Why Manifest Introduced The Death Dates For Those On Flight 828

Manifest Season 2 still from NBC

The death date thing came up last season, but this article will touch on some stuff that has happened during Manifest Season 2 so far, if you aren’t caught up!

Manifest’s first season ended on a bit of a somber note, with Michaela getting shot and Ben essentially calculating that the passengers who were on Flight 828 would die on June 2, 2024. It’s been the mystery thread that is constantly being brought up on the NBC drama at the start of Season 2, and this week creator Jeff Rake explained why Manifest introduced the death dates for the Flight 828 crew.

Speaking at TCA to CinemaBlend’s own Nick Venable and other reporters, Jeff Rake talked about how the arc of the show was planned in advance and that the death dates are part of that “road map,” noting:

There’s been a road map that I’ve been building out from since the very beginning. When I first went in and pitched the show to Warner Bros. and NBC, I talked about a six season arc for the show. And that’s been now triggered at the end of Season 1. It drives a lot of story and stakes in Season 2. From a thematic place, why does it exist? A lot of our episodes center around the theme of redemption and second chances, and I thought it would be interesting if we had a literal ticking clock, because it would just kind of amp the stakes for our heroes as they figure out the price of redemption, what it means to have a second bite at the apple, what the consequences are when you only have a limited amount of time to try to reinvent yourself. And so that’s kind of the thematic reason. And then, just from a basic storytelling point of view, I thought our stories would just become increasingly exciting if, as the characters are trying to puzzle their way through the mystery of the show, they’re running out of time.

I actually feel a little sorry for the characters on Manifest. They were missing for over five years and a lot of their families moved on without them, which would take a mental toll. Then, there are like people after them. They are dealing with abuse from people publicly graffitiing their houses and more! They freaking hear callings they then have to deal with and now they know when their alleged death dates are coming! It's gotten to the point where Ben is already thinking about the time he has left as his family tries to move forward with a new baby on the way...

In short, it’s a lot. However to move the drama forward and create a compelling narrative, Jeff Rake also said at TCA the reveals are nowhere near over yet. Coming up in Season 2, we’ll learn more about the Flight 828 passengers at midseason and another major reveal will come at the end of the TV cycle this season as well.

The onion peels. The onion peels every season. We made one or two major mythological discoveries at the end of the Season 1. And by the time we get to the middle of Season 2, another layer is peeled and, by the end of the season, yet another major one.

Welp. It should be pointed out there have already been reveals this season, with Saanvi telling secrets to the Major, who is posing as a therapist, and Ben getting kidnapped by a masked man who turns out to be Vance. However, that’s par for the course for Manifest, whereas finding out you’ll die in advance is more of a huge reveal, and it's one that Jeff Rake previously said would be explored and answered by the end of Season 2.

Right now Manifest is not renewed for Season 3; however, it’s worth pointing out its midseason premiere enticed plenty of viewers and notable ratings. I’m very hopeful we’ll ultimately get the six season arc that Jeff Rake and co. are counting on, and keeping people at the edges of their seats is usually a sound strategy.

Manifest is back on the schedule over at NBC, airing on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET. To find out about more of your favorite shows' return dates, take a look at our full winter TV schedule.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.