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Manifest creator teases Netflix final season: ‘The endgame won’t change’

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Aug 31, 2021, 7:50 PM EDT

Manifest is boarding Netflix for a jumbo-sized fourth and final season with a 20-episode trip that gives the series plenty of clearance as it taxis toward the landing strip. Originally envisioned to fly for six seasons, the first three (which debuted on NBC) that we’ve gotten so far have turned out to be a huge streaming hit. But with new mysteries still taking flight, will one big final batch be enough for a safe, fan-pleasing touchdown?

Rest easy, says series creator Jeff Rake, who recently told Entertainment Weekly he has absolutely no pre-flight jitters about unraveling every tangled thread over the course of a single upsized final season.

“The good news is I am absolutely confident that 20 episodes gives me enough time to tell the entirety of the story as I always intended to,” said Rake, revealing that the Manifest writers’ room is set to open again this week.

“When I've talked in the past about having a roadmap all the way to the end of series, that didn't mean that I had a roadmap for literally every single episode,” he added. “I have a roadmap with a series of twists and turns and flags in the sand that we would ultimately hit in order to tell the the core stories within our mythology and within our relationship drama. So it will not be a particularly difficult exercise to overlay that same exact roadmap onto 20 episodes. It will be quite organic.”

Rake said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about reassembling the show’s key cast — which includes Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Parveen Kaur, Luna Blaise, Jack Messina, and Matt Long — as the engines start firing on Season 4. But what about all the seemingly supernatural drama? The mystery of the passengers’ five-year time gap only deepened in Season 3, as some characters began to feel the spiritual force of otherworldly new “callings.”

“The endgame won't change at all,” assured Rake, pointing out that all those mysteries were already planned into the show. Faith, he said, is “an underlying theme of the entire series…It is all connected! Not to get overly spiritual on you, but we have really been feeling that the universe is looking out for us.”

Though it’s early days to try to chart a Netflix premiere date, or even to spell out whether all 20 episodes will take off at once or be released in smaller batches, the good news is that things seem to be happening fast. The goal, said Rake, is to begin production on Season 4 “this calendar year” in the hope of having the entire Manifest crew back on set no later than December.

Catch the first three seasons of Manifest now at Netflix, Hulu, and Peacock.