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ATX TV Fest 2023 Manifest Panel Review- A Perfect Example Of A Great Panel And A Beloved Series

If you have never been to ATX TV Fest in Austin, Texas, you can’t imagine television’s sheer power on its fandom. It is a TV nerd’s dream, run by and attended by diehard television obsessors. This is nirvana for those of us whose fantasy is finding a comfortable couch, a blanket, and hours upon hours of streaming content. One of the biggest draws to ATX TV Fest 2023 was the Manifest Season 4 Part 2 sneak peek, followed by cast Q and A.

Manifest Series Finale ATX TV Fest 2023
Courtesy of ATX TV Fest Photo Credit Manny Pandya

Manifest has always had a loyal and rabid fanbase. So when NBC unceremoniously dumped the series by Jeff Rake, Manifesters thought that was it for the sentimental, often philosophical, and puzzle box-heavy series. However, thanks to a surprisingly intense burst of views following its Netflix premiere, Netflix bought the property and ordered a final season. The final season would consist of twenty episodes split into two parts. This twenty-episode arc would provide closure to the story and give answers to the fans who felt cheated by its unexpected cancellation.

The front half of the finale season featured a ton of surprising and saddening developments, namely the death of fan-favorite Zeke(Matt Long). The final ten episodes dropped today on Netflix, but lucky ATX TV Fest fans got to see them a day early and listen as the fantastic cast tried to answer all our burning questions without giving away too many spoilers. What was instantly apparent is this group truly cared about each other. The show works so well because there is palpable chemistry among the large cast that feels earned.

Manifest has never shied away from its roots as a dramatic show with sci-fi elements. It is frequently a tear-jerker, and fans know Josh Dallas’ Ben Stone rarely goes an episode without crying. However, it is a kinder, gentler series that shows the worst of humanity juxtaposed with the best of us. The first episode of the Manifest Finale Season Part 2 is everything we have come to love about the series. It was quick-paced, tense, and paranoid. However, it also has that same hopeful undertone that permeates the entire series. Although none of the answers we crave were in the first episode, we got enough of a taste to know we will be satisfied.

The Q and A with the cast that followed was well received, with Josh Dallas(Ben Stone, Melissa Roxburgh(Michaela Stone, Luna Blaise(Olive Stone), J.R. Ramirez(Jared Vasquez), Parveen Kaur(Saanvi Bahl), Matt Long(Zeke Long), Daryl Edwards(Robert Vance), and Holly Taylor(Angelina Meyer) all in attendance. They graciously answered questions for forty minutes, accidentally let a few spoilers slip, and reminded us why this show has such a devoted base.

Showrunner, creator, and writer Jeff Rake was not in attendance due to the writers’ strike, but this cast clearly admires the man behind the script. They were complimentary, and Dallas assured the audience that Rake always had a plan to end the series. Ironically the Once Upon A Time star used the words “fairy tale” when describing the Netflix late save. Manifest has always shown the paranoia of a post-911 world confronted with the magical realism of time travel and philosophical life questions. This mix of spirituality, science, and governmental authority makes it so good. The entire cast admitted to plenty of tears as they read the final script. Kaur said there were ” a lot of tears.” Roxburgh explained that the whole cast went through an emotional journey, which plays out in the final ten episodes.

His appearance on the panel speaks volumes for those desperate to know if Long’s Zeke is really gone. Rake confirmed Zeke is dead, but viewers now know dead doesn’t mean gone in the world of Manifest. Those shipping a Mich and Jared reunion were given a coy answer. They both danced around the question without spoiling anything by simply saying he was there for her. A cheeky aside from Roxburgh, though, certainly indicated she and Ramirez are still going strong. That wasn’t the only love interest question from the audience. When Kaur and Dallas were asked about a possible romantic future for Ben and Saanvi, they were noticeably reserved. Kaur would only say, We do get closer”.

Angelina fans can also rest assured she gets a proper end. Taylor describes her as “on a mission” and “up to “no good.” The villain of Manifest was personable and funny in person, making her evil arc on the series that much more fun to watch. The cast does let slip she has the mother of all primal screens at some point in the finale, which is very intriguing. A comment from Blaise about one of the only scenes between Vance and Olive, combined with talk of emotionally hard choices in the end, points toward an emotional final episode and Vance becoming an even more significant part of the Stone family than he is now.

The puzzle followers who have obsessed over the symbolism of 828, an angel number, peacocks, dark lightning, and every other tiny detail were rewarded with a hint from Long, who instructed the audience to pay attention to his clothing this season. What he is wearing and why is pivotal in deciphering what happens at the end. There are plenty of threads to pull in the second part of the Manifest series finale. Ramirez explains that the audience will be rewarded with just enough answers to get closure, while Blaise says the conclusion “Closes a box and opens a box.” Blaise continues that “everyone’s story would be told.” The human element has been as crucial as the mystery, and the Manifest series finale provides heavy does of tears with thoughtfulness.

Lovers of the show and fans of feel-good TV will be pleased. The ATX TV Festival, in its twelfth season, keeps getting better. Attracting talented and generous talent as well as an exciting panelist is why the festival keeps growing. The Manifest screening and cast Q and A are just one of many reasons to put this on your must-do list. Find all our ATX TV Fest coverage here. Catch Manifest Season 4 Part 2 on Netflix right now.