3 'Manifest' Theories That Will Make You Reconsider Everything

by Ani Bundel

NBC's biggest new show is Manifest, a series which so far seems to be asking "What if Lost, but Found?" The show has hit a chord with viewers, with the premiere breaking a rating record for the Peacock Network going from 10 million Live+Same-day viewers to 16 million when DVR watchers were added in the Live+3 calculations. This is the biggest jump NBC has seen when adding in time shifters in six years, longer than our passengers were missing on the plane. These Manifest theories suggest the central mystery is compelling enough to keep viewership high for the rest of the fall season.

It helped this week's episode of Manifest narrowed down the 191 passengers to a far more manageable 20, including Michaela and Ben, who both turned up at the site of the plane just before it blew up at the end of last week's premiere. These are the ones the NSA is honing in on, and who seem to be experiencing different kinds of crazy ESP moments, whether it be voices telling them of dangers, music, or other weird phenomena. Cal is part of the group of 20 as well, as is his doctor, Saanvi. But what exactly is happening to them?

It's a Government Conspiracy

This week's first significant theory comes from the shadow that Cal first drew in the family portrait. Some (me) assumed it was him sensing his mom's rather impatient boyfriend (or soon to be ex-boyfriend). For others, the image set off alarm bells that there's more to the missing five and a half years than our passengers know. Perhaps those fans are correct, as it turns out the shadow is a real creature (or a man who is somehow semi-invisible.) By the end of the episode, this shadow monster has taken out the one foolish woman who couldn't keep quiet after her NSA questioning. Maybe she's right about it being a government conspiracy. She should have been more paranoid.

It's a Religious Conspiracy

Listen, you can't have a character say "He is risen," and not expect every Christian within a 20-meter radius of the TV instantly respond to the dog whistle at play. And if you have the character start reciting it at a kid who was supposed to be dead of cancer, well then, all bets are off. Apparently, Cal is the second coming right?

But no. The line is "He is risen. He is not here." Cal is right there, so I guess he doesn't get to be Christ. (Sorry kid, maybe next time.) But for those who are looking for answers for why this happened to this plane full of people, and these 20 specifically, having this be a miracle prelude to staging the second coming (or a second coming anyway) wouldn't be the worst guess.

The Plane Is In A Different Timeline

For the science fiction-minded, this one's the most sensible answer. When the plane hit turbulence last week, it went through a wormhole. But the flight didn't just jump ahead five years. It dropped into an entirely alternate timeline altogether.

Need proof? If you got on a plane in April of 2013 and got back off in November of 2018, what's the one change that happened in the world during the time you were gone? Something so wholly hilariously impossible, you would need to sit down when they told you?

The show has already gone two episodes, and yet no one has said: "We need to tell you who the president is now."

There's only one explanation: Trump didn't win in 2016. They are in a timeline where the president is utterly unremarkable, like Biden, or Jeb Bush. The shadow is trying to keep them there.

They have no idea how blessed they are.