Elevators, Clowns, and Germs – Oh My!
Tonight’s secret word on The 4400 : FEAR
Fear played a pivotal role in the main storyline about the NTAC agents trying to track down someone who was causing people’s worst fears to get out of control, but it also was a running theme in the subplots: Shawn feared what would happen if Danny takes Promicin, Tom feared he had lost Alana forever, Diana feared she wouldn’t be able to find April, the government apparently fears that Isabelle’s abilities will resurface, etc.
This isn’t the first show to tackle people’s fears coming to life. Similarly to last week, The 4400 has borrowed a page from the Joss Whedon universe. Last week it was from Angel, this week from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During season four of Buffy there was an episode with the same title as this one: “Fear Itself.” In that episode, the characters’ worst fears were coming to life because of a fear demon, whereas in this episode people’s fears are very real to them, but are only in their minds. The Buffy episode was far more humorous than tonight’s 4400. I’m sure there have been many other shows (and movies) to tackle the idea of fears coming to life. The question then becomes, how well did The 4400 do it?
Throughout the four season run of this show, I have been distracted at times by overly dramatic writing or acting. Sometimes it borders on near-comical it’s so dramatic. Some of those moments surfaced tonight. However, the opening five minutes struck a nerve for me, since I kind of have a fear of elevators and clowns. Let’s take a look:
A woman freaks out on an elevator, as person after person appears out of nowhere and overcrowds her, to the point that she can’t breathe. As the doors open, we see her freaking out, but there is no one else in the elevator. Next up is a man running as if for his life, from something unseen. Suddenly we see from his vantage point, and there are creepy clowns chasing him around the city streets and holding him down in a fountain. Scary! I totally flashed back to It and Killer Clowns from Outer Space during that scene.
Next up was a doctor’s explanation for what is happening: “We all have things we’re afraid of… but we learn how to cope with them. In these people those coping mechanisms are turned off. They’ve seen their worst fears come to life.” Tom asks if the doctor believes a 4400 is responsible for these events, to which the doctor replies, “Someone or something is turning their pre-existing fears into unimaginable phobias.” Cue the intro, and consider me intrigued.
Meanwhile, in the Land of Subplots
- Diana gets reinstated by the new head of NTAC, Meghan Doyle. Again with the La Dolce Vita banter? If only all job reinstatement interviews were so easy. Seen your boss’s favorite movie? Great! You’re back on the job. Will there be some greater significance to the movie poster, or is it supposed to provide insight into Agent Doyle, lover of foreign films? So far, it is only distracting to me.
- Shawn moves back in with his mom and brother Danny. The Danny/Shawn argument about Promicin felt forced. Danny says “it’s always about you and me.” How is that, when they haven’t even had contact with each other in a couple of seasons? Things get more frustrating for Shawn when Kyle tells him that he took Promicin as well. Kyle claims that he and Danny both want to be part of Collier’s quest to make the world a better place.
- Isabelle is sweet-talked into signing a form so she can transfer to a “nicer” facility for non-threatening 4400’s. Later in the episode (I am skipping ahead here to wrap up this, the shortest subplot of the episode) she is told she will never get her abilities back because the injection her father (Richard – and we still haven’t seen him this season!) gave her made her develop an allergy to Promicin. Somehow I don’t believe that’s really what the tests were about, or that that was the real result of the tests. Methinks these mysterious men in black suits plan to use her blood samples for some evil plan.
Back to the Search for the Phobia-Inducing 4400
Tom and his new partner, Garrity, find the link between a germaphobe in an apartment building and the phobia-affected people at the ATM: the father of an autistic boy in the apartment building who also happened to be at the ATM. However, as soon as we found out the father didn’t have promicin in his system, I figured that he had injected his son with it to try to heal his autism. Obviously it backfired, giving the son the unfortunate ability to magnify people’s greatest fears. Mama wasn’t too happy with daddy for that.
Brand-Spankin’ New Mythology
Cassie leads Kyle to the house of a strange man, who proceeds to tell Kyle the history of a group called White Light, which was founded in 1918 but didn’t last long before the members were killed in a fire. He shows Kyle the group’s scripture, which includes a picture of the Messiah they were waiting for. He bears a striking resemblance to Jordan Collier. There is one chapter written in “a code or something.” Hmmm.. It’s probably important. Cassie Dunleavy believes C ollier is the foretold “messiah who rises from the dead and passes out an elixir that changes the world,” that Shawn is “the healer who lays his hands upon the sick,” and that Kyle is “the shaman whose visions guide the messiah down the path to enlightenment.” So now a religious mythology has been added to the show. Will we receive more information about White Light, or was this story mainly a “rabbit trail” meant to distract us from the truth about Cassie, so that we would be surprised at the end of the episode?
The Big Finale: Out of the Mist and into Happy Endings with Cheesy Lines
Ok. So the “super slow-motion rising from the mist carrying the sedated autistic boy” was just a tad over the top. However, despite the badly timed commercial break, watching Shawn heal the boy was a touching scene. Then it was back to the cheesy lines as his dad said, “My son has been in a prison his entire life. I’m happy to trade places with him.” Dad has to spend time behind bars for the unfortunate risking of his son’s life by injecting him with Promicin.
Winding It Down
Looks like Tom and Diana are partners again, after the conversation between Tom and Meghan as Tom stares at the painting of Alana at the museum. Meghan (or Agent Doyle – which should we call her?), using her skills of perception to conclude that Tom can’t find any more leads in the pigments of the painting, tells him maybe the only thing he can do is to “let her go.” Apparently she has some letting go of her own to do, as she visits her dying father in the hospital at the same time we see Tom taking down pictures of Alana at his house. I am still afraid the writers are planning to romantically involve these two. But I hope that won’t happen and that we haven’t seen the last of Alana.
Who Is Cassie?
The big reveal at the end – that Cassie Dunleavy isn’t real but is instead “Kyle’s ability” – I suspected that early in this episode. It seemed odd that no one else was ever around when she was talking to him, and that she was so mysterious. Plus, we were reminded several times that Kyle hadn’t developed an ability. I’m not really sure what the point of an imaginary friend as your ability is. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
All is all, this episode wasn’t a super exciting one, and it didn’t do much to advance the ongoing storylines. However, since I have finally overcome my unhealthy fascination with Kyle XY (I deleted my Season Pass after much deliberation last week), I am counting on The 4400 to feed my need for sci-fi this summer. I’m also looking forward to the premiere of USA Network’s newest series, Burn Notice, this Thursday. One final word: Kyle, Shawn, and Isabelle are all looking very attractive this season. Kudos to whoever was responsible for their new looks.
Related Link: Review of Season 4 Premiere, “The Wrath of Graham”