Earlier I mentioned that it took me nearly a year to get through the first season of "The 4400", a series that I thought had potential, but didn't fully grab my attention until later. Well, I jumped into this second season unsure of where the writers would take us - unsure of how the 4400 fit back into the existence of the world, and what "ripple" effect they may be having on the future. Having learned that they were returned, not from an alien race, but from our own kind in a future world, to stop a massive "catastrophe" from happening - I was hooked. I don't mean like I would casually pick up an episode here or there, it was a dedicated three hours every night until this second season was completed and then an immediate buy of the third season. My wife and I couldn't get enough of the duo of Tom Baldwin and Diana Skouris, Richard and Lilly's arranged marriage, and that father/son relationship between Shawn and Jordan Collier that teeters on madness - we gobbled it all up then asked for seconds.
The words direct from our mouths were, "This show is 100 times better than X-Files", and I will stay true to that thought and saying. What made the "X-Files" both enjoyable and irritable was the power of the individual episode, yet the overshadowing of the BIG government conspiracy. It was innovative at the time, but got old rather quickly. With "The 4400", the blend of both the individual episode (i.e. each character struggling with their own personal dilemma) as well as the HUGE underlying tone of "why" were these individuals brought back. Sides begin to develop due to the return of Jordan Collier, who wants nothing more than to create a shelter for these uniquely challenged. This poses both trials and tribulations for the Seattle NTAC team that want to control and survey whatever the 4400 may be doing. The "ripple" effect is explore further and with more detail and the slight idea that everyone involved from both those that are returnees to those that may be lending a helpful end (aka Tom and Diana) are also essiantial players in this fight for the future. The great element to all of this, the idea that surrounds every episode, is who is on the "good" side and who is on the "bad" side. A war is about to be waged, and what keeps me gripped to each episode over and over again, is that the lines of truth are not distinctly drawn. Is Jordan as bad as we think? Is Dennis Ryland really fighting the good fight? The trust has not been established yet, and that keeps me on the edge of my couch during each episode.
Then there is Isabelle - an entire paper could be written on what she is or isn't. I am afraid to tackle that subject even here, because knowing what I know about season three, she was a small hint of glory in this season.
I have two, very small, and very insignificant issues with this series. I hate to use these words because there are so many great elements to this series, but with every good there is always one very small bad. With "The 4400"it teeters upon the religious. I kept thinking of the "Left Behind" books for a bit, and giggled at the thought of Kirk Cameron suddenly appearing on screen, but it is such a small issue that it passes quite quickly. When you deal with faith, and the understanding of purpose, you can easily transform yourself into a deeply religious television series - and for a couple of episodes here it does just that, but it doesn't remain that long. Also, again small gripe here, but Jacqueline McKenzie has moments where she slips in and out of her character. Her facial expressions at times seemed forced or forgotten. Her interaction with the other characters seem like typical conversation or studied lines, she isn't the strongest player and at times it weakens the surrounding storyline or character development. Only two gripes I have, I will be quiet now.
Favorite episodes from this series:
"Wake-Up Call" - a prime example of the "ripple" effect in full swing.
"Life Interrupted' - my personal favorite episode of the series - just the fact that a lifetime can happen in just a few moments impresses me.
"Lockdown" - just loved the way this episode was shot cinematically.
"Mommy's Bosses" - just the title of this episode alone gave me shivers up my spine. Season 3, here I come!
Let the birth of the catastrophe begin!
Grade: ***** out of *****