4400 Season 1 Episode 9 Review: Great Expectations

TV

The unlikely, time-traveling superheroes are back in their midseason premiere.

4400 Season 1 Episode 9 cast off the usual format 4400 takes and messed with timelines in a new way.

It felt mainly like a retread of the past and a set-up for future action, but there were still some great moments.

Instead of highlighting just one character as in the previous episodes, Episode 9 presented a prologue of different points of view from “the moment before the world changed.” 

This is a cool idea, especially since those moments served to inform the motivations in each plotline. Each one went by quickly enough that it didn’t feel too repetitive, but by the third one, it felt like the plot needed to be moving along.

Despite this show’s high concept, its major strengths have always been the characters and their relationships.

Unfortunately, without anchoring the focus on a character, the narrative felt a bit scattered and less cohesive than usual. 

Not only that, but so many major characters are still missing from the action. The continued absence of LaDonna and Claudette, as well as Hayden, Logan, and Mildred, leaves those remaining to do some heavy lifting.

Perhaps this is the product of a truncated season due to COVID restrictions. If this was a way to highlight supporting characters like Soraya, Agent Tanner, and Steve in one episode instead of giving them each their own, then so be it.

I would fully support a Soraya-centric episode and even an Agent Tanner one. They are both interesting, dynamic characters that deserve as much attention as any of the others. There’s so much to be unearthed there! 

To that end, Kausar Mohammed as Soraya and Wilder Yari as Agent Tanner were terrific here, but the plot was too diluted to really feel that punch at the end of Soraya’s betrayal.

Agent Tanner has been a low-key, simmering threat for a while, and it would be great to see her break out into full villain mode instead of just being Greene’s lackey.

We shine when we serve and protect, remember?

Agent Jessica Tanner

The question is now — does she really miss Keisha, or was her attempt to get her back just a way to turn Keisha against Jharrel or get Keisha to let her guard down so she can get more information about the 4400 from her? 

It was fitting, too, that Keisha finally quit. She’s making a stand and showing where her true loyalties lie.  

Soraya’s betrayal was hard to take — though she feels like she has no other option. We only have a little idea of what she went through during her “detainment.” Is she being coerced? She clearly fears for her life.

Soraya is a double agent now, but whose side is she really on? Will she turn back to the 4400 in the end, or is she not willing to risk it? It would be great to know her motivations, but of course, the show has to keep some secrets.

Soraya mentions COVID when describing the anti-Asian hate that Steve must have experienced. Once again, it’s so great that this show highlights issues from today’s world, and this one is certainly one that deserves more attention in mainstream media. 

Steve’s struggle was important because it makes a point how some people just can’t afford to rock the boat when situations get dire — it risks not only his safety but also that of his family. 

The whole “helpline” concept is insidiously relevant. It gives the public a false sense of power, of being able to protect each other from this made-up enemy.

It’s typical government propaganda — mobilize your public to turn on each other to keep them distracted from the evils that are actually being perpetrated. 

It weaponizes every person on the street with all their misinformation and prejudices and hate.

Soraya

In my review of 4400 Season 1 Episode 1, I remarked how the show did well at making an effort to exist within our current timeline, with COVID testing, masks, quarantining. 

While these things are still mentioned, and medical tests are still being done, masks and other “protocols” have largely fallen by the wayside. The commitment feels inconsistent, especially if it’s now being brought up as a “thing of the past.”

It’s fine the show ignores COVID and exists in an alternate universe (it clearly does, after all), but if COVID was meant to be incorporated from the start, it should be throughout.

Shanice and Andre are still the heart of this show. The care taken with their relationship is so lovely and respectful. However, Andre naively believes in the inherent goodness of people, whereas Shanice does not.

Was Andre’s life as a black trans man that insular? It was the 1920s. Would he not have been subject to more prejudice? Maybe it’s more that he has trouble navigating the fact that people are still willing to turn on their fellow humans a hundred years later.

However, Shanice remained caring with Andre even in her fear ad frustration, explaining to him what she was feeling and why his actions were dangerous.

We have been othered in so many different ways, Andre — and now this?

Shanice

It was interesting how Shanice “repurposed” the Rev’s powers to make him see that his ability was actually a blessing. Shanice has found an out, but with this revelation — and currently no government “aid” — it might be wise for the 4400 to hold on to their powers for now.

There’s the likelihood that ZMT is what gives the 4400 their powers. So would the Rev be neutralizing that part of their genetic makeup? And is all he doing “healing” the 4400 of their powers, or is he absorbing them, Rogue-style? So many questions!

Also, the refugee status seemed to be granted way too fast. Does US government paperwork really take that short of time? Where I’m from, it can take weeks to even renew a passport. Did they skip ahead a few weeks, or is this just how it goes?

Anybody can be dangerous.

Jharrel

One plotline I’m always here for is the Jharrel-Manny mystery. The clocks are now presenting a pattern, though Soraya and Keisha are quick to call Jharrel on his constant reaching for meaning.

Fingers crossed, we get a Jharrel-centric episode soon, so we can actually meet Manny and get to the bottom of this. With his numbers and clocks, the absent Manny seems vital to piecing together the 4400 puzzle.

Maybe Hayden’s visions could be helpful here. He had a message from Manny before — perhaps Keisha should be visiting him now that Jharrel is under arrest, and they could figure something out.   

Overall, this “Great Expectations” started strong and had some good moments throughout but lacked focus. Let us know if you agree in the comments below.

You can watch 4400 online here!

Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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