"Manifest" Will Take a Dark Turn in Season Two

NBC's hit series "Manifest" left fans on the edge of their seats with the many revelations and cliffhangers of the season one finale. Following the dissolution of Grace and Ben's marriage, it was revealed that Grace was pregnant but believed that Ben wasn't the father. Athena Karkanis shares that the paternity of Grace's baby will be revealed immediately when season two premieres.

"It's a direct pick-up from season one but pretty quickly we skip ahead. We learn in that first episode who the dad is. Obviously I'm not going to divulge that now but the way we learn it is really interesting and surprising. Even I was surprised when I read it."

Parveen Kaur says that her character Saanvi Bahl is still depressed. "She [has] her PTSD. She's still recovering from when she went through, in episode fourteen of season one, where she's held hostage and has a gun pointed at her face. The last couple of episodes of season one she just was really at a breaking point. That's where we pick up with Saanvi. We'll see in season two, she'll go to any lengths to figure it out and if that manifests in her doing some really questionable things, she's about it."

As the series is heavily interwoven with mystery and suspense, the stars are reluctant to spoil much about what's to come, but Karkanis is quick to express her admiration for the character direction and material Kaur has been able to play this season. "It's very cool where Saanvi's character is going. I texted her the other day to tell her how cool it is."

Kaur also teases a shift in tone for season two. "It's definitely darker, it's a lot darker this season."

"The first season was really about managing relationships and how this crazy event has thrown everyone into a tailspin as far as relationships and everyone recovering from that," says Karkanis. "Season two is really about the death date and I would say that's the overarching thing and really trying to overcome that and try to beat it, to beat death."

Full interview with Athena Karkanis and Parveen Kaur:

The Stone family has had more drama to deal with than a fractured marriage and unplanned pregnancy. After father Ben and son Cal were reunited with Grace and Olive after disappearing for five years, Cal was revealed to be having more extreme Callings than the other flight passengers. Actors Luna Blaise and Jack Messina portray Olive and Cal Stone and promise that this season holds more drama and heartbreak as the many mysteries of the show begin to be revealed more.

"At the start of this season, Olive has made a change to herself," says Blaise. "She is going down a downward spiral in all of season two. She is not in the right place at all which is great as an actress but for her, I feel bad. I feel for her. That's what Olive is going through. She's rebelling and twisted."

"Cal at the beginning of the season is the same ordinary kid but later in the season he starts taking callings more seriously and starts doing it with Ben and everyone else," says Messina.

"Kind of the whole family, except me," adds Blaise. "Cal is really going down his path, and becoming more of his own person."

These Callings consist of different visions that often send Cal off on different self-imposed missions to find people or information, with his parents and loved ones left to track him down afterwards to make sure no harm has come to him. When asked about the preparations for shooting these Calling scenes, Messina says he doesn't usually get to see any storyboards or footage of what it is that he's supposed to be seeing. "I just read episode 2.09 and for the first time in a long time, we [got] to see what he's actually seeing in the Calling."

Blaise also had the added layer to her story of having to play out the conflicted emotions of being caught between two father figures, as her mother began seeing a man named Danny whom she grew close to while her father was gone and believed to be dead. "Danny, he was someone who was in Olive's life before. That's someone who's still in her life. We will see where that goes but right now her main priority is mending that relationship with her dad."

Full interview with Luna Blaise and Jack Messina:

Jared Vasquez and Zeke Landon were part of one of the show's most dramatic cliffhangers, as a confrontation between the two had turned violent and escalated to the point of wrestling over a gun which goes off right when Michaela had returned to the apartment in which they were fighting. This will-they, won't-they love triangle may have turned deadly according to actors J. R. Ramirez and Matt Long, who are coy when asked about the outcome of this confrontation.

"There are some answers though," says Long. "The first episode picks up immediately after the last episode of the finale so you find out immediately where the bullet went and the aftermath of that. As the season progresses there are other questions we're trying to figure out, series long things, but other things the characters are trying to find answers to."

Ramirez holds a deep appreciation for the show's fantastical premise and sometimes dense material. "For me, I just think they've done such an amazing job with being able to create these diverse characters that are in these unimaginable circumstances. Everyone moves on after five and a half years, that's a long time. You're forced to have to live this new life that looks exactly the same but five years have passed, everyone's moved on. For my character, I had a hard time grounding him. He's a hard worker, he has a huge heart, but at the end of the day, he's not a cheater but he did. He after a long time fell in love with her best friend because of course it had to be her best friend, as it would in any scripted television show, and then she comes back and he has to live this new normal with seeing her every day. It's very rich and beautifully put together."

"I think I've been lucky in that regard," adds Long. "Zeke's had a lot of personal story. He's had a lot of back story, things that are compelling to me as an actor. I haven't had to play these big, huge abstract ideas as much. It's been more about personal connection and Zeke's history, his family, you'll see some more people in the second season as well. It's been more tangible for me to be able to play in a scene. It hasn't been as many big, abstract ideas as it has for other characters."

Full interview with J. R. Ramirez and Matt Long:

The Stone siblings, Michaela and Ben, have been central to the "Manifest" story from the very beginning. Not only are they intertwined in some of the biggest cliffhangers tying the first two seasons together, they also have a unique bond that is wholly unique to the other relationships on the show.

"There's that thing in real life called trauma bonding," says Melissa Roxburgh. "Despite them already having a history of life together, no one else understands and they have to lean into each other more because of that."

"It's unique," adds Josh Dallas. "There are other passengers who share the Calling but we're brother and sister so we have a history that's before that that's so deep and so complete and just in our bodies already as characters. It's a different kind of understanding than the rest of the passengers so we can really understand each other. We can be there for each other as support but we can also fly at each other and be angry at each other and we can be raw with each other and be true with each other because at the end of the day, we're the only ones that are gonna tell each other the truth. That's an important component to them."

Michaela was in the room with Jared and Zeke when the gun went off and the aftermath of this cliffhanger will have a lasting effect, according to Roxburgh. "In that room, one of three people got shot and whomever did get shot, the other two have to deal with the consequences of that. That's a huge part of the first couple episodes and moving into the rest of the season, that whole death date thing we've been talking about, that's a huge thing knowing that you have a certain most of left to live, what are your choices, what's important to you, do you try to stop it the way Ben approaches it or do you just lean into it and accept the time you have or do you go back and forth and thrown your hands up in the air?"

"As we open up the season with Ben," begins Dallas, "of course Grace is pregnant, there's this death date that he just discovered and the baby might not be his. There's a lot happening just within that. The answer to the baby will come very quickly. It will come in a way that is very unexpected and exciting. He's dealing with this death date and for him at the very beginning and throughout most of the first part of the season, it's about saving and preserving the things that he holds near and dear to him. He's gonna start making, because he's a practical man, he's gonna start making preparations for that death. He's gonna start doing things for himself, for his family, that for the event of that death will be there. But, he's also not going to fully accept it because he's Ben Stone. He's gonna go on this journey with Melissa and Saanvi too of trying to figure out a way to stop it, to stop the death date and find an answer to that mystery."

"Mich and Ben both continue to be each other's sounding boards," says Roxburgh. "Usually when one's on this page, the other's on that page. They balance each other out. When Ben does go full force trying to fix it, Michaela is the one to be like 'Hey, take your time, you only have this time,' and vice versa, Ben goes, 'Maybe that is what it is.' They usually have a way of balancing each other out."

Dallas adds that the Callings will also get more intense. "Once we get to [episode] seven, there are some major things that happen that change the way that particularly Ben looks at things. The Callings are different each time and demand something different from these characters and they're teaching something different to these characters. It's just intense all around."

Full interview with Melissa Roxburgh and Josh Dallas:

With any promotional gathering for a new television series or season, it's essential to speak with any producers/writers in attendance, given how strict the orders tend to be for actors to not spoil things that are coming up. Typically, producers tend to offer more information about the larger trajectory of a show's plot and character journeys.

"Manifest" creator and executive producer Jeff Rake has had a six-year/season plan for the show from the very beginning. He keeps track of the many moving plot points for the entire creative vision as well as a more detailed outline when beginning a new season.

"I have everything mapped out on a board just like that. I have my six year plan which I've always had, and then at the beginning of every season my writers and I spend two weeks in the room creating literally that board. In Hollywood, California, there is a conference room with literally that board, the thirteen-episode grid, vertical axis with all the characters, horizontal axis by episode, that is completely filled in and that is our Bible for season two."

This efficiency and organisation for conceiving of and planning the stories is evident when Rake goes on to share what's to come in season two.

"At the end of season one, we had a couple of different cliff-hangers. The most fundamental one is this mythological card-turn about this death-date. The plane had been missing for five and a half years and we discovered in the season one finale that the passengers may only have five and a half years to live. The exact amount of time they've been gone, that's how much time they've got. Why? What does that mean? Season two among other things will focus on the idea of this death date. That will drive story for us in two different ways. Number one, from a place of mystery and mythology. Primarily the characters of Ben, Michaela, and Saanvi are on the case. They're on the death date case trying to figure out if it's a real thing and if this is a real thing is there any way to undo that death date. Ben and Michaela from a place of the mythological, they're kind of exploring these voices and visions. What do they mean? Is there anything about these callings that they experience that connect them to the death date? Are these all puzzle pieces that can be put together? At the end of season one, they put some puzzle pieces together with the help of Olive to help them understand the death date. Now in season two, Ben, Michaela, Olive and others are gonna be putting more puzzle pieces together to try to understand if there's a work-around for the death date and by the end of season two, they may just come to discover that there may be a way around this and what they learn specifically is gonna drive season three.
The other side of the equation is emotional. When you learn you have a death date, in the real world a lot of people do learn that they have a death date, that's a real emotional driver. You know you have a finite amount of time to live, what do you do with those choices? A lot of the story-telling in season two from the emotional side of the show, relationships, love, romance, choices made, second chances, is very much driven by that death date."

Full interview with Jeff Rake:


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