Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff. The mystery of Manifest only deepened during the show's virtual panel for WonderCon@Home Saturday afternoon. NBC gave fans a special sneak peek at Season 3 with the opening minutes of the first episode, where Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) heads to Havana, Cuba to track down a boat named the San Antonio (fittingly the patron saint of missing objects). While Ben finds the vessel, more questions arise when he experiences another Calling.
"I would say that Season 2 is about understanding and embarking on a path towards redemption. Season 3 is about understanding that redemption is much more interconnected than any of us realize," showrunner/executive producer Jeff Rake explained during the Q&A portion. "That idea of interconnectedness continues to play a big part in our storytelling in literal real ways and in metaphorical, thematic ways. What the viewers will come to discover in Season 3 is that idea of interconnectedness and that the path to redemption might not just be about personal choices that we make as individuals, but about the choices we all make as a community. [It] comes to impact all of our heroes in a very real, profound, and important way."
That motif is directly tied to the Callings, which will "continue to evolve even further," Rake said. "One of the most significant evolutions of the Callings that continues to play in Season 3 is they've evolved to the extent that there's often interactivity between two different people who might be in a Calling together. They can communicate for a short period of time together while they're co-existing a Calling and that ends up being a driver for a lot of story throughout Season 3. Ultimately, by the time that we get to the end of the season ... in the last two episodes of the season, there's going to be a two-parter and that'll be threaded with a Calling that will...let's just call it a homicide investigation of a Calling that will send Michaela [played by Melissa Roxburgh] and others on a journey to very startling results."
He continued: "While the Callings in the past of Season 1 and 2 have been blips that we would pop in and pop out of, we incrementally start spending more time and experiencing more and interacting with each other emotionally inside a Calling. So, there's greater fluidity as they become interwoven more into the fabric of our episodes. Lots of surprises in the Callings this season."
Watch the full panel below (the sneak peek begins at 9:48):
When moderator Matt Mitovich (TVLine's Editor-in-Chief) joked that the passengers who returned are all robots, Rake said he's "not gonna rule it out." The answer still remains elusive and when an airplane tail fin unexplainably re-appears at the start of the third season, it "makes the whole world start to question: 'Who are these people who returned? Are they even people? And what does it mean for this whole phenomenon?'
The showrunner went on to tease a big mid-season climax that takes place in Episode 6. "I can tell you that every character on the screen is impacted by the events that we build up to at the halfway point and that's gonna turn everything upside down," he continued. "Not just for the season, but it's gonna turn everything upside down for the rest of the series."
Season 3 of Manifest lands on NBC Thursday, April 1 at 8 p.m. EST.
(NBC & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal)