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No Exit on "The 4400"

Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote, "Hell is other people."

Never has that statement been more apt or more true than in the latest episode of The 4400 ("No Exit"), which shares its title with that of Sartre's most well-known work of literature, No Exit.

The 4400 continues to be one of the trippiest television series on the air, consistently delivering stories that veer sharply from action one week to psychological thriller the next. This week's episode presented an interesting dilemma for the series' diverse characters as one by one, both 4400s and NTAC agents found themselves inside NTAC headquarters during a security breach.

This being The 4400, a series that thrives on paranoia and finger-pointing, each group believes the other to be behind the attack. The promicin-positive fear that this is the first step towards rounding up the 4400 while the NTAC agents believe it to be the opening salvo in a full-blown assault on their base of operations. But in order to survive, both groups have to work together to make it out of NTAC alive.

My first suspicion that not everything was what it seemed to be was when P.J. woke up, slightly more confused and bewildered than everyone else; he immediately seemed to be hiding something. And what clinched it for me that this was some sort of virtual world or alternate reality was when Meghan bit the dust. There's far too much going on behind her pixie face to kill her off right now. (Me, I'm convinced she's evil and working directly with The Marked or is one herself.)

Instead of granting its heroes typical powers like flight or pyrokinesis, I like that The 4400's writers have continued to grant promicin-positive characters interesting and complex abilities (like Kyle's spirit guide); P.J.'s ability was one of the strangest yet: he was given the power to create a virtual world (or "game" as he called it) in which the participants have to work together to overcome obstacles and survive. It's more or less a vastly complicated mechanism to bring people together in a time of division and force them to, well, get along. PJ wanted to bring the 4400s and NTAC together and did. It wasn't hell, after all, but a virtual state of purgatory where both sides had a chance to redeem themselves for past actions.

I still have a long-running theory that for most (or all) of the promicin-positive, their abilities stem from their own deep-seeded issues. Take a look at Kyle's, for example. Poor Kyle has never fit in, with either the 4400s, the so-called "normals," or his father's compeers at NTAC and has always lacked direction of any kind (hell, the kid's body was hijacked by someone from the future, who assassinated Jordan Collier); when he takes promicin, he literally creates a spirit companion that guides him through his mission. The same holds true for Diana's sister April, now working for NTAC; she was lied to by everyone and betrayed by Diana, who stole her boyfriend Ben. One dose of promicin and people are incapable of deceiving her. Coincidence?

But back to the episode at hand. What was Jordan wearing when he woke up at NTAC? Judicial or academic robes, perhaps? Or did the messiah-in-hiding pick them up at half-price at some prophet's warehouse sale? Odd, to say the least. I get that he's become this cult-like religious leader but I liked Jordan better before he started wrapping himself in holy cloth and just, you know, wore suits.

Just when did Isabelle grow a conscience? I'm glad to see that she's been deepened as a character now that she's been depowered (and escaped government custody), but considering that, as a mass murderer, she killed numerous people last season and attempted to kill an entire classroom of children, why did she show any compunction about using homemade weapons in order to escape NTAC? Color me confused.

On a different note, I am happy that the writers are finally dealing with the fallout from Diana and Marco's breakup last season. The breakup was unexpected and completely fractured a relationship that I had been rooting for, so it was reassuring (as well as rewarding) to see Marco and Diana finally have an actual adult conversation (as opposed to the awkwardness in "The Marked"). It's been a long time coming and I hope that these two can patch up their friendship. Ben's supposed to be some dishy catch, but to be honest, I prefer uptight Diana with nerd god Marco. (Yeah, I didn't reveal my geek allegiances there or anything.)

But who do you think Diana should end up? Ben? Marco? Or, hell, Tom Baldwin? Any takers?

Next week on The 4400 ("Daddy's Little Girl"), it's the moment we've all been waiting for as Richard Tyler (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) finally returns to the series! Just what will he think of his baby Isabelle (who was, er, up until recently a baby) joining up with would-be-messiah Jordan Collier's movement? And why has he waited until now to reveal his whereabouts? Methinks I smell an agenda.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Singing Bee (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris/All of Us (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Hell's Kitchen (FOX)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/Rules of Engagement (CBS); Age of Love (NBC); Girlfriends/The Game (CW); Fat March (ABC); Hell's Kitchen (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Supernanny (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

9 pm: Big Love on HBO.

HBO's polygamist family drama Big Love is back. On tonight's episode ("Circle the Wagons"), Bill turns to Nicki to get Barb and Margene on board his plans for Weber Gaming, Alby holds vigil at Papa Roman's bedside and crashes a meeting of the UEB, and Lois tries to get back on Bill's good side again.

9 pm: Hell's Kitchen.

No, I don't know why I am still watching this train wreck of a culinary competition. On tonight's season finale, Rock and Bonnie square off as they redesign two separate restaurants at Hell's Kitchen, prepare their own menus, and reunite with past contestants (including a teary Julia). Only one will walk away the winner and head chef at a Las Vegas resort that no one will ever visit.

10 pm: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on Travel Channel.

The third season of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations continues as Tony teams up with Andrew Zimmern for a tour of New York City. Watch as they trade outrageous stories and visit old haunts! Marvel at how together and with it Bourdain seems after everything he put his body through in Kitchen Confidential!

Comments

Bill said…
I'm not normally the type of person to root for one relationship over another, but I'm for Marco. It definitely is a geek thing, but he's one of the better written geeks on TV.
Unknown said…
I was wondering when/if they'd bring back Richard. I was surprised when he ran off last season. His return looks to be great.

I don't really care too much who Diana ends up with. Marco would've been interesting, but she seems more compatible with Ben. OTOH, Ben's never around. :-) (I do look forward to Tom getting involved with Meghan.)

My wife and I were discussing how this has turned into one of our favorite shows. It's especially surprising because we almost stopped watching it after season 2. This is why networks need to give their shows a reasonable amount of time to develop. The 4400 has turned into something rivalling Battlestar Galactica (but without the cool space scenes).
I loved the beginning and end of this episode but felt that there was too much explanation inbetween. It was obvious early on that PJ was behind the "Game" and I didn't think you needed the whole "back door" thread. It just took me out of the story instead of further into it. But I loved the concept and loved the final scene between Jordan and Tom on the phone. Very good stuff. I have a feeling that next week's ep. is going to be amazing. I can't wait to see what Richard makes of his daughter now!
Dani In NC said…
I like your theory about people's powers coming from their issues. I don't usually think about my shows that deeply, but that would be cool if it were true.

I definitely wanted Diana to end up with Marco. I'm sure they think that female fans want to see her with Ben or Tom, but I'm a woman and I was happy to see her with Marco. That relationship seemed more realistic.

Sometimes when people are trying to reform themselves they go all the way to the other extreme to show people that they have changed. Perhaps that is what Isabelle was doing.
Unknown said…
I still want to try and get into The 4400 but I miss it sometimes. I know I do watch No Reservations on the regular I guess when you love to eat and travel that would be a show you can't miss:)

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