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Fan Theories That Could Change Everything In Manifest Season 4

Every once in a while, a TV show comes along that makes literally no sense but you just can't stop watching it. The plot twists are so completely bananas that you're not sure if you're watching the world's most brilliant puzzle box or if the writing has just gone completely off the rails and no one is putting a stop to it. And sometimes, it turns out to be a little of both — we're looking at you, "Lost."

NBC's "Manifest" is one of those series with its "Langoliers"-meets-"Lost"-meets-Hallmark Channel energy and oft-soapy vibes, but like Paramount's "Evil," it's presented with just enough ambiguity to make it interesting. With its many-layered clues from religious names to mythology references and engaging characters like Josh Dallas' Ben Stone, the show has garnered a loyal fanbase that only grew when it moved to Netflix after getting ditched by NBC. And much like the fated passengers of Flight 828, a force greater than all of us resurrected it when Netflix agreed to give the series a fourth Season.

With "Manifest" coming back from the grave like Al-Zuras and the magic tailfin, fans are heeding the Calling and blowing up the "Manifest" subReddit with fan theories ahead of Season 4. In the spirit of Ben's wacky evidence board, here are the biggest fan theories that could change everything in "Manifest" Season 4.

Schrödinger's cat theory: There are two realities happening at once

Advances in quantum theory have yielded some fairly trippy ideas about quantum entanglement with even trippier implications. Quantum particles, experts say, can be in two places at once, behaving in ways that seem paradoxical. The revelation has the heads of sci-fi buffs spinning with ideas about the multiverse and wondering if Quinn Mallory wasn't right after all. And there's plenty of evidence in the series to argue that just like Schrödinger's cat, maybe the 828 passengers died and lived all at the same time in some kind of bizarre quantum entanglement.

As one Redditor theorized, "Dark lightning essentially tears the fabric of spacetime and creates two realities that coexist (e.g., the plane crashed and all the passengers died, but the passengers also survived)." The show makes plenty of references to characters doing things that seem out of character, like the amnesiac Paul Santino (Kerry Malloy) in Season 1's "Crosswinds," whose wife accuses him of being abusive although he claims he would never put hands on her.

The 828ers seem to clearly remember dying in a fiery explosion even though they seem to be very much alive in the present day. In Captain Daly's simulation of the actual flight data retrieved from the government, the plane crashes every time even though he remembers flying straight through it. And eagle-eyed Redditors noticed that as Captain Daly (Frank Deal) returns at the end of Season 3, he is wearing different clothing than the Daly who flew a stolen plane into the dark lighting. If this theory holds true, there could be even more realities at play in Season 4, and possibly even some "Fringe"-style parallel universe shenanigans.

The 828ers fell into a Bermuda Triangle spacetime anomaly

Although there were plenty of hints about spacetime anomalies in the first two seasons of "Manifest," Season 3 leaned all the way into the weird dark lightning scuttlebutt with the Eureka storyline, and some fans think it all goes back to the Bermuda Triangle. One Redditor even took this fan theory a few steps further, suggesting that the series could be exploring an Edgar Cayce-inspired mythology related to the technology of Atlantis, an island lost to its own hubris. According to Cayce, the Atlanteans harnessed technology far beyond our own using quantum-level engineering with technology that included mental telepathy. Sound familiar?

A flight from Jamaica would likely pass right through the Bermuda Triangle. In "Contrails" (Season 1, Episode 11), meteorologist Roger Mencin (Bruce MacVittie) describes the 828 storm as dark lightning — "a high atmospheric discharge" releasing "lots of ionizing radiation." What if this is a Bermuda Triangle anomaly, possibly caused by pollution from the Atlantean's technological tampering?

It's easy to fall pretty far down this rabbit hole as a fan theory, and there's a reasonable amount of evidence to support the Bermuda Triangle fan theory. And in their shared vision, Grace, TJ, Ben, and Cal witnessed Flight 828 ("the silver dragon") in the sky from Al Zura's boat, implying that all of the vessels lost in the Bermuda Triangle ended up in the same spacetime anomaly. If this theory has any weight to it, there could be some pretty heavy implications for the U.S. government's technological meddling in Season 4.

Reality changes based on the actions of the 828ers

If we learned anything over the first three seasons of "Manifest," it's that the callings don't like to be ignored. Maybe, some fans speculate, that's because they're helping the 828ers shape their reality, which changes with everything they do. One Redditor theorized that "whatever caused the passengers to disappear (let's call it 'The Divine' for now) is actively altering reality based on what the passengers do."

As the passengers respond to the callings, the reality they're in changes based on their actions. The post posits, "When passengers make mistakes that 'anger' The Divine, their reality moves closer to the one in which they died." According to fans, this theory explains why the tailfin reappears in the ocean when Saanvi (Parveen Kaur) kills the Major (Elizabeth Marvel). As the lifeboat commits to following the callings more closely, reality alters to the version where the passengers lived, eventually returning Cal (Jack Messina) to his correct age.

This theory doesn't account for everything, and there are a few holes when looking at the series as a whole. For example, this theory doesn't explain the reappearance of Noah's ark or how or for what purpose the passengers were given the callings to begin with. And then there's the issue of the other Captain Daly. But if this theory does hold true, the implications for Season 4 would mean higher stakes thanks to more passenger deaths and dramatic reality shifts, making for a wild ride.

The whole thing is about time travel

It's kind of a given that there's some type of travel involved in the "Manifest" plot. The question is whether that time travel is from some divine force, some sort of freaky wormhole accident like in "Dark," or intentionally carried out by time travelers on a mission à la James Cole and the Raritan gang. And more than a few Reddit Manifesters feel that the latter may be at play. Once Eureka discovers the temporal effects can be accessed with dark lightning, Dr. Gupta (Mahira Kakkar) tells the Stones they have plans to use it (Season 3, episode 13, "Mayday: Part 2"). 

According to one Manifester, this could easily explain all of the mythological elements: "If you think about reality, all religious mythology can be explained by time travelers." The theory argues that time travelers realized their temporal hijinks were causing all sorts of mayhem from earthquakes to blizzards as well as "unintended ripple effects," presumably like people dying and living at the same time.

When you poke the time travel theory, it's hard to see how it could hold water given some of the finer points of the series. And then there's the question of who the time travelers could be and what their intentions are. Of course, there's always the outside chance that Season 4 could show Eureka harnessing the power of time travel and then using some sort of timey wimey causality loop to keep themselves from discovering the power of time travel ... only time will tell.

Angelina is Satan or a false prophet

Angelina Meyer (Holly Taylor), introduced in Season 3, is a subject of controversy among the Manifester fandom. The callings led the Stones to save her and she seemed to be on a positive path at first. But as time went by, it was clear that the trauma of her religious abuse had left its mark, and her actions became more and more needy, erratic, and eventually dangerous.

According to some Reddit Manifesters, Angelina is an incarnation of Lucifer, who fell from grace after he was kicked out of heaven. Given Angelina's connection with the infant Eden and her mother Grace (‎Athena Karkanis), many fans argue that it's all spelled out pretty clearly. Some even argue that Angelina has been sent to test the Stone family or keep them from completing the callings, thus ushering in some type of apocalyptic doomsday scenario like an Antichrist figure. One Manifester muses, "Fallen angel. False prophet. Uses faith to manipulate people. Masquerades as righteous and good, when she's actually a test to faith and will lead them down the wrong path if they don't look close enough."

Angelina's actions with Cal, Olive, Eden, and Grace all support this theory as she manipulates Cal, goes all Single White Female on Olive (Luna Blaise), nearly burns Eden alive, and kills Grace. Her name may also be a clue, as "Angelina" may refer to the "fallen angel" Lucifer and she is plagued by images of the archangel Michael, perhaps a reference to the fact that Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) will be her undoing. If this is true, Angelina's next-level villainy should be a big plot-mover in Season 4.

Older Cal is just Grace's hallucination

A lot of freaky action goes down during the "Manifest" Season 3 finale episode. But the most shocking moment happens when Cal (played by Ty Doran), who mysteriously vanished after touching the tailfin, suddenly reappears to his dying mother, Grace. The kicker? He is now the age he would have been if time had passed normally for him. Fans have examined this scene with a fine-toothed comb for details and clues as to why or what his appearance means, but there's no real consensus.

However, more than a few fans have pointed out that the scene seems more like a hallucination than a real event. As one Reddit Manifester noted, "There was an otherworldly almost illusory quality to that scene." It also seemed strange that Cal just as his mother was dying instead of arriving earlier to stop Angelina from killing her. If this fan theory is true, it could turn out to be a red herring, meaning Cal hasn't really aged at all. However, it also makes sense that Cal could be arriving from another universe or timeline just in time to comfort his mother in her final moments.

Grace sees Cal because they're both dead

One thing that isn't really up for speculation is whether Grace is truly dead thanks to spoilers from show creator Jeff Rake, who told TV Insider in no uncertain terms that Grace isn't coming back. According to Rake, Grace's death is an important plot point for Season 4, and it will be a key motivation for Ben, who will spend much of the season struggling to deal with the events of the previous season finale.

After all the Stone family has been through, many fans found Grace's death devastating. With Eden kidnapped, Grace dead, and Cal missing years of his life, the family has been completely torn apart. However, some fans have speculated that Grace sees Cal in her final moments because they are both in the afterlife. One Manifester mused, "I'm just trying to figure out if Cal is dead at the end there, and that's the reason that Grace is seeing him."

It might be easy to dismiss this theory based on the fact that Cal has aged and there doesn't seem to be an explanation for why he would come back years older if he was dead. But looking through the lens of the parallel universe theory, it might not be the Prime Universe Cal who appears to Grace at the end. If Cal is working on his afterlife trial, this theory could actually make sense.

Grace's necklace will save her

Even if there's just no getting around the fact that Grace is dead dead in the Season 3 finale, fans are still holding out hope for a miracle — if not now, then down the road. After all, this is one of those shows where people don't always stay dead and death dates are not necessarily set in stone. As one fan put it, "Grace is coming back. I don't care if whatshername signed a contract or not. Don't bet the house but bet the car she is coming back."

As Season 3 progresses, Saanvi and the Eurekans find the components of sapphire in many of the objects related to the 828ers from the Noah's ark piece to the tailfin. Somehow, they speculate, sapphire is connected to the "Divine" and seems to be left on everything that's disappeared and reappeared. While there's plenty of speculation about what it means to go around, one thing that seems clear is that things with sapphire on them sometimes end up coming back. And as one jewelry-loving Manifester pointed out, Grace wears a sapphire necklace throughout the series. Could the necklace signify her possible return down the road? If so, it could tie into Ben's eventual fall and redemption arc ending with a reunion for the Stone family.

The passengers are dead and these trials are part of the afterlife

Of all the fan theories in the "Manifest" world, there is one that seems to have the most support both in series and in the fandom community. Either the passengers died and they are going through trials to determine their fate in the afterlife or they would have died but they've been given a temporary reprieve to determine their fates. Either way, their response to the callings and whether they choose to take the light or dark path could determine their forever fates.

In "Cleared For Approach" (Season 1, Episode 13), Zeke (Matt Long) questions whether he's even alive at all, emphasizing, "A person can't freeze to death in a cave and then a year later walk out alive." Ben ominously notes, "I think the plane's trying to tell us that we died on that flight ... And now it's back ... as if it was resurrected. And I think maybe we were, too." In "Deadhead" (Season 3, Episode 2), Kory echoes this sentiment. His brother Pete answers by wondering if they've been given a second chance.

The papyrus T.J. (Garrett Wareing) sends back from Egypt (Season 3, Episode 3, "Wingman") depicts Ma'at, the goddess of justice and weigher of souls who weighs hearts of the deceased against the feather of truth on the scale of justice, and the story of the prisoners' Last Trial. After studying the papyrus, Olive concludes, "I think it's a sign that when you come back, you're being judged."

But the strongest evidence for this theory comes from show creator Jeff Rake, who told TV Insider, "Whether it's purgatory, whether it's the netherworld ... That idea of the divine taking you away, but keeping you in a holding pattern — which is probably an apt flight analogy — as your ultimate fate is determined speaks to where Captain Daly has been." If this is true, perhaps Season 4 will give viewers a glimpse of this mysterious realm.

The callings are actually evil

Although the theory that the callings are leading the 828ers down a dark path is not one of the strongest supported theories, it's certainly one of the most intriguing. And a few of the passengers certainly have their doubts about how altruistic the callings are. In "Hard Landing" (Season 1, Episode 15), Ben voices his concerns to Grace, questioning, "Everything that I've been doing has been based on the notion that there is some kind of benevolent power behind them. What if there isn't? What are we a part of?"

Later, when Grace delivers Eden, she falls at the river while following a calling, sending her into labor and effectively creating the problem that the calling would solve while putting her life and the life of her daughter at risk. A frustrated Adrian refers to the callings as "signs and wonders," referring to the Biblical passage "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24, NIV).

Over the course of the series, the callings seem to set up problems they solve and lead the 828ers to make morally questionable moves on several occasions. And it's because of a calling that the Stones bring Angelina into their fold where she ends up killing Grace and kidnapping Eden. And if the callings truly are evil, it could tie into creator Jeff Rake's suggestion that Ben will go dark in Season 4.

The passengers are agents of the apocalypse

During Season 1 of "Manifest," Ben gets aggro with anti-828er Cody Webber, who manages to stream the entire incident to his website. When Cody resurfaces in Season 3, his ex reveals that his hatred of 828ers is motivated by his belief that the real passengers died and the 828ers are heralds of a "coming war" (Season 3, Episode 10, "Compass Calibration"). Although Cody generally sucks, some fans point out that a broken clock is right twice a day, arguing that there could be something to his conspiracy theory.

And even Michaela wonders if there's something to it, at one point asking, "So then what does that make us? Angels? Prophets? I mean, if God wants us back on Earth, for what?" (Season 3, Episode 1, "Tailfin"). As one Manifester explained it, "I'm a huge fan of the bringers of the apocalypse theory. They weren't brought back to save the world as prophets — they came back to destroy it. Specifically, to destroy it 5.5 years after their return."

Despite all of the good the 828ers accomplished while following the callings, they seem to leave a trail of chaos in their wake. And the fact that many of their names have Biblical meanings could be a clue — specifically Michaela (the archangel Michael), Zeke (the end-times prophet Ezekiel), and Angelina (a possible reference to Lucifer). If that wasn't enough, it's hard to overlook the literal lake of fire that emerged from an earthquake in "Compass Calibration" (Season 3, Episode 10) along with all of the storm, blizzard, and fire imagery featured throughout the series. It's even possible that "Manifest" Season 4 could go full "Dollhouse" and usher in a Doomsday shark jump.

Michaela is the Major

Definitely one of the most contested theories in the "Manifest" universe, the Michaela-is-really-the-Major idea is still going strong long after the Major's unfortunate demise. PureWow explored this theory at length, citing the fact that both have similar interests in the callings and wear similar jewelry. Many fans have argued that they really don't look all that much alike, especially given their different eye colors and personalities.

But if a person is going to be time traveling and messing with her own past, it seems likely that she'd want to at least slap on a pair of contact lenses to help throw off curious kittens who come snooping around. And there's always the outside chance that Michaela could go dark or that the Major's motivations could have been more complicated than it seemed at the time. While this might sound like a whole lot of plot gymnastics for a questionable payoff, if true, it could lead to an interesting causality loop in Season 4.

Ben and Saanvi are destined to be a couple

There's nothing like a good old-fashioned ship to bring out strong feelings in a fandom, and a whole lot of Manifesters have been sailing the Good Ship Benvi since Season 1's "Hard Landing" (Episode 15) when Ben sat down on the floor next to Saanvi in her clinic and their chemistry was clear. While Saanvi was in a relationship with a woman before the start of the series, she is clearly put on the spot when the Major points out the good doc has feelings for Ben. And from the beginning of their time together, Ben has always treated Saanvi like a close friend or even family.

Still, some Manifesters argue that chemistry doesn't always mean magic, and this coupling would be the hot mess to end all hot messes. One fan pointed out that "Ben and Saanvi would be the most high-strung couple in the history of mankind ... they'd start hyping each other up with their obsessive ways of dealing with stuff." Another noted, "They are both super similar and obsessive." Toxic or not, if they do couple up, expect the move to be divisive among fans as many are still rooting for Grace's return or feel that it would be too contrived and obvious to pair them so soon after losing Grace.

Ben will turn to the dark side

Despite his wholesome hot dad energy, Ben Stone has always had a tendency to go off the rails ever since Season 1 of "Manifest." As many fans have noted, Ben spends an awful lot of time practicing his RBF, aggressively whipping off his glasses, and storming off to take a phone call. One Redditor mused, "I think about half his lines are 'If we don't do this, my (son, sister, family) is going to die!'"

Given his gradual escalation of general Ben-ness over the course of Season 3, it should come as no surprise that the never-working professor assaults someone and ends up in jail. His charges include battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespassing, and violation of a restraining order (Season 3, Episode 11, "Duty Free"), and those are just the things he was caught doing.

And then there's the fact that "Manifest" creator Jeff Rake has heavily hinted at Ben's decline in Season 4, teasing to TV Insider that the Stone dad will be stricken by grief over losing Grace and Eden, "trying to find a way to seek vengeance" throughout Season 4. After a fairly flat character arc for Seasons 1-3, Ben's exploration of his dark side will at the very least be a reprieve from the ad nauseam Michael from "Lost" huffing about saving his family.