Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 4400: The Gospel According to Collier

The Gospel According to Collier (episode 3.10)
Directed by Frederick E.O. Toye (Fred Toye)
Written by Ian Steven Behr & Craig Sweeny, story by Adam Levy
Guest starring Brennan Elliott, Tom McBeath
First aired 13 August 2006
Rating 5/10

Previous episode: The Starzl Mutation
Next episode: Terrible Swift Sword

The much anticipated return of Jordan Collier is highlighted by a lackluster episode. The previous entry ended with the exciting appearance of Collier at the dreaded Isabelle/Shawn nuptials, only to be followed up with standard fare. The episode plays out as though it was laid out on a belt line and moved along mechanically, picking up the requisite plot points along the way.

One problem is that the episode crams encyclopedic forty-four hundred mythos elements into forty-four minutes, important elements that could have better suited two episodes, or to have been initially developed over earlier episodes. Or over forty-four hundred minutes. Collier is here firmly established as a prophet helping to bring about Armageddon.

I've previously discussed Collier's association with Jesus Christ, as alluded to by his name. His connection to biblical prophets is distinctly clear via this episode's title, "The Gospel According to Collier," and the journey laid out for Collier. According to Matthew's gospel (and incidentally we'll recall that Isabelle killed Collier's Matthew), Christ spent forty nights in the wilderness, and we learn that Collier's death sent him on a journey throughout the urban U.S. wilderness spewing his prophesies and gaining loyal followers. His congregation was made up of the homeless and destitute, yet they believed so much in the man that they called him "The Prophet," and artists painted massive murals of the man all across the country. Rather than cramming all these details alongside his actual return and the ensuing ripple effect, his appearances could have at least been alluded to earlier so that the episode needn't devote so much time to this line of investigation, and focus more on the effects of his return. I understand a summer show with only thirteen episodes is limited in content compared to year-long shows, but we really didn't need the episode "Graduation Day."

A problem with the wandering prophet account is that the vast likenesses of a man as renowned as Collier would no doubt have come to the attention of NTAC of the 4400 Centre. Regardless that his following was restricted to the destitute, the frequently ignored, all those paintings of him all across the country and stored on an online database should have alerted either national security or the talents of the 4400.

Now he has returned to the 4400 Centre, and soon to visit his killer Kyle Baldwin in prison in an attempt to know who he is. The logic here is unfortunately lacking. He does not recall who he is and yet appears at Isabelle and Shawn's wedding calling out to Shawn Farrell. While it is possible he came across a link between himself and Shawn, the way he seemed to stumble upon an old news article linking himself to Kyle, why does he flee as soon as he calls out to Shawn if he visits the centre to discover his identity, or confirm it is JC? I place particular emphasis on the confirming JC detail since he must suspect he is Jordan Collier as he hides out in one of Collier's own empty houses (an important plot detail to bring NTAC to his nutty vision-filled journal). Moreover, why does he not simply wait for the sought-after confirmation from Shawn and instead make his way to prison for an interview with Kyle? When there, since he has already linked himself back to his life as Jordan Collier, living in his house and crashing the wedding of the century at his own centre, why would he ask an unknowing guard when Kyle yells out his name, "Is that who I am?" And would prison security allow a man who looks such as mess as Collier does into the government facility to chat with a convicted assassin?

Yet it is the ease along which everything transpires that leads me to the word lackluster, as in lacking in vitality (not in brightness). Rather than surging forth with tension and anticipation, everything pieces itself together so easily and so conveniently you'd think NTAC was trapped in an episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? Tom manages to get Alana back as her help is invaluable (so we're led to believe, though her involvement is kind of neat), and Kyle is released from prison seemingly overnight, though he committed crimes other than murder, such as bearing illegal firearms, discharging them in public, and intent to kill. Even Isabelle forgives Shawn so simply when he flees their wedding, though it was the only purpose she seemed to have aside from producing promicen for Ryland.

And finally, to cap off the lack of luster, Isabelle apologizes to Collier for her involvement in his death, and he tells her no one wants her so she should leave, and she leaves. (Had I known that was all it took to get rid of her, I would have told her to go when she was still a baby.)

Though Alana has returned, seemingly for good, while appearing to have left the more interesting Gary Navaro behind, Kyle's return is welcome, as he was among my favourite characters in the show's initial season; hopefully he will be well utilized and not just tossed aside with an occasional cameo.

Another returned 4400 character, though she never left but has lately been unfortunately under-utilized, is Maia. With the re-appearance of Diana's sister April comes sensitive yet studly photographer Ben Saunders (finely played by Albertan Brennan Elliott). Surprisingly, Diana has a love interest, and more surprisingly, it is the more interestingly developed plot of the episode. April re-appears unexpectedly with Ben, and Maia dutifully informs her mother that she will be marrying her sister's boyfriend. Things develop nicely, with affection quickly growing between the two, and as expected the two hook up, and Diana hides their developing relationship as April cries heartbroken in her apartment. The story-line works as the chemistry between the two actors is solid, and Jacqueline McKenzie as Diana plays the falling in love part quite nicely.

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As of 24 December 2015