The 4400: The Fourth Season

The 4400: The Fourth Season
Futuristic conspiracy theories take a turn for the religious in the fourth season of this better than average sci-fi serial, which concerns 4,400 people taken one at a time throughout the last century, then suddenly returned all at once from the future, newly endowed with "powers,” ranging from healing to pyrotechnics. The show has fallen so far off the pop culture radar that you might be surprised it’s still on, but this fourth season is one of the show’s strongest. Since forced to reveal its five-year "they came back from the future” plans in the series’ first mini-series, the show has struggled with how to maintain a secrecy-based sci-fi show that’s blown its biggest secret. (Imagine if the nature of the island came in episode eight of Lost.) But as season four begins, the world has been transformed by a chemical compound harvested from the 4,400s that gives anyone powers. Now people all over the world are gambling on a 50/50 proposition: die or get a special ability all your own (though not of your own choosing). Cult leader of the 4,400 Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell) turns messiah by encouraging the compound’s distribution, and it’s in this potentially utopian scenario that the show finds some new creative life. Society divides on an angel/devil axis regarding Collier’s intentions: is peace on Earth worth the sacrifice of half its population? And will those dreams bring the promised bliss anyway? It’s a smart move away from the power-of-the-week rut that sometimes dragged it down in seasons two and three. A solid set of features rounds out the 13 episode series: featurettes on the season overall, and of Collier’s complicated arc; some hit-and-miss deleted scenes; and some frank commentary tracks. It seems likely to be the series’ last season, and its conclusion is satisfying enough as a closer while still allowing for a fifth. If anyone even notices it’s still on. (Paramount)