Heads up! This is a 4400 queer recap, and it’s full of delicious spoilers!
So, I’m not really a sci-fi kinda babe. Other than my unreasonably deep love for the show Haven, it’s not really my lane, which is probably why 4400 flew under my radar. Now, what I am a fan of is The Certainly White network a.k.a The CW, they have been giving us wildly addicting shows for quite some time, quite a few of them are queer, and I’m happy to say that this one is too.
4400 is a reboot of, well THE 4400. The good thing about this particular reboot though is that you don’t need to have watched the original in order to get into it. I mean you could if you wanted extra credit, but these are two different shows. This time around, 4400 is queer and very Black, and quite political. Ariana Jackson (co-executive producer of one of our other CW favs, Riverdale) is behind this reboot and has hired plenty of incredible Black and brown writers and directors to help bring this show back to life.
We’re at the halfway point of the first season, so I’m here to give you an in-depth recap of what’s happened so far. Introducing you to the characters, chatting through episodes 1-6, giving you the queer connections (duh), and a bit more! I’ll also be recapping the remaining episodes weekly in Boobs On Your Tube so look out for those too.
Let’s get into it!!
The series takes place in 2021 in my hometown of Detroit, MI! 4400 people from all over the world appear together on Belle Isle (the memories I have of Boblo & Belle Isle — phew) after being gone for a number of years — from five to almost ninety. They fall one by one out of the sky and they don’t know where they’ve been and they haven’t aged since their disappearance. Soon after their return, when trying to piece together things, a green light is the last thing plenty recall — and later on, some of them begin to develop supernatural powers. Most, if not all, of the 4400 are marginalized folks and the show is largely from a Black perspective.
The group we focus on is being held (illegally) in a downtown hotel. Here they start to build relationships —platonic and romantic — with each other and we’re also introduced to the folks who are charged with the task of taking care of them. Some will help them and others will certainly bring harm.
Who is Who?
- Shanice Murray (Brittany Adebumola) – A lawyer from the early 2000s (Detroit)
- Mildred Bell (Autumn Best) – Flowerchild teen from the 1970s (Unknown)
- Claudette Williams (Jaye Ladymore) – Civil Rights Activist, photographer, and total badass from the 1950s (Mississippi)
- Rev. Isaiah Johnston (Derrick A. King) – Preachers kid & charmer from the 1990s (Chicago)
- LaDonna Landry (Khailah Johnson) – Literal genius & Reality TV star from the late 2000s (Miami)
- Hayden Turner (Amarr Wooten) – Perfect teen from the 1930s (Unknown)
- Dr. Andre Davis (TL Thompson) – Doctor & complete hottie from the 1920s (Harlem)
- Noah Harris (Theo Germaine) – Adorable human from the late 2000s(?) (Unknown)
Other Important folks
- Keisha Taylor (Ireon Roach) – Present-day 12
- Jharrel Mateo (Joseph David-Jones) – Present-day social worker
- Soraya (Kausar Mohammed) – Present-day tech expert
- Jessica (Wilder Yari) – Present-day 12
- Mariah (Sophia Echendu) – Shanices’ daughter
*It should be noted that this is one of the hottest, queerest cast I’ve ever seen and I love that for all of us.
Guess what — you can watch each episode here for free! It airs on Mondays at 9/8c and is up on the site the next day to stream.
Episode 1 — “Past is Prologue” (Directed by Janice Cooke & Written by Ariana Jackson)
It’s the early 2000s and we meet Shanice, her Blackberry, and her husband Logan. They are new parents to baby Mariah who is just a few months old. It’s Shanice’s first day back to work in the office (she’s a lawyer) and on her way there as she stops her car, she’s suddenly pulled out into a green swoopy-like thing and then falls out of the sky in the middle of Belle Isle. She’s surrounded by others who are also falling out of the sky around her. Cops show up and she and the other folks are rounded up and sent to various locations. This specific crew (Mildred, Claudette, Isaiah, LaDonna, Hayden, Dr. Andre & Noah) are all sent to stay in a hotel. We then meet Keisha, she’s a top cop (haha get it?) and always mad (and super hot but also — fuck 12), and her girlfriend/boss, Jessica. We also meet Jharrel, a social worker who is actually trying to help figure out what’s going on. Jharrel eventually tells us he saw a green light when his brother, Manny, vanished about a year ago.
After a while, Shanice breaks out with the help of Mildred, who seems to be telekinetic, and opens a locked door. She tries to find her family but ends up at her old babysitter’s house who tells where they are. She goes to visit them and sees her now teenage daughter, husband, and his new wife — then the cops show up and take her away. But not before Logan tells her to stop acting like she didn’t abandon them. We all know she didn’t, but turns out she wrote a letter when suffering from post-partum depression earlier on saying that she was leaving her family behind. She changed her mind but forgot to throw the letter away, during her disappearance Logan found it and assumed she’d left.
Back at the hotel, Dr. Andre tries to change some bandages he put on a cut Claudette had earlier, but they both realize it’s basically healed — that’s weird. She later corners LaDonna in the bathroom (who has just made herself vomit) and makes her use her acrylics to cut her arm. She heals immediately and Claudette is happy but LaDonna is wildly confused. Afterward, Claudette tries to put smiles on everyone’s face by playing a song on the piano. Folks are dancing, except for shy Hayden who has yet to say a word, but it’s all cut short when one of the guards physically stops her from playing the piano and she hurts her elbow. She hides the “pain” because she doesn’t want anyone to see her new healing power. Isaiah saw how aggressive it all was though and wonders how she’s not more hurt.
The episode ends with Hayden, who has yet to say a single word, being with Keisha — and he tells her to tell Jharell that Manny is okay and that he’s sorry.
Episode 2 — “All things are possible” (Directed by Janice Cooke & Written by Ariana Jackson)
Keisha and Jharell take such different approaches to help but it’s not working. We also meet Soraya, a queer, Muslim, reality TV-loving, Quantico-trained, tech expert who is bought in to help figure out how Shanice opened the door. At the top of the episode, the 4400 are starting to be treated even more like prisoners. Shanice is questioned on how she was able to get out (but she of course doesn’t rat out Mildred), Hayden is questioned on how he knows Manny (he obviously doesn’t), the guards take away their food and snacks, and they also make them all wear off-brand Champion sweatpants and tees. Then they make everyone wear ankle bracelets — this is basically prison.
The good thing is we see the 4400 start to build relationships with each other and talk about their powers. Hayden, Mildred, and Noah break into a room where they are hiding the food. Mildred uses her telekineses to crack the lock, and Noah hypnotizes the guard who catches them by singing. Dr. Andre (Doc), LaDonna, and Claudette also form a friendship. Claudette’s powers are growing stronger and Doc wants to help her manage them.
It all comes back to Shanice, her escape is why the 4400 are being treated so harshly — well one of the reasons. Since she won’t talk to them, they bring in Logan. Their convo doesn’t really go anywhere and later, her daughter breaks in and that conversation goes even worse — but when she hugs her she sees one of Mariah’s memories.
Elsewhere, Isaiah convinces Keisha to let them go to Belle Isle under the guise of closure, but he only wants to find a ring he dropped. In his backstory, he’s the son of a shady pastor who wants him to take over the church. He’s also in love with a girl (Darlene) who isn’t of the faith and is pregnant. His father disapproves (without ever having met her mind you) and talks his son into staying on the path that is laid out for him.
At Belle Isle, (Hayden doesn’t go BTW and also he can see the future) Noah hypnotizes Keisha and Jharrel and they fall asleep. Mildred makes Isaiah hover in front of everyone like he’s Jesus walking on water (which he loves), and he convinces them they’ve been bought to 2021 for a reason. That they are special and that he has been called to lead them. Claudette doesn’t trust Isaiah, he reminds her of her husband — who seems to have been power-hungry as well. In another flashback, he was to meet up with Darlene to tell her he chose her. He has a ring (that his father gave him) that he’s going to sell so they can start their life. He goes to the bathroom, we see a green light flash, and then Darlene walks in to wait for him at the bar.
Back at the hotel, Doc and Shanice also have a bit of the moment. Docs’ happy to be in this time actually, feels meant to be. They then share a glance, Doc clears his throat and says goodnight and then they part ways.
Lastly — Jharrel, Soraya, and her crush, Keisha, meet up to look over the bodycam footage to see what happened at Belle Isle. The camera broke when they fell but Keisha is convinced something is up. Back at the hotel in a final scene, Jharrel notices a hidden drawing of a circle with a dash at the top center, It’s a clock but only the 12 spot has the dash.
Episode 3 — “That LaDonna Life” (Directed by Sheelin Choksey & Written by Kristen SaBerre)
This episode is all about LaDonna but let’s catch up with everyone else first. We celebrate Hayden’s birthday, he turned 91. We also learn that he was in an institution in his time and isn’t a big fan of birthdays, the celebration actually goes well and he has a fun time — and gets his first kiss from Mildred.
Jharrel is still stressed about the drawing of the clock and rightfully so, it’s actually the tag of his brother Manny, who as we know has been missing for a year. They used to take turns completing the clock, it was their thing and so he is convinced he must be hiding amongst the 4400. He also has to deal with his ex-boo who shows up and is tasked with making the public think all is well inside the hotel with the returned.
LaDonna actually wants to help with that and makes herself the public face of the 4400. She wants the attention and if the only way to get it is to lie and make the government look good — she will take it. She also does it because she wants her phone back. She’s incredibly good at working the camera because we learn that in her time she was a reality TV star and that she also has some mommy issues.
She was filming her show, drinking during it because her mom was stressing her out. She stepped onto the roof to get away — and trips and falls off BUT falls into the green light. In the present, Soraya is a big fan of LaDonna and sneaks her into a room to let her watch an episode of her reality show. She disappeared of course before ever seeing the final product. She learns that her mother told everyone she was in rehab and that pisses her off. Her power is also “activated” and it’s the power of illusion.
She woos the public and the facade is a success, but the government goes back on their deal and doesn’t give her phone back. So, she makes a video on Soraya’s computer that shows what’s really going on inside and sends it to Mariah, Shanice’s daughter, and tells her to spread it on social. The feds end up taking Soraya away because they think that she was the one who sent out the video.
Doc and Noah share a moment as well when Noah tells him he needs some medication he hasn’t had in over a week. Doc is unfamiliar with the name of the medication and Noah reveals that he’s transgender — a term our 1920’s doctor had never heard. When Doc asks does he hide this about himself and Noah responds that not only is he out to nearly everyone, but he’s proud — Doc is amazed. He thanks Noah for teaching him and promises to get him the meds he needs. Doc finds Jharrel in hopes that he can help procure the meds, but then a bit later Noah is instead transferred to another location called Ypsi Med.
Also, also Keisha and her girlfriend are probably about to break up soon. She’s figuring out she’s not as woke as she seems.
Episode 4 — “Harlem’s Renaissance Man” (Directed by Tessa Blake & Written by Jett Garrison)
A few of the folks get what feels like day passes into society. Keisha accompanies Claudette & Shanice back to the house of her childhood babysitter. There they learn from her all the progress Black folks have made since both of their times (the 1950s and early 2000s), and they both also share their powers with her — not knowing that Keisha is watching.
LaDonna and Isaiah go to the library with Jharrel. LaDonna steals books for Doc by using her powers and Isaiah wants to look up his family. He learns that they profited from his disappearance but also finds out that he has a son who is queer. His son is not in contact with his father’s side of the family because they are advocates for conversion therapy. Later on, when Claudette asks did he find out about his family he responds “I have no family”.
Andre wasn’t extended a day pass so he stays at the hotel to continue his research on some of the returned, namely Hayden and Mildred. Hayden isn’t interested and reminds him that he doesn’t like doctors, but he trusts Doc so he says yes. Doc and Mildred’s research test goes left when he touches her neck to check her pulse, she panics and then gets sent to Ypsi Med. Hayden is heavily upset at the situation! He was clearly falling for Mildred and now she’s gone, along with his friend Noah, and now his trust in Doc has faded as well.
Now let’s get into who Doc is. He is from the 1920s Black Harlem Renaissance! In his flashback we see him at a house party full of Black QTGNC folks, his girlfriend Cynthia is also there. During the party, all he wants to talk about is work and research until Cynthia takes him away and sweetly lures him to dance. Later on, we find out that Cynthia has bronchitis, and Doc starts to treat her more like one of his experiments and less like his partner. They have a fight and as Cynthia leaves the room, we see a flash of the green light.
Back in the present, Andre and Shanice talk about his past. She wants to hug him but wants to be respectful because she might see something due to her power. Andre doesn’t care and welcomes her comfort, wanting to let her in. When she hugs him it’s revealed that Doc is transgender. He never knew what word to put to it in his time, and it wasn’t until his talk with Noah that he learned of the term. Doc and Shanice then share a kiss!
Afterward, Doc has some pep in his step and a smile on his face when returning back to the abandoned hotel bar where he has been doing his research. All of a sudden, one of the rats that he used during his experiments in his time appears! It scampers away under what is revealed to be a hidden tunnel behind one of the walls.
Also, also Keisha and her girlfriend get ready to get it on but Keisha is keeping secrets from her about the stuff she’s learning about some of the returned — I am SO ready to have this relationship be deaded.
Episode 5 — “The Way We Were” (Directed by Avi Youabian & Written by Ashley Sims)
Keisha had a sister who she absolutely adored and two nieces (one who is deaf) who she loved just as much. She was always pushing Keisha to pursue her dreams, one of which was opening up a coffee shop. We end up learning that her sister was murdered, Keisha’s brother-in-law Tarik, then informs her that the guy who did it wants to talk. She is vehemently against the idea but by the end of the episode tells him to do what he thinks is best.
The video that was leaked about what is actually going on inside means change has to come immediately. It’s a win for a few of the 4400 as they are getting released back into society. Soraya comes back into the hotel after being interrogated for a few days and eventually, she forgives LaDonna. She explains to her that it was out of line to make the video and break her trust, but she did understand why she did it. We also learn that LaDonna is a LITERAL genius and had to hide it because of her mother.
Claudette is going to move into Manny’s apartment, Jharrel’s missing brother. Shanice was going to move in with her husband, their daughter, and his new wife but lol, everyone realizes that’s a fucking terrible idea. Hayden is going to move in with them instead since he and Mariah have a little connection, but don’t think he’s forgotten about Mildred and Noah — ‘cos he has a plan to get them out.
Now, remember Shanice and Doc had a cute little moment last episode. Well after he found that tunnel he invited Shanice to see what was on the other side. It’s an old prohi tunnel and it leads out into the city, they sneak out of the hotel and take the day to explore Detroit. They stumble upon the most outlandish pride party and it’s super cute. Doc sees the Pride flag for the first time and asks “What country is this flag from?!” SOOOOO FUCKING CUTE!!! Anyway, Doc is in awe at how freely and openly everyone is celebrating who they are. He says it’s like the parties he and his partner threw in 1920s Harlem but the difference is folks are loving out in the open and not in secret. PORTER FOR PROGRESS! oh, wait, wrong show — my bad!
It’s obvious Doc is falling for Shanice but she reminds him she still feels married, he tells her he just wants to share this moment with her and not ask for anything more. Later on when Shanice falls asleep though she calls out Logan’s name. IF SHE HURTS HIM I WILL PERSONALLY COME TO DETROIT AND HANDLE HER!
Lastly, there is a new guy in charge of the 4400, Bill, as they reintegrate into society and he is shady as fuck. The episode closes with a map of Detroit filled with red dots. The 4400 may be getting out of the hotel but they will never be completely free.
Episode 6 — “If You Love Something” (Directed by Rachel Raimist & Written by Shomari Kirkwood)
Hayden moves in with Logan and Mariah, and we learn of his past and why he isn’t a fan of doctors — in the 30’s he was put in an institution by his aunt and uncle after his mom died, where he was tested on constantly. He was a sweet child but never was truly able to speak up for himself. In the present, Hayden keeps getting visions of Mildred in Ypsi Med having a syringe stabbed in her neck and injected with something by Jessica (Keisha’s hopefully soon-to-be ex).
So, Doc, Hayden, LaDonna, and Mariah all go on a mission to rescue Mildred and Noah from Ypsi Med. They are in a secret wing behind a chartreuse door but you need a code to get in. Doc was supposed to get the code when taking a tour of Ypsi med with Jharrel. He thought he recorded someone typing it in — actually a nurse that was caring for them at the hotel —but he recorded himself.
They ask Shanice to look into Doc’s memory to retrieve the code using her power, but Doc is 100% avoiding Shanice after she called him Logan when she was falling asleep. Anyway, Hayden is all “I literally don’t care about your dyke drama go get the code”. She gets it but also sees the memory of calling him Logan — Yikes.
Anyway, they rescue Mildred (the vision was not actually Jessica, but Ladonna using her illusion powers to be Jessica) and sure enough, they are testing on the 4400. We see a few of the others chained in rooms with their powers constantly activated. They had to inject Mildred during the rescue mission because she was using her powers to break the arms and legs of one of the guards who witnessed her being hurt and did nothing. Doc went to check on him and although the guard was passed out — he miraculously started to heal his broken bones, just like someone else we know.
On their way out of Ypsi Med, they are caught by Keisha. Logan pulls up because Mariah called him for help and Keisha lets them all go. Back at the hotel Mildred snaps on Mariah but apologizes, but I mean, she did just get out of an institution. Keisha and Jharel are there and learn from the “Free Mildred” crew that some of the 4400 are being tested on, Keisha is shocked that her girlfriend is hiding that from her (LOL Girl What?!). Mildred runs away from the hotel and obviously, Hayden saw it and meets her to say goodbye and wish her luck. When saying goodbye she asks him “Do I save her?” — he sees a vision of her in riot gear with a bunch of big guys and she’s leading the way — but he tells her he doesn’t know and asks to be safe.
Other stuff that happened was Keisha and Shanice met in what I think was a lesbian bar to talk, Isaiah uses his snake oil salesman charm to try and get the government to let the 4400 folks who have nowhere to go stay in the hotel by making it a church, and Claudette is not seen but we hear she is living her best life and minding her business in her new apartment.
Update (2.18) – I recapped episodes 7-12 as part of our weekly Boobs On Your Tube! and you can also check out the recap of the finale that has my season wrap-up thoughts!
Noah & Doc – This is platonic and sweet. I found it so dope that Noah was unknowingly teaching someone who is essentially his queer elder about transgender folks. How dope is it to be able to go nearly 100 years into the future and not just be able to see how far trans folks have come — but to be able to experience it. This is the most beautiful connection on the show thus far to me, I love when queer generations cross.
Keisha & Jessica – They are both 12 and as always — Fuck 12 — also as hot as they are, this relationship needs to be a wrap. Jessica is whack. She feels like your typical queer white woman who loves fucking Black women but isn’t truly as “woke” as they pretend to be.
Soraya & Keisha – This hasn’t happened but Soraya’s crush on her pseudo boss is hot so — fingers crossed?
Isaiah & His Son – We don’t know too much about his son other than that he is queer and has no contact with Isaiah’s side of the family, due to his queerness and their support of conversion therapy. Here’s hoping their relationship is actually a good one should they ever meet, especially since Isaiah didn’t vibe well with family himself.
Doc & Shanice – From what we see Doc is straight. He’s a trans man and all of his relationships we’ve seen (his girlfriend Cynthia & his kinda crush on Shanice) have been with women. He hasn’t been specific with how he identifies — maybe because he’s still learning — but we know he fucks with queer community hard, in the 1920s and now. So that’s why this relationship shows up under queer connection. Anyway, it’s clear he has a crush on Shanice, and they have shared a kiss and basically had their first date at pride. She is feeling something too but still hung up on her hubby.
(Update 1.26) Doc and Shanice are like, fully ass dating and it’s cute as ever.
Mildred & Mariah – Mariah admitted to her mom Shanice that she has a crush on Mildred. She’s impressed by her strength and she thinks she is amazing (this is so friggin’ cute!!).
- Shanice Murray – Can access someone’s memories when she touches them.
- Mildred Bell – Telkenis, can move things with her mind.
- Claudette Williams – Can heal herself from injuries quickly.
- Rev. Isaiah Johnston – Can take powers away from others.
- LaDonna Landry – Create illusions with her mind.
- Hayden Turner – Can see the future.
- Dr. Andre Davis – Transference, can heal physical pain and give that exact pain to someone else.
- Noah Harris – Can influence people by singing.
My Current Thoughts
I DIG THIS SHOW!
It’s kind of clear that it was filmed quickly, but it was written out thoroughly. So much can get lost in a show like this that has massive moving parts but that doesn’t really happen here. It’s clear that the writers are trying to tell a complete story, and that they want these characters, and their journeys, to be as full as possible — while also leaving room for the possibility of future seasons involving plotlines that make sense and aren’t just CW clickbait.
It’s a VERY political show, it has its sweet moments that lighten an episode, but make no mistake — this is a drama. It can be (buzzword I hate) triggering. There is racism, police presence, police brutality, hatred of queer folks, and a bit more, but it’s not without its purpose. I don’t know where I will always fall with showing Black trauma to tell a story, but I know that in this particular instance I don’t entirely feel like it’s for the white gaze, which it usually is.
So far, I’m incredibly psyched that another show taking place in and about my beautiful Detroit is on the air — even if they are a little heavy with references of Tha D. Side Note: Is anyone watching BMF on Starz? That takes place in the area where my dad grew up with folks he actually knew. I’m going to be sticking around to watch our crew of 4400 babes and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. I also am trying to piece together a Great Gatsby connection ‘cos of the green light but I might be reaching. Also, Also, I hope they get a bigger budget because CW has more than enough money to make sure these beautiful Black people are gorgeously lit, like — there is zero excuse.
Stay tuned for my weekly recaps in Boobs On Your Tube!
funny you are into this and Haven, this seems very croatoan.
5-years-ago-me would have been psyched about this show – it feels kinda like Resurrection. But today-me has no energy for intrigue. am pretty happy to wait for your recaps cause they have the parts i will care about anyway. thanks, Shelli!
I am a straight 70yr old grandmother and love love love this show. Some of the scenes went straight over my head. I am glad I found this most informative article. After reading this I understand now who’s who and who’s doing what. Thanks, the 70yr old grandmother
I never would have given this show a second glance (I remember ignoring the first version), but you make a compelling argument. And I need something to do while waiting on the rest of Batwoman, Twenties, and We Are Lady Parts.
ok! i love good scifi and i liked the premise of the old 4400 (although it got boring fast) and i thought i was done watching shows on the cw but this i will try! i hope it stays good! i am too old for shows that tank or get super weird as time goes on, fingers crossed. thank you for these recaps!!!
i binged four episodes last night, it’s SO good????
Yesss I am here for the coverage of The 4400! I learned about this show through the webseries “These Thems” (a project that also involves the fantastic Jett Garrison and TL Thompson).
Massive someone here can answer this burning question😅 In season 3ep. 1 is that dead man on the toilet supposed to be covered in his own spunk?!!😳 I have paused it several times and can’t come up with a better explanation🤔🤔 I’m I just being dense? Or is it just my dirty mind?!😬 please tell me if you know!!😅😂
**In my first sentence I meant to type :
“maybe some one”not “massive”