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Throwback Thursday - The 4400 - As Fate Would Have It

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favourite TV episodes from the past.

In honour of the CW's 4400 reboot that premieres in a few days time, I thought this was a good time to take a look back at the original show that aired in the 2000s. For those of you who don't know, the 4400 is about a group of people who vanished at various points in history and all reappeared on the same day with no memory of where they'd been or how long they'd been gone. They were all exactly the same age as they had been when they vanished and had each come back with a unique, supernatural ability. Shawn Farrell can heal people, Maia Skouris can see the future and Richard Tyler has telekinesis. 

It was pretty hard picking just one episode to talk about but I eventually settled on the sixth episode of the second season, 'As Fate Would Have It'. This episode is a big turning point for several storylines in the season, setting the stage for the rest of the season and kicking off some great character development for key characters. The episode centres around Maia's prophecy of Jordan Collier dying and the race to try and save his life. 

This is a pretty significant episode for Jordan as he spends the episode ignoring the pleas of Shawn and NTAC to halt his big 4400 reunion event till they've found who wants to kill him. We see a few rare cracks in Jordan's calm and controlled facade, especially when he goes to visit Maia and asks baby Isabelle to show him some kind of sign. It was very human of him to be afraid of dying - and why would he want to die, just as his movement is getting in full swing - but of course Isabelle is still holding a massive grudge from the time he tried to force Lily to stay at his suburban complex. He'd spent the first five episodes of season 2 with unbearable pain caused by an unborn Isabelle that not even Shawn could take away permanently but he was convinced she'd forgiven him. This was probably why it was so easy for her to lie to him, showing him visions of a glorious future for him and his movement. 

His death was by design though, the future wanting him dead for whatever reason (I'm a little hazy on the details, I'm only partway through my season 3 rewatch and it's been a while since I watched the show). Shawn tried his level best to save him from dying though, revealing his powers to the world and still failing to save his mentor who had been more like a father figure to him. Jordan had been the one to give him a home and a purpose after Shawn felt alienated from everyone he knew. 

Shawn's vulnerability definitely made it easier for Jordan to manipulate him and keep him on side but that doesn't mean he didn't care about Shawn and really, because of Jordan, the first half of season 2 is the easiest time Shawn ever has on this show. After failing to save Collier, he's thrust into this position of responsibility leading the 4400 Centre and the movement as a whole and it's not one he's entirely ready for but this episode is a great shift for his character as he starts to grow up into the leader Jordan envisioned him becoming. Shawn's greatest quality is his compassion and his kindness and I'm glad he doesn't lose that as the weight on his shoulders gets heavier and heavier.

Speaking of heavy weights, it took me till halfway through this episode to remember that it was Kyle, Shawn's cousin and NTAC agent Tom Baldwin's son, who shoots Jordan. Back in season 1, the future tried to take Kyle as one of the 4400 before Shawn interfered (I think that protective instinct is why he exhibits healing powers on his return) and ever since he woke up from his coma, he's had this ball of light living inside him. It eventually starts causing blackouts that plagued him for the first half of the season and it's revealed that during these blackouts he was planning Jordan Collier's death. These events set up the rest of his arc for this season, with NTAC hunting the killer, Tom unaware he's chasing after his own son and Kyle unaware of the things he's done.

The episode ends with an emotional, passionate eulogy from Shawn in a great showcase of his character's arc up until this point and like Tom says, Jordan would have been proud of him. If you can't tell, Shawn's my favourite character and his relationship with Jordan is my favourite dynamic. Shawn's speech does a lot to protray the ideological divide between him and Jordan - who would probably never show such raw emotion in front of thousands of people - doing a lot to set up their inevitable conflict in season 4. A lot of people in the show seem to underestimate just how morally strong Shawn is at heart and this episode marks the beginning of him shedding the vulnerability that made it so easy for Jordan to draw him in in the first place. 

The episode ends with the discovery that Jordan's body has vanished from his coffin, setting up a mystery that isn't even slightly answered until a brief scene in the season 2 finale. It's a little weird they never tried to find out what happened to the body, even if they did think he was dead. I guess they all had bigger things to worry about. 

The 4400 is one of my favourite shows of all time and while it's pretty much entirely unlikely we'll ever get a satisfying conclusion to the original show, I hope that the reboot proves to be just as engaging, emotional and thrilling as its predecessor. 

Is The 4400 one of your favourite shows? Who was your favourite character? Favourite episode? Sound off in the comments below!

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