August 18, 2022

It’s hard not to get sucked into television shows that use disappearing aircraft as a plot device. From Lost to The Event to Departure, similar high-concept shows come with a built-in sense of mystery and intrigue, not to mention the juicy dramatic question of: Where did the plane go?

Manifest is the latest in network TV’s roster of planes-gone-missing dramas. The series begins when Montego Air Flight 828 takes an ordinary trip from Jamaica to New York City. The plane experiences a period of turbulence but is able to land safely in New York. For the plane’s crew and 191 passengers, the flight has landed right on time. But upon touching down, they’re told what seems to be impossible: over five years have passed since the plane took off. Not only that, but the passengers were presumed dead after Flight 828 went missing.

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Passengers Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) and his sister Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) have an understandably difficult time coming to terms with this news — especially since their families have moved on with their lives over the past five years. Parents have died, Ben’s wife, Grace (Athena Karkanis), has a new partner, and twin siblings Cal (Jack Messina) and Olive (Luna Blaise) are having a particularly hard time reconnecting. The result is a series grounded in character development, and Manifest does a great job portraying the tension, heartbreak and joy that follows the Stones in the aftermath of 828’s return.


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But if that wasn’t enough to keep them busy as they try to unravel the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of 828, Ben, Michaela and the rest of the passengers begin experiencing what they deem “callings”: auditory and visual premonitions. But are the callings helpful, or do they pose a greater threat than they realize? While we wait for Netflix’s anticipated fourth (and final) season of the show, let’s take a deep dive into the importance of the callings — what they mean, who has them, and the dangers that can occur if they’re ignored.

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How do the callings work?

The callings usually come in the form of brief sights or sounds of events that haven’t happened yet. Sometimes the passengers will all receive the same calling like a psychic link, while other times some passengers will receive different transmissions or be left out completely. Physical effects of a calling can include headaches, nausea, and disorientation. While the callings have a clear purpose — to do something, find someone, or complete a particular task — they are rarely clear in their directions; rather, they’re fragmentary with small visual glimpses (sometimes a person, sometimes a place or thing) or snippets of dialogue that the person experiencing the calling has to interpret and piece together like a puzzle.


The callings usually end up leading to a positive result, like saving the life of a fellow 828 passenger, but can also lead to tragedy like the death of Harvey Stein (Rich Topol). For this reason, it’s still uncertain if the callings’ intentions are purely benevolent, or if there’s a darker purpose behind the mysterious visions.


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Who has the callings?

The passengers of 828, especially those who saw the plane explode after they disembarked, are prone to experiencing the callings. Ben, Michaela, Cal, and Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) are the characters who seem to experience the most callings, but it seems as if each of the passengers receive them. Some choose to follow where the callings lead, some ignore them completely, and others believe thats the callings are a sign that they are slowly going insane.


However, other Manifest characters have also been prone to receiving the callings even if they weren’t on the plane. Zeke Landon (Matt Long) began experiencing them after he also experienced a time slip, while Grace started having them after becoming pregnant with Eden following Ben’s return. Whatever happens to be the driving force behind the callings seems to have an agenda of its own that’s not completely dependent on the passengers of flight 828.


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What happens if you ignore the callings?

While the callings tend to skew toward benevolence, tragedy can occur if the callings are ignored. This is primarily seen in what Ben and Michaela begin referring to as a “Death Date” — the day that each of the 828 passengers will die. The mysterious disappearance and return of flight 828 leads the Stones to speculate that they actually died on the flight and were resurrected.


The plane was gone for five and a half years, which makes them believe that their deaths will occur five and a half years in the future — June 2, 2024. As individuals draw closer to their death date, they begin experiencing symptoms of their original deaths. If the callings are heeded (like Zeke did by saving Cal’s life after he fell into a frozen lake), it seems possible to avoid the Death Date entirely. However, if the callings are ignored (like Jace, who tried to kill Cal), the callings seem to have no problem collecting the lives they’re owed.

It still remains to be seen if the callings have a set moral compass, or if it varies on a case-by-case basis. We’ll have to wait until the fourth and final season airs on Netflix to find out. The series finale is scheduled to air this year, though no date has been announced.


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