The 4400

Season 4 Episode 8

No Exit

Aired Unknown Aug 05, 2007 on USA

Episode Fan Reviews (15)

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  • Agreed with most posts - good filler

    I thought it was a really good episode, but am looking forward to the "meat" of the story as others said. It was interesting to see how in the end the 2 "leaders" were able to sacrifice themselves (albeit knowing they would probably wake up just fine). Look forward to the next one.
  • No Exit

    No Exit was a great episode of The 4400. I enjoyed watching this episode because it was full of action, suspense, and character development. The story was pretty interesting and was entertaining. A new 4400 ability is discovered though some fear the consequences of its power. This was a great way to bring both sides together, and it made for an interesting point. I like the choice of characters to be engaged in the game. The ramifications of the game were not as harsh as thought, but PJ paid the price. I was intrigued by the ending. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!
  • Filler episode, but still good.

    Although nobody liked this episode, I did. It was a filler episode, but it was good - at least for me.

    In this episode, PJ, one member of the NTAC staff has taken a promicin shot and developed the ability to create a game in which brings opponents together to play it until its end. They play it while they're sleeping and in a PJ dream. PJ got together Tom, Diana, Jordan, Shawn, Isabelle, Kyle, Maia, Marco, Meghan and himself. Meghan and Shawn "died" on the game. Then, PJ died too. This brought Tom and Jordan Collier to fight together (and "die" together) to save the others, so they could know that they didn't die in real life.

    The last scene was amazing. On the phone, Jordan asks Tom who should be the first to hang up. It was a good connection to what happened on the end of the dream.
  • It turns out that one of NTAC's staff has an ability which brings togethr opponents.

    Many reviewers seem to dislike, if not outright hate this episode, but I disagree. I liked it, it was a change of pace and whether it was intended to save money or not, I felt there were some worthwhile moments in this episode.

    The standout moment for me was the conversation between Kyle and Tom about their beliefs and about Shawn. That was a very emotional moment, extremely well acted in my opinion too by Joel and Chad.

    I also loved the argument between Tom and Jordan while going to the 'backdoor'. The vehemence of both of them was fantastic.

    Finally, the last scene. Suddenly it's Tom and Jordan, magnificent!
  • Typical Sci-Fi filler episode. No need to watch for the big picture.

    I don't get how this episode can get anything between 8-9. In its worst times, Stargate (and SG-A) had filler episodes that were better than this one. Jordan, Kyle and Baldwin have to hold hands to solve the problem. But holding hands between counterparts does not a good character-centric episode make. The final scene is the _only_ scene worth watching, where Jordan asks Baldwin on the phone who shall hang up first.

    Let me make this clear: I _love_ "The 4400". But the series has the problem of not moving on quick enough. We're in the fourth season, and we _still_ have no real idea about the two powers fighting each other in the future. We still haven't seen anything that would make it worth to fight for or against the 4400 in the _big_ picture because of that. All we know is that those "future pals" are sending enabled people back into our time (and others) to fight a war even before it actually happened (from a future perspective). That idea is fine, per se, but if all we do is watch filler-episode after filler-episode until the network shuts the series down and *maybe* _then_ we get a conclusion episode... - That's not the way a fine Sci-Fi series should be made, in my opinion. Instead, they should give us a real fight of powers. A big final battle. At the end of Season 4, perhaps. One where father has to sacrifice son to save the future - or vice versa. WITHOUT a coming back, of course. A real death. And then show that the timeline has been altered because of it. But that _that_ is not the end, only the reason for "them" to try even harder. But these up and downs with the 4400 being good for a couple of eps and then bad for some others cannot, in my opinion, be held up much longer.

    If "The 4400" ever dies because of not enough people watching: _This_ episode and others alike will be the reason. Give us story, give us meat. This one, sadly, has been a snack, and a stale one at that.
  • This could have been a great character piece because it had some great drama between the main characters. There was also a great allegory for the desperation among us to get warring factions to negotiate. However, the boring suspense plot killed it.

    Review of "No Exit" by Adam Levy

    Nowadays when I watch an episode, I try to not look at who the writer is, so that, based on the expectations I have of given writers, I'm not prejudiced into touting something as great or ineffective before it has finished. No offense to Adam Levy, since he worked on "The Gospel According to Jordan Collier," but, after watching the episode, I was crossing my fingers hoping Ira Steven Behr had not written this poorly-executed effort at a "bottle show" – which, according to the Writers' Blog, is an attempt to save the network money. I absolutely loved this episode's emotionally-intimate moments, especially between long-established characters. However, what could have been elaborated upon for a powerful character piece was ruined by a seeming identity crisis in choosing the focus of the show – or, rather, in deciding to divide the focus between a worthwhile character exploration and an uninteresting action dynamic to keep us entertained. I presumed the writers understood the focus should be "the characters, stupid." Instead, half the story time was misguidedly redirected toward satisfying the standalone plot mechanics of a dull suspense thriller. Still, as I'll comment toward the end of my review, P.J.'s 4400 ability to bring together adversaries in a psychic game of cooperation provided interesting commentary on the feelings of powerless citizens toward world leaders, especially in the dominant West, who refuse to admit fault or negotiate with opponents by dismissing them as irredeemable. P.J.'s yearning for understanding among the most pivotal players in the struggle between 4400s and non-4400s, and his ability's use in the service of this goal captured the spirit of what the concerned and voiceless in our world only wish they could do to bring peace.

    Why such standalones are a waste of the series' potential.

    I checked a spring 2007 interview with our man Behr on and this episode (Number 8) was the annual, experimental "palette cleanser" to which he referred, just as was last year's "Blink." However, I was really hoping for the kind of innovative and dramatically-powerful story he delivered in Season 2 around the same time of year with "Life Interrupted" or even last year when he co-wrote "The Home Front." Ira Behr has overseen successful "bottle" shows, such as DS9's "Starship Down." I hopefully expect he's saving all his best work for the second half of the season, after a disappointing premiere. Yet, such a decision confuses me, since there are so few episodes a year, and much of the otherwise fascinating and innovative continuing story has sometimes felt more disjointed (and perhaps more rushed) than in past years. Instead of dissatisfying "Touched by an Angel"-style drama of standalone main plots, I feel it would have been better to further detail the continuing story elements (especially Kyle, Jordan, and Shawn's journeys) of each episode to fully fill that episode. I just don't buy the argument that, in order to win over new fans, it is better to have a mediocre standalone plot that takes away time from the continuing story rather than a well-executed and textured fully-serialized set of episodes. I've introduced myself to serialized shows part-way, but instead of being dissuaded by the complexity, I was won over by the engaging drama. Simply put, I don't see how compromising the strengths of the show is going to win over new viewers; it will likely just lose older partial fans of the show when they do check it out. The standalone story elements could have sufficed but the writing quality needed much more work to be worthy of the third of the season that they have consumed so far; even so-called mythology episodes like "Try the Pie" with detracting standalone elements and somewhat lesser standalone townspeople characters are obviously far less engaging than full-on mythology episodes like "Till We Have Built Jerusalem."

    Similarities with "Blink."

    Season 3's "Blink" made the same mistakes as this episode. It provided an opportunity to understand more about Diana and Tom's past and two of their deeply psychologically-affecting relationships. The drama provided by each lead's interaction with hallucinations of Diana's ex-fiancé and especially Tom's father allowed for some realistic and relatable aspects of the characters to be exposed. Nevertheless, the writing staff needlessly balanced the character drama with ineffective "excitement." They focused half the story on the silly detective work of finding out how this happened to our heroes and the uninteresting process of catching the cookie distributor. This plot-driven exercise only detracted from what could have been a great character piece. This was a missed opportunity to know so much more about Tom and Diana or at least explore more dialogue and interesting moments with their past loved ones. In "No Exit," the dramatically-intimate prospects were perhaps greater and potentially more effective by involving more of the main cast. Yet, partly for those reasons, the continual shift toward plot-driven jeopardy was even more of a dramatic mood killer this time around. P.J's game wasn't nearly as interesting as the apparently incidental character moments that came between the supposed "meat" of the episode – the action.

    Problems with the subplot.

    I sympathized with the set-up needed to bring all these characters face-to-face so they could have great drama. However, too much story effort was put into explaining this set-up and making it (and P.J.) a character in itself that exploration of the existing characters was far less deep than it could have been. The dramatic point of the episode was lost in self-consciously trying to make it superficially entertaining, and neither goal was well achieved. Even if the characters reacted believably, the whole suspense dynamic felt dull, cheap or silly with a living NTAC building come to life; this kind of situation was more expertly done on Star Trek: DS9's "Civil Defense" in which the station's security protocols threatened the crew; here, even if viewers knew it was a dream, the same threats just felt hokey, especially the sliding doors and ventilation system machinations. While some sort of basic plot device could have provided the backdrop for getting Collier's group and NTAC's staff to work together, it should have been simplified, so we had more time to give the wonderful character interactions their full due.

    Presentation and finer details were lacking.

    I'm not sure if the director was to blame, but there was something off about the tone of how the characters met (except perhaps Shawn, Isabelle and Kyle) that felt boring and started off the show poorly. Some of the acting or perhaps how such acting was captured on camera (Isabelle's reaction to Shawn's "death", Maia's screaming, etc) or even scripted was also less than stellar. This was strange because the show has a very talented cast. One notable exception was the way Meghan Doyle fiddled and reacted to being shocked, which seemed quite embarrassingly real.

    Original character dynamics that made the story interesting.

    There were minor elements related to the boring subplot that deserve praise for being refreshing and unique. Diana, one of the heroes, was shown up by a minor supporting character for her ineffectual idea of protecting themselves from Jordan's side by barricading the room. A nice touch was in having Jordan's terrorist group more willing to cooperate than the NTAC staff. Jordan was willing to share the risk in helping Tom escort P.J. to end the game early, Kyle and Isabelle welcomed Maia's help, and Isabelle pressed a distrustful Diana to cooperate. I also appreciated that working together produced some mutual respect between Tom and Jordan, but was not some magical breakthrough in politically uniting the two. The complexity to this new level in their relationship was conveyed in Jordan's polite but insistent request to Tom that one of them end their phone conversation, since they both expressed the limits to their rapprochement.

    Severity of the justice system toward P.J.'s crime.

    While P.J.'s success in even momentarily breaking barriers between Tom and Jordan was not lost on the audience, an interesting choice was made to have Marco and especially Diana unimpressed by what P.J. had accomplished. They seemed unmoved by his pleas for the need for understanding and unsympathetic to his plight in being arrested for doing some good. It's interesting to note the very realistic hypocrisy in Diana's more loving conduct when her sister committed the same crime. In this way, viewers can see the inherent cruelty in a rigid justice system that sometimes fails to take into account the context of a person's crime. From unfair treatment of the poor to enemy combatants in Abu Ghraib, similar black or white justice is meted out in the US and the larger world. In P.J.'s sentencing, one sees the harsh treatment of ordinary folks who inject themselves, either out of ideological persuasion by Jordan's message, or fear of changing power dynamics that would put them at a disadvantage if they didn't.

    Intimate character moments.

    The best dramatic use of the characters did not come from suspicious, fearful reactions to the tense set-up, but from softer, personal moments generated by long-standing personal and/or political grievances over past and existing relationships. However, while the drama derived from characters trying to get to know each other in a new light was a neat idea, perhaps it was less interestingly and convincingly handled. When she wasn't screaming in fear, Maia had an interesting role in confronting Diana and Marco about their awkward distancing – much to Diana's nicely-acted annoyance. This allowed some good discussion about their feelings and their desire to preserve their friendship; this is the kind of thing fans have been waiting to watch. I'm still unsure about Meghan Doyle as a quality character or at least her use in the show. Moments between she and Tom, while believable, still feel slightly contrived and uninteresting, especially the last scene in which Tom hugs her. In contrast, Kyle and Isabelle's relationship has been better handled such that no one can surely predict whether they will get together romantically; avoiding that kind of fatalism makes their relationship more believable. In any case, I liked Meghan and Tom's discussion of how he keeps moving forward by concentrating on the task directly ahead of him. It felt true. Tom's conversation with Kyle was another well-written moment allowing each to believably express his perspective about Kyle's terrorist role this season. Through this exchange we understand each one's personal and political differences. A nice touch was how Shawn's death slightly affected Kyle. It would have been cliché to have it shake his beliefs completely and have him turn on his mission. The writers chose a more realistic approach in making Kyle adopt the mindset of terrorists who witness deaths all the time in their search for a better world. Kyle's reaction was such that he only questioned slightly his willingness to risk lives to make the prophesy and Jordan's vision a reality. People's judgment is often slow to change and it's appropriate that the writers realized this.

    Best of all the character moments were the interactions concerning Shawn. There were so few moments, but they all felt meaningful and deserved to be mined for all they were worth instead of having him implausibly sacrificed for some suspense dynamic. Shawn waking up next to Isabelle was a chilling touch. I loved his reaction (evident in his body language and tone) to Jordan's group as well as how Kyle pointed out how his relationship with Jordan was more equal than Shawn's had been. It felt convincingly true because all the episodes this year showed this, but I hadn't yet realized it; I wonder if Shawn felt some jealousy toward Kyle over this. Not everything was great; the distinction between Jordan as someone who "shoots first and asks questions later" and Shawn's more peaceful approach was a bit obvious, but acceptable. Perhaps Shawn's "death" did provide some dramatic use when Tom and Jordan discussed his importance to them; I had never heard the characters talk about their history with him that way; it was great to see, but also far too brief.

    The most politically-insightful and relatable dramatic moment.

    Perhaps the nicest moment in the entire episode involved Tom arguing with Jordan over each one's responsibility for the world-wide political turmoil. The writers insightfully gave each side a valid perspective. Both were able to point out how each one's inflexibility had led to his (adoptive) son's estrangement. Tom blamed their present predicament on Jordan's irresponsible distribution of promicin to the masses. He argued was causing a mounting death toll and unleashing dangerous abilities among P-positives, including P.J.. Jordan convincingly retorted that the government's counterrevolutionary tactics of heavy-handed criminalization and fear-mongering only forced "the gifted" into hiding and prevented them learning to use their abilities safely and constructively.

    This exchange reminded me of the war on drugs debate. Proponents of legalization sometimes claim the violence and enrichment to drug cartels and mafias come from government criminalization, which makes drugs less accessible and drives up the profit to those who provide it. Careful regulation, they say, might make the problem more manageable. The difference between the War on Drugs and the War on Promicin is that I'm opposed to dangers legalization of drugs might bring in making its availability easier, especially to minors; while 1930s prohibition didn't halt alcoholism, it did lessen it, and making something legal tends to make it more acceptable, when perhaps it shouldn't be. In the case of Jordan's distribution of promicin, such actions seem carried out with the best intentions of saving humanity to prevent the accumulation of power among a few.

    Political parallels in how states' counterrevolutionary behavior can worsen things: How America's reaction to Al Qaeda only strengthened its cause.

    In any case, Jordan's response reflects a politically-astute and historically-accurate observation by the writers that state reactions to perceived threats sometimes increases the power and likelihood of such threats. For example, the Bush administration's reaction to 9/11 by invading Iraq involved a misunderstanding and intentional miscommunication to the Western public of the nature and causes of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Despite the good intentions of some in the US military, the war and occupation have been carried out with criminally immoral carelessness. Members of the administration have failed to gain Iraqis' trust in refusing to swear off permanent US bases and, most importantly, potential US profit from Iraq's oil reserves. Using the rhetoric of free enterprise, Dick Cheney and others pushed to ensure that American business can profit from Iraq's vast oil reserves, instead of stipulating that petroleum will only be used for the benefit of Iraqis. This sends the message that America is there primarily for its own interests and not to help Iraqi society. US incompetence also contextualizes the reasons for the distrust of Iraqi insurgents (which have different goals than Al Qaeda-type groups) toward America's presence in their homeland. As more innocent Iraqis are mistreated or have their loved ones killed or maimed (as collateral damage in perilous warfare Americans would never risk among their own), they are more likely to join the insurgency. The line between ally and opponent in Iraq is related to the experience of the occupation.

    Consequently, the worldwide popularity – and, therefore, the power -- of Al Qaeda-type groups among desperate and misguided Muslim youth has indisputably grown to a far greater threat to not only Western, but human civilizations than had Iraq been left alone. None of this argument takes away from the responsibility for the racist kind of colonial nationalism Al Qaeda-type groups preach. However, it recognizes the West's part in inflaming that unjustifiable ideology. It is important to acknowledge the appeal of some of Al Qaeda's direct goals of ending the Israeli occupation and a militarized US presence that buttresses repressive regimes in the Middle East to protect petroleum interests. This in no way excuses Al Qaeda-type groups' actions or sees as rational their more honor-based, selfish notion of Islamic identity – an identity based more on taking offense when foreigners harm Muslims than when fellow Muslims commit wrong. However, a similar irrational nationalism occurs among many cultures, the US included, in which notions of moral superiority are selectively sensitive toward certain injustices in the world, but not others.

    Political parallels with concerns over uncompromising factions: the real Tom Baldwin and Jordan Collier.

    The most admirable aspect of the P-positive standalone subplot was its poignant relevance to the present political climate. The idea of an ordinary person getting world leaders – let alone, pivotal players in the future's outcome – to reconcile their differences and allow for peace is relatable and unique in its own way. P.J. demonstrated emotionally-realistic reactions to political tensions we see in the real world that were mirrored on the show by various sides being unwilling to understand one another.

    In the last few weeks, certain issues in the Democratic Party's presidential campaign have come to the fore regarding how the US should treat adversarial regimes, especially Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela. Democratic Party discourse showed promise when candidates Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama had, at different times, expressed a desire to negotiate openly and at the highest levels with such regimes to contrast themselves with Bush's haughtiness. Disappointingly, they have been quick to recant or modify such positions, in recent weeks. This may be an attempt to appeal to supposedly moderate, nationalist values. Such intolerance toward opposing regimes has been typical of most US administrations. It is based on the supposition that America is morally superior, and has not done anything to deserve their opposition. There is a morally false assumption that these regimes are in the wrong and must compromise first if the US is to risk its status and show them equal respect. Yet the historical record shows a different picture in which these regimes' hostility has – at least, partly -- been brought about by American abuse and interference in the lives and freedom of their peoples. Add to this the fact that these countries are substantially poorer, weaker and more prone to suffering the effects of a global system skewed toward American interests, and the wrongs committed by them are more understandable. Their mistakes and aggressiveness should not be simplistically used as evidence of inherent evil in refusing to surrender to American wants. There are rational reasons for distrust of American power.

    US policy toward Latin America.

    Despite proclamations that America eschewed the colonialism practiced by European powers, the historical facts show this to be a hypocritical reading of America's approach toward Latin America. With the Monroe Doctrine and Roosevelt corollary, the US claimed to protect Latin Americans from European colonialism by declaring the Americas in its sphere of interest; instead of serving Latin American interests, however, they implemented interfering and controlling policies to serve US interests. When it was not acting colonially in directly seizing land from places like Mexico (and the Philippines in the Pacific), it practiced neocolonialism to allow US citizens, in the spirit of individualist capitalism, (not directly the state) a free hand in the region to directly benefit American society. In this way, it demanded economic and political access in the affairs of Latin American nations, so that US business could profit at the expense of mostly poorer groups, especially Indios. During the Cold War, the US employed the rhetoric of fighting Communism to ensure friendly regimes serving US economic and political interests. This often meant supporting brutal, dictatorial regimes like Augusto Pinochet in Chile. Oftentimes, it meant thwarting the people's will, as the CIA did in funding a military coup to overthrow Guatemala's democratically-elected, leftist government of Jacobo Arbenz when he threatened the presence of the United Fruit Company.

    Castro's Cuba.

    In the case of Cuba, the US-supported General Fulgencio Batista's oppressive means to allow whites to prosper and Americans to use the country as their own resort. Fidel Castro may have used regrettably violent and anti-democratic means to attain and hold onto power, but he has largely worked in the interests of helping the poor reach a living standard unknown in the region. In contrast to Bush's callous neglect for both saving thousands in the wake of Hurricaine Katrina or helping survivors in the aftermath, Castro ensured there were no mass casualties, as his government mobilized its resources to save lives. John Kennedy's repeated attempts to assassinate Castro and overthrow his regime with the Bay of Pigs attack of 1961 hardly helped inspire trust in America's moral superiority. It led to Castro's greater closeness with the Soviet Union for aid and protection in the form of missile installation. It was only at the urging of Nikita Khrushchev for compromise that a solution was found to the Cuban Missile Crisis. In exchange for removing missiles from Cuba, Kennedy agreed to accept Castro's regime and to remove US missiles pointed at the USSR from Turkey – only, at a later date, to avoid publicly acknowledging a compromise and, thereby, the limits of American power. While administrations from Nixon on eagerly pursued economic and political cooperation with China, despite its communist orientation, Cuba continued to face hardship from US-led sanctions and ostracism by the international community. Any economic help Cuba has received from US inhabitants' remittances pales in comparison to the prosperity and softening Cuba would show if it had been welcomed and not faced unrelenting hostility from the US.

    Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

    Similarly, the reasons behind US opposition to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez have less to do with his disappointing authoritarian policies (including his disregard for a free press) than his challenge to US interests. By nationalizing Venezuela's petroleum, Chavez threatens the security of a vital resource that used to be securely assured to US corporations. While the Bush administration's concern over anti-capitalist steps which put US business at a disadvantage is valid, its organizing a coup against Chavez was immoral and unacceptable. Its failure was due to Chavez's popularity among the masses that defended his hold on power. The failed coup only fed into a vindicated, traditional suspicion among Venezuelans, and Latin Americans in general, about America's long-standing disinterest in Latin Americans' interests if they conflict with its own. It also caused understandable ire on Chavez's part toward Bush at a recent speech at a UN assembly. Whatever Chavez's faults, his hold on power is democratic and just. Furthermore, he shows a sensitivity toward the interests of lower classes and the larger public that, historically, undemocratic American puppets in the region have not. In this light, Chavez's anti-US (mostly anti-Bush) policies and rhetoric must be understood as reasonable efforts to do what's best for his country and the region. They're certainly not out of bounds when compared to similarly irrational stances US politicians often adopt with pretensions of moral superiority.

    America's historical role in making Iran aggressive.

    For its part, Iran's antagonism must be seen in the historical perspective of American interference and aggression toward its people since the end of WWII. As the Cold War began, US diplomats rushed to secure strategic interests in the Middle East. These included petroleum, as well as strategically-essential pathways to both enable access to it and to serve as potential routes of attack on the USSR. US policy sadly took on an intolerant streak as officials sought to control such resources themselves to deny any chance of Soviet access to them. Even governments that were neutral (not decidedly in the US-led orbit) became unacceptable. In 1953, US and British officials felt threatened by Prime Minister Muhammed Mossadeq's decision to nationalize petroleum exploited by their countries' businesses and by his willingness to be friendly to the Soviets. At Britain's urging, the CIA staged a coup which overthrew a democratic government and effectively imposed a dictatorship under the Shah, Reza Pehlavi, who was firmly pro-US interests. Iranians suffered under a brutal and corrupt regime because US officials were impatient in tolerating the slight risk a democratic Iranian government might bring to their interests.

    In the Eugene Jarecki's award-winning 2005 documentary "Why We Fight," a former CIA official named Chalmers Johnson defines a concept in CIA terminology called "blowback." Referring to the Iranian hostage crisis and 9/11, he says it is "the unintended consequences of foreign operations that were deliberately kept secret from the American public, so that when the retaliation comes, the American public is not able to put it in context – to put cause and effect together so that they come up with questions like 'why do they hate us?'" Chalmers states that in the 1953 CIA report on the coup, officials wrote that they expected blowback from this operation. The Shah remained in power until discontent bubbled up in the form of blowback -- a fundamentalist, religious revolution in 1979 -- which sadly took hostages from the US embassy. While one cannot deny the danger an Islamic theocracy that has remained largely undemocratic poses to the world and especially the well-being of its people, the Revolution's actions against the US were understandably irrational. Yet, US president Ronald Reagan fed upon US nationalism to vengefully back Saddam Hussein's Iraq in an 8-year war against Iran. Just as they supported the foreign Arab Mujahideen in Afghanistan against Soviet invasion, they supplied Saddam with arms and biological weapons to use against Iranians. These are the same biological weapons the Bush administration rightly accused Saddam of barbarity in using on his own people (Kurds and Shiah), though Defense Secy Donald Rumsfeld was an envoy in the Reagan administration who worked to supply him with them in the first place. Bush's change in Iran from potential ally to potential adversary.

    Despite the US interfering in Iranians' democratic will and waging a proxy war against them, Iranians were quite pro-Western in the 1990s. They are a mostly young population that had been reacting against their regime's oppression, the had elected a moderate in President Muhammed Khatami, and they stood firm with America after 9/11; a million people took to the streets of Tehran in mourning to show solidarity for America's tragedy. Yet with much of the Islamic world sympathetic toward America's plight and unquestioned support at home, George W. Bush chose to divide the world to pursue selfish interests instead of unite it. In his needlessly aggressive "Axis of Evil" speech in January 2002, he engaged in fear-mongering by naming Iran as a threat. By invading Iraq and leaving North Korea alone, the Bush administration proved that, if the US was determined to overthrow an enemy regime anyway, having nuclear weapons was safer than not. Iranians have been understandably on edge. With the support of conservative rural segments promised better living conditions, the warmongering racist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected from a group of candidates selected by the theocracy.

    Rather than helping Iranian society liberalize, hawkish US pressure has recently caused the regime to make aggressive statements and engage in provocative behavior. Although the UK has failed to provide satisfactory evidence to that they were in international waters, Iran's arrest of British soldiers for trespassing into Iranian waters led to a kind of showdown. Even if Iran's claims were correct and its behavior was comparatively militaristic with how the US would have reacted, it was risky. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed mostly because the US was tied up in Iraq, and another war was out of the question. Even in Iraq, Iran seems intent on implementing ambitious designs to reshape it and the region in its favor. The morality of Iran's actions will depend on the future well-being of the Middle East's peoples, including Iraqis, and not just on serving its own interests. Yet Iran's behavior is hardly evidence that it is purely involved to thwart American interests, as US officials argue. None of this is to deny the potential for Iran to behave as morally ambiguously in the Middle East as the US has in Latin America. Though, the difference would be that the US never faced any serious threats in the Americas to justify its interference and Iran is surrounded by adversarial states. Yet, isn't that all the more reason to see Iran's meddling in Iraq to ensure a friendly neighbor for its own security at least relatable to how US officials have behaved in their sphere?

    How Bush's aggression is hurting liberalization in Iran, and rallying the people behind an unpopular establishment.

    Most importantly, US antagonism has given the theocracy-dominated regime an excuse to halt progressive change at home, including further democratization. It has prompted the government to viciously crack down on civil liberties, including what little freedom of the press and freedom of speech people possessed. The threat of war has weakened the ability of moderate voices to affect both the direction of government policy and civil society, as the fearful public will surely rally behind the regime.

    While aggressors tend to think pressure on a despised regime will lead to grassroots rebellion against it, very often, the reverse occurs, and the public rallies to those in power. Al Qaeda expected its attack on 9/11 to persuade Americans to force their government to leave the Middle East. Yet, it actually bolstered support for an incompetent and unpopular Bush presidency, paving the way for fascistic policies for the sake of security. Israel's 2006 massacre of over 1000 Lebanese in an effort to root out Hezbollah in and make them unpopular among a suffering populace backfired. Israel's actions weakened confidence in a moderate government whose pleas for international help fell on deaf ears, as the West gave carte blanche to Israel's slaughter. This only increased public support for the terrorist group as the only means fund reconstruction, and defend against and strike back at Israel. Only when a democratic society is reasonably well-off do minor sanctions and inconveniences work to change public's attitude about the ruling regime; for example, in South Africa, sanctions helped turn public opinion against apartheid. When people feel unjustifiably threatened and treated condescendingly, they blame the aggressor, not the regime, and react nationalistically by supporting policies they otherwise would not.

    US politicians often say that their quarrel is not with the people of a given country but with those in power. This policy is seemingly based on the moral justification that intolerance of a morally inferior regime ultimately serves the greater good, and will lead to its destruction and free the inhabitants. However, what is best for the people as a whole is often to negotiate and work with these regimes in such a way that they are able to better the lives of their people, including the implementation of liberal policies. This has been America's approach to China. When dictatorial regimes are handled with uncompromising coercion, it is the people in less than properly democratic states – not their objectionable rulers -- who often suffer in wars and invasions. They are made to fight unwillingly as soldiers, and die as collateral damage or from sanctions as Iraqis (who had no vote to remove Saddam) did for over a decade after the Gulf War. Iranians are understandably skeptical of American claims to fight in their interests, especially upon seeing how callous US plans for regime change were toward bettering the lives of Iraqis.

    "It's the culture of political campaigns, stupid."

    The history of US foreign policy outside of Europe, especially in the last few years, does not provide evidence to support the often-claimed assumption that America is morally superior. As such, US political candidates should realize their country's role in inspiring some of the world's anti-Americanism. Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran's animosity toward the US is often warranted and should be appreciated as such, given the context of greater US cruelty inflicted upon their peoples than these regimes have upon Americans. What's more, "Why We Fight" observes that American culture is such that its citizens live in a state of amnesia. They are made to only comprehend events in a short-term context -- to not ask why evil occurs. They are encouraged to assume homogenous, inherent evil on the attacker's side, and to not fully know what the US may have done to contribute to the situation. I read a book in high school by Dan T. Carter, called "Race and the Conservative Counter-Revolution," in which he argues that campaigns are really the only time the general public is educated about major issues. Presidential candidates have a responsibility to not just distort issues for the short-term benefit of winning but to explore them honestly, so that the public makes informed decisions over the long-run. In this sense, the Democratic Party is missing a unique opportunity to change the dysfunctional discourse that has permitted so much bullying of the rest of the world, and provoked so much contempt.

    America's failure to meet its moral standard did not begin with Bush.

    This administration has been rightly criticized for its unilateral arrogance, its willingness to see only enemies where there could be friends, and to prepare for apocalyptic dangers by dealing with the world aggressively. Yet, while it has taken these tendencies to an unprecedented extreme, these characteristics are not new among US officials. This thread of behavior runs through the history of US foreign policy since the start of the Cold War, perhaps earlier, and it has created long-standing, mostly justified grievances among the peoples of the world. Bill Clinton is frequently considered the anti-Bush, and this is true in many ways. Still, it was Clinton who continued the legacy of disproportionately upholding Saddam Hussein as a danger to the US to appear tough and presidential. To distract from his failures, such as the Lewinski scandal, he bombed Iraq every so often, killing people who were not responsible for Saddam's hold on power. According to Scott Ritter, it was Clinton who illegally allowed the CIA to infiltrate the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq, which caused Saddam to kick inspectors out in the late 1990s. Nonetheless, this propaganda (some from deceitful Iraqi exiles) had the effect of brainwashing the American people in exaggerating the threat Iraq represented. So, when Bush purported the Iraqi government had ties to Al Qaeda, when Saddam was actually their opponent and quite secular in his policies (including women's role in society), it didn't take much to persuade Americans of the need to remove him. They had already been conditioned to think of him as the source of all evil, and as an intolerably eminent threat to the US.

    It was also Bill Clinton who signed into law "extraordinary rendition," allowing the torture of many innocent citizens of foreign origin, based not on strong evidence but suspicion. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website explains the term: "Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where -- in the CIA's view -- federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards."

    America has to be more understanding in its foreign policy for peace.

    If America is to live up to the moral superiority it has proclaimed in the last century as the basis of its right to lead the world, it must lead by example. If the Democratic Party is to break with not only recent history, its country's past as well, it must approach the world with more understanding and patience. In the final analysis, it is not only in America's moral responsibility as the richest, most powerful nation, but also in its long-term practical interests to find peace with these opponents. As stated in the Baker-Hamilton report, without Iran's cooperation, stabilizing Iraq will be impossible. This is not to argue that America's opponents are inherently virtuous, but that they are just as complex as Americans – as capable of kindness and cruelty. They deserve the same respect through patience and comprehension of their perspective that the US has long expected others to allow it, despite its many blunders. I keep losing faith in supposedly brilliant, insightful politicians bringing about mutual understanding. Bill Clinton showed tremendous grasp of the plight of minorities and the poor, but showed little interest in prioritizing their needs, let alone those of the Third World, especially the Middle East. There is little hope when Barack Obama -- touted as liberal and capable of bringing a new sensitivity toward the rest of the world's problems in his leadership – adopts the same conservative position as many leaders before him. If America's leaders are either ignorant of, or unwilling to admit, the immorality of actions the US has carried out that have contributed to tensions, then all is lost. Unless America changes the course of its foreign policy, there can be no peace.

    What does all this political talk have to do with this mediocre 4400 episode?

    In this seemingly convoluted but carefully-explained way, P.J.'s role in "No Exit" spoke to important themes about the need for understanding "the other" that are essential to building a better world. The friction between Tom and Jordan is a political metaphor for the strain between the West, specifically the US, and the non-European world. It is also an allegory for the issues concerning conflict between the state and reasonable activists/terrorists. P.J.'s role illuminated the frustration among moderate members of the public, like myself, who feel unable to get either side in the War on Terror and other conflicts to find agreement. We wish for both sides, including their most fervent supporters, to at least see their mistakes and acknowledge the fair grievances of "the other" in creating this conflict. The drama of The 4400 is very much revealing of the essential political themes required to comprehend the dilemmas of the real world. If only the execution of these themes had led to a better story.

    7.2 out of 10

    (I should emphasize that only the rarest of shows get 10 -- only the absolute best episodes of The X-Files ("Talitha Cumi", "Paper Hearts", "Redux II", etc.), Battlestar Galactica ("Pegasus","Lay Down Your Burdens", "Occupation"/"Precipice") and Deep Space Nine ("In the Pale Moonlight"). I would give the best story of The 4400 to date, "Terrible Swift Sword"/"Fifty Fifty," around 9.0, and I really loved that.)
  • Just a filler, but a brilliant one at that!

    Judging by the rest of the reviews, I am probably the only person who loved this episode. I think part of it is that I'm a sucker for buildings/places where people are living in that try to kill everyone. Like that Star Trek Voyager episode, "The Haunting of Deck Twelve"... but that is another story.

    Anyway, right when Marco tried to wake up PJ, and he looked around in a funny way, he had something to do with it. We all knew that two people "weren't going to make it" or something the man at the previous episode said, and to be honest I thought it would have been PJ and that other nerd. When Meghan got shocked, it was obvious she was going to die. I actually laughed, not because she died, but because Tom got another kick to the groin and lost someone he loved. Then there was Shaun, who in true B-grade slasher films, stared at what was going to kill him instead of running for his life. And when I watch those movies, you can't help but scream, "Move, you idiot!" Which is what I did in this case, and Shaun died too. So there were our two people who weren't going to make it out alive.

    So the rest of the episode plays out with the others trying to survive, and it is revealed by PJ that the two waring factions have to work together to live. Which leads to Tom and Jordan working together. I was actually surprised they got through in the end, and sacrificed themselves to save the others. Just a filler, but hopefully the next three or so episodes are related to the story.
  • Departure, Blah, Drama

    The 4400 ~ No Exit: I know this episode has gotten a lot of scathing reviews from the show's die hard watchers. I really liked it though. It was a nice departure from the norm. I really thought the writers could have done a much better job showing some emotion for BJ from his collegues. I mean, they work with this guy everyday ... and in the end, they were just like, blah ~ oh well, another 4400 in the clink. What is that all about? Other than that, I enjoyed the drama and the action. It was nice to get away from Collier's minions for an episode. I understand where they were going with this, It appears that they needed to show that Isabel is getting to be more trustworthy to Collier's clan, which is going to be more of a blow when her daddy comes to take her away. I'm certainly looking forward to that.
  • Just ok

    The only good thing in the episode was the fact that Jordan and Tom got a little closer and dont "hate" each other as much as they did. But i feel that the episode wasnt worth it, i mean, 42 minutes just so that Tom go from calling Jordan instead of Collier ?

    That was too much for me, coz that was the only thing that actually matter in the whole episode.

    They should have done some more things, like, Isabele saving Maya and then Diana would forgive her for trying to hurt Maya before, i think that would have been pretty interesting.
  • The major characters are trapped in their dreams in P.J.'s dream where they have no choice but to work together to get out. Sean and Megan die as the building attacks the "players". Only by Collier and Tom working together are they all saved.

    This episode was disappointing on so many levels. The promos lead you to believe two major characters would die. They do, but it is only a dream "Dallas" did this years ago and many others have tried, but only the witty Bob Newhart had any success with it. The developing relationship between Tom Baldwin and Megan is disquietening. The future gave Tom Elena to help him with his duties in saving the future. They took her away, apparently for Tom not killing Isabella, but Megan is a poor substitute. And Diana with Marcus ... oh, please. Also, why didn't Maia have visions of the future while they were stuck in this nightmare? Shouldn't that have been a clue to the rest that it wasn't real?The only saving grace was that Collier and Tom had to work together to get out, and perhaps this bodes well for some resolution between those with promicin and those without. Looking forward to Richard's return Sunday and reconnecting with Isabella.
  • Things are not as they seem.

    The major players are brought together at NTAC. No one seems to know how they got there and why there are only 8 people in the entire facility. Half way thru it is revealed that one of the NTAC guys took promicin and developed an ability to create a simulation in order to bring people together by forcing them to cooperate in order to end the simulation/game. The "game" kills off the new head of NTAC and then Shawn - which at this point was a dead giveaway this wasnt reality. For a time I thought The Marked may have been behind the whole thing. The key part was Tom Baldwin and Jordan Collier not only had to work together and trust each other, but make the ultimate sacrifice not knowing whether or not they would end up dead in the real world. Though during their final conversation, Tom and Jordan kept up their usual tough talk, it was clear each developed a new found respect for the other. Im sure this will be a factor at the end of the season when things come to a climax. Next week someone alot of people have been waiting to see makes his first appearance this season.
  • The first misfire of the season

    Every season of every show has a substandard episode, though some productions manage to keep the low points to a minimum (while others can fall into an extended slump). When it comes to "The 4400", such slip-ups are rare. There's usually enough story and creativity in hand to keep the momentum flowing. But every so often, there's an episode that fails to live up to expectation.

    In this case, it's all about predictability. From the very beginning of the episode, it's not hard to figure out that the "players" are in some kind of dream-world, and that a powered individual brought them into that world. It was obvious that Jordan Collier and Tom Baldwin would end up squaring off against each other, with Kyle in the middle. By the time all the characters in the "game" were revealed, it was obvious which one of them was responsible. It was also predictable that he would end up a "victim" as well, forcing Jordan and Tom to work together towards a solution.

    In other words, this was an episode full of familiar tropes, and quite often, an exercise in waiting out the story to see if anything new or unusual would happen. The writers stacked the deck against themselves by making this tired plot device the center of a "bottle show" as well, raising the stakes on character exploration. Bottle shows are designed to keep the budget low, and the inevitable consequence is that the writing must overcome the lack of variety in the locations and plot threads.

    By the end of the episode, very little has been advanced. Tom and Megan are getting closer to a relationship, but that had already been waiting in the wings, so this is an incremental step forward. Somewhat more significant is the personal battle of wills that has developed between Jordan and Tom, but this was also just acknowledgement of what "Try the Pie" accomplished. The final conversation was a lot of fun, but it was a bit of a letdown after so much predictable storytelling.
  • SNOOOZE. can you say filler episode. was anyone else bothered by this?

    does anyone else think this was a filler episode? omg how boring. i know they dont want to have reruns, but id rather see an earlier episode that this "game" one. snoooooozer. yes, it is pivotal that jordan and tom can now work together and that tom calls jordan by his first name and he had a touching moment with his son. but honestly? if i wasnt so completely obsessed with this show it would have been tivo'ing through the entire thing. yay for the fastforward button. and the delete. i cant wait to see next weeks episode! i hope its better!!
  • The writer's explore character development in a rather interesting way...

    This episode is one of the most meritorious of the season. Although admittedly contrived, the subtleties and nuances each of the characters are forced to exude and confront in themselves and each other are very cleverly discerned through excellent writing and great acting. I found it to be one of the most compelling episodes this season because the plot and the storyline were suddenly stalled in their tracks, forcing the characters to confront some issues that had up to this point been left rather blatantly unresolved. Props to the talented cast and crew who continually make this show one of the best on television.
  • Tom, Megan, Diana, Maia, Marco, Jordan, Kyle blah blah... and some other stupid people get stuck at NTAC together and can't get out! So they have to work together or some stupid crap to get out.

    I must say that I was very unhappy with this episode. Two people were supposed to die and they didn't...why? Because it wasn't real! How stupid. Apparently one of the geeky dudes from the theory room (PJ I think) took some of that darn promicin crap and got an ability. Woo freaking hoo. Anyway...this guys ability causes all of them to be stuck in some sort of alternate reality with some 4400s...Jordan and know. Then Megan and Shawn die but oh wait...Not really! It was fake. And the Tom is oh so happy that Megan isn't really dead. This episode reminded me of a sit-com that has to wrap up quickly so they are pairing people and making nice with their old buddies! How stupid.
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