The fourth season of The 4400 is coming close to its finale and, before Heroes takes over as chief supplier of characters with supernatural powers who must save the future or else the special effects team gets permanent employment drawing post-apocalyptic wastelands, let’s see where last week’s episode, Tiny Machines, left us hanging.
On the tame side, there was the goodbye to one recurring character, the scene was set up for another regular (Firefly and Serenity‘s Summer Glau) most likely making the exit, and there was some more of the Deep Space Nine nostalgia, with both Jeffrey Combs/Kevin Burkhoff (Weyoun/Brunt on DS9) and the presumably evil Marked Penny Johnson/Rebecca Parrish (Kasidy Yates on DS9) getting some more screen time as the season draws to a close.
Written by Ira Steven Behr and Craig Sweeny, the episode is easily one of the most compelling build ups seen in recent months, with few storylines and characters left unscathed. Real Tom may or may not make it, Marked Tom may or may not be evil, Jordan Collier’s future identity remains uncertain, Danny’s response to the fact that he’s become a walking plague rather than another healer the world could always use is also anyone’s guess, and Isabel has returned to her roots, this time in a more mature and consequently more interesting and complex fashion. By the last scene, all the possibilities for the season finale really are open. With the way things are going, the title of the last episode, The Great Leap Forward, may just signify a metaphoric leap, with Danny unable to control his new power and the future as described by The Marked, the Promicin positives destroying the world, may just come to the verge of happening sooner and crystallizing the opposing sides’ points of view.
Fine dramatization aside, there were two things that really stood out. First, the elegant disposal of Curtis Peck. I enjoyed the character immensely. Other than being a necessary dose of humour and an indicator that the writers are not taking themselves too seriously, the Ed Wood of the week who literally sold out his vision to be able to keep making movies had a certain Whedonesque flair, being a parody and at the same time feeding the meta geek with lines like “I’m a filmmaker, not a scientist” in an episode about “tiny machines.” Particularly elegant was Tom’s line about getting rid of a plot hole. As awesome a character as he was, keeping Curtis Peck alive did not make sense anymore.
The other thing was Maia’s invented vision coming true in the very last scene and adding some good old fashioned philosophical flair to the hoax. That was just pure poetry. All in all, a beautifully written episode.
Season four finale, The Great Leap Forward, airs on Sunday, September 16. And you can chat with Joel Gretch (Tom Baldwin), Chad Faust (Kyle Baldwin) and Jenni Baird (Meghan Doyle) on the official site on Friday, September 13. Visit The 4400 for details.
In the meantime, the show’s creator Scott Peters showed up on Google News and it seems that he will be directing an episode of Jericho. Time to consider discovering that one too, I guess.