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TCA 2020: Manifest's bigger mystery and why it must go all six seasons

By Tara Bennett

Manifest returned for its second season on January 6 with strong ratings and a bunch of new revelations about the flight survivors and their “death date” scenario. Creator and executive producer Jeff Rake brought his cast to NBC's Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena today, where they all revealed a little more about where the show is going this year.

In particular, at the end of “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” Zeke (Matt Long) was arrested. Long says that incarceration will play out in the next few episodes, and in turn it will inspire big things playing out with the Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh), Jared (J.R. Ramirez), and Zeke triangle. “Some really interesting things happen,” Long teases. “And that [getting arrested] story sort of concludes, but it opens up all kinds of other issues with the three of us. It's really exciting to watch."

Rake says that the story will take up a lot of story real estate this season. And Roxburgh says after Season 1 being “Hot Mess Michaela,” Season 2 will be more about her “following up on her mistakes she came back with, and being a better person. And it's about Zeke trying to be a better person, and Jared figuring out how to let things go.”

Meanwhile, in the Stone household, while Ben (Josh Dallas) is doubling down on the responsibility he feels in saving the survivors from the “death date” destinies, his wife, Grace (Athena Karkanis), and daughter, Olive (Luna Blaise), will be dealing with the aftermath in their own lives as well. In particular, Olive will be moving toward the “Believers” who think there are religious implications to the returned flight. Blaise shared about her character's arc, “In both seasons, Olive feels like an outsider. She's trying to find something to belong to and call it her own. Is it the right path? I don't know. She thinks she finds her people, and she will meet some people out of that. It's a journey with Olive and the Believers.

"This season, in all aspects, it's a coming of age with life, love, family and her own mind,” the actress continues, “Olive definitely goes on a journey. She gets from Ben this need to solve everything, and wants to be involved. On Monday, DJ is a character who helps me this season with a lot of different things, including solving this mystery.”

Lastly, when asked if the six-year overall Manifest narrative plan that Rake pitched to Warner Bros. TV and NBC weren't to get a pickup to play everything out, if he had a backup plan, the showrunner answered with an unqualified “No. I pitched it, as someone who didn't have a previous serialized show before, with a roadmap and clear chapters along the way,” Rake explains. “We don't always know the number of episodes we get per season, so we roll with the punches. But the show wants to be six seasons.”

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