Josh Dallas on bringing ‘Manifest’ to a proper end: ‘I was a wreck’

“I did find the ending surprising, but perfect,” the actor says of the Death Date reveal.

Nick Romano

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the final episodes of Manifest.

The cast of Manifest — including Josh Dallas, Melissa Roxburgh, J.R. Ramirez, and Parveen Kaur — gathered with showrunner Jeff Rake for a table read of the series finale, the proper closer for the resurrected drama. Netflix filmed what transpired that day and will likely release it at a later date. But Dallas is reluctant to show that footage.

“I was a wreck. I was an absolute wreck. Like that real low-gut, ugly cry kind of wreck all the way through it,” the actor tells EW over the phone the week that Manifest‘s final 10 episodes drop on Netflix. “It was just layered with so much. It was layered with the end of this story, the characters’ end, and the real-life actors and crew, that family we’ve built over five years coming to an end in some ways. It was super emotional, not only doing that read-through, but filming the final episode. It was just supercharged.”

Fans of Manifest have been waiting for this conclusion ever since their fervent online campaign to save the series from NBC’s cancellation bore fruit when Netflix swooped in and greenlit one last season. And in true Manifest style, a lot went down. If you don’t watch the show, what follows may sound like the babbling of a madman. For the rest of us, it makes sense.

MANIFEST SEASON 04. Josh Dallas as Ben Stone in Manifest Season 04. Cr. Netflix © 2022

Josh Dallas as Ben Stone on ‘Manifest’

| Credit: Netflix

The Death Date has arrived, and all the 828-ers gather at the site where Saanvi (Kaur) threw the piece of Noah’s Ark into the lava. The actual Montego Airways airplane rises up from the ground in a fiery explosion, and then everyone gets onboard for their final judgments. A runway of magma materializes before them, and they take off into the sky, where they face death itself. Those who haven’t proven themselves, including Ms. “I’m an archangel chosen by God” Angelina (Holly Taylor), burst into ash for their sins. Everyone else on the proverbial lifeboat bands together and manages to stop the apocalypse by literally screaming at the angel of death.

The group then decides to fly the airplane directly into the celestial cloud of light in the sky, the same divine entity that started this whole drama. Once inside it, they open the cabin door and walk outside. They find themselves back in 2013, at the New York airport where they were originally supposed to land. Ben’s (Dallas) wife Grace (Athena Karkanis) and his mother are still alive, Jared (Ramirez) is waiting for Michaela (Roxburgh), actor Jack Messina returns as young Cal, and Saanvi’s girlfriend is there to apologize for not going to Jamaica with her.

The 828-ers exhibit small signs that they actually went through something together. Saanvi still has a gunshot wound from Angelina’s final attack, and Ben still has the dragon figurine. Beyond that, it’s as if nothing happened — the airplane never mysteriously vanished midair in 2013, it never miraculously reappeared five years later, there was no sapphire business, no callings.

“I did find the ending surprising, but perfect,” Dallas says. “I had different theories throughout, just like everybody else had. Was it the government? Is it time travel? Is it the divine? Is it string theory? Is it a black hole? Of course, I think the closer we were getting to the end, the more and more I was realizing it was going to be what it ended up being. I think it’s perfect and beautiful.”

In fact, the actor doesn’t see the Manifest ending as an ending at all. To him, it feels like a new beginning, because it is for these characters. “It does answer those big questions, but it doesn’t answer everything,” Dallas says. “I don’t think it needs to, because I think it’s ultimately more about the humanity of these people and the world, and how it’s all about what you do with your time and how you spend it and what your actions are. They get the greatest gift: a second chance with the knowledge of what they’ve just been through.”

MANIFEST SEASON 04. (L to R) Josh Dallas as Ben Stone and Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone in Manifest Season 04. Cr. Peter Kramer/Netflix © 2022

Josh Dallas’ Ben Stone and Melissa Roxburgh’s Michaela Stone in the final season of ‘Manifest’

| Credit: Peter Kramer/Netflix

Dallas’ own journey on Manifest began and ended with his onscreen wife, Grace. The first scene he shot for the show was with Karkanis, and his last scene depicted the actress’ surprise return when Ben and Grace are at the baggage claim. He ponders Ben’s fate, how he’s grown, and, more important, how he would do things differently with this second chance.

“I think his whole journey has been about going from skeptic to believer,” Dallas says. “He has also struggled with, how does he lead? Why is he leading? And I think that’s compounded by an identity crisis. Is he really doing it for the entire lifeboat, or is he doing it for just his lifeboat? How does he pivot into doing this for the bigger lifeboat? One of the biggest moments that really pushes him to evolve doesn’t come until the end, until he has that gun pointed at Angelina.”

In an earlier scene, Angelina makes her final stand as the 828-ers board the lava-plane. Ben has an opportunity to kill her for everything she’s done, but instead he forgives her and carries her aboard the craft. “She forces him to do that and teaches him to do that, because I think heroes and villains come from the same place, and that’s always about some kind of pain,” Dallas says. “Villains choose, whether it’s conscious or subconscious, to take that pain and say, ‘I’m gonna make sure everyone else feels it and knows about this pain.’ Heroes work their hardest to make sure that nobody else feels the pain they went through. And it’s in that moment that [Ben] fully evolved.”

The final season of Manifest is streaming now on Netflix.

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