Griffin; I walked them through Zeke; and I walked them trough the meth heads because these three events, if you will, are crucial to the overarching mythology. And so therefore should we get to a season 3, when that other shoe falls in regard to the fate of the meth heads, all of the fans who have been paying close attention are going to understand with a lot more clarity where we’re heading mythologically.

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Does Zeke overcoming his death date make Saanvi’s search for the cure less important?

How can I answer that without giving away too much? I would say hypothetically, assuming each and every individual were in complete and utter control of their destiny, then one could optimistically deduce that if everyone continues to be a good boy scout and girl scout, continues to try to follow the callings, that they’d be able to survive the death date and therefore a scientific workaround would not be necessary.

We’re going to learn in season 3 that it is less cut and dry than that and that as a result, notwithstanding the best intentions of people like Ben and Michaela and Saanvi, there may be other forces in play here that compromise their own individual ability to beat the death date. And so for that reason, Saanvi will come to discover that her scientific endeavors remain quite relevant.

Should we still be keeping in mind older hanging threads like Captain Daly and Fiona Clarke’s disappearance from season one?

I don’t want to comment specifically on Captain Daly and Fiona. I know that that’s been a question that frequently shows up in social media, and it’s a great question. And I know a lot of people are asking, ‘Are they out there? Are they five years ahead? Did they time jump?’ They’re all great questions, and that’s something that I kind of want to leave dangling out there right now.

There’s probably not a lot you can say about the Montego Air tail fin that was found in the Caribbean, can you?

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I will say that this tail fin is going to end up in the hands of others than just these two fishermen that we saw out there in the water, and soon enough, quite early in a hypothetical season 3, the entire globe is going to be focused on the nature of this tail fin. Is it replicated? Is it somehow the same tail fin?

That will introduce a season-long investigation and also re-trigger the global paranoia about the passengers themselves because obviously if we do the math and we conclude that the tail fin that has been lifted out of the water somehow seems to be the identical tail fin as the plane that we saw land quite safely in New York in the series premiere and then explode right there on the tarmac, it’s a metaphysical impossibility. And as a result, what does that make our passengers?

We’ll leave that question for the Manifest writers to answer.

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