I Binged All 3 Seasons of 'Manifest' in a Week & I Have Some Theories for Season 4
*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
Watching Manifest is a bit like trying to solve a never-ending puzzle. No matter how much progress you make, you’re still left with a bunch of random, intricate pieces that don’t seem to fit with the rest of the picture. The show starts off with a plane that miraculously reappears after going missing for five years, and none of its passengers have any idea that much time has passed—or what happened to them. But it only gets stranger from there, and each plot twist only raises more questions about what’s really going on.
So naturally, when I binged all three seasons of this series, I over-analyzed everything, from mundane interactions and cryptic Biblical references to bizarre plot twists. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to unpack “it’s all connected,” the vague catchphrase of one of the once-missing passengers, a kid named Cal Stone. Still, I admit, I’m no less confused than I was when I started watching season one. But after hearing that the show was picked up by Netflix for a fourth season, I thought, Finally, I’ll get some solid answers. At least, I hope so.
Until then, I’ve come up with a few Manifest theories of my own, from the implications of Grace’s shocking death to Captain Daly’s mysterious disappearance. Keep reading for all the predictions.
1. The characters' names reveals a lot about their story arcs in season 4
Since Manifest tackles so many biblical themes, it’s only fitting that most of the characters would have biblical names. And if there’s anything I learned in Sunday school, it’s that names are significant and often linked to a person’s destiny (for example, "Abraham" means "father of a multitude," which is fitting considering this figure in the Bible had countless descendants).
So I started to pay more attention to the meaning behind each character’s name and compare it to their respective storylines, which totally shifted my perspective. For example, there’s Cal’s father, Ben—short for “Benjamin,” which means “son of the right hand.” Since the right hand is symbolic of authority and strength in the scriptures, surely, it can’t be a coincidence that Ben has risen as a leader among the 828ers, or that his right hand started to glow and act as a guide in season three (even the show’s creator confirmed that this glow represents a ”different kind of a calling”). Then there’s Cal, a name of Hebrew origin that means “devotion.” Considering Cal’s unwavering loyalty to the callings—even to the point of putting his family’s lives at risk—I’d say the meaning behind his name is also intertwined with his future.
The same goes for Cal’s mom, Grace (meaning “favor and blessing”), his sisters, Eden (meaning "pleasure and delight") and Olive (associated with the olive branch, which signifies “peace”). Ditto for other key characters: Flight 828 passenger Angelina (meaning "angel” or “messenger"), Cal’s aunt—and 828 passenger— Michaela (meaning “Who is like God”) and her husband Zeke (short for "Ezekiel," meaning "God will strengthen"). As I reflect on these characters, I can’t help but think that their storylines were, in a sense, already showing us what’s to come in season four. Which brings me to my second theory...
2. Angelina will prove to be even more dangerous than the Major
Think about it. She was introduced as a helpless victim in need of saving, then welcomed into a loving family, complete with an adorable child who took a special liking to her. But then things took a dark turn when she started to obsess over Eden, referring to her as a “guardian angel.” She not only came close to killing the child by starting a fire, but she also managed to kidnap the baby and murdered Grace in the process.
Now, let’s back up a little. When Angelina set that fire in front of Eden, you may have noticed that she appeared to have wings of fire, making her look almost demonic. And as for her fascination with Eden, this could be a reference to the cunning serpent in the biblical tale of Garden of Eden. If you recall, it was Angelina’s small gesture of handing over a religious pamphlet that eventually inspired a false prophet to manipulate hundreds of people and lead them astray—much like that serpent led Adam and Eve astray. And regarding that shocking twist in season three, where Angelina kills Eden’s mom, perhaps it wasn’t just the death of Grace, the character, but also the death of God’s blessing and favor. All of these clues seem to be pointing to the same theory: That Angelina is actually a messenger of Satan.
3. Grace’s necklace suggests that the 828ers will survive their death date
In season three, Saanvi—a medical researcher who was also on board Flight 828—makes a scientific breakthrough when she discovers a sapphire compound on every single subject that returned, causing both her and Dr. Gupta (the lead scientist on a classified government project centered on Flight 828) to hypothesize that sapphire could be triggering people’s disappearance and return.
Sapphire is said to attract heavenly blessings, so naturally, when I noticed the same stone in Grace’s favorite necklace, I figured, that can’t be a coincidence. She was wearing it when she died, which could be a sign that there’s still hope for Cal and his family, as well as the other 828ers, to figure out the truth behind these callings and survive their death date.
4. We’ll learn that Captain Daly wasn’t the only person on that plane during the finale
Remember how Daly suddenly appeared in the pilot seat and in full uniform, looking scared out of his mind? Well, it’s possible that he time-traveled from the day of the actual flight, right as he was trying to get through the black lightning (yes, he did steal a plane and try to get to 2024, but this doesn’t appear to be the same version of Captain Daly, given that Fiona isn’t in the front seat and that he’s in uniform). This means all the missing passengers may have reappeared in their original seats (completely hidden by the cockpit divider) and also vanished with the pilot, right as the tail fin vanished in the ocean.
The verdict is still out on why everything vanished so quickly, but I do have an idea of where the passengers might’ve gone.
5. The missing passengers are in a divine realm
The show’s creator, Jeff Rake, revealed in an interview with TV Insider that there’s definitely a divine realm. He said, "We are now in a realm where we are talking about our passengers interacting with the divine, so Captain Daly is interacting with the divine. Where has Captain Daly been since he bewilderingly disappeared a year and a half ago in story time? Whether it’s purgatory, whether it’s the netherworld, these are terms and concepts that Ben and others will struggle to understand."
Though it’s unclear whether this place is heaven, purgatory or the netherworld, Rake did confirm that Cal has been in the same place. He continued, “That idea of the divine taking you away, but keeping you in a holding pattern—which is probably an apt flight analogy—as your ultimate fate is determined speaks to where Captain Daly has been...What that place is, I’m gonna let Cal speak to that when we come back in Season four.”
This suggests that Cal lived out the rest of his childhood in another place as if the plane had never crashed, then returned at the very moment when Grace was dying. Who’s to say that the other missing passengers, including Fiona and the Captain, aren’t living in this mystery realm also, getting prepared to return (again) and carry out specific assignments?
6. There’s gonna be trouble in paradise for Michaela and Zeke
The look on Zeke’s face when he told Michaela “We need to talk” said it all. His newfound abilities seemed to confirm a sad truth that he suspected all along, and the fact that Jared is clearly struggling to get over Michaela doesn’t help matters. Given the former cop’s deep connection with Zeke, I don’t see her giving up on her marriage that easily. Still, it appears that Zeke doesn’t have the energy to deal with an awkward love triangle. And now that he’s aware that some part of Michaela still loves Jared, it’s bound to put a huge strain on their relationship. (Fingers crossed that this doesn’t lead to a breakup.)
7. ... And for Olive and TJ
It’s one of the few story arcs that makes very little sense to me, to be honest. How does Olive go from falling head over heels for TJ, a guy who traveled all the way to Egypt to solve a mystery that would allow them to be together, to starting a fling with a snarky research assistant? Considering how Olive had a complete breakdown after TJ’s presumed death, seeing her move on so quickly doesn’t add up. But since season four will be the last, I imagine that TJ will get a very unpleasant surprise when he returns to report his new findings.
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