Flight 828 has reached its final destination. In the series finale of the NBC-turned-Netflix supernatural drama Manifest, the passengers of the infamous flight, who inexplicably disappeared for five-and-a-half years during a routine trip from Jamaica to New York on April 7, 2013, faced their final judgment in the eyes of the Divine Consciousness on the day they were prophesied to meet an untimely end: June 2, 2024.
Picking up in the aftermath of the penultimate episode, which saw Cal (Ty Doran) sacrifice himself before the Death Date to combine the sapphire in his dragon tattoo with the sapphire in the piece of Noah’s Ark located inside the volcanic fissure, the finale begins with Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh), Ben (Josh Dallas), Saanvi (Parveen Kaur), and T.J. (Garrett Wareing) all waking up separately and experiencing symptoms of a panic attack. Later that morning, while wandering through the woods, Olive (Luna Blaise), Eden (Brianna and Gianna Riccio) and T.J. find the ill-fated volcano card with an illegible inscription carved on a rock.
Given that Michaela and Ben had visited the site as children, Olive offers to return to the Stone house, where the villainous Angelina (Holly Taylor) was hiding out with her followers, to look at old family albums stowed away in the attic that could give them insight into the original carving. Despite Ben’s objections, Michaela warns that the passengers could all meet a violent end on their Death Date, leading them to say heartfelt goodbyes to Olive, Eden, Jared (J.R. Ramirez), and a very pregnant Drea (Ellen Tamaki).
On their way back to the campsite, Michaela, Ben, Saanvi, and T.J. deduce that the symptoms they experienced—accelerated heartbeat, disorientation, lack of oxygen—are a terrifying preview of how they’re supposed to die. But they weren’t about to go through that final experience alone. Cal’s sacrifice created a beacon of light that led all of the other passengers of Flight 828 to gather at Storm King Mountain, where Saanvi deposited the fragment of Noah’s Ark. There, the passengers—aside from Angelina and her seven followers, who suffered a temporary setback, thanks to some engine tampering from Adrian (Jared Grimes) and Eagan (Ali Lopez-Sohaili)—spend the rest of the day together, proving how the members of the Lifeboat have, for better or for worse, become a family through this largely traumatic experience. With their fates hanging in the balance, Ben attempts to deliver a hopeful speech about Cal’s sacrifice, but he is interrupted when the ground opens up to reveal the missing plane, which disappeared from Eureka in the season 3 finale, rising up from the volcanic fissure. (Around the world, subterranean volcanoes are also on the verge of erupting with little notice, potentially leading to an extinction-level event.) Michaela and Ben—the captains of the Lifeboat—realize that, in order to face their judgment and survive, the passengers must return to where it all started.
Back at the Stone house, Olive, Drea and Jared attempt to crack their final clue by going through old bird-watching pictures, which were organized by species by Olive’s grandmother. Before long, Olive focuses her attention on the silver drake—drake is another word for dragon, and the spiritual leader Al-Zuras has described the plane as the “silver dragon” in his journals—and finds an inscription that reads, “Forgiveness lightens the heart PIXLAZ.” Olive explains that in Egyptian mythology, some believe that “hearts are being weighed against a feather,” rather than simply on a scale where good deeds are weighed against bad ones. AZ clearly stands for Al-Zuras, but Olive soon concludes that “P” stands for “page,” “IX” represents the World card on page 9, and “L” is the Roman numeral for 50. On that page, Olive finds the photo of her father carrying her out of a fire in the second season—only to realize that the drawing is actually of Ben carrying Angelina. In other words, the only way Ben can survive is if he forgives Angelina for killing his wife, Grace (Athena Karkanis), and abducting their daughter, Eden. (At the same time, Drea goes into labor with Jared by her side!)
Meanwhile, believing that she is an angel sent by God, Angelina arrives outside the plane and demands that all of the passengers except for her and her “chosen” seven disembark the vessel immediately because she believes the “ark” has been sent to save them—and only them—from the impending apocalypse. Angelina even threatens to use her sapphire power to force everyone else off the plane. But much to her horror, the mystical blue light in her arm quickly burns out, rendering her powerless. Michaela and Ben use this as an opportunity to board the remaining passengers, including Angelina’s (former) followers, but Ben returns to Angelina when the ground beneath their feet begins to tremble. At first, Ben threatens to shoot Angelina, who confesses that everyone in her life has betrayed her and that she never intended to kill Grace in the first place. But once he realizes that “it’s not the power that matters [but] how you use it,” Ben backs down and decides to carry a badly injured Angelina into the plane, thereby fulfilling the prophecy that his daughter had just discovered.
After Michaela and Amuta work together in the cockpit to get the plane off the ground, Michaela joins the other passengers in the aircraft cabin, where some begin developing fiery cracks all over their face and body before combusting into a pile of ash. Saanvi attempts to reassure the surviving passengers that only those who deserve it will meet this horrifying fate, but she soon finds herself developing the same symptoms. When he realizes that Adrian is about to die, Eagan—one of the show’s more egocentric characters—pleads with the divinity to take him instead. Eagan thinks he deserves to die, but Adrian tells him that any man who would sacrifice himself is not selfish, and both of them heal. At the same time, Ben tells Saanvi that he is not ready to lose her and that she needs to remember all of the people she has saved, and she survives as well. Angelina, however, does not meet the same fate and satisfyingly turns into a pile of ash in the aisle.
But Flight 828 wasn’t exactly out of the woods. After Angelina’s literal implosion, a terrifying shadowy figure—a kind of grim reaper that bears resemblance to what happened with the Meth Heads—rises from the ashes, threatening all of the remaining passengers. Urging everyone to get behind them, Michaela and Ben take it upon themselves to spell out the other passengers’ good deeds. “We’re just a group of 191 regular people, but you chose us. And ever since, we have been hated, tested on, and imprisoned!” Michaela yells. In the end, all of those pleas are enough for the dark spirits to disappear and for the volcanic activity to grind to a halt, because they have done everything they can to prove they are worthy of living and that they have learned from these Callings.
Suddenly, Amuta calls Michaela back to the cockpit about the “long, delirious, burning blue” glow. Instead of letting the light chase them like last time, Michaela instructs the co-pilot to fly straight into the glow, at which point the plane no longer feels like it is moving. Leading the charge, Michaela and Ben walk off the plane hand-in-hand into the blinding white light, and they find themselves back in Queens, N.Y., on April 7, 2013, where they see their late mother and Grace alive and well.
Cal and Olive, who were forced to grow up quicker than anyone else implicated in this mysterious flight, are revealed to be younger with no recollection of what has happened in the last 11 years, much like everyone else who wasn’t on the flight. Meanwhile, the passengers, including those who have died in the last four seasons, have little reminders from when they were gone, but they soon realize that Cal’s sacrifice was actually a gift, giving them the ultimate second chance to live life on their own terms.
And that’s exactly what they do. At baggage claim, Saanvi reunites with her one true love, Alex, who expresses her regret for not being on the flight from Jamaica in the first place; Ben tells Grace that Saanvi will cure Cal’s leukemia and that they are destined to have another child; T.J. runs into young Olive, who doesn’t remember what happened between them, but he meets Violet; and Michaela tells Jared that she can’t marry him. “I will always, always love you,” Michaela tells her ex-fiancé, who has a meet-cute with Drea later that evening. “This trip made me realize a lot, and it made me realize that we want different things, and I don’t wanna change, and I do not want you to change. I think there’s someone better out there for you. Someone who wants everything that you want. And as long as I’m here, Jared, I’m gonna cloud everything.”
As NSA director Vance (Daryl Edwards) arrives at the airport to investigate how 11 people could have disappeared from Flight 828, Michaela, remembering that her husband, Zeke (Matt Long), once told her that he was driving a cab at JFK on the night the fateful flight was supposed to land, jumps into a taxi with him and tells him to take the scenic route so that she can fill him in on some kind of “never-ending story” about how they belong together.
Max Gao is a freelance entertainment and sports journalist based in Toronto. He has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, Sports Illustrated, The Daily Beast, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, Men’s Health, Teen Vogue and W Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @MaxJGao.