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Wait, What Happened in the Manifest Series Finale?

Photo: Netflix

Warning: Deep spoilers for Manifest season four, part two, lie ahead.

The wild ride that is the mystery drama Manifest ends with its final ten episodes on Netflix and, not surprising anyone who’s watched the series, things only get wilder as it draws to a close. The second half of season four sees the passengers of the ill-fated Flight 828 — which disappeared for five and a half years back in 2013 before returning with everyone intact, albeit now with the ability to receive “callings” about the future (which actually turn out to be memories, IT’S FINE) — facing down the apocalypse. The passengers, led by sibling-duo Ben and Michaela Stone, learned some time ago that on June 4, 2024, they would all be judged as a group by a divine being, and if the good didn’t outweigh the bad, not only would they all be sentenced to death, but all of humanity would be too.

When season four, part two, picks up, the passengers are just months away from that Death Date with still nary a plan for how to stop it, plus the added obstacles of a public turned against them — all 828 passengers are kept locked up in a detention center — and wannabe-archangel-of-death-but-really-just-a-psychopath Angelina on the loose and more dangerous than ever. Things get worse when Ben, in a futile attempt to stop Angelina from hurting passengers by way of the false callings she can create with the Omega Sapphire fused to her hand, winds up getting rid of the callings for every passenger except for Cal. Since the passengers were counting on the good they’ve been doing through the callings to help them tip the scales of judgment in their favor, well, that’s a lot of pressure put on Cal. But wait! Things get even worse when the government issues “isolation protocol” and basically just locks everyone inside the detention center and leaves them to die. Thankfully, the passengers get an assist from Drea — pregnant with Jared’s baby no less, which is awkward since Jared and Mick have decided the end of the world is the perfect time to try dating again — who drills them an escape route. The day before the Death Date, volcanoes are popping up all over the world and Cal’s calling leads the main crew out to a very familiar location, where he disappears into the Glow and the stage is set for the final showdown between the passengers and whatever divine being has been pulling the strings all along.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never watched one minute of Manifest, you must be like “WHAT,” and what I want to say to you, sincerely, is “exactly.” Even if you are a longtime fan of Manifest, you must read that quick summary back and wonder what the hell is happening on this show. I didn’t even get into sapphires or the Divine Consciousness or the Glow! The goddess Ma’at? I don’t know her! Manifest is a cuckoo show that only gets more cuckoo with each development — it is endearing that way. And because it is a show that can be, well, a lot, it might be best to experience its conclusion with a friend. Someone who, as the series offers up its final set of conflicts and answers and some of its most bonkers moments yet, understands the inclination to yell, Wait, what? at the TV screen. So, why not walk through some of the wildest moments of Manifest’s final episode together? After all, we’re all on the same lifeboat.

All our main passengers wake up gasping for air in their cute lil’ tents.

Wait, what? It takes them a little while to figure out that this was just a preview of how they’re going to die if they don’t pass their final judgment, but it’s pretty clear to the audience what’s happening from the get-go. As we know (see also: Zeke, the three meth-heads), if you don’t find a way to survive your Death Date, you’re going out the same exact way you were originally supposed to die. For our passengers, that means … exploding on a plane. This leads to my most pressing question: Are we going to watch a bunch of characters we’ve followed for four seasons … explode? It’s a pretty grisly development, but as the old saying goes, “Ain’t no party like a Death Date party, ’cause a Death Date party is basically your worst nightmare come to life.”

Olive finds that engraving of Al-Zuras’s “The World” tarot card on a rock in the middle of the wildlife preserve they were called to, but they can’t read the inscription at the bottom because someone carved “Class of 1999.” They realize Ben and Michaela came here as kids, and there is probably an old picture of that same rock in their mom’s stuff from before 1999, so they could potentially be able to figure out what it says if they pull out the Stone family photo slide projector.

Wait, what? Wait, what nothing, baby: It’s all connected and you know it. The best thing Manifest ever did was make it clear that anything that feels like a contrivance can actually be explained away by the callings. It feels contrived because it was all meant to be! That is, like, a wizard-level creative choice right there. I probably don’t have to tell you this but, guys, they do figure out what that inscription says thanks to Grandma Stone’s quirky bird-watching hobby and penchant for photography the show introduced a few episodes back.

Ben and Olive say good-bye.

Wait, what is happening to my eyeballs right now? Listen, I signed up for a wackadoodle sci-fi mystery that would test my suspension of disbelief, not a mushy drama that would test my heartstrings! Yet here we are. But who am I to not be moved when Ben Stone, the most dramatic man in the world, has to send his two daughters away to figure out the inscription thing and also not be around to witness him possibly explode/implode? It might be the last time he ever sees them, and he tells Olive, “You are your mother’s daughter and our wildest dreams come true.” It’s so lovely and emotional, and I’m so mad at him for doing this to me, personally. There should be a rule that there is no crying in trying to stop the apocalypse, but it turns out, there’s a lot of crying in trying to stop the apocalypse.

Noah’s Ark is a major player in this story.

Wait, wut? You might try to forget the whole Noah’s Ark portion of Manifest, but if there’s one thing you should know about Manifest, it’s that Manifest never forgets. Anything! It’s actually a real strength of the show. In the penultimate episode, our main gang realizes they need to return to that mountain where Saanvi threw the piece of Noah’s Ark into that giant fissure in the earth’s crust back in season three (a thing that happened!!), because that piece of the ark was laced with sapphire, and Cal believes he needs to connect the sapphire in his body with another sapphire in order to … save the world, duh. When the two sapphires connect, Cal disappears back into the Glow (sad!). In the finale, we learn the beacon of light that came out of the ground in which Cal disappeared into called all the other 828 passengers to that very location, getting everyone in place for “the final step.” Noah’s Ark: unfortunately very important!

Um, the Montego Airways Flight 828 Airplane rises up from the ground! And everyone gets on it!!

I’m sorry, WHAT? You know, Manifest has done a lot of wild things in its four-season run, but having an airplane resurrected from the Noah’s Ark lava and then everyone being like, yes, okay, let’s get on that, for it is our ride to final judgment might top the list.

Ben forgives Angelina and carries her onto the plane.

Wait, for real? Sure, Ben’s Death Date survival depends on him being able to forgive Angelina, but that tiny sociopath killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter, and while she feels bad about the Grace thing, she does not think she was wrong to take Eden! Also, she believes she’s an archangel and has been sent to end the world save for herself and the handful of dummies willing to follow her. Ben, because he is kind and good and Al-Zuras foretold it in his drawings, does forgive her. He picks her incapacitated ass up and carries her onto the plane even though three minutes prior she wanted to kick all of Ben’s passengers off the plane. Actually, it’s kind of hilarious. Angelina, seven followers, and one shotgun against 180 people? What was she thinking? Anyway: Ben good; Angelina, bad.

Jared becomes some sort of Lamaze expert.

Wait, what …? Did I not mention? Drea goes into labor during the apocalypse because apparently that woman has not done enough, and suddenly Jared is an expert birthing partner? He’s had some emergency training as a cop, but, like, I doubt he was taking Lamaze breathing courses while hanging out at the 828 detention facility, you know? Less than 24 hours ago he was still planning on being with Mick until she told him it was obvious he belonged with Drea! I’m glad Drea’s able to give birth to a healthy baby girl even though it is into a literal hellscape at this point, but come on! I have to have a limit to suspending my disbelief, and it is right here at Lamaze.

People start imploding into ash!!!!

Wait, what?!?! It’s final-judgment time, and some people are not making it through. Eleven people, to be exact. That plane takes off and people’s skin starts cracking until they eventually burst into ash. It is … terrifying? It’s mostly terrible people like Paul the domestic abuser and Autumn the career criminal who tried to help the Major kidnap Cal and, you betcha, Angelina (good-bye forever!), but still, it’s pretty grisly to watch it happen repeatedly. Will any of the survivors ever get on a plane again?

Ben and Saanvi don’t make out after she almost implodes.

Wait, whattttt? After Ben and Saanvi finally had sex a couple of episodes ago (Benvi 4Ever), Manifest did a nice little cleanup job by having them both admit they’re still in love with their old partners even if they do care about one another a whole lot; now we know it was in preparation for the show’s grand finale (which we will get to), AND YET, did it have to be that clean? During the judgment, Saanvi begins to crack and she accepts her death because she did kill the Major, even if it was just an accident — but Ben does not accept this! He’s crying and holding her face and telling her she’s a good person, and then the cracking stops and they are wiping away tears and touching foreheads, but they never kiss!! Who cares if you love other people! Love the one you’re with! It’s very rude. If you’re not sucking face after just surviving eternal damnation, you deserve to implode. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

The passengers scream at the black smoke of judgment until it goes away, thus averting the apocalypse.

Pardon me, ma’am, but what in THE actual hell? Honestly, bless this show, okay? After the judgment portion of the proceedings are over and 11 people are deemed terrible humans, the lifeboat has to be weighed — does the good everyone else did outweigh the bad those ash piles did? Instead of taking this final weighing of souls sitting down … um, how do I say this? The passengers, led by Ben and Mick, link arms and walk down the plane aisle scream-recapping the TV show Manifest at its “face,” and eventually the smoke is like, yep, you guys are cool, I’m good and it leaves. Suddenly, the world outside is back to normal — no more apocalyptic volcanoes — and the passengers of 828 know they’ve succeeded in their mission to save the world.

The passengers end up back in 2013 and nobody by them remembers what happened to Flight 828.

WAIT, WHAT??? Can you believe it?! The passengers fly into the Glow, and when they walk out, they walk right into the airport in 2013, just like they were always supposed to when they originally left Jamaica in the pilot. Only they remember what’s happened to them the past five and a half years. Grace and Grandma Stone are alive! Olive is still 11! TJ’s mom is alive! Obama is still president (Bethany the flight attendant cheers)! Even passengers who died get off the plane, and it’s nice! Alex shows up, and she and Saanvi get together! Eden doesn’t exist, and Ben makes a weird comment about how he and Grace “have work to do,” and I choose to ignore it! Mick immediately dumps Jared and points him in the direction of Drea, who he meets for the first time. In a real twist, Cal is his 11-year-old self again and he also has no memory of what happened to him — it’s some type of reward for his sacrifice with the sapphire. In a bigger twist, not one family member of a passenger wonders why their loved one is weeping upon seeing them after getting off a plane. In the biggest twist of all, the passengers all just go home? They talk about how this is the gift of a second chance and those five and a half years that just don’t exist now taught them how to live and what to live for and … okay, sure, I guess? I hope they at least get a group text going or something.

Michaela tracks down Zeke in his cab outside the airport and is like, whew, have I got a story for you.

Wait! What!! I KNOW. Mick remembers that Zeke said he was in a cab outside of the airport the night the original 828 was supposed to land, so after she sends Jared off to meet his soul mate, she runs out to find hers. Zeke is surprisingly chill about a woman just hopping into the front seat of his cab, asking him to drive anywhere, going through his pork-rinds stash, and mysteriously saying she has so much to tell him. I guess you can get away with that sort of thing when you fit traditional beauty standards in this country!! Okay, fine, I was going to riot if Mick and Zeke didn’t find a way back to each other, but still, I would love to see Mick try to explain this situation in any way that resembles actual sense. Regardless, good for them and good for us! No airplane is going to stand in the way of true love!

Wait, What Happened in the Manifest Series Finale?