"Tiny Machines" was the latest in a string of mediocre to poor episodes that left me sorely disappointed. Sometimes, I don't even know why I watch this show anymore. While watching it, I thought to myself, "If this episode were a pilot (excepting the lack of necessary back-story), the series would never be picked up.
The 4400 was an inspired miniseries that has gotten complacent in its long life. Old and tired in the fourth season, current plot lines are contrived and predictable, when they're not downright nonsensical. Writers have found themselves having to right past mistakes when the viewers are dissatisfied with characters and events (Isabelle, anyone?); in the comic book world this is known at "ret-con".
The producers of this show have spent so much time trying to please everyone, that the show has lost the originality that made it special, and it has been reduced to a shell of its former self, a farce that carries on with the same characters and in the same universe, but with none of its initial spark.
Also, as a point of personal acrimony, I also find myself highly dissatisfied with Joel Gretsch's performance as one of the Marked. His portrayal of a sociopath feels awkward and affected. I should think it a bit strange that the main character's acting abilities are lesser than those of an adolescent girl (Conchita Campbell).
I will, of course, be TiVo-ing next week's episode, but mostly out of the same sort of obligation I feel when reading a really lousy book: I can't bring myself to not finish it.