Manifest: The Cast Shares Their Favorite Mysteries

Manifest is chock full of unfolding conspiracies and sci-fi mythologies, but which puzzles most appeal to the show’s cast?

Zeke and Michaela looking happy in Manifest
Photo: Scott McDermott | Netflix

As Manifest prepares to air its fourth and final season on Netflix, longtime fans know that there are a lot of questions still to be answered in the twenty episodes that remain. Will the divine nature of the callings ever truly be known? Is there a scientific explanation behind the dark lightning and the time jumps? Is the death date avoidable, or is it even real? We asked the cast members, as fans of their own show, what their favorite long-held mysteries were now that they know what audiences are about to discover.

For J. R. Ramirez, the actor behind the intrepid police detective Jared Vasquez, the majority of the dramatic tension comes from the looming danger presented by the so called “death date,” a presumed expiration date for all Flight 828 passengers based on the amount of time the airplane leaped forward into the future. “The fact that there’s this looming, ticking time bomb, that these people may not make it past an X number of days — that gives you a lot to work with,” says Ramirez. “That definitely heightens the stakes beyond all measure.”

Matt Long, whose character Zeke Landon conquered his death date, agrees, but he has another favorite as well. “As a sci-fi fan, I would pick the Al-Zuras mythology because it’s so epic,” he explains. “But as an actor, I would pick the death date because it’s an immediate end game. It increases the stakes, and it really adds a lot of tension and drama to the situations in the story and the relationships.”

Luna Blaise also hones in on those same two fantastical elements, giving the slight edge to the mythology that her character Olive Stone often tackles in Manifest. “I think the whole concept of the death date is really cool. It just gives the show a little bit more oomph,” she says. “But as Olive, always filming the crazy mythology scenes and having to learn all of those crazy, crazy lines is always really fun — everything with Al Zuras.”

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Parveen Kaur, who plays the much beleaguered character of medical researcher Saanvi Bahl, finds just as much thematic richness in the historical aspects of Manifest’s mythology as in classical mythology, which informs so much contemporary narrative structure. “Definitely the mythology for sure,” she chooses. “There’s so many themes that you can take out of mythology that relate to the show and also just the art of storytelling. So much of it comes from mythology. So it’s just cool.”

Holly Taylor, like her Manifest character Angelina, focuses mostly on what Olive is up to for her favorite. “I feel like I’ll change my answer after this interview and think it over, but right now I want to say the Al Zuras mythology just because I guess I didn’t really know a lot about that to begin with,” she says. “Reading about it kind of blows my mind: how we have these outlandish concepts and things that are happening, and then they come back and are so related to this exact text. And it makes Olive’s character seem like a genius because I don’t know anybody who knows any of that stuff.”

Daryl Edwards, who plays government investigator turned co-conspirator Robert Vance, has also been quite taken with the Al Zuras stories, recalling a surprising moment from Manifest season 3. “I can remember reading a script (I don’t think I was in this particular episode, so I really wanted to figure out what was going to happen next), and I get to the part where they’re looking at an ancient text and there’s a boat,” he says. “And Saanvi’s picture appears in the ancient text! I remember screaming out loud in my apartment… I love the mythology aspect of the show.”

It should be no surprise what Melissa Roxburgh’s favorite sci-fi element of Manifest is, given the danger her character Michaela Stone faces. “The death date! It’s really the most morbid thing that you could think of,” she says. “The idea that you know when you’re going to die, and all you’re doing up to that point is simultaneously coming to terms with it and trying to stop it. They’re going to be constantly at odds while you move towards that, and so imagining myself in that position is just the most profound and horrible thing I could think of.”

Josh Dallas, who plays Ben Stone, takes an understandably broader view as Manifest’s male lead, who dabbles in all aspects of the show, both fantastical and realistic. “This show isn’t just a sci-fi show; it has all these different beautiful elements to it that are so engaging,” he explains. “It has this emotional family drama underneath all of this that I think roots the genre elements of the show. We can present an idea or a feeling or a problem in a way where people, when they’re watching it, it’s somehow more digestible. I think that’s a really important part of genre storytelling.”

And don’t imagine for a moment that Manifest has played all of its cards! New cast member Ty Doran, who plays a suddenly grown version of Cal Stone, tells us there are more mysteries to come in season 4. “The show was originally conceived of as being six seasons long, and we really fit that ending into this season,” he says. “So it moves pretty fast… and so many more [elements] get introduced over the course of this season as we’re piecing together this big mystery, and there’s a lot that we dig into.”

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Manifest season 4 will premiere part 1, consisting of ten episodes, on November 4, 2022 on Netflix. Part 2 will wrap up the story with another ten episodes at a later date.