When Manifest debuted in 2018, the series was one of NBC's biggest premieres since This Is Us. The story of the passengers of Flight 828, specifically the Stone family, who traveled five-and-a-half years into the future, has taken several turns. By the time Season 1 ended, others turned up who time-jumped, in much shorter increments, and died as soon as they lived out the same period as their disappearance. In Season 2, the surviving passengers looked for a way to break this cycle. Now, Manifest Season 3 is happening, and fans have a lot of questions where the show goes from here.
Manifest is one of those shows that doesn't make a huge dent in live viewing; TVLine pegs it at about nearly 4 million viewers a week (in what's known as "Live+Same Day" numbers, aka people who watch the show when it airs, or immediately following).
But the series has a massive fanbase who catches up via streaming. Episodes regularly swell to 7.7 million viewers when all DVR and Hulu viewing is accounted for, putting it on par with Grey's Anatomy. With such high "delayed viewing" numbers, it's not surprising the series has landed a third season.
But the real reason fans are rejoicing at the show's renewal is the sheer level of WTFery introduced by the end of the season.
Ben Stone has been trying to figure out if Flight 828's miraculous return after being thought lost for five and a half years was real. Did the plane pass through time? Or is his survival, along with sister Michaela and son Cal some miracle of people returning from the dead? Is Manifest a purgatory parable?
That latter theory got a huge boost in Season 2 finale when fishermen find the tail of Flight 828 on the bottom of the ocean. The plane looks for all the world as if it had broken apart mid-flight and crashed, killing all aboard. So how is the plane at the bottom of the ocean and able to land safely with everyone aboard?
The paradox is enough to make fans' heads spin. But that wasn't the only "wait, what?" moment in the finale either. Zeke, another time jumper who leaped forward one year when he should have frozen to death, marries Michaela at the end of the season. Their marriage is expected to be short; at this point, he has days to go before his "echo-boom" of time is up, and he's already showing signs of freezing to death. But just as he passes away, his "death date" time upon him, he suddenly glows and thaws out, and awakens, healthy as ever.
So what gives? Why did Zeke survive his "Death Date" when other have not? Is this something those from Flight 828 can use to avoid their fate?
Manifest Season 3 will return with answers in the 2020-2021 TV season.