This article contains spoilers through the Manifest series finale.
After keeping viewers captivated since 2018, Manifest finally reached its thrilling conclusion as season 4 part 2 landed on Netflix on Friday. While the series answered most of our burning questions regarding the mystery of Flight 828 and whether passengers could survive the Death Date, it did leave viewers with many questions regarding the show’s arc and whether some deaths were necessary.
For most of the last ten episodes of Manifest, flight 828 passengers found themselves locked in a detention center by the Registry because of public fear and the government wanting to do scientific experiments on them. The passenger’s position in the detention center hindered their ability to solve their callings and figure out what needed to be done to help them survive the Death Date.
It became clear very early on in Manifest that not everyone would survive to see the end of the show, especially as Manifest is known for its shocking and often brutal deaths. The deaths in season 4 were no different; however, one in particular, did give the shocking and heart-breaking season three death of Grace Stone (Athena Karkanis) a run for its money as showrunners killed off Cal Stone (Ty Doran) in the penultimate episode.
While Cal’s death was shocking, after viewing the finale, it became clear that his death was necessary to conclude the show’s story and the arc it had been building since season one, which was all centered around religion.
Throughout Manifest, there has been a focus on finding scientific reasoning behind flight 828’s disappearance as characters such as Dr. Saanvi Bahl (Parveen Kaur) and Troy Davis’ (Ed Herbstman) arc centered around finding scientific solutions to all the problems that cropped up along the way but most importantly to surviving the death date. However, alongside that, religion has been a persistent figure throughout all four seasons as it defined the character arcs of Adrian Shannon (Jared Grimes), Angelina Meyer (Holly Taylor) and fan favorite Cal.
While religion led to Angelina and Adrian becoming villains, as Adrian’s church ended up being more like a cult as the passenger members believed they were sent by God and Angelina believing Eden was her guardian angel and that she was God’s chosen one after the sapphire became embedded in her hand, Cal comes across more as a Christ-like figure wanting to help others out of the kindness of his heart. It’s with the different arcs that the show depicts that religion is at the heart of the mystery of flight 828 and it becomes key to why Cal ends up sacrificing himself.
From season one, the Stone family have acted as the leaders of the passengers as they guide people through their callings, mirroring how shepherds lead their flock. While Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) and Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) did most of the physical guiding, Cal was crucial to helping his family and fellow passengers solve their callings and directing people to do good. His importance in understanding the mystery of Flight 828 and all that comes with it increased even more at the end of season 3 when he came back five years older. When he becomes older, he further certifies his position as a leader like other members of his family, and not only because he’s able to physically go out and figure out callings himself. When Cal returns the second time, it marks that he has gone into the “glow” twice, even if he doesn’t remember it. It’s a continuation of his journey as someone chosen by God, and no, not in Angelina’s murderous way.
When Cal sacrifices himself by combining the sapphire in his dragon tattoo and the sapphire in the piece of Noah’s Ark that is embedded in the volcanic fissure, he becomes a beacon to bring all the passengers together to one site. Cal’s repeated sacrifices and the importance of what he says initially draws connections between him and Jesus Christ. When Cal discovers that he is the only passenger still receiving callings, he works tirelessly to help people solve them despite it taking a great physical and mental toll on him. But it’s in his death that it becomes even more poignant as it mirrors the sacrifice made by the Christian Messiah for the rest of humanity.
Cal’s death marked the first real clue the show gives us as to how passengers can survive the Death Date, as he was selfless and sacrificed himself to get the other passengers to the site. It mirrored how in the final episode, we discovered that being a good person was what saved people, as Eagan offered his life in exchange for Adrian because he felt Adrian was a good person whereas he had been selfish. But as Adrian reminded Eagan that sacrificing his life for another proved he wasn’t selfish. Likewise, Ben helped talk Saanvi into forgiving herself for the death of the Major (Elizabeth Marvel) as she helped save people, including Cal. The clue revealed that those who survived and were given a second chance at life were the ones who were selfless.
It’s easy to argue that Cal was very much the leader in understanding Flight 828’s mystery and could also be central to why it happened in the first place – something the show never really clarifies. Cal was special and he never really questioned anything beyond the guilt he felt for his mom, Grace’s, death. Unlike the other passengers, by being on the flight, he was given a second chance at life rather than needing to redeem himself. By being on the plane, it allowed Cal to find someone to help cure his cancer meanwhile passengers like Paul, Eagan and Adrian, the flight was a chance for them to redeem themselves. It again draws Cal back to being a religious figure as he is the one person that was not in need of redemption, but instead, he helped others to find theirs.