Monday, July 23, 2007

The 4400: Mystery Science Theater 4400

This week's episode of The 4400 was more fun than we've seen in a long while. How could it not be, when it started out with a B-movie festival with Marco and his geeky pals? From there, it went into cheesy horror-movie schlock, worldwide conspiracies, snarky Tom and Diana, and so much of my favorite nerd Marco, you'd think they were trying to butter me up. Well, it worked.

(Beware… of the spoiler!)

The 3P (promicin-positive person) of the week was an original recipe, Curtis Peck, who made movies about famous unsolved mysteries – Jimmy Hoffa, the Roanoke colony, the JFK assassination, etc. (If you're curious, he pinned JFK's death on an ex-Marine, Robert Shaftoe, and if that is not a nod to Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, I will be hugely disappointed.) Curtis went missing just after coming up with the idea for his latest movie, The Marked, concerning ten agents from the future who have come back to stop the 4400, and have taken over the bodies of prominent living people to do it. Sounds crazy, right? But the government was awfully interested in what Curtis had to say, and one of his producers did end up dead, so the theory bears looking at. Especially since one of the supposed "Marked" was Matthew Ross – you remember him, Jordan's assistant, killed by Isabelle? There always was something odd about him. So I'm buying the idea for now.

Although Diana and Tom began by cracking wise about the whole situation – and very well, too, they can get some good banter going when they want to – things got tense quickly, with Tom carted off to the mental institution for evaluation, and Diana forced to hide Curtis in Marco's shockingly spacious and awesome apartment. I mean, not shocking that it was awesome, shocking that it was spacious – Marco gets a government paycheck, after all. But Curtis sold out before he could finish the script and tell them who else is Marked, and Tom got injected with something behind his ear, giving him a similar mark to those agents from the future and making him worry that they put the agent that was in Matthew Ross inside him.

And he was right to be worried. One of the other Marked, Bill Gatesalike Drew Imroth, showed up at the end of the episode to more or less confess his Marked status to Tom and Diana and claim that the Marked are their allies before heading back to his office and purring to his co-conspirators that "when we need [Tom], he'll be there for us." So, was it the consciousness of the dead agent from the future that they shot him with? Was it a mind-control chip? It couldn't have been that promicin shot they've been threatening him with, because it's the Jordanians who want him to have that… right? Strange how many plots recently have revolved around the need to inject Tom with something. You don't suppose that he needs the promicin to save him from whatever he's got now?

In the B-plot, Shawn met with Jordan and told him that he couldn't join him, he had to beat Gabriel Hewitt. Interestingly, Hewitt then had a massive stroke, causing brain damage, and Jordan had to swear up and down that it wasn't on his orders. It's hard to believe him, but Billy Campbell is such a cool customer and brings such beatific placidity to the role that you really, really want to believe him. In fact, if Billy Campbell had a cult, I'd probably join up. Anyway, Shawn ended up healing Hewitt and asked only that Hewitt change his ways in return. I'd be shocked if that really was all there was to the Gabriel Hewitt story, because it seems very early to drop his antagonism and that vision Maia saw of the internment camps. I'm not going to assume that Hewitt has changed just yet.

So, yeah, a lot happened in this episode. I've never been big on straight-up mythology, but this was the most entertaining way that any show has ever served it up for me. When the Marked come back – and I'm sure they will – I won't have forgotten a thing about them, thanks to this little gem of an episode.


Bruce said...

Loved the episode as well, although I can do without the increasing frequency of Marco's Lone Gunmenesque cohorts. I think Marco stood quite fine on his own. One of the few episodes where I cared less about what was going on with Jordan. Tom might be in for some trouble