This past Sunday gave us the premiere episode of The 4400 season three. I think it is a really great series, and if you Lost fans are looking for conspiracy and mystery to get you through the summer, this is one way to do it. Those of you who are still in mourning over The X-files will like the way it handles the supernatural. And for the rest of us, it’s a great story with some great characters. I’ll admit, it is a little difficult to get into a series like this after it’s been going on for so long, but it is very addictive once you give it a chance, and I think this two-hour premiere was a good way to start.For those of you who haven’t seen the series, here are the basics. 4400 people who have disappeared over the last 50 years were returned to, well, Seattle. We’re not sure why, but I think it was because the aliens who took them wanted to make sure that when a cable network told the story, they would be able to film in British Colombia for 12 the price and nobody would know the difference. Sorry, a little inside humor there.
Anyway, early on, we find that a lot of the people who returned have special powers. Some can see the future, some can cure disease, one can even create alternative universes with only her mind. But why were they taken and why would these aliens give them abilities? Well, the answer is that they weren’t taken by aliens, but by future-humans, and these when these time traveleres returned, they said that these 4400 were the key to saving the future.
All of that may seem fine and dandy, but the cold reality is that there is a group of people out with special abilities and nobody is sure if these people will use their powers for good. That brings us to the government. Since the 4400 (or returnees as they are sometime called) landed on US soil, they were originally the problem of our government and like other proud moments in our history, when we couldn’t figure out what to do with the outsiders, we threw them into quarantine.
Since it didn’t seem like any were a threat, we sent them out into the world. It was only then that we learned of the abilities some of them had, but as long as they reported back to their local government their whereabotus, evertything was fine. What the government didn’t tell them was that each time they came in, they were being experimented on. Government scientists discovered that the key to the 4400 abilities was a compound called promycin; humans barely have it, but the 4400 have it in gobs. So the governement started giving them a promycin inhibitor to make sure that nobody got too special.
The only problem with the promycin inhibitor was that it caused this disease among the people who took it. Several were killed, and the as the government conspiracy and coverup were discovered, it became apparent that somebody was going to have to explain themselves. That’s where we start the third season, with Dennis Ryland, former head of NTAC (National Threat Asssessment Command – a fictional government agency) before Congress, explaining why it was that he allowed all of this stuff to go on and the Senators demanding that somebody take some accountability.
In his testimony, Ryland was unapologetic. He said that he thought the program was necessary and that it was a national security issue, and governments around the world agreeed with him. Nobody knows if the people that sent them back are really trying to help, and in a battle between “us” and “them”, Ryland would do it all over again.
One of the biggest surprises at the end of last season was the revelation that Isabelle Tyler suddenly grown from a baby to a teenage girl (and a very well-developed one at that) in the space of about five minutes. Isabelle had always been a powerful baby, with the ability to do amazing things with her mind, like causing the fruit to grow on trees where ther was none, or exploding the heads of people who were coming after her parents.
For some reason, Isabelle came to the room fo Shawn Farrell. Shawn is the leader of the The 4400 center, a group whose mission is to serve the needs of any 4400 in the world; a mission that is often at odds with the government. When Shawn saw Isabelle, he was surprised, not only that she was now a young woman, but that she had walked into his office completely naked. Unfortunately, he didn’t have his cameraphone to capture the moment.
When Shawn saw Isabelle, he decided to inform her parents. Richard Tyler came up first and he couldn’t believe what was going on and perhaps it was some joke some of the others decided to pull on him. He ran out and decided he would look fror his wife, Lily.
Richard and Lily are an interesting case. He was abducted ruing the Korean war, and she was abducted nearly forty years later. Richard had been in love with Lily’s grandmother, but since he was black and she was white, there love was forbidden and such. Luckily for them, they met while in quarantine, and after Lily’s ex-husband rejected her, the two of them got together. Surprise, surprise, Lily is pregnant, and it’s Richard’s baby, even though the two of them don’t have any memory of the sex that should have been responsible for the conception. And you know, even if your baby is the most powerful being in the universe, it does kind of suck that you can’t remember makng her.
When Richard goes to his room at the 4400 center, he doesn’t find his wife. Instead, he finds an old woman that looks like his wife. This old woman, of course, was Lily, but she went from a MILF-y 30 to retirement age in about the same time it took their daughter to get older. Coincidence? Hardly. Medical tests confirm it. Dr. Berkhoff, the scientist who knows more about the 4400 than anybody else because apparently history says that he created them in later life, says that Lily is now a healthy woman of 75. Poor Richard. I know they say the older the berry, the sweeter the juice, but there is no juice in the sun-dried tomato his wife has turned into.
OK, I hope you haven’t lost me yet, because I know that it is a lot to take in. I think I’ve reached what, ten minutes of the show, and I’m already at like 1000 words? Long, even by my standards, but as the season goes on, I’ll have less back story to explain, and things will become more brief.
We are finally back with Ryland and some sort of Government Sub-committee hearings, which are taking place several months after the Lily/Isabelle/Richard thing. Ryland is taking the blame for everything, meaning that even though this mid-level government beauracrat was given so much power to cause so many problems, nobody who gave him that authority was going to be brought to justice.
Our friendly NTAC agents, Tom Baldwin, his (HOT) wife Alana, Tom’s Partner Diana Skouris (sporting a new hairstyle), and her geeky boy toy Marco are in attendance watching the proceedings wondering, like many of us, how Ryland became such a fascist and thinking he might be able to get away with all of this. Suddenty, Ryland’s lawyer takes a pen knife out of his briefcase and begins to stab Ryland.
Is it the result of some crazy assassination plot? Not quite. As he is scanning the room, Tom recgonizes the face of one of the photographers. Her name is TJ Kim, and she was responsible for an attack on NTAC headquarters because she has the ability to drive men crazy, and not by nagging them to death when they were sitting on the couch watching football instead of staining the deck.
Tom chases after TJ Kim and manages to shoot her, but she still gets away. As bad as it was that she was able to escape, it was worse seeing what she was able to control her ability so well. The government was giving the 4400 the promycin inhibitors for fear that they would grow too powerful, and if TJ’s new found control of her ability is any indication, it looks like the 4400 are becoming more powerful with their abilties. And some of the 4400 who never experienced any change are starting to find they have new powers.
Meanwhile, back at the 4400 center, Isabelle is walking around and everybody is staring at her. And considering all of the fucked up stuff that the people at the 4400 center have seen, that is saying a lot. Then again, maybe I’m just reading a little too much into this; they could be staring at her because she is fine.
Isabelle wants to see her mom, and the news is not good. Like I’ve said before, I am not exactly a huge fan of Lily. She’s cute, and she cares about Richard and Isabelle, but she is so very whiny. Things started getting better for her when she was given a job at the center, but she really needs to find a pilates class or something to pass the time. But maybe I’m being too harsh, because Lily isn’t doing so well. Every day she comes down with a new ailment. She does have Shawn around to fix her when something goes wrong, but it’s still no way to live life. So I guess yoga would probably literally kill her at this point, although she could still join a bridge club or something, no?
Although I am really liking the episode up to this point, I was still confused about a lot of things, so if you just started watching afnd had a “huh?” feeling for a lot of it, don’t worry. The basic point that the writers are trying to make is that the 4400 are getting more powerful now the government isn’t giving them drugs. They are able to focus their powers, which is good for some people like Tom, since his wife (did I mention that she is hot?) can create alternate realities for him.
But for those 4400 that may not have the best of intentions, it means that they will be able to do a lot of damage. Does the government have the right to lock them all up because a few may be dangerous? Are the 4400 an aberration or the next step in human evolution? Honestly, I couldn’t tell if this was USA Network or some X-men movie.
We fast forward a few months and while Dennis Ryland has survived his assassination attempt, other members of the government conspiracy were not so lucky. One guy was killed by his dog, obviously by a 4400 who talks to animals, or maybe Dr. Dolittle, I’m not sure which. Another guy got one of the cruelest deaths of them all: he froze to death while he was, as Bobby from Survivor would say “breaking in the dumpster”.
Next time, light a match!
Since TJ Kim has been shot, we must assume that she isn’t doing all of this herself? Why? Because the Nova group told us so. The Nova Group is the “defensive” wing of the 4400, or at least that’s what they call themselves. They promise that they are going to introduce a “new era” for mankind on Oct. 19th. Like I said, very X-men with the new ear talk and everything.
Since the deadline is only days away and the NTAC has zero leads, the NSA decides to lend them Gary Navarro. You remember Gary, he is the mind reader who NTAC tried to use to infiltrate the 4400 center once they found Jordan Collier was dealing with an arms dealer. Now that Gary is off his meds, he has no more problems using his ability and the NSA has used him for unidisclosed purposes. They fly him around, he interviews somebody, reports back what he’s heard, and then the NSA does the rest. All of this makes Gary feel like a bad ass, and he even has the Aviator Glasses of Cockiness to go with them. I refuse to call them Aviator Glasses of Badness, because they are only for Jack Bauer and perhaps Curtis Manning, not to mention Gary looks like a douchebag when he puts them on.
The first stop on the Navarro magical mystery tour is the 4400 center. Tom and Diana want to know if Shawn has ever heard of the Nova group. Shawn denies any involvement and since he knows what Gary can do, doesn’t allow Diana or Tom to walk around the 4400 center property with him.
After “striking out” with Shawn (that joke is funny because Gary used to be a baseball player), Diana and tom decided to interview one of TJ Kim’s old boyfriends. I know TJ Kim is Asian and lives in Seattle, but couldn’t they have come up with somebody more original for her boyfriend than a bike messenger? What if she was boring and dated the night manager of a Kinko’s or something?
Although the boyfriend says he doesn’t know anything, Gary knows better and leads the two agents to an apartment, and although there is nobody there, evidence suggests that it used to be used by Wesley Hauser. As they start digging deeper into Wesley’s past, they find some other interesting facts, such as sharing the same barracks with TJ Kim when he was in quarantine. With that lead, Tom, Diana, and Gary start tracking down the people who were in those same barracks to try and discover if any of them were involved with the Nova Group
Personally, I thought that we were already juggling enough plot lines, but the writers decided to add a few more. Maia Skouris (née Rutlege) has always been one of the more intriguing characters on the show, and we got a little update on her condition. Maia is very close to her mom, but has always had trouble making friends because of her ability to see the future; it even keeps her out of playing games. Why play when you really do know the outcome? In fact, why get out of bed or do anything when you already know how the day is going to end.
Diana thinks about getting some help from Dr. Berkhoff, because although he doesn’t know how he created the 4400, he is still the number one authority on all things having to do with them. Last year we saw him shooting up this promycin, and and now it looks like he is a full-fledged junkie. Thinking that it isn’t such a good idea to seek advice for her daughter from a drug dealer, Diana decides to hold off, but she does find some help in what is sort of an unexpected pace – Gary Navarro.
When you think of it, Gary is perhaps the best person to give some advice for Maia. Before he was off of the promycin inhibitors, Gary could barely deal with all of the voices that were in his head. Now, he is able to control his ability. Gary tells Diana that if Maia tries to fight her power, it will end up controlling her. If she lets it take control, it will simply become a part of herself. There was plenty annoying in this premiere, but these philosophical soliloquies were among the worst.
But again, all of that stuff is kind of secondary. We should really concentrate on this Nova Group and what exactly it is doing. All of the leads point to Wesley Hauer, but when NTAC starts investigating him, they find out that he is dead, and he has been dead for a long time, like before the attack on Ryland. But it’s too big of a coincidence to think that Gary heard Hauser’s name and all that evidence pointed to Hauser as the guy, right? Well, that might be true if you are assuming that Gary Navarro was giving out correct information.
At the beginning, we flashed back to the last time Gary was asked to spy on some members of the 4400, which I mentioned earlier. Jordan Collier asked Gary to pick sides, and it looked like Gary has picked sides. He obviously knew more than he was letting on about the Nova Group. The big surprise was that he was not the only one. No terrorist organization/freedom fighters would be much without funding and the funding from the Nova Group was coming from a source that NTAC previously thought that they trusted: Shawn Ferrell.
When Shawn was doing nothing else but healing people, he always use to criticize Jordan Collier for what Jordan would call the “tough decisions”. Whatever you say about Jordan, he always believed had the greater interests of the 4400 in his plans. Shawn is now in position to make those tough decisions, and one of those decisions concerned the knowledge of the Nova Group. When NTAV visited the center, Shawn pretended like he didn’t know what they were talking about. He not only knew about the Nova Group, but was actively financing it.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Shawn wanted to kill Ryland. He financed the Nova Group because he was worried that the 4400 would need some defensive capabilities. As my old basketball coach used to say, at least when he wasn’t screaming himself purple telling me to work harder on the rebounds, the best defense is a good offense. Daniel Armand, leader of the Nova Group, had the same belief, and convinces Shawn that they still need money to be effective. The government may have been slightly embarrassed, but they aren’t going to stop just because one program has been exposed. As they say, kill one secret 4400 defense program and a thousand more rise up in its place.
Just as the excitement in one story is building, we switch gears back over to Isabelle. The more I think about it, the more I think this episode should have been two one-hour shows. Here is the deal. Through some sort of cagey science, Berkhoff has determined that somehow Lilly’s aging is somehow connected with Isabelle’s aging, and he’s pretty sure that if Isabelle died, her mom would go back to normal. Or she could just die. We’re not too sure, but Isabelle decides that she is going to climb to the top of the 4400 center and take a swan dive off of the roof.
I have never thought much about killing myself by jumping off of a building. If I were to take my own life, I would do it in style, like wearing a Derek Jeter jersey in South Boston after the Red Sox have been eliminated from the playoffs. Why do poeple who kill themselves jumping insist on spreading their arms out like they are the messiah falling from the heavens or Kate Winslet enjoying an evening of the deck of the Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio? Unless your name is Greg Louganis, they aren’t giving going to be receiving a score based on degree of difficulty.
I didn’t think that they would kill off Isabelle so soon, and I was right. Isabelle survived the fall. Richard heard about the jump and ran out, telling people to call an ambulance, but when he reached his daughter’s body, it wasn’t the bloody pulp we expected it to be. It was like nothing happened at all. I guess she is more special than any of us imagined.
But don’t get too into that story line, let’s switch things up again, back to Ryland. By now, Diana and Tom have put two and two together. Gary is part of the Nova group and has been feeding them bad information. This whole Hauser thing was s distraction, and it was Navarro that was sent in to kill Ryland. He makes it into Ryland’s room and injects him. Like I said before, Diana and Tom figured all of this out, and are able to save Ryland and catch Navarro. Unfortunately, they aren’t doing so well with the interrogation. We found out earlier that something was supposed to happen on the 19th, and since that is now only days away, the government decides that they need to send in some fools from the NSA to handle the interrogation, which means that Gary is going to get less good cop/bad cop and more waterboarding.
Interested in that story? Better we switch to something else before things get too exciting. If you can’t tell, I was really annoyed by this part of the premiere. But what can I do? Matthew Ross, who you may remember is the “civilian” caretaker of all things 4400 related these days and handles the business aspects that are deemed too troublesome for Shawn came back from a lobbying trip to find things in disarray. Lilly has gotten worse, and Isabelle tried to kill herself. It was the second event that really pissed off Matt.
He saw Isabelle in her room, and she is still pretty shaken up about everything that happened. Matt decided that the best love is tough love, and instead of patting her on the head and telling her that it’s going to be alright, Matt slaps her across the face and tells her that she is being an idiot. There are plenty of cryptic parts of this show, but none more than when Matthew says that Isabelle is all part of a grand plan, is more important than she can ever imagine, and that he has a story to tell about what’s going to happen. What’s the story? THEY DON’T TEL US!
Now that Gary Navarro is locked up and being tortured, Diana realizes she still needs help with her daughter. The issue is that Maia wants to go to a special school at the 4400 center that is only populated with other 4400s. Apparently, they can help kids with managing their abilities. I told you this was a lot like the X-men, didn’t I?
When Diana goes back to Dr. Berkhoff, he admits that he is injecting promycin, or rather a specially modified promycin that’s designed to let teach his body to create promycin on it’s own. So, is Berkhoff able to see the future, heal the sick, or read minds? Not quite, but he does have lots of nasty looking scars on his chest, which I guess is just as good. Diana, who like many government agents has a degree in microbiology and epidimiology, agrees to help Berkhoff manage his doses. Like they say, keep your enemies closer.
Maia isn’t the only person who is suddenly feeling the urge for some 4400 related love. Tom’s wife, Alana, who I might have forgotten to tell you is very attractive, wants to go to a seminar at the center. At first, Tom is a little offended. Is she going to get something there that she isn’t getting at home? Alana says that it’s just a feeling she has that she wants to be around other 4400s right now, and seriously, he was doing all of this complaining while he was naked in the bath tub with her. If she wanted to leave him, she would just create an alternate reality and be done with it.
One of the big themes this episode was with Isabelle and her journey to discover more about her life. Now that she is an adult, she is trying to come to terms with what her place is. She is not a 4400, she is something different. Her power is so great that even her parents are scared of her. On top of all that, she spends so little time with actualy clothes on, you would think she is Jenna Jamieson. There is some forced sexual tension between Isabelle and Shawn, but mostly it feels forced.
For example, after Isabelle tried to kill herself, Shawn found her in the botanical garden behind the 4400 center reading about Stalin, Pol Pot, and the Marquis de Sade. Since she was just talking with Matt about the story of her life, it was interesting to see that she chose these books. This leads to a whole interaction with Shawn about good and evil, but Isabelle is so naive, this doesn’t get very far.
While Isabelle is trying to contemplate her existence, Lilly is contemplating the end of hers. She now has such horrible arthritis, she can barely user her hands. Lilly has decided she needs to prepare those around her for life when she’s gone. Basically, that means saying goodbye to Richard. She bought him a flight in an F-16, but knows she won’t live long enough to see it. Richard wants to go to Sweden to try an experimental treatment. I tried an experimental treatment with a Swedish girl once; I ended up being kicked out of the Beverly Hills Hotel. But that is neither here nor there. Lilly is dying, and although she doesn’t want to give up, nothing is helping her anymore.
Some time passes and Gary is still being tortured, but just as he gives up the name of Daniel Armand as head of the Nova Group, Diana and Tom are there to save him. There is not a lot of time to go before the deadline of the 19th, and the suits are starting to get worried. Luckily, Tom and Diana have another plan. For all of Shawn’s faults, he is a true believer in the philosophy of the 4400, and he doesn’t like what has happened to the Nova Group. He gives up TJ Kim while she is meeting Shawn during a money drop. But we shouldn’t worry about either of them. Gary is sprung when the truck he is being transported in gets ambushed, and I am sure TJ Kim will find her way out soon as well.
Daniel Amrand was smart to send TJ Kim, and he could sense to go underground. Obviously, all of this activity has to be pretty upsetting to him. As we reach the date of October 19th, you have this feeling that Daniel really us going to usher a new era into mankind. What is his master plan? Fields of wheat in the desert! What? Yeah, doesn’t sound too bad, does it. Once there was desert, now there is food. It will probably saves millions from famine, at least until the local governments figure out how to sell that wheat for drugs.
The new oasis in the desert is accompanied by the message that the Nova Group can be the greatest ally of mankind, or its greatest enemy? The choice? It’s up to us of course. While some people saw this as a great thing, others were not so sure. Yes, being able to make arid land fertile is great power, and they did it without anybody knowing what was coming. If they can do that, they could do just as many powerful acts of destruction. And while Shawn might have had a little influence over them before, he doesn’t have any now.
I am pretty sure that all of that talk of the Nova Group was backed up because they had Isabelle. She is so powerful that she is able to control nature like that. And she is thinking of ending it all. Apparently, Matthew knows the one thing that can kill her, and gives it to her in a hypodermic needle. If she uses it, her mother might live, but she might also die. If she doesn’t use it, her mom will definitely die, and she’ll most likely be fine. In the end, I guess Isabelle liked whatever story Matthew Ross told her because she decides to choose life. Lilly dies in Richards arms (or actually, in the passenger seat) outside of the cabin they first used to hide away from Jordan Collier.
In the interest of getting this recap out quickly after falling so far behind, I left out a lot of things, and I hope to be more detailed with upcoming episodes. If haven’t watched this year, this week marks the first of a two part episode that is supposed to be some of the best stuff of the season. Anyway, I liked the episode, but it wasn’t very good going back and forth between story lines. We see that Isabelle is quasi-invincible (and even her dad shows off some of his powers), and we set up a lot of story lines, but I think it could have been better.
Part of the problem, as I found out after watching the episode was that there was a contract dispute with the actress who played young Lilly, so they had to kill her character off. Sad, but these things happen. What we are left with is a situation where you don’t really know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. If the 4400 were supposed to save mankind, they don’t seem to be going in the correct direction.
Although there was a lot of promise early in the episode, I think it faded towards the end. Way too many things to have to deal with and not enough time. There are a lot of great characters on this show, and we do want to follow each one, but with the show only airing during the summer, the writers are going to have to hold back a little bit with what they are trying to cover. My hope is that since the show is still so very new to a lot of people, they were simply taking this time to get people caught up and things will start to get better as the season wears on.
What did you think of that episode?