Major spoilers below for Manifest's midseason finale, so make sure you're all caught up before reading on.
With "Dead Reckoning," Manifest seemed to be pulling back a layer or two so that its many viewers could begin to understand what the hell is happening. Of course, it all got turned on its head by the winter finale's end, where one main character (Vance) was presumed dead, while the most recently introduced character (Autumn) proved herself to be a double agent. But things may not be so cut and dry.
Manifest stars Melissa Roxburgh and Luna Blaise spoke with CinemaBlend after the episode aired, and I learned a couple of extremely interesting details that may turn both Vance and Autumn's twists upside-down. Let's break them open one at a time.
Is Vance Really Dead?
The question above is feasibly more complicated than it actually sounds. As far as viewers could tell, Vance was a victim of the warehouse explosion that also put Jared in harm's way. Because Manifest never directly offered up a full-on shot of Vance's deceased body, fans immediately got suspicious about his fate. I obviously had to ask Melissa Roxburgh about it, and though she wasn't about to confirm anything one way or the other, her answer set off all kinds of speculation alarm bells.
You know, I think for now we've said goodbye to him as far as the audience knows. It really impacts Ben specifically, and how he moves forward, because that was, you know, a friend of his in the end. And he's grappling with his reaction to the Calling, and the consequences of those. For me, I thought that if I talked to the callings, that I can save people, and he's now grappling with what that means in terms of his friend that he's just lost. So, that's what that informs moving forward, but there is always a chance that Vance...you never know. [laughs]
All in all, there are two big ways for fans to obsessively pick that answer apart. The first and most off-the-wall way is to assume that Vance actually is dead, or is suffering mortal injuries at the very least, but that Ben will possibly take it upon himself to try and resurrect his quasi-buddy by appealing to the Calling. If Michaela can do the impossible with Jared, then why wouldn't it work for Ben to help Vance?
Well, there are lots of reasons, really. We still have no idea what the Calling is or how it works, so it's hard to fully bank on the "power" sympathizing with Ben and magically (or whatever) jettisoning life energy back into Vance's body. What if Michaela's pleas for Jared were so extremely pure and heartfelt that it worked, but that Ben wouldn't be able to formulate that level of sincerity? Or what if the Calling wasn't even responsible for Jared's recovery?
In any case, the other way to read into this answer would be to assume that Vance is still alive, but is possibly being held captive by others, or is maybe hiding out to avoid being detected. Ben could then use the Calling to try and track Vance down, even if it doesn't involved a full-blown resuscitation. That seems a little too rote and simplistic for Manifest, which has already used the "the Calling helps us find missing people" trick a time or two.
Personally, I'm more invested in the first option, since there's something highly intriguing about the Calling bringing people back from the verge of death. But there would need to be unique consequences to stop everyone from using that trick all the time. (Also, Ben should probably use the Calling to fix his marriage first.)
What's Up With Autumn?
A new Flight 828 passenger made quite the splash in "Dead Reckoning," with Shirley Rumierk's Autumn initially coming off as a tortured soul who'd managed to escape the UDS' clutches. She stayed privy to all the episode's important goings-on, and then flipped the switch in the final moments to reveal that she's actually a spy of sorts working with UDS. Dun-dun-dunnnn!
That shocker might have automatically had some fans thinking Autumn will be a debilitating new recruit for Team Calling, star Melissa Roxburgh makes it sound like Autumn might not be fully invested in following Manifest's darker entities.
She's kind of a tricky situation where she's, you know, told to spy on the rest of the passengers, and work for the Major. . . . The funny thing is, it's the question of will she pull a Vance and come to our side, or will she stay on the evil side. Is it evil? What do they want?
First, it was shocking for Manifest to have unloaded that Autumn twist so early, before the character could be properly developed. Now, though, it makes a little more sense, if the point isn't to portray Autumn as being fully aligned with UDS and whatever other antagonistic forces are at play. It sounds like Autumn might have her hands in all kinds of cookie jars in the near future.
One has to wonder about Autumn's life before Flight 828, and whether her current circumstances are tied to elements that audiences haven't been introduced to yet. Is her name even really Autumn?
According to Luna Blaise, that episode-ending reveal was quite effective at giving her a quick holt.
When I read that, my mouth dropped. I was like, 'Oh my god. She did us dirty. Wow.'
What'll happen next, though? Who is the most evil character on here? The Major? Grace? (Kidding.) We'll hopefully get a new trailer and some more insight from the cast and crew ahead of Season 1's return in 2019. Until then, let us know what you think in the poll below.
With mysteries galore still left to unpack, Manifest will return to NBC for the remainder of Season 1 on Monday, January 7, 2019. It's got the same 10:00 p.m. ET time slot, so don't miss out. Be sure to catch up with everything else hitting primetime soon by bookmarking our midseason premiere schedule.