Symbolism in popular art and written narratives is one of the most common tropes that writers use to subtly — or, sometimes, not-so-subtly — convey meaning to audiences and add depth to their stories; the recently canceled "Manifest" is no exception. There are several elements which could be arguably symbolic within the show, as seen throughout its three seasons on air. The number of the mysterious flight which disappeared for five years — Flight 828 — is one of those symbolic elements.
There are several instances of this magic number — in whole, or in part — sprinkled throughout the show. But what does the number 828 really mean? How are the writers using it to convey a specific, meaningful hint about the overarching plot of the show? If you're curious for an answer, you've come to the right place. There's a religious interpretation of the fateful flight number and what it suggests allows for even more interesting theories.
828 is a direct reference to a specific bible verse
As first pointed out by Bustle, the number "828" can be read as 8:28, which could indicate Romans 8:28, a bible verse of particular relevance to the plot of the show. There are dozens of different English translations from scores of different versions of the Bible, but one translation in particular seems to be the most widely agreed upon: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Once you know the wording of the verse, the symbolism becomes about as subtle as a sledgehammer. The passengers of flight 828 are being "called" according to God's purpose, which is to selflessly help others — a very important tenant of true Christianity. And the writers want you to connect these dots, too. If not, they wouldn't have gone to all the trouble of showing Michaela's (Melissa Roxburgh) mother's custom-made pillow with the verse embroidered on it.
Given all of this knowledge, it's hard to argue that it's just a coincidence that the numbers "828" are so heavily incorporated into the show. But is that the only bit of symbolism connecting the show to the Christian religion?
The entire show could be interpreted as an allegory for Jesus Christ
Taking the theory a step further, one of the most famous covenants between God and his worshipers is the promise of eternal life: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand." That verse is from John 10:27-28, which features two thirds of the magic number at the end. Again, it's a verse which talks about people who worship God and listen to his voice — or "calling" — living beyond death. This is uncannily similar to how certain characters in the show who fulfill their callings live past their "death date," and people who fail to fulfill their callings mysteriously die instead.
One character in particular embodies this phenomenon: not only does Matt Long's "Manifest" character Zeke Landon manage to survive his death date by fulfilling his calling, he sacrifices his own life in the process — just like how Jesus is said to have sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind. And, like Jesus, Zeke was brought back from the dead after fulfilling his calling.
Of course, this isn't the only "Manifest" theory out there.
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