A reboot of the original series “The 4400,” the new series “4400,” produced by Ariana Jackson (“Riverdale”) and Anna Fricke (“Walker, Texas Ranger”), premiered this week on the CW. Like the original, “4400” revolves around the sudden reappearance of 4,400 individuals who disappeared without a trace within the last century. These seemingly unrelated people all mysteriously show up in a park in Detroit, not having aged a day and without any recollection of what happened to them.
The pilot episode follows Shanice Murray (Brittany Adebumola, “Grand Army”), a mother to a four-month-old baby and prominent lawyer in Detroit. In the opening scene, she is shown getting ready for work after maternity leave while her husband stays home to care for their child. While driving to work, the car door flies open and she is abducted by some sort of vortex, falling from the sky into a park, along with thousands of others.
The mass gathering at the park is noticed by the government, and the 4400 are quickly brought to a hotel where they are held for questioning by corrections officer Keisha Taylor (Ireon Roach, “Candyman”) and social worker Jharrel Mateo (Joseph David-Jones, “Nashville”), both of whom are just as confused as the rest. The two have different ideas about how to handle the situation, with Jharrel favoring a more personal approach and Keisha preferring to tackle the situation in a more distanced manner, causing them to be at odds with each other. However, a moment where Jharrel reveals to Keisha the reason for his personal interest in the case sparks the beginning of what will likely become a very complex yet reliable friendship between the two.
The last major plotline introduced in the pilot follows Claudette Williams (Jaye Ladymore, “Chicago P.D.”), an activist during the Civil Rights Movement who seems to have a supernatural healing ability after healing from a deep cut within minutes. Clearly, between Claudette and Mildred’s (Autumn Best, debut) unbelievable abilities, “4400” will go on to explore this supernatural thread, which could potentially serve as the explanation for why these specific individuals were abducted. While no other characters are shown to have supernatural abilities, in a sci-fi show that has already introduced mysterious vortexes, time travel and superhuman powers, it would not be surprising if this is the direction the show heads in.
Additionally, with characters having traveled in time from as far back as the Korean War to the Civil Rights movement to the early 21st century to the modern day, there is also potential that the show will make commentary about how views concerning today’s most controversial issues have changed in the past decades. It could be interesting to see how characters from earlier times in history adapt to society in the present day and to hear personal reflections on how the world they used to live in and the one they have been thrust into compare. While the original served merely as science fiction, there is definitely more that could be explored in the reboot, staying true to its original sci-fi genre while also connecting more to the real world.
Admittedly, when I first saw that Jackson, the producer and writer of “Riverdale,” was also producing “4400,” my hopes for the show diminished tremendously. So far, however, the show has proven to be entertaining with several engaging and unique storylines, generally likable characters and the beginning of what hopefully becomes an overarching commentary throughout the series. Even though only the pilot has been released so far, “4400” could prove to be a positive addition to television in a year that will surely leave a mark on history.
Daily Arts Writer Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.