The 4400: Pilot (aired on July 11th, 2004). Directed by Yves Simoneau. Written by Scott Peters and Renè Echevarria. Starring: Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Laura Allen, Patrick John Flueger, Conchita Campbell and Peter Coyote. Guest Starring: Michael Moriarty.
A giant blue ball of light, originally thought to be a comet, suddenly crash-lands at a Seattle lake and in its place stands a group of 4400 confused people who have gone missing over the past 60 years. This moment marks the beginning of The 4400, which beautifully chronicles the numerous difficulties and the turmoil of the various returnees, especially those who begin exhibiting strange, paranormal abilities. With naturally flowing dialogue and very little unnecessary material, the mind-blowing pilot episode uses Tom Baldwin (played by Joel Gretsch) and Diana Skouris (played by Jacqueline McKenzie) investigating the 4400 for NTAC as a window into the struggles that each returnee faces.
The interesting and constant evolving relationship between Tom Baldwin and Diana Skouris (with their banter and how they consistently throwing ideas off each other) is established early on in the pilot, where Tom is brought in to work with Diana. While she is initially skeptical about the idea of working together, throughout the episode they begin to balance each other out and become a team. Their relationship can be compared to the female-male-duo of X-Files, where Fox Moulder and Dana Scully investigate cases involving paranormal phenomena. However, unlike Moulder and Scully, Tom and Diana’s relationship is wonderfully forged as a close, platonic relationship instead of developing into a romantic one.
This teamwork can further be seen as the show also establishes its “freak of the week” theme in this opening episode (something that continues throughout the first few seasons). The pilot introduces viewers to Michael Moriarty, guest starring as Orson Bailey. Sadly, when Orson reappears after disappearing in mid-1979, his wife (who is now in a nursing home) dies. Out of uncontrollable anger, he begins exhibiting a paranormal power. Through working effectively together, Tom and Diana are able to suppress Orson before he is able to do any real damage. Though, they still have a long way to go before forming the close and intense relationship viewers see in season four, as Tom blatantly lies to her about his nephew Shawn.
With a gripping opening sequence, an array of interesting characters and an extensive plot, the pilot episode presents to the viewers what The 4400 is truly about: Tom and Diana’s growing teamwork to help the returnees, whilst trying to figure out why they were taken and brought back to this moment in time. While nothing was really answered in the beginning, it creates mystery, suspense and leaves viewers impatiently anticipating the second episode. It is a great beginning to a wonderful series.
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