Manifest: Why Grace's Death Was a Mistake - VRGyani News and Media

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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Manifest: Why Grace's Death Was a Mistake

Since the passengers of Manifest’s Flight 828 returned to New York City over five years after their initial departure, we have watched the Stone family undergo the trials and tribulations that have come along with their “callings” and miraculous resurrection.

Possibly the biggest element of Manifest has been Ben (Josh Dallas) working around the clock, even driving himself mad and straining his relationships at times, to solve the callings and make sure that his family is able to survive and live happily ever after when the death date comes around. But, Manifest made a decision that undermines that goal and much of the story we’ve watched unfold since the show premiered in 2018: At the end of Season 3, Grace Stone (Athena Karkanis) died, after one of the passengers stabbed her and kidnapped Ben and Grace’s toddler.

The push and pull between Ben and Grace on Manifest Season 1

When the passengers first returned home, Ben was met with the reality that while he was gone (even though it seemed that no time had passed for him), Grace had mourned his death and started seeing someone new.

When Ben started to become too fixated on finding the answers to what had happened to Flight 828, the two easily could have split up for good after Grace kicked him out of the family home. The rocky waters they were treading could have led to divorce and, while frustrating at times given how everyone was supposed to be rooting for Ben, Grace and Danny (Daniel Sunjata) did have a wonderful relationship. Ben and Grace’s oldest, Olive (Luna Blaise), and Danny also had a wonderful, makeshift father/daughter relationship that developed over those five years.

RELATED: How Netflix Saved 'Manifest' for Its Fourth and Final Season

The entire season had Ben, in many ways, fighting to win Grace back. Ben’s motivation to find answers, which caused him to become fixated and let other things slip by him, was and has always been making sure his family is able to have a long, happy life. Above all, we really saw how much Ben loved Grace through these episodes, as he was willing to do anything to win her back and show her that their marriage was worth it.

Grace’s development over Manifest Season 2

While we saw how much Ben loved Grace during Season 1, we did not see how much Grace loved Ben until Season 2. Starting the season with Grace’s pregnancy and her introduction to the callings (through the baby, confirming the paternity), was a new start for the couple. The episodes explored how deep their relationship was, and having callings of her own helped Grace to understand just how vital it was that Ben solve the mystery and protect their family. Knowing about the death date after the events of the Season 1 finale didn’t hurt either.

What really cemented their relationship as the strongest on the show was the moment at the end of the season, as Grace was having complications with her pregnancy and both lives were at risk. Going against her wishes, Ben told an unconscious Grace that he would save her over the baby. That’s how big his love for her had become, that he couldn’t live life without her. A season full of development and reconnection made this moment a no-brainer. Fans had watched their love blossom and grow, again. The Stone family was together, happy, and ready to take on whatever was coming their way and beat the death dates over their heads.

Where it all fell apart: Manifest Season 3

Post-delivery with both mother and daughter healthy and safe, the Stone family began a new chapter on Manifest Season 3. Another child motivated Ben even more (as if that were possible) to find the answers and keep his family together and safe. While Grace was no longer experiencing the callings, she was still completely tied into what was going on, also motivated by their family growing. Plus, their new baby Eden started experiencing some version of callings.

But where Season 3 differed was introducing a story for Grace outside of her husband and children. When Cal (Jack Messina) was in danger, Grace took him to her brother’s place, where they reconnected after many years and fixed their strained relationship. Unfortunately, he died directly after that, but this lit a spark in Grace.

Grace wanted to honor her side of the family, particularly her dad and brother, and decided to open a restaurant using her family’s recipes. (We never saw her get that off of the ground, though, as she had to use the money to bail Ben out of jail.) After two seasons, Grace found another purpose, one of her own, and was making progress on that. Her family was intact and happy, for the most part. Then, Angelina (Holly Taylor) stabbed her, Cal returned after being missing to the age he should’ve been if the plane hadn’t gone missing (now played by Ty Doran), and Eden was kidnapped.

To put it frankly, what was the point? Why did we spend so much time watching Ben and Grace reconnect and find their spark again? Those who weren’t on board at first had their minds changed by Grace’s story over Season 2, which required quite a bit of effort on the writers’ behalf with how unlikeable Grace could be in Season 1. Why introduce and kill Grace's brother, giving her a life-altering situation to deal with, and kill her mere episodes later?

Grace dying detracts from everything the Stone family has done to make sure, at the end of all of this, they would be together and live happily ever after. Her death means that Ben, who spent countless nights looking for connections and clues, missed out on spending so many moments with the love of his life to protect people who don’t/didn’t care to even save themselves. Additionally, why did we watch Grace connect with a long-forgotten side of herself, mourn her brother’s death (that was, ultimately, unnecessary), and plan a future just for it to be cut short in the most unsatisfactory way?

Killing Grace after everything the Stone family has faced undermines how important it was that they find a way to make it through everything together. It makes Grace and Ben reconnecting and the many episodes spent on that story pointless. All of this time could have been spent developing a relationship between Ben and someone else, maybe fan-favorite Saanvi (Parveen Kaur), and ensuring that Ben actually gets a happy ending, including romantic love, when all of this is over.

But even if Ben does find love again, it’s not going to feel like a happy ending, especially with the series' life being cut short after the NBC cancellation and final season renewal on Netflix. Ben’s true love was Grace, the show confirmed that many times. His happy ending was Grace.

Grace’s death detracts from so much of the story we’ve watched play out. The impact on the final season remains to be seen, but given how needless her death was, the outlook is not good. It’s disappointing, above all, that the end of Manifest will likely not be the Stone family truly living happily ever after, but only having survived. The callings have always come with a cost, but this isn’t one worth watching.

Manifest’s first three seasons are streaming on Netflix.

KEEP READING: 'Manifest' Will Keep Its Original Ending, Says Creator Jeff Rake



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