Till We Have Built Jerusalem was a superb episode of The 4400. I really enjoyed watching this episode because Jordan Collier makes a major move by claiming one of the most polluted parts of the country, located in Seattle, as Promise City, a place where people with abilities can live peacefully. I thought this was an interesting concept and it certainly added texture to the plot. Maia had some visions of Jordan and some thing bad that may happen. It was really cool to see all the new abilites. I look forward to watching the next episode of The 4400!!!!!!!
A good episode with character development and plot advancement. First off though, I'd like to congratulate the director of this episode on one shot. The shot of Diana hugging Maia and Tom hugging Kyle when they were leaving Promise City was absolutely brilliant.
It hightlighted what this show, in essence, is all about, family and wanting the best for your family. The plot showed that Maia is growing up, she no longer tells someone about her visions, she acts on them. It also showed thet Tom is more accepting of Kyle as a grown-up. He deals with Kyle with more restraint and acceptance, rathter than the frantic "dad knows best" attitude. A marked improvement.
We are in the 21 century. Just about enough evolution to be able to deliver scripts without silly flaws. Take the beacons for example they are mechanical if a goverment is to attack they would simple need to target them psysicly with whatever and when they are down this would lead to a open fight. Besides if someting like this were to happen the site would be occupied by the army's forces not some patrol cops. Not to mention the posibility of sniper teams for backup. They could have simply used visible energy of somesort instead. Besides threading on half reality half fiction is rather weak, they should bring a very strong plot into it. The pace of brining you into the story untill now is rather ok. But they should pick it up before people get use to it.
This episode was not only well-plotted but well-written with lots of texture and innovative character moments. A return to the quality of the last 3 episodes of Season 3 with wonderfully realistic political insight.
As the New York Times critic Janet Maslin wrote upon the release of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn" (although The Motion Picture has always been my favorite Trek film), "Now this is more like it." (I've been waiting to write that!) Since the season premiere I've been awaiting the kind of quality of the final three episodes of Season 3 and the continuing arc of that season. I'd begun to lose hope, but my faith in the show has been restored as not only the plot, but the overall pacing and dialogue are up to those previously-set standards. This was a marked difference in writing quality from previous episodes because (other than avoiding the X-Filesian elements that detracted originality points for "The Marked") it focused solely on main characters, whose moments were only heightened by supporting characters like Meghan Doyle and Senator Lenhoff. Doyle's moments with Tom were much improved from previous episodes, especially the earlier standalones, in which their moments were occasionally awkward or rushed. I mistook glee for sleaziness in Kevin Tighe's Senator Lenhoff's last appearance; his acting is actually quite good.
This season, Shawn has had the most consistently interesting elements of the continuing story. I enjoyed how he was portrayed as vulnerable enough to sleep with a patient's daughter, named Kara; surely, he violated some doctor/patient boundary, but he was human enough to not be perfectly disciplined, just as he had been in sleeping with Isabelle. It should be noted that Kara was played by not only a gorgeous woman but a refreshingly good standalone actor with decently-written dialogue. Shawn's confrontation with Kara over her manipulation and betrayal rang true with both her motivations and his hurt feelings being believable and sympathetic. The theme of prejudice toward Shawn was highlighted as the excuse, but this was discrimination based on jealousy of his and other 4400's power. As established in Danny's argument to Shawn in "Fear Itself" for wanting to take promicin, this jealousy hints at the growing frustration among the regular public at the increase in P-positives, and their fear of becoming second-class citizens.
In further exploring Kyle's fanaticism, this episode continues this season's theme about fundamentalism that can be found among segments of any faith or ideology who fail to account for the unpredictable complexity of humanity. The writers made a brilliant decision to infuse Jordan Collier's missionary zeal with an important degree of private doubt. Viewers first saw indication of his reservations in the season premiere through his discussion with Dr. Burkhoff of his dream of a promicin injectee-filled world turning into nightmare. We are reminded of it here again in his talk with Kyle about his apprehension over the irreversible step they were about to take in their revolution. Moments like this humanize him and are surely what happens among leaders of any ambitious movement, even if they never publicly give them voice. Yet, perhaps like the anarchist, a century ago, who shot US President McKinley, Marxist-Leninists who'd excuse any brutal means to secure Soviet Communism, and -- more recently -- neoconservatives of the Bush administration who projected simplistic plans for the Middle East with a prescience that defied understanding of the region's history and human nature, Kyle's conviction dissuades any uncertainty.
His confidence in his prophetic book and Cassie is perhaps even better illustrated when its basis in logic is challenged in well-written exchanges with Isabelle and especially his father. A refreshingly realistic bit of texture was Tom's shift in approach in trying to reach his son. The troubled and frantic manner he usually adopts with Kyle would have only shut him down. So, Tom opts for the more practical approach of repressing his emotional tendencies, and speaks with a cautious yet calm tone.
Despite the real world parallels in the portrayal of Kyle's growing faith this season, the unique aspect about it is that his devotion is not purely based upon faith in some imagined higher power. Established religions -- like Christianity, Judaism and Islam – may reference a miracle-ridden mythology and depend on cultural traditions, but they offer no actual evidence of God or a higher purpose. In contrast, Kyle's commitment has been earned by some healthy degree of evidence supplied by Cassie. Despite his trust in Cassie's intentions and the purportedly prophetic nature of the book, his faith is not completely blind. He is acting with the knowledge that the 4400 have fantastical abilities and are from the future to save mankind, and that his power, Cassie, has proven her ability to predict the future. Jordan Collier actually was resurrected. Even Diana intelligently hints at this distinction between Kyle's beliefs and those of other religions by mentioning that Maia can see the future and that perhaps Kyle's faith is not misplaced.
Seeing Maia's character mature was a welcome change. Her ominous visions (and perhaps age) caused her to not only relay her visions to Diana to act upon them, but to actually take the initiative to enter Collier's compound alone. It was a shock seeing her share a personal, though slightly quick, moment with Isabelle. I enjoyed how Maia responded to Isabelle's apology with a reiteration of the lesson she learned from her mother's treatment of April in Season 2 that "saying 'sorry' sometimes isn't enough." It might seem a strangely adult response coming from her otherwise, but the audience's knowledge that this attitude was learned from her mother made it quite believable. I appreciated the twist of her lying about a vision because why wouldn't someone who people believe all the time be tempted to exploit that?
I applaud the writer's nod to the theme of environmental problems without dwelling on it in a cheesy way. The environmentalist streak in Jordan's Promise City (awkward name?) makes his vision seem benevolent because it connects with the viewers by making us appreciate the indispensability of what his group brings to humanity. I wondered if the way the P-positive woman purified polluted water seemed a bit silly. Then again, there's no reason she should look so dramatically energized and have a clichéd self-serious pose and facial expression. However, and I'm probably nit-picking, the line "Come on in; the water's fine" served as evidence, yet again, that standalone characters often upset the flow of storytelling, as they did in "Try the Pie."
In any case, Jordan's political movement demonstrates a sensitivity toward the social and environmental threats facing humanity in a way the government does not. His actions in the interest of the greater good stand in stark contrast to the government's small-minded, excuse for intervening with Promise City by claiming violation of property rights; this would symbolize a historical kind of overzealous capitalist-driven prioritization of individual interests over those of the community. Yet the real reason behind the government's behavior, as stated by Ira Behr and Craig Sweeny in the season premiere's commentary, is to preserve the order and control which Jordan Collier's movement and the 4400 threaten. It also understandably seeks to protect itself and its voting public from the uncertain threat they may pose to humanity -- with promicin's high lethality and the dangerous powers wielded by survivors. In this way, government is treated fairly and realistically, and not as an evil caricature; the soldier had enough honor to honestly refuse Jordan's offer of membership without pretending to go along only to try to escape. Yet there is an undeniably dangerous quality which the state possesses, and I'm glad this program hints at this with a healthy skepticism sometimes not found in The X-Files.
In witnessing the government's attempts to harness promicin for its own uses through Defense Department contractor Haskel Corp. in Season 3 (perhaps inspired by Haliburton), and now on its own, we see the hypocrisy of outlawing the use of 4400 abilities earlier this season. (Here's where I get on my soapbox for the next few paragraphs to discuss how issues related to terrorism in the show help us understand history and present day policies.) In a similar way, governments are wary of allowing non-state actors to employ the same means they use to achieve their objectives. One example is the use of force. When states use force, it can be organized and planned to have overwhelming impact through war. States can more easily afford high casualties on their side, and conveniently label innocent victims from the other side as accidental "collateral damage." When smaller, weaker groups use force, they must adopt asymmetrical means to win -- often disparagingly referred to as terrorism. It is without doubt that because terrorism doesn't require democratic consent, it can also be waged with very few members who may not have good reason or democratic interests and consent at heart. It also means they are more likely to target civilians if they are the root of state power in a democratic society.
Still, history is full of terrorist cases, in which resistance of this sort was understandable if not completely ethical. During the Cold War, many Latin American movements fighting for disfranchised Indios were mislabeled agents of Soviet Communism by America's allied ruling class, who obtained US aid and used the military to clamp down on popular will. The French Resistance employed terrorism to fight Vichy France. The American Revolutionary Army employed terrorist tactics in the South under General Nathaniel Greene. Contemporary etiquette of warfare meant troops had to arrive in full formation and announce their presence (band playing and all) before agreeing to fight in ordered fashion. British Generals were appalled at the weaker Americans' guerrilla style fighting intended to take the Britons by surprise by engaging in hit-and-run attacks, disguising themselves among civilians, and shooting from hiding places such as tree tops. American soldiers even spread deceitful propaganda to undecided towns about British-allied natives raping white women. American Revolutionaries violated civilized conduct because they felt it was the only way to win.
Maia's statement that Jordan was one of the good guys again shows how terrorism doesn't make someone automatically evil. This is contrary to the simplistic and hypocritical position adopted by many Western leaders like Tony Blair who arbitrarily call their opponents' actions deplorable but find no objection in similar tactics waged by themselves or their allies. Just this week, the US government has agreed to supply billions of dollars' worth of arms to Israel, and repressive regimes like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These states' policies only helped create or inspire the Al Qaeda-type groups threatening civilization, and they continue to inflame the situation with actions that increase their membership. Democrats have rightly opposed this aid by pointing to the origins of Al Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. With decades-long American financial and military support, such Arab states have only led to this violently disturbing reaction, which rightly seeks to overthrow despotic systems that have failed their people, but wrongly seeks a solution through an ugly, colonial form of Muslim nationalism that is even more despotic. Where Democrats have historically been wrong is their unwavering support for Israel, based on domestic politics and familiar cultural ground. They have turned a blind eye to Israel's use of terrorism and ethnic cleansing to free its territory of Palestinians, beginning in the 1940s. Democrats and increasing numbers of Republicans have permitted Israel's continued occupation through US-funded and -supplied state violence and intimidation to do what they will without consulting Palestinians before unilaterally deciding how they live.
For decades, Israel's actions have flown in the face of UN resolutions denouncing its continuing settlements beyond sanctioned borders. I recently watched a French documentary by an Arab Jew called "The Wall." It showed how Israel unilaterally decided to build a wall to protect its citizens by crossing the green line up to 6 km into Palestinian territory. This has caused many Palestinian farmers to lose their land, and forced many to take overly circuitous routes to get to their jobs in Israel. Indeed, much of the wall is being built cheaply on Palestinian labor, perhaps as the proposed US-Mexican wall will be built with Mexican labor. I saw a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) report last year about a wealthy Jewish couple who sold their home in Toronto, Canada to move to a settlement newly established on the Palestinian land newly confiscated by the wall's construction. They gave no thought to compensating the Palestinians who've lost their land, so the Israeli state can back their colonialist behavior. Actions like these have occurred for decades, as Palestinians live in squalor.
While terrorist groups like Hamas don't threaten the world the way Islamic fundamentalist groups do, Muslims sympathetic to the Palestinian plight misdirect their outrage by either tolerating or joining Al Qaeda-type groups. This aid package would only strengthen Israel's hand in making it less likely to make peace or even negotiate on terms fair to the Palestinians, including acceptance of Hamas' democratic mandate. It would also strengthen so-called moderate Arab states' hold on power, even though they fund Islamic fundamentalist teachings as a compromise with their restless populace. The Saudi embassy gives out a Qur'an containing exegesis (interpretations of the text) with atypical racist remarks about Jews. It's important to challenge Iran's Ahmadinjad's childish hate-mongering, but the US should keep a better check on its allies' more effective and widespread racism. In this way, America's aid to the Israeli occupation, its military presence in the Middle East, and its support for despotic (so-called "moderate") Arab regimes all fuel the growing Islamic fundamentalist terrorist movement.
As this program shows, terrorism often results from discrimination or oppression (often real, occasionally imagined), and, while it can take on irrational and violent traits, it can also be used for good. Jordan Collier's offer of sanctuary to the persecuted 4400 is quite stirring because its heroically protective quality resonates with the audience's sympathy for the plight of discriminated groups throughout history who would have welcomed such an opportunity to freely be themselves. His movement also appeals to a desire for social justice with its elements of brotherly love and his standing up for the down-trodden (seen in how he respected the homeless at the end of last season).
I only recently realized the brilliance of the writers' move last season in allowing anyone to become a 4400. In doing this, both they and Jordan Collier turned a mission to be carried out by a select few – vulnerable to discrimination from the fearful majority – into a popular and more democratic revolution by allowing anyone to become a 4400. This had the added effect of making the 4400s' mission to save humanity increasingly resistant to grassroots and state opposition as membership grows, and, therefore, more stable and likely to succeed. The parallel in religious terms is spreading the faith by accepting new members among a previously-confined chosen people.
Yet, there's an exclusionist streak in this movement which won't accept non-4400s, unless they risk the injections to join their ranks; the parallel in religious terms is conversion to the faith to be accepted. By shifting the power balance, as Danny Farrell mentioned in "Fear Itself," isn't the creation of a two-class world an injustice in almost forcing regular humans to take promicin and risk dying? Even if there was no risk, forfeiting their normalcy is quite a price. In addition, some of Collier's terrorist tactics are a bit unsettling, even if understandable and even-tempered. The fact that he has the ability to choose who among the Extra Crispies retains their powers recalls Shawn's mistrust of the potential for Jordan's own accumulation and abuse of power; this would have anti-democratic implications for his revolution. I was relieved he did not kill the government's strike team, since the setting reminded me of the kind in which Westerners are tragically beheaded in Iraq. Yet, he was prepared to mount a counter-attack, which could have killed many innocents. While such targets have the power to control their government's policies with their vote, and would bear some responsibility for the attack, it would still be sad. Even though Jordan's ultimate solution was more passive, there was something chilling about how Promise City unstoppably expanded its borders. History has shown that the line between a justified, protective defense and an aggressive offense that leads to injustice toward the other party is sometimes indistinguishable.
In this fashion, the writers continue to refuse fictional absolutes, in demonstrating that "good" doesn't mean morally perfect (and "bad" doesn't mean inherently evil), by having Jordan prepared to react with violence and willing to expand his zone with force. As a result, they depict a more complex and realistic notion of human nature one doesn't find in most TV shows and I'm thrilled to find in this one.
It wasn't just the main plot that was very good, but there were little touches and character moments that didn't feel too self-conscious, and were executed more skillfully than they have much of this season. For example, the dinner scene between Tom and Diana was very well done, especially the non-cliché observation by Tom as to the reasons women invite men over: attraction or pity. I also liked how Garrity pointed to Doyle's professional flaws, as he did in the premiere. Regarding the appearance of the show, the special effects for invisible soldier were very well done. The fight scene between Tom and the soldier looked great. It wasn't overly choreographed or tediously long (as on Angel or Buffy) but believably tough, too. I like that Tom knew where the cloaked soldier was hiding but that it didn't make a difference because he didn't react fast enough, and he still was beaten. The soldiers in this episode gave a much better military performance than was given in Season 2's "Lockdown." There was a regular, "uncool" look to many of the extras, especially the woman standing next to Jordan at the end, who cut NTAC's camera connection. Initially, their appearance was off-putting. Yet maybe it was a good choice, considering these might be the kinds of ordinary people who wouldn't look self-consciously dramatic, if this were to happen in the real world, and you were watching them on CNN.
However, not every detail was well-executed, as minor faults continue to detract from the show's look and sound in post-production. They have to get rid of the slow motion technique used in the teaser when Collier addresses his followers, and used throughout the series. Perhaps, it's how they use it to draw out a moment; it always looks cheap – as if there are too few frames per second and this was a last-minute decision made in post-production to give the scene some gravity the director felt lacking. Even when composed music is as forced and formulaic as that of "Lost," it definitely heightens mood. For the best effect, I'm a huge fan of Mark Snow's score for Seasons 3 through 6 of The X-Files and the melodic work by Bear McCreary in the new Battlestar Galactica. I appreciate this show's shift in respect toward letting dramatic moments stand on their own merits by not clubbing the audience over the head with the scene's meaning through cheesy Top 40 music and lyrics. However, there were still problems with the much-preferred score. The triumphant music for the teaser's rousing speech scene and Maia's alert of impending doom could have been better; it could have had a less artificial-sounding, clunky synthesizer; perhaps it needed more layering, more dynamism through loud and soft, or some well-synthesized strings. I'm still having a problem with the throbbing bass synth sound used to create suspense, when it just feels a bit boring to me. The sound of the synth toward the act break before the theme song sounded better. I have heard better music from John Van Tongeren and Claude Foisy and the music during the end montage (and the choice of that scene only having music and no other sound was a good one) was much better. Also, there was a cool sound effect when Shawn and Maia were watching Jordan on TV, which didn't sound like some rip-off (which many shows do) of Mark Snow's sting or that of any other show or movie.
While Robert Hewitt Wolfe has been serving as Creative Consultant since "Try the Pie," this episode features his return as a writer. He wrote the Season 1 episode "Trial by Fire," but is much more impressive to me for his excellent work alongside – and, often, co-writing with – head writer Ira Steven Behr on the unique and equally political Star Trek Deep Space Nine, which Mr. Behr headed in the last 5 of its seven year run. Based on his lovingly-expressed thoughts on the DS9 DVD sets, Mr. Wolfe shows a keen interest in history and politics. After working on non-political shows, it's nice to see his passion and adeptness for political insight into the human condition working so well to bring out what this show does best. I hope he stays on.
8.4 out of 10
(I should emphasize the 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.)
Jordan Collier, for example. You think the scriptwriters gave him the initials "J.C." by accident? Nope! He was abducted and returned, a second time, for a reason. But, it remains to be seen whether or not he's another sleeper agent for the Ten. What I like to call "one of the Unmarked." The same goes for Kyle Walsh. Technically, he was the First Sleeper, as he was in a coma during the time his cousin Sean was among the original 4400. And, of course, the disembodied entity who was basically downloaded into him sort of programmed him to kill Jordan Collier. Did that programming erase itself when Kyle apparently succeeded? Or, is this some contigency plan cooked up, back in the future? Specifically; is Kyle using Jordan to cause--rather than avert--the mysterious Catastrophe. Because, remember; Kyle's precognitive ability has manifested itself as a hallucinatory female named Cassandra. And, in Greek mythology, that's the name of the Trojan prophetess who was cursed to make predictions of doom that everyone else was bewitched to automatically disbelieve. Let's hope next week's episode provides more clear-cut answers to this riveting mystery.
I don't normally write reviews for this show because I don't particularly enjoy the acting and because the storyline seems like a mesh of similar concepts from other shows, books, comics, etc. But I do watch the show because it focuses on an interesting subject matter.
However, this episode spins the normal format into something quite different. The characters motives seem independent of the larger story at this point. Jordan is on the verge of taking his movement to the next level, despite being viewed by many as a hero. Shawn takes yet another step on his own to keep from becoming a pawn, which was also somewhat unexpected. There are still too many prophets amongst the 4400 and I would be interested to see how Kyle and Maia's views on the coming world-changing event diverge. There is still some bad acting and bad delivery of poor one-liners, all of which are pretty typical of the series. But for a short summer season of a series on a cable network, this episode really shines. Not to put down cable networks, because this episode was far better than most television shows on any network.
This episode was very exciting and enthralling.
The show is now midseason and is just now starting to really pick up speed and hold the audience at every move. Jordan Collier has now started his showdown against the non-promicins. As Jordan and his followers have began Jordan's plan with the help of Kyle's guidance with the help of his ability, they have commenced to show the world how powerful they are together whether to heal the land or destroy it. As in any good blackmail plan there will always be unsuspected situations arise and I am very interested to see how this comes down especially with 10 agents from the future trying to sabotage Jordan and the 4400, and no telling who the 10 agents have actually entered just waiting for their moment of engagement into the situation. The show is again at it’s best and it is definitely every sci-fi fan dream show.
Good mix of action and plot development as Jordan lays claim to a blighted contaminated industrial area of Seattle. Needless to say the Federal government is none too pleased with this turn of events and a group of super soldiers with chameleon like powers is sent in to "solve the problem". Jordans people beging cleaning up the site by creating a garden and cleaning the water using their abilities. At the same time Maia has visions of a very dark future if they are allowed to kill Jordan; did she mean the entire Earth would be gone? Aparently the 4400s caused an earthquake near Pittsburgh and tsunami on the Great Lakes - could one of them have to power to vaporize the Earth? Fortunately, the soldiers are captured and de-powered by Jordan. Im still wandering if he can do this with an original 4400? Were they created with promicin? Or created in a different way as to prevent Jordan from removing their ability? As punishment for the governments attempts to kill him, his people pick up the beacons protecting the perimeter of his city and march them out, doubling its size. Very creepy... I kept thinking, how far are they going to go?
Overall, an excellent mix of action and moving the plot forward to its peak at seasons end. What will be the governments next move - nuke the place? How will regular humans react to this weeks events? (if I lived there, Id be looking to leave town) How long will Jordan hold back on killing to defend his people? Will he keep expanding the borders of his city? What will the 10 agents from the future, hiding in the bodies of Tom Baldwin and others, do? Will these mysterious agents move against Jordan Collier? Is Kyle carrying one of the agents (Cassie)? Stay tuned!
Fans of “The 4400” have already come to expect a fast-paced season marked by high quality each and every summer. With the fourth season at its mid-point, the trend continues. Not only does this episode continue to pay off the release of promicin to the general population in interesting and logical ways, but the stage has been set for a massive conflict in the second half of the season.
This is the heart of the “complication” phase of the season arc, and as such, things escalate quite a bit. Jordan Collier comes out of hiding and declares that he and his followers will take over a polluted portion of Seattle as their own autonomous state: Paradise City. They intend to use the area as a haven for the powered and a test model for how the powered can help bring paradise on Earth.
This fits into Jordan’s decision to use Kyle and the White Light book as the underpinnings of a modern religion, but it raises several intriguing questions. As one character puts it, Jordan is not necessarily a “bad guy” for protecting and fostering his own kind. His methods, on the other hand, suggest a desire for confrontation. His current actions are similar to those of the Nova Group in the third season. By demonstrating the ability to change the world, Jordan reminds the masses that he could easily force the issue and take control with enough support.
If the government concedes, allowing Paradise City to stand, then Jordan wins and things will only escalate as more people choose to live in the idyllic world of the powered. If the government continues to act against Jordan, the situation could quickly get out of hand. Using conventional forces would place hundreds of thousands of innocents at risk and turn Seattle into a war zone (which is why Jordan’s tactics are sound, from his side of the conflict). If the government creates more powered soldiers, they could be eliminating one problem while creating another, since they would only be creating a superior breed of powered individuals.
Ironically, if the information from the future is to be believed, the powered need to take control or gain enough influence if humanity is to be saved. Allowing the current controlling interests to remain will lead to humanity’s destruction. So while his methods may be questionable, Jordan’s motivations may be sound. Similarly, Shawn’s motivations might be to have the best of both worlds, but in doing so, he might be preserving the status quo too much. Humanity as a whole may need Jordan’s current revolution, and that ambiguity is what keeps this show so entertaining and challenging.
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