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Manifest showrunner Jeff Rake breaks down new callings and Vance's big surprise in 'Wingman'
There was a lot of heart and a lot of heart-pumping in this week's episode of Manifest, "Wingman." Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) and Zeke (Matt Long) confronted Michaela's past again while dealing with a new crisis involving Evie's (Simone Elizabeth Bart) folks, Beverly (Adriane Lenox) and Glen (Andrew Sensenig). And at the cabin, Grace (Athena Karkanis) and Tarik (Warner Miller) finally discussed the long-simmering issues at the core of their estrangement.
Meanwhile, Ben (Josh Dallas) found a new passenger with a knack for calling interpretation, while Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) faced pressure because Jared Vasquez (J.R. Ramirez) has taken up investigating what happened to the Major.
What will it mean going forward? Executive producer/showrunner Jeff Rake returns to chat with SYFY WIRE for another in-depth episode breakdown as he reveals some big "Wingman" clues as to what's coming next...
**SPOILER WARNING: This interview contains spoilers for Manifest Season 3, Episode 3, "Wingman."**
"Wingman" is digging into the idea of setting your house right, with Michaela and Zeke going back to deal with Beverly and Glen and then Grace and Tarik confronting their long-held family resentments. What are you trying to move forward in these deeply personal stories?
Those stories certainly play in parallel. Both of them are very much about the underlying themes that we hit as frequently as we can in Manifest: damage, healing, redemption. In Michaela's world, we've been telling the story of the emotional damage that she carries around every day of her life in regards to Evie, her best friend who died not long before the plane disappeared. Michaela has always felt responsible for Evie's death. We saw Michaela's early interactions with Evie's folks in Season 1, which was so, so painful.
Last season, we put them on the path of healing. And so now we're taking that to the next level where Michaela — holding Zeke's hand — metaphorically steps further down that path of healing and redemption. It all goes back to not feeling worthy, with such profound sensations of self-loathing and regret, and the desperation to have a second chance to redeem oneself. Her surprising interaction with Evie's folks, Beverly and Glen in Episode 3, is allowing her to make the hard choices as she continues her path of redemption.
And in the case of Grace (Karkanis) and Tarik (Miller), we've never talked about in the series that there's a very wide chasm here. There's a lot of guilt and regret and shame in the backstory between this brother and sister. It's a path of redemption and healing. Yes, Grace is coming to Tarik out of necessity, but she comes hat-in-hand realizing that she doesn't really have a right to knock on her brother's door because she feels that she is responsible for their damaged relationship. We're going to watch them try to unpack their damage and slowly but surely heal their own relationship. We're gonna walk them to a crisis point and we'll get their relationship to a place of understanding right when it's needed the most.
The introduction of Eagan Tehrani is fascinating because we have another passenger getting callings, but he's much better at sussing them out than Ben or Michaela. Is it better for the overall mystery that he's now in the picture?
I love this character and I love this actor. The introduction of Eagan [played by Ali Lopez-Sohail], first and foremost, reminds us that even though we tell the story of Manifest through the lens of Ben and Michaela, there are a lot of passengers out there who are experiencing their own callings every day. Eagan bluntly reminds Ben, right off the bat, "This isn't just about you, Ben. There's a lot of us out there and we've been doing just fine on our own. Thank you very much."
Not only is Eagan someone out there who has been self-sufficient and who has been figuring out callings, but he's quite excellent at them. Ben is aware of this and acknowledges this guy is better at it. So, he's a colorful character. He's an important character. This is not the last we see of Eagan. And when you ask is it for better or worse, that there's another character out there in the world who is better at the callings, I'm going to let the audience be the judge. But it's going to be very complicated because one of the things that we're slowly platforming in Season 3 of Manifest is that there are other passengers out there, they are talking with each other, they're communicating with each other, they're strategizing with each other, and they don't necessarily see things eye-to-eye with Ben and Michaela.
Fitz's daughter pleading for Jared to find who killed her mother really tightens the screws on Saanvi now. Talk about where that might be going?
Yeah, so this is a really tantalizing, slow-burn story that we'll be unpacking throughout the season. It's just like a classic cat and mouse mystery, Jared [J.R. Ramirez] conducting this investigation, and not realizing that the ultimate perpetrator is someone that he knows incredibly well is going to be delicious for the audience to watch unpack as Jared gets closer and closer to the truth.
And there are so many players in the story. At the beginning of the story, there's Saanvi and Vance who were the only ones who know the truth. For the first half of this story, it's Saanvi and Vance keeping the secret. And then the question becomes, how long does it take Michaela and Jared to find out the truth? I always try to bring these stories back to theme, even though it's a great mystery, and it's a great plot point and arena of conflict between our characters, it's all about these themes of redemption in the path toward righteousness. Saanvi is completely torn up feeling that she committed murder.
But at the same time, Catherine Fitz, the Major, is an incredibly controversial character who did terrible things to so many passengers. And of course, when Saanvi ultimately had that fatal conflict with the Major, she was trying to save Zeke's life. It's one of these stories where we ask ourselves was this an act of good or evil, or somewhere in between? If God was the umpire of this story, what would God say about this incident? That's something that we will be tugging at, not just in this season, but beyond that, as we continue to ask ourselves will the passengers live or die, but do they deserve to live or die?
You end on another great visual of what looks to be Vance getting the keys to the 828 investigation kingdom. Should we feel excited or very, very worried?
Vance returning from captivity and being handed the keys to the castle first and foremost reminds the viewers that there's been a monumental investigation going on into the mystery of 828. Not just since the plane returned, but since it disappeared. And while we've been telling the story of Manifest through the lens of Ben and Michaela and the other passengers, there's a whole other world of investigation out there.
We've met Vance and we have glimpsed his world, but we've never really stepped into that world. With Vance's returning here, he's going to walk us into that world and that'll be through Ben and Saanvi when we get to Episode 4. We're going to see the worlds collide: the world of the passengers and the world of the government investigation. They are gonna realize they need each other in order to move the investigation forward. And that's going to be a really fun and tantalizing part of the journey as we get into the middle and later parts of Season 3.