'The 4400' Takes on Faith, Family and Fanaticism
The episode under way airs in late July as part of the show's fourth season, which launches on Sunday, June 17.
The scene takes place in the "Theory Room" at the NTAC -– the National Threat Assessment Command –- a government agency tasked with dealing with 4,400 people, snatched from time over several decades, who returned en masse, not having aged but with extraordinary abilities.
And, by the way, NTAC has had a few commanders over the course of the show. Australian actress Jenni Baird joins the cast this season as the newest person in charge, the unconventional Meghan Doyle.
Over the past three seasons, both the benefits and the dangers of the 4400 have been explored, including their connection to people from the future who have an agenda yet to be entirely revealed. Also, a way has now been found – using a drug called promicin – to give the same abilities to people that were not part of the original group.
Leading that movement is the charismatic and wealthy Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell), a 4400 whose apparent death and resurrection have caused him to become a cult figure. Yes, his initials are J.C., but Peters insists, "I swear to God, that name was a coincidence.
"But the episode we're shooting now is called 'Till We Have Built Jerusalem.' I don't know how much more we could be hitting things on the head. But we may not. We may change it up."
In the Theory Room are NTAC agents Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch) and Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie), technical consultant (or, as he calls himself, "Theory Room geek") Marco Pacella (Richard Kahan) and 4400 Maia (Conchita Campbell), a girl who has visions and is also now Diana's adopted daughter.
They're all on the hunt for Jordan. Tom has a very personal stake in all of this. His nephew, Shawn Farrell (Patrick Flueger), was one of the original 4400, who came back with the ability to heal. He rapidly became part of Jordan's inner circle. Tom's son, Kyle (Chad Faust), was with Shawn when he was taken, and the shock of the incident left him in a coma.
Much transpired after he finally awoke, but now Kyle is having prophetic visions, and this has led him also into Jordan's orbit.
Tom now finds himself simultaneously trying to thwart Jordan and yet not lose his tenuous but slowly strengthening connection to his son.
"We're doing a TV show," says Gretsch, taking a break in the set for the Baldwin home, "we have great leaps of fantasy and stretching the bounds of reality, but the core, underneath it all, it's just a father and son trying to connect, to patch up a relationship of lost time with understanding and brief moments.
"And Chad Faust, when we do scenes together, we're always looking for those moments, where we're talking about people from the future and balls of light and stuff, but we're really saying, 'Where the hell have you been? You're still not listening to me. Why are you not obeying me? I'm worried about you.'
"It's all those things that real dads and sons do, problems they have and joys that they have, that we always try to infuse in the scenes." He looks up as the boss peers around a corner and grins. "There's Scott Peters peeking his little face in. We connect and disconnect. He's trying to find his way, and he doesn't necessarily listen to his dad.
"His dad is a rigid NTAC agent. I play a guy who's walking a fine line of a law-abiding citizen, and his son … he's finding his own way. He's questioning government. He's questioning governmental rules."
Campbell, who has taken breaks from the show to explore his other passion of traveling the world on sailing ships, is not due to arrive for work until later in the day. Every time his name comes up, people say how much fun it's going to be when Billy arrives. In particular, Gretsch shares how hard it is for him to keep a straight face in scenes with Campbell.
So when the man finally arrives and is asked about this, he says, "You know, I have no idea what it is. But something I do sets him off. I'm just not sure what it is."
In discussing Jordan, Tom and Kyle, Campbell says, "In a way, Shawn's the prodigal son, and he's gone on to his own life. Now they're pitting us against each other and allowing me to find a second son in Kyle, which is great."
Last to arrive is Faust, who says, "The relationship between the characters of Tom and Kyle has gotten very complex this year. Once again, we find ourselves on opposite sides of a war, but now, it's more extreme. The war is heightened. I'm much more involved on one side, and he's as deeply involved as he's ever been.
"But now, it's not so much about this action or that action, it's that I believe one thing, and he believes something totally else. But we both have somewhat of respect for what the other believes in, even though we get digs in here and there."
As for Jordan, Faust says, "Kyle has to believe Jordan. Everything he's been told from his visions tells him to believe him If I give that up, if I stop believing in him, which is what this scene's about today, a moment where my belief gets questioned – this is actually a good preview before I go in and do this – I lose him. I lose all my purpose. I lose all the purpose of my sacrifice. I believe in him."