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The Callings From Manifest Explained

"Manifest" is your classic drama series that seems to enjoy confusing its viewers. Right from the pilot episode, a ton of questions arise. What exactly happened to the passengers on Flight 828? Why did they travel in time five years into the future over a span of a few hours? And what are the mysterious "Callings" the survivors experience?

It seemed like things were destined to remain in the dark when NBC announced it canceled the show after the Season 3 finale. It would've been utter terror to leave the series in a state of limbo, but luckily, Netflix has come to the rescue, renewing the series for a fourth and final season. It gives the creators behind the show a chance to tie up all loose ends and allow them to provide the clear-cut answers to all of those questions ... hopefully. You never know, the show could pull a "Lost" and bring up more questions than answers with its finale.

At the very least, the show should provide an explanation to the Callings. These are the visions the people on the 828 flight experience. It's a glimpse into the future, often with a vague message about what they're supposed to do to help out other people. Is it a message from God? Or demons? Here's what you need to know.

What usually happens when someone gets a Calling?

There are about 20 people on "Manifest" who receive Callings. The plot device materialized in the first episode, with the most prominent example occurring when Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) and Ben (Josh Dallas) walk by a house when the voice tells them, "Set them free." Initially, they believe this is in reference to two dogs they see on the property. They set the dogs free, but the message continues. It's only later that they learn the house actually harbored two kidnapped girls in the basement, and the voice was telling them to release them.

It's a good showcase for how the Callings are treated. The person experiencing one receives a vague message, either a vision or a brief sentence. Most of the time, the Calling is misinterpreted at first. The person goes to a location or tries to help, but whatever they performed doesn't work. They must look deeper, and only after reflection, they realize what the Calling is actually telling them to do. 

For this reason, the Callings appear to have a sadistic sense of humor. Whoever is responsible for them actively wants the 828 passengers to go through trials and tribulations to answer the riddles. It can be annoying, but throughout the three seasons so far, the characters have grown through their experiences.

What are some theories for the origin of the Callings?

The show has kept the Callings somewhat cryptic up until this point. There are still no hard and fast rules about what they are or who has sent them. But in the absence of explanations, fan theories will always arise to take their place, and many of them have shown up to provide reasoning for these visions.

All you have to do is look over on Reddit for a plethora of speculation. One user writes about how even though the Callings make the 828 passengers perform good, it's actually a malevolent entity. It's merely trying to get the people to obey its commands, believing that whatever they do will lead to some net positive good. However, it's just priming them for some nefarious end, and this prospect has come up in the show with some of the characters speculating on the true nature of the source of the Callings.

Other theories you'll find across the internet include the Callings coming from future versions of the characters who receive them. They're sending messages to their past selves to help others in the present. There's also the belief the Callings come from some source attempting to prevent the apocalypse. Many of the people aided by the Callings have special skills, so they could all play an instrumental role in preventing the end of days. None of these have been confirmed as of the end of Season 3, so we'll have to wait to see if any of them pan out or if something completely different has been at play this entire time.