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August 29, 2015

The 4400: Graduation Day

by Sarah Gilbert, posted Jul 10th 2006 1:18PM

isabelle the avenging angel(S03E06) Last week there were arguments. I said the wrapup was too neat. Some of you said no, I just didn't get it -- there was complexity. Things might not be as they seemed. And I'm happy to ring the bell of correct-ness. Ding ding ding! az1324 called it: Matthew was sent back from the future to work for the "other side." Whatever the other side, is.

Indeed, much to my delight we're given ever more conundrums in The 4400. It does seem as if Isabelle has redressed her "angel of death" moniker, although she is causing quite a bit of murder and mayhem as she turns the gifts of the Nova Group members against them. Perhaps we should replace the "of death" in her title, in fact, with "avenging."

Add Alana -- who through her work with students in the 4400 school, finds the man who killed her first husband and son -- to the list of AA members. And when we're talking 4400, AA stands for Avenging Angel.

I found this episode to be startling, arresting, full of mystery and question. In short, exactly what I love to see in the 4400. Still I was left with ideas haunting me. Here are just some of the aching questions that nagged me as I went to sleep last night:

  • How can Alana not become hopelessly exhausted with the lives she's living in her mind and those of her patients? It seems as if she's not only prepared to relive a whole childhood with the teenager she meets with, but that she's done it before. Can she really be going to work in the morning and coming home 10 years later?
  • Is Isabelle good or bad? Were those who sent her good, or evil? And is Matthew a 4400? We were promised a dead 4400 (it's not who you think!) in the always-too-purple previews. Sure, we had two others die but we didn't even know them, how could we have thought it?
  • Catastrophe, or not? Is there a coming crisis in the future? I don't buy that the 4400 is the crisis -- that's clearly the spin of a truly evil man (I think we can all agree Matthew was evil through-and-through, his characterization was painted without a hint of grey). And clearly, killing them all would be bad. For the show at the very least. But what exactly are these two future groups, and is the one who unlocked the promicin in these 4400 brains good, evil, or undetermined?
  • Will Shawn still love Isabelle despite her unblinking manner as she murders others?
  • When will Jordan Callier come back? Is he now aligned with the good, or bad future group?
  • What does Isabelle want with Dennis Ryland?

and finally,

  • Am I actually starting to like Isabelle? I am, I think I am!

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First, Alanna is not responsible for that guy's death. She did not kill him, or put him in that car. He did that because he didn't want to deal with the fact that he killed two people. Alanna is guilty of telling him a cold, hard truth. She's unfairly blaming herself for his death.

Second, I am getting more annoyed with Isabelle each week. The show grants her whatever power is convenient, the actor is still horrible, and she drags down every story she's connected with. Heck, I liked Matthew better than her (he was 100% evil this year, but last season, his character had some nuance). She's already ruined Shawn (turning him into a child molester, or at the least someone with poor boundaries), and she's turned Richard's character increasingly dumber and more gutless as he forgives her multiple murders because she's his daughter.

I have no idea who the bad guys and good guys are from the future. But I find that story interesting, as long as it doesn't revolve so much around Isabelle. It's starting to feel like the entire show is about her.

July 17 2006 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe Jordan Callier is the Nova "voice".

July 17 2006 at 9:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karl Erikson

This week's episode was a bit better than last week's, thank God. But they still have a long way to go to get back in my good graces. It was rather obvious that Matthew was going to be the one to die. He was the only non-crucial character they could have killed off and still had their promise to kill someone ring true.

Yeah, Matthew was "evil," which was also obvious. In context of the show, I'll define "evil" as anyone who wants to do away with the 4400. Why? Because if you get rid of all the 4400 there's no show...and for now, I'm still willing to say that would be bad.

Clearly Isabelle is one of the most important characters on the show and yet she's not believable. They still play her as naive in certain situations, just to remind us that she's really only a child inside, but the rest of the time they make her ruthless and cunning - everything a child isn't.

For example, her scene with Tom where she lays her arm on the table for him to inject. Come on, totally unbelievable. You've got someone who is basically a child going against a cynical government agent like that? She is so confident he won't inject her that she lays her arm out there? Nah. Who's the grown-up here?

I agree with what others said here about Richard and his bit part in the show. It's clear that he has some telekinetic powers but they've never shown him use them, except for that snippet at the end of last season where he moved that cup. I liked him in the first season, but now he comes off as a total milquetoast. Do us a favor, dude, come back to the show when you grow some balls.

And Alana...I haven't trusted her from the beginning. I felt she was rather suddenly thrust upon us as a new character last season and she still feels out of place to me. Now that she's responsible for that guy's death - the alcoholic that killed her family - it seems like they're pushing her to the forefront. I would not be shocked if she's the one that Tom yelled "I trusted you!" at in the preview for next week.

I'm still not convinced that the writers have a real plan here. Everything is too piecemeal and sloppy lately. I'm really hoping they prove me wrong.

July 10 2006 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I, too, am beginning to like Isabelle. I still think the acting stinks, but the character's growing on me. Although Shawn didn't like the fact that she killed for him, aren't we all capable of doing what she did? I thought her reactions, while childlike, were very realistic.

July 10 2006 at 10:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isabelle's wondering about who is good and who is bad is key to this show. We should not automatically assume that the "good guys"in the future are the ones we saw from the future who brought back the 4400. Suppose these future people are really the enemy trying to change the world for the better? Note we haven't seen anything of this future world yet, outside of their Laboratory.
Was Matthew really a "bad guy"? He was completely honest and up front with Isabelle from the beginning. He also must have know he was at risk from her, yet he played his part in the full. Did he really die, or was he taken back to the future as he was about to "die". I suspect the latter.
All things are possible when you can bend all the Rules.
When the 4 kids were put back into the further past we had one short session whereby their "achievements" were listed. One did resarch which had made possible a "moon base". What's the relevance of that and why were the people from the future able to disguard it so easily?
This show could move in even more directions that LOST!

July 10 2006 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sarah in regards to Matthew dying, the preview for this episode didn't say "A 4400 will die" it actually said "Someone on the 4400 will die" so the preview was right. Matthew's not a 4400, granted some 4400 did die but that not who the ad was talking about. The ad was stupid though when it said "and it's not who you expect", I mean was there someone out there stupid enough to think Isabelle or Shawn or would anyone important would actually die?

In regards to Alana's powers, I'm not sure if you're confused or something about them Sarah. But she just creates these alternate realties in people's minds and they can stay there for what seems like days, months, or years, but when they come out time hasn't passed at all in the real world.

I like the Richard character but I agree with the poster above that some times the guy playing him really overacts big time. I really wish they would give him some more screen time, but maybe this is why they don't. But I really want to see what's up with that telekinesis power of his. Although Richard needs to grow a pair when dealing with Isabelle, granted she could kill him by just staring at him. But if I know my kid had just basically killed three people and made another one go crazy I'd say more to her then "We'll talk about this later." Overall I was a little let down by this weeks episode, I liked last week's much better.

July 10 2006 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was a great show, and Matthew had to be a 4400, because he came from the future, even though we did not see his powers...

July 10 2006 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The guy playing Richard is not a good actor..over acts most of the time..you can see him acting...no good.

July 10 2006 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I feel the same way -- I actually liked Isabelle in this episode. She's like a child who suddenly finds out she has super-powers and can't keep control of them when she's confronted with emotions she doesn't quite understand. However, the other thing about Isabelle is that I think she's playing both sides against the other. She's knows what she's supposed to do and I don't think it's just killing all the 4400. She may have a role to play in bringing about the catastrophe itself -- whatever the hell it is. And I also think Ryland may have a role to play in that, as well, at least unknowlingly. This was a good episode with some great acting; especially Patrick Flueger as Shawn. This show seems to forget that he's barely out of teens and he has the weight of an entire group of people on his shoulders. This really brought that out.

I do wish they could find somethng better for Richard to do. Getting rid of Lilly, which I hated, has been good for the character. His interaction with Isabelle is really good and the two actors have great chemistry. However, he's barely a part of each episode and more often it's just a throw-away part to play in the plot. Let's expand that telekinesis power of his, which Isabelle alluded to when they were surrounded. I also think Mahershalalhashb Ali is a great actor and is being wasted by the writers.

July 10 2006 at 2:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a sneaking suspicion that Dennis Ryland is on the same side as Matthew. Remember, he too wants to get rid of the 4400.

Also, I don't think we're done with the Nova group yet. We may be surprised at who else is a member of this "terrorist organization" if you can call it that

As far as Shawn and Isabelle, I think Shawn generally likes Isabelle, but I also think that he wants to distance himself, now that she is starting to show her true colors. However, he's definitely gotten himself in too deep and he realizes that, so he has to get out of the situation very carefully.

I think the show is starting to get really good momentum and the people who dismissed it early (after the first two episodes of the season) are really missing out on good television and don't realize that good foundation may be slow, but it makes for a captivating and sturdy story.

July 10 2006 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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