4400 people are snatched up from different places and points in time and dumped in a field in Detroit, Michigan in 2021 with no memory of what happened between them being taken and returned. When I say dumped, I mean literally dumped. Some of the landings looked pretty painful. But wait, I’m jumping ahead of the plot.
The first episode of CW’s 4400 is titled Past is Prologue. It starts with a romantic scene between married couple Shanice and Logan who were about to get their groove on when their baby daughter Mariah, interrupts them. Not that they have time for that anyway as it’s Shanice’s first day back at work following maternity leave.
As Shanice is driving to work, she is dragged out of her car by an unknown force. Then she is plonked down amongst strangers in a field. Above her, glowing portals are opening up in the sky and unceremoniously depositing other people around her. Everyone is confused and before you know it, they are rounded up by the government and locked away in various locations the main one being a hotel.
The 4400 are being monitored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The main contacts are by the book parole officer Keisha who is called in to interview the returnees by her girlfriend, DHS Agent Jessica Tanner and social worker Jharrel Mateo who is invested in making sure these people are treated fairly.
This episode had a lot of work to do to introduce us to some of the main characters. As they connect with each other we get bits and pieces of people’s past and where and when they were snatched from. Shanice was the featured character in this episode. If this format continues then, I’m going to find it helpful to break these reviews down into a couple of highlights: character backstory and powers revealed, similar to my Haven reviews.
Exploring the past: Shanice’s story
Shanice and Mildred are talking as they are let out for a bathroom break. Shanice wants to get home to her baby. Mildred does something with her eyes and the CCTV cameras turn away from them and the doors are unlocked. Mildred tells Shanice to go. When Shanice tells her to come with her, she says she has nowhere to go. I got runaway/abused child vibes from Mildred.
In Shanice’s flashback, we learn that she met her husband Logan at a protest rally. She was taken from 2005 where she was a lawyer with a four-month-old baby. Shanice had suffered from post-natal depression and had considered leaving her family. She even wrote a note but changed her mind and got help. Sadly, the note came back to bite her as Logan has spent the last 16 years believing she left them so he’s not overjoyed when she turns up on his doorstep. He moved on with his life and remarried nine years ago.
As Shanice tries to explain what happened to her Logan tells her “Do you really think you can walk out on your family and come back sixteen years later like it never happened.” She tries to explain that that’s not what happened. She was taken. The DHS agents arrive in several cars and tell Logan to get away from her as she poses a national security risk.
Shanice tells him they are keeping her locked up in a hotel downtown. Then a woman comes to the door with Mariah. It’s Logan’s wife. As Shanice is being taken away Logan tells her not to lie and lets her know that he got her note. This is devasting news for Shanice but I think despite what he thinks of her, Logan will eventually try to help her.
Jharrel and Keisha’s stories
Jharrel is angry at the way Keisha handled the situation. He agreed to help Shanice see her family providing she agreed to return to the hotel afterwards. He accuses Keisha of traumatising Shanice’s daughter Mariah and tells her she’s a cop who believes in the system over people’s humanity. He doesn’t trust her and she doesn’t trust him.
Later Jharrel is sitting in a bar and Keisha shows up. She chews him out about Shanice and he snaps right back at her about how the returnees will be treated by the government and how people, like her, will let that happen.
Jharrel confides in her that his brother Manny is missing. He thought he saw a green light outside the window when he went missing. For the first time in a year, he had real hope but there is no sign of Manny among the returnees. Now he has to face the fact that he’ll probably never see him again
Keisha discloses that she knows what it’s like to lose someone. Her sister was killed walking home from the library. As they sit in the bar a report comes on the TV. A whistleblower has let the cat out of the bag about the 4400.
Meet some of the other 4400 characters
As Shanice’s story plays out, we meet quite a few of the other main characters. We meet high maintenance party girl, LaDonna, who is having a meltdown because the cops took her phone.
Claudette is a preacher’s wife who was taken from the 1950s. She was active in the civil rights movement.
Then there’s Doctor Andre who goes around the room helping the wounded. He’s from 1920s Harlem and seems to get nervous when any of the others challenge the authorities.
Rev Johnson is a charismatic preacher. When Claudette tells him he’s too young to be a preacher he lets her how he inherited the position because Jesus is the family business. Claudette instantly dismisses him. It sounds like Claudette wasn’t too fond of her preacher husband.
Mildred and Hayden seem to be the youngest of the returnees. Hayden hasn’t spoken to anyone since he arrived and Mildred seems to know she has powers and what she can do with them.
Doctor Andre and Claudette bond over her secret power. When they first arrive at the hotel the doctor bandages a cut on Claudette’s leg, later she shows him the cut is healing. Claudette then gets LaDonna to cut her with her fingernails to test her abilities even further. Andre is concerned and advises them to keep this to themselves.
It’s been a few days since the returnees have been locked away in the hotel with no answers so it’s unsurprising that they start to protest with chants of “Let us out”. The cops are ready to use their batons on them. We see Mildred go to use her powers, as she focuses on one of the cops Hayden places a hand on her arm and shakes his head stopping her. These two seem to have a better handle on things than the adults. How does Hayden know about Mildred’s powers? Colour me intrigued.
Rev Johnson calms the crowd and asks Agent Jessica Tanner if they can open up the rooms so that people, can get a bed to sleep in. She is resistant at first but eventually agrees. This exchange had me wondering if the Rev has a supernatural persuasion power. That would be an awful power to have. Getting people to do your bidding with the power of words would just be lazy writing.
Later on, Claudette notices a piano in the room and starts playing it. People start to relax, let their hair down and dance. The main cop who has been busting their arse from day one tells Claudette to stop playing the piano. He gets up in her face and she falls onto the piano chair and the Rev and Shanice call him out. He tells them they have a schedule to keep and the piano is off limits.
Noticing she was hurt, the Rev asks Claudette if she is okay. Doctor Andre rushes to her side and plays down the injury. Claudette says she just hit her funny bone. The Rev said it seemed like much more as Andre quickly leads her away. The Rev notices blood on the piano. His interest is piqued.
Claudette asks Shanice what happened to her the day before. Shanice tells her somehow the doors opened and she escaped. She confirms that they are definitely in 2021 unless it’s some elaborate hoax. She tells her they sent the whole cavalry to bring her back in. Claudette says it’s a whole lot of effort for one black woman. Claudette asks why us. They have nothing in common not when or where they are from so why now. She believes they are special. Which means they have value and are not powerless.
I have a feeling these two women are going to give the authorities hell and I’m here for it.
4400 superpower logs
In this episode, we’ve seen three of the returnees display their superpowers.
Mildred has the power of telekinesis and she certainly knows how to use it and isn’t surprised that she has it. Out of all the returnees, she’s also the least unfazed by what is happening. Maybe here is better than where she came from.
Claudette has healing powers and I wonder if that is somehow connected to her past. When Doctor Andre was bandaging her leg, she told him she was no stranger to pain. This made me wonder if she was an abused wife based on the things she had to say about preachers.
At the end of the episode, Hayden gave us that dun-dun-dun moment when he told Keisha: “Tell Jharrel that Manny’s alright and he’s sorry for everything…” What power does he have? Does he talk to the dead? I can’t wait to find out.
Episode 1 wrap up
To wrap up, I thought this was a great well-paced first episode. I have a sense of the personalities of some of the main characters and as mentioned before, I think Shanice and Claudette will be a force to be reckoned with. I believe Logan will try to help. There’s no way Mariah will not want to know her mother, now that she has met her and knows that she didn’t abandon her.
What are your thoughts on the first episode of 4400?