The 4400, Season 4

the_4400At the end of season three of The 4400, Jordan Collier had returned and set himself up as a true messiah figure, going from L. Rocketeer Hubbard to Rocketeer Jesus (he’s played by Billy Campbell, so I couldn’t resist), and has started using his people to distribute promicin, the enzyme that causes people to get powers, to the world.  It’s got a 50/50 survival rate, so it’s inherently dangerous and therefore our government agent protagonists want to stop people from taking it.  Of course, they have personal problems that compound it–Diana’s sister April has it as does Tom’s son Kyle.

April gets a “power spotlight episode” once during the season, as Natasha Gregson-Wagner returns for a guest spot and then is shuffled off to “work for the government” after Diana helps April out of a jam (April’s powers are that of seduction and persuasion and she has been using them to con people, which gets her in trouble).  Kyle, on the other hand, becomes a central character, as he takes Shawn’s place aside Rocketeer Jesus, going full cult member because a woman he keeps seeing named Cassie who tells him what is going to happen (her name is Cassandra … get it?), which is his 4400 power.  So he finds this book of prophecy and declares himself Rocketeer Jesus’ “shaman” … it’s a lot.  And it would be much more interesting if Chad Faust’s line delivery wasn’t so dazed half the time.  Granted, nobody’s putting on an Emmy-winning performance here, but I found myself annoyed by Kyle as the season went on and I don’t think that was entirely the intention of the show’s producers.

Isabelle was a lot better this season.  In season three, she was written as a “child in a woman’s body” who was impulsive and then had great power that led to a heel turn.  I thought at first it was Megalyn Echikunwoke’s performance that made her so irritating, but seeing her portray the character this season with way more nuance suggests that the writing was more to blame.  She’s without powers at the start of the season and is working with Rocketeer Jesus in the part of Seattle called “Promise City” (basically a run-down part of the waterfront that they’ve taken over and rehabbed into their little cult compound), and has to deal with the return of her father, who tries to turn her back into an infant so she can live her life as a normal person, as well as getting her powers back and returning to her mission to destroy the 4400.

Speaking of which, that comes by way of a new conspiracy involving a group called “The Marked.”  These are ten people who have inserted themselves into the bodies of ten people, many of whom are in positions of power.  One of them is a Bill Gates-type character, another was Shawn’s former assistant Matthew Ross (whom Isabel killed in season 3), and a third is Director of National Intelligence Rebecca Parrish (played by Penny Johnson Jerald, who brings the same Lady Macbeth energy she brought to the first season of 24).  Parrish becomes the “puppeteer” villain in the second half of the season, even capturing Tom and making him one of The Marked, which results in him going bad for a few episodes.

The season–and the series–ends with a huge plague breaking out and NTAC enlisting Rocketeer Jesus and his cult in helping to contain the panic while Shawn has to make a painful choice to kill his brother because his newly manifested 4400 power has caused it.  Then, when it’s all done, the cult has completely taken over Seattle and we don’t know exactly what that might mean.

It’s a solid ending for a season that actually saw even more status quo changes than I would have liked.  At the end of season three, Diana had a love interest and had headed off to Spain, but she gets drawn back in pretty quickly and that love interest is jettisoned before the midpoint.  Nina Jarvis is no longer in charge of NTAC and has been replaced by Meghan Doyle (Jenni Baird, who looks so much like Kate Walsh, it’s distracting).  That’s a casting change that screamed “new direction” because she became a love interest for Tom within a few episodes after the show resolved the “Alanna being abducted” mystery from the very end of last season in a really abrupt fashion.  Plus, NTAC’s “tech guy” Marco and his friends became a Lone Gunman-esque group.

I couldn’t tell if the producers were trying to “fix” problems they saw because of declining ratings, or if they had the whole “Promise City takes over” storyline in their heads for a while and needed to make certain moves to get those pieces in place.  All I know is that it worked about half the time and a lot of that is because the last few episodes of the season were some of the best.  The show was on the bubble at the end of the season but then the 2007 writer’s strike pushed it out with an unresolved cliffhanger.

Well, unless you get the two expanded universe novels Welcome to Promise City and Promises Broken.  I kind of want to check those out if I can get them on the cheap, which doesn’t seem possible at the moment.  If I do, I’ll be sure to post some reviews.

Until then, if you’re interested in the show, it’s available on Netflix.  It’s not a must-watch and is worth it if you want the fun of an X-Files meets CSI type of procedural.

Watch or Skip?

Worth checking out, so at least watch.

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