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Manifest showrunner on how the final season at Netflix is the story he 'was always going to tell'

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Sep 16, 2021, 2:31 PM EDT

Last month, fans everywhere rejoiced as Netflix announced it had picked up supernatural drama series Manifest for a fourth and final season, setting the stage for an endgame on the streamer after the cliffhanger ending of Season 3. For viewers, it means eventual answers to many of the show's mysteries as the series makes the leap to streaming in the near future. For showrunner Jeff Rake, it means the chance to end the story on his own terms.

“Netflix said they want us to continue making the show we’ve been making and if they can help with some extra bells and whistles to make it more compelling and spectacular, they want to be able to support that," Rake told The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview about the show's transition. "But I think that it will still feel like the show people have fallen in love with. It’s going to be an incredibly visual 20 episodes and there’s some important [location filming] that’s always been built into the roadmap.”

Manifest began building a following upon its premiere on NBC back in 2018, and that following multiplied as the show's first two seasons made their way to Netflix. The streaming service stepped in to continue the story for Season 4, which led Rake to come up with several new possible story approaches. Manifest, he decided, could continue with a whole new season of TV, or a miniseries, or even a movie, depending on what was possible.

“I gave them the small, the medium and the large,” Rake recalled.

Then came word that Manifest will return for 20 episodes that will wrap up its various storylines, and Rake noted that some of those episodes might even have extended runtimes thanks to the flexibility of streaming. In terms of story, though, Manifest will not deviate all that much from the original plans mapped out by the writers. Rake confirmed that many of the guiding plot points are still in place, including the envisioned "Death Date" for the passengers of Flight 828 of June 2, 2024. In fact, depending on how long the show is in production, Manifest's series finale might bump up a little closer to that actual date.

“We established early on there is a death date in our mythology of June 2, 2024, when the story has a happy or a sad or a mixed ending,” Rake said. “I walked [Netflix] through a bunch of twists and turns, I’ve always had a bunch of big flags in the sand — things that would happen along the way. But the excellent news is that they’re now going to be able to see them all play out in real time, because the 20 episodes that I have been gifted allows me to take the entire roadmap that I already had planned out in front of me and overlay that over these 20 episodes. Fundamentally, I’m going to be able to continue telling the story that I was always going to tell.”

Manifest does not yet have a premiere date for its Netflix return, though much of the core cast is attached to return and the streaming is reportedly eyeing a late 2022 premiere for the first batch of Season 4 episodes.