Subjectify asked 4400’s Joseph David-Jones some of our biggest questions about the 4400 pilot, which aired Monday October 25 on the CW. Read our interview below.
4400 debuted on the CW this past Monday, with the network registering a 10-month high for viewers in that 9pm time slot, so off to a promising start.
In advance of the 4400 pilot “Past is Prologue” premiering, we spoke with star Joseph David-Jones, who plays Jharrel, about his experience coming on board 4400, his relationship with the original version The 4400, and what he hopes people take away from the show. You can read part one of our interview, and more about the development and premise of 4400, right here.
However, in our chat we also touched on some topics that were a bit too spoilery to publish before the pilot aired. Now that it’s out there in the world, we can share part two of our interview with Joseph David-Jones, and get a few more answers about the big questions of the pilot. If you’re curious for what’s next on 4400, read on.
To briefly recap the 4400 pilot: On her way to work for her first day back after maternity leave, Shanice, a lawyer from 2005, vanishes dramatically from her timeline and is spat out — along with many others — in a park on Belle Isle in Detroit. The newly arrived people are corralled by authorities and taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security. At a downtown Detroit hotel, we meet one of the groups being processed as they’re interviewed by a team of civil servants, including a hardened parole officer, Keisha, who’s been assigned to partner the compassionate social worker Jharrel.
As the present-day officials try to gain information and contain the truth of the arrivals as a matter of national secrecy, the returned people — including Shanice, LaDonna, an influencer from 2015; Andre, a trans doctor from the 1920s; Isaiah, a reverend in training from a 1990s televangelist family; Claudette, a 1950s Civil Rights organizer; Mildred, a disabled teen from the 1970s; and Hayden, a selectively mute boy — experience an extreme lack of respect and autonomy while in custody, and no updates or explanation, and they take it upon themselves to find out what is going on.
Some, like Claudette and Mildred, are revealed to have returned with special powers. But we follow Shanice most closely, and her main aim is to get back to the husband and four-month-old baby she disappeared from. She eventually breaks out and tracks them down, and while Jharrel supports her and tries to get her to come back peacefully, the other authorities take a rougher approach and apprehend Shanice in front of her now 16-year-old daughter, her husband, and his new wife — all of whom think Shanice willingly walked out on the family.
Jharrel, meanwhile, reveals his deeply personal connection to the case of the 4400. While genuinely there to do his job and help these people — he’s the only person, so far, who seems to be vocally on their side and putting their needs first — we learn that his brother, Manny, went missing some time before, and so the appearance of thousands of missing persons has him desperately searching the reports as they come in for a chance that Manny may be one of them. There’s no sign of him yet, but at the very end of the pilot, Hayden — the previously non-verbal teen — finally speaks, in order to tell Keisha to let Jharrel know that Manny is okay. Joseph David-Jones tells us a little of what we can expect from that twist, and much more.
In your main press conference earlier this month, executive producer Sunil Nayar said that we can expect to revisit the time periods that the various travelers came from, episodes that show a bit about the character’s life in the 1920s, 1950s, so we know we’re getting flashbacks, but can you tease if there are any other present day reunions for the returned 4400, like Shanice’s?
I don’t want to spoil anything, but: yes. There are some reunions that happen with the people who are from closer to our current time, but a lot of the people who are from further and further back — they’ve just lost everyone, so there’s also a lot of coming to terms with that for their characters.
Obviously Jharrel had a big episode with Shanice in the 4400 pilot and was really involved in helping her. Which of the 4400 does he connect with next?
It’s difficult because each each member of the 4400 has their own stories to tell, and through Jharrel’s interactions with everyone — because he’s still trying to help each of these people — you uncover who these people are, through their flashbacks and their backstories, through where they are in the current world. So he’s going to be interacting with all of them, and then forming closer bonds with some than others.
What can you tell me about what’s coming for the powers and that kind of thing? So far in the pilot we’ve only really seen two people use their potential powers, and I’m just wondering how many among the main group can we expect to see something a bit more special from?
I can’t say who or exactly what the power’s going to be, but a lot more powers are coming and powers that are unexpected and bigger. Bigger powers are coming. It’s going to be crazy. It’s funny because I didn’t even expect them to lean as far as they did into the powers, but they are different and more unique than what happened in our predecessor series, so I think people are going to be excited about that.
I’m going to ask you kind of a two-hander here. What’s your favorite line of dialogue or favorite moment you’ve shot so far, and what did you love about it — why did it matter? I’d like you to answer for the pilot specifically in detail, and then answer again more hazily about the future of what you’ve shot — without giving too much away, of course!
For the pilot specifically, there’s a scene at the bar with Keisha, Ireon Roach, where what’s at stake in this whole story comes to light for Jharrel, and it’s the fact a year prior he had lost his brother, who is the only family that he really has left. So he had sort of given up hope on finding him, it had been a year, he didn’t know what happened to him, but the strange circumstances surrounding the 4400 sort of brought back that hope for him. Having that scene and being able to explore what was so personalized to me for the character of Jharrel — it was a really really gratifying scene.
I’m trying to think of what will be the scene coming up… We’re still shooting right now, and there is a scene in this episode that even just working on it, I know it’s going to be a very, very powerful and poignant one.
Is that episode 10 that you’re up to?
Yeah, we’re shooting episode 10. So I’m going to say: episode 10, there’s a lot of deep and emotional things happening for Jharrel.
”Tell Jharrel that Manny’s all right. And that he’s sorry for everything.” This is a bit moot because I know that you can’t tell me much about this, but obviously the pilot ends with the reveal of Jharrel’s brother being connected to the 4400 in some way via Hayden. How soon will that message be delivered to Jharrel? Will he find out that Manny is okay?
You have to keep waiting for it! We’re 10 episodes in, and I still don’t know what’s happened with Manny or if he’s even a member of the 4400. They keep breadcrumbing things, sprinkling things in, and it’s enough to keep him fighting for that, enough to keep him hoping that there could be something, but he still hasn’t showed up! And not to be like, “Man, is he a member of the 4400 or not?” but…
Well, he very easily could be, because, you know if someone was taken from the 1920s and 2015, they also could have been taken from last year — it’s obviously a hanging question.
You’ll have to keep watching to find out!