This article contains spoilers for the Manifest series finale.
Over the four seasons of Manifest’s run, it hasn’t always been clear how the show’s sci-fi elements were related to each other. Why, for example, was it necessary for the passengers of Flight 828 to jump forward in time 5 years in order to receive their special prophetic abilities? But in the series’ final episodes, there was a surprising amount of clarity and closure provided for these bigger mysteries along with many more happy endings than most viewers likely expected.
In fact, let’s go ahead and speculate about that example question above. Was the five-year time jump designed to give a plane full of passengers just enough time for the maximum number of them to find a path to redemption, forgiveness, and general goodheartedness towards humanity? Would a smaller leap not have created enough disruption to tragically shake up their lives and force them to be motivated to follow the callings and change their outlook on life? Both of these explanations feel complete, and Manifest viewers can decide which they ascribe to in the end.
One of the most satisfying aspects of the Manifest finale was the realization that forgiveness was equally as important to salvation as doing good in the world. Following the callings was often seen as tipping the scales in favor of all of those in the lifeboat, and those who didn’t heed them were endangering everyone. But in the end, although eleven passengers who failed the ultimate test were reduced to ash, three found forgiveness and were saved: Saanvi, Eagan, and Adrian.
In retrospect, we should have realized this would be the case. Earlier seasons of Manifest taught us that Ma’at weighs each human soul against a feather, not its good deeds against its bad. Zeke counseling Michaela to forgive herself therefore takes on greater importance, as does Ben’s decision to bring Angelina aboard the resurrected Flight 828. Eagan’s selfless words save Adrian and in turn himself, whereas Ben’s reassurances to Saanvi help her escape both her guilt over the Major’s death and the fiery judgment that would have resulted.
So although the shadowy archangel could have claimed all aboard Flight 828, the passengers’ display of unity and moral fortitude prevented the dark figure from judging the whole based on the actions of a few. In the end, the divine consciousness appears to have been testing a random sample of humanity to see if a reset was needed, as in the time of Noah’s flood, and the passengers passed, if not with flying colors, at least with a B+. Good enough to avert a volcanic apocalypse!
The journey back to 2013 was certainly a cathartic ending for all aboard Flight 828 and for Manifest viewers as well. Ben is correct in seeing it as the ultimate second chance for those who were subjected to the five-year divine experiment. The passengers can learn from what they lost and attempt to reclaim it, even if history repeats. Those that lost their lives during the test were resurrected, and even though Vance, Grace, Olive, and other non-passengers don’t realize it, their lives will undoubtedly be less complicated after the reset.
It won’t all be rainbows and butterflies. Zeke may have now met Michaela long before his near-death experience in the cave, but he still has to deal with his addiction issues and the guilt over his sister Chloe’s death. The Stone family may have Grandma Karen back, but she still may only have a few year’s left. And Eden and Hope still have to be born! That’s not even taking into account the many broken families among the minor characters on Flight 828.
Nevertheless, while Zeke and Michaela’s reunion may top the list of magnificent reunions, the meet-cutes for Jared and Drea as well as TJ and Violet were pretty satisfying as well, not to mention the erased marital woes between Ben and Grace. Heck, even Vance still has a nice puzzle to solve with the 11 missing passengers — that ought to keep him busy for awhile! We can even imagine Eagan making some pretty solid investments and a few sports bets as well as he mends his relationship with his parents.
Over the past few years of enjoying Manifest, there were times when it felt like all of the mysteries were getting in each other’s way, and it didn’t seem possible to tie up all of the loose ends. Now it can be said that, while there still may be some plot holes for those willing to scrutinize, this series has managed to deliver a very solid finale to a uniquely metaphysical sci-fi drama that we won’t soon forget.