The government reacted to the leaked video of the 4400 being poorly treated by allowing a chosen few to go out in the world.
Whilst Andre is trying to figure out why some of the 4400 have powers and what triggers those powers, the government are playing a long game with the returnees.
Claudette, Shanice, Isaiah and LaDonna are ‘randomly’ selected for a one-day reintegration test but the reality is they were deliberately chosen because they are seen as troublemakers. The so-called reintegration project was just a way to show the public that the returnees are the problem, not the government.
Fortunately, the so-called troublemakers were on their best behaviour. Aside from Shanice and Claudette revealing their powers to Mrs Grover and Keisha catching Claudette burning her hand over a candle, the visits to the outside went well.
Exploring the past: Andre’s story
Harlem’s Renaissance Man is Andre’s story and what a fascinating story it was. We discover that he was on the verge of a breakthrough for treating and curing whooping cough and other respiratory illnesses back in the 1930s. As was the case for many black people back in the day Andre’s white colleague was quick to take credit for his work and referred to Andre as his assistant with his cheeky self. Andre was a medic in the great war and ran a clinic before turning to research.
Sadly, the Doctor was so obsessed with his work that he often neglected his partner, Cynthia and he was taken before he could repair the damage to their relationship.
Back in his day, the Doctor had an eclectic group of nonconformist friends. It was nice to see this portrayal of people who aren’t afraid of being themselves. For fans who read my what to expect guide or already knew that actor TL Thompson is a transgender man, the revelation that Andre is transgender was probably unsurprising.
What was surprising, however, is the way that Shanice responds to him. It’s been obvious for a few episodes now that the Doc likes Shanice but she hasn’t demonstrated any interest in him, until now. Having decided to let go of the past Shanice is exploring her options. Talk about whiplash. It feels like Andre is her rebound guy and I really hope she doesn’t end up hurting him. Of all the 4400, he is the sweetest gentlest soul. Even more so than Hayden who was quick to anger when he thought Andre had hurt Mildred.
We didn’t get any new powers in this episode but as Andre was examining Mildred she flipped out and lost control. I’m looking forward to seeing her past as I believe that she was ill-treated in some way. When the Doc touched the pulse in her wrist was fine but when he touched her neck, she became agitated. Maybe she was trapped in a cult or some other commune. She definitely was glad to see the back of whatever hell she came from.
Hayden isn’t impressed with his powers as he doesn’t see enough of the future to make any changes. Claudette’s powers definitely work by touch and LaDonna projects illusions. The objects that she projects aren’t tangible so better hope no one touches them.
Did the 4400 past the 4-episode test?
We are four episodes into the 4400 so did it pass the 4-episode test?
Drama and conflict
Well, right from the first episode the show has been serving up the drama which is unsurprising as the CW do love their drama. The problem I have is sometimes the drama has a very by the numbers “insert drama here” feel. Some of the conflicts we see have been unbelievable, especially the Shanice storyline. The tendency to lean into the third-act misunderstanding trope in the first 3 episodes was too much for me but I persevered and I’m glad I did, as Harlem’s Renaissance Man was a good episode where the writing flowed much better.
The show has established that we will definitely be exploring the past of the returnees and I’m okay with that for now. The creators manage to balance past storytelling with plots that move the overarching story forward. Although it does feel sometimes like things aren’t moving fast enough, in this episode we do see the government at least thinking about releasing the 4400 out into the real world.
This leads me to my bugbear. The show is billed as a sci-fi drama and right now outside of the green lights and the superpowers, there is very little sci-fi going on. Whilst I don’t want to see the returnees treated like lab rats, I’d love to see some scientist types discuss this phenomenon. The news that the 4400 exists has been out there for a few weeks, let’s see some TV discussion talking about the how’s and whys. Give me some technobabble. Please!
I’m eager to get to the why are they here and who brought them part of the story. Superpowers don’t mean anything unless they are going to be used for a purpose.
The one thing I can’t fault the creators on and that’s the development of most of the main characters. I’ve been invested in their stories from the first episode and my favourites change every week as we learn more about each of them. The writers have done a good job in developing these characters and the actors have done a great job in bringing them to life on screen. Even without seeing their backstories, we get a sense of who these people are and understand that they have endured much.
Whilst the dialogue can be stilted at times and the ridiculous and unnecessary spitefulness of that one guard is way over the top, this show passes the 4-episode test because as I mentioned, I’m invested in the characters and I look forward to watching the story move forward to be a better mix of sci-fi and drama.
Has the 4400 passed your 4-episode test? Let me know in the comments.