A Case of the…. The 4400

I’ve been meaning to write about the first few episodes of The 4400 since the premiere, but have been positively swamped with freelance related work. I also want to encourage everybody to read my interview with Jenni Baird, who plays new series regular Meghan Doyle. The interview was a real pleasure, and Jenni was exceptionally personable and friendly. I enjoyed talking to her, and I think the interview came out really well. Definitely a worthwhile read.

A couple of months ago I read an interview with one of the creators of Lost, where he refuted the way Heroes so readily gives viewers answers to probing questions, basically saying (and I’m paraphrasing here), “what will the show do in two or three seasons from now when there are no questions left?” I’m not sure that’s necessarily a fair thing to say, though. Lost’s mysteries are, seemingly anyway, much more linear than that of Heroes. In other words, if Lost answers all of its “big questions,” there’s no show left. Heroes has the potential of answering “big questions,” and simply asking new ones next season.

I believe The 4400 is much the same way. If The 4400 took the Lost model, it probably would have milked the “they were taken by aliens” angle for three seasons, before giving the true answer, that they were abducted by the future, a season or two later. Instead, The 4400 manages to answer these big questions, only to take the show into a different direction the next season, and I think they do this in a phenomenal manner.

Season one was mostly centered on the returnees and where exactly they returned from. It also explored the way the returnees reacted to their newfound abilities. The theme of the second season was more about how these returnees are supposed to save the future, and began the war between the government and the 4400. Season three furthered that war, and with the lack of a promicin inhibitor, allowed all of the returnees to develop their powers.

This season has taken a very interesting exploration of the use of promicin, basically treating it like a combination of a drug and a national threat. In turn, Jordan Collier has become a major polarizing figure, being a messiah to some, and public enemy #1 to others. What’s interesting, though, those you’d think might worship Jordan are now against him (like Shawn), while others that you’d assume would oppose Jordan are now working with him (like Isabelle).

The lines are certainly blurred, and what adds to it is the fact that neither side is being solidly portrayed as the “good guys” or “bad guys.” Even in this past week’s episode, Jordan was very clear that he didn’t want to force the promicin injection upon anybody. In last season’s finale, he was also very clear that he wanted to make sure that anybody who took the shot knew what risk they were taken. And he wasn’t doing it for financial gain, as he wanted them given away for free. Also, in an instant where somebody who developed abilities became a threat, he neutralized him.

At the same time, Jordan’s “opposition,” namely NTAC and the government as a whole, are by no means “bad.” Tom and Diana remain, for lack of a better term, the moral center of the show. They want to protect the ones they love (Kyle, Shawn, Maia, and April so far), even when it can put them in a professionally compromising position. Even Meghan took that risk with her father. Shawn, who is looking to get elected to a government position, wants to fight the good fight, uniting 4400 with ordinary people without the 50/50 risk of death.

I really don’t know where they’re going to this season, as far as a climatic battle. Last year it was, to an extent, Jordan vs. Isabelle. The year before, the 4400 vs. the government. Will it be Jordan’s followers vs. the government? That would be interesting, since beloved characters would be fighting on each side.

I’m going to try to make it a point to write more frequently on this show, as it truly is one of the best on television. They’ve made some great additions to the show, adding Billy Campbell, Chad Faust (Kyle), and Jenni Baird as regulars. And their finales always deliver, BIG TIME. Count me very excited about this season.