NBC's 'Lost'-Like Drama 'Manifest' Will Explore Science vs. Faith

Following its world premiere at San Diego Comic-Con, the series creator and stars previewed NBC's new fall drama.
Courtesy of NBC

NBC’s ambitious drama Manifest doesn't premiere until Sept. 24, but series creator Jeff Rake already knows how he plans to end his Lost-like drama.

“In 2018, the [network] buyers want to know that you know where you’re going,” Rake said during the show’s Comic-Con debut. “They want to know that there’s an endgame. So I walked them through to the end of the series in broad strokes.”

Manifest follows the passengers aboard Montego Air Flight 828, whose routine flight is more complex than they could have ever imagined: though a few hours have passed for those in the air, when they land, they discover they were missing for more than five years. And when the survivors of the experience start hearing voices, it becomes clear there’s more going on than even they know.

Although Rake has many of the answers planned, the stars of Manifest admit they don’t want to know what’s going on. “It’s better for me on this particular project for me to not know and discover along with fans,” said Josh Dallas, who noted that he doesn’t want to be ahead of his character, Ben. Co-star Melissa Roxburgh (Michaela) admitted she asked Rake for answers, but would immediately clarify she didn’t really want them.

Dallas, fresh off a six-season run on ABC's Once Upon a Time, acknowledged the differences between himself and his character was one of the big draws to the show. “Ben, his mind works very differently than mine, which I found intriguing,” Dallas said. “I’m a spiritual guy, I believe in the universe; Ben is a mathematician and scientific. I found that to be intriguing and interesting. He likes to be the smartest guy in the room.”

Like ABC’s Lost before it — which featured a plane crash as the catalyst for its central mystery — Manifest will dig into the question of science versus faith as the overarching mystery deepens. “It’s a huge thrust of the show,” Rake said. “Ben is inspired by Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters. Michaela is a lapsed person of faith. She believes all of this might connect to a higher calling. It’ll be one of our series mythology questions.”

But Ben and Michaela won’t be the only ones experiencing the strange happenings. “There’s 191 people who are on that plane," Rake teased. "So we have a lot of stories to tell.”