Why Manifest Delivered That Huge Tragedy In The Season 3 Finale

Spoilers ahead for the Season 3 finale of Manifest**, “Mayday: Part 2.”**

The Season 3 finale of NBC’s plane-heavy mystery drama Manifest was a lot to take in for everyone who watched, with the episode's last few minutes dropping twist after twist, which included the death of a beloved character in Athena Karkanis' Grace Stone. Likely knowing that fans would have all kinds of emotional questions about that shocker, show creator Jeff Rake does have an explanation for why it had to happen that way.

For a quick refresher: During the second half of Manifest Season 3, 828 passenger Angelina (Holly Taylor) realized Eden Stone was her guardian angel, causing the fearful Grace to kick Angelina out of the family's home. She wasn't away for long, however, with Angelina returning to the Stone household near the end of the Season 3 finale. After locking Olive in the basement, she went upstairs to get Eden from into Ben and Grace’s room, and it was soon revealed post-bathroom baptism that Angelina stabbed Grace before leaving with Eden. During an interview with TVInsider (that also included stars Josh Dallas and Athena Karkanis, Jeff Rake explained how long that deadly ending had been in the cards, and why it had to be told the way they did it:

That’s been on the board in the writers room for a very long time. As Athena can attest, she and I had a conversation about it over a year ago, believe it or not. Or I guess exactly a year ago. As I’ve always told our Manifest fans and cast and crew, the story is the story. The architecture of the story was such that Grace was going to meet her maker at some point along the way. And we’ve reached that tragic point. When Athena and I talked about it so long ago, we talked about the context…. She basically said to me, ‘I respect the story. You gotta do what you gotta do.’ Which warmed my heart.

The tragedy obviously didn't end with Grace merely getting stabbed, as she ended up dying from the wounds, and with Cal by her side. Only it was a 17-year-old Cal who showed up following the character's disappearance in the first part of the finale that occurred when he touched the mystery plane's tailfin. That wasn’t the only twist that happened, either, as the tailpin's subsequent disappearance was followed up by the reappearance of 828 pilot Captain Daly, who disappeared during a test flight in the first season. He popped back into the salvaged plane’s cockpit at Eureka, but he blinked out of existence again only a few seconds later, this time with the entire plane.

While a fourth season renewal is still up in the air at NBC, it seems like upcoming episodes could potentially center around Ben’s grief and devastating loss, since he has yet to find out about what happened to his wife. NBC has been harsh on its bubble shows this season, as the network has already canceled freshman series Debris and musical dramedy Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, leaving Manifest and Good Girls the only shows left for the network to make a decision on.

Meanwhile, since the drama’s first two seasons released on Netflix last Thursday, it has stayed within the Top 5 on the streamer, claiming the #1 spot the weekend following the finale's airing. The third season can be streamed on Hulu and Peacock.

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.