“The Pretender” — Season Four

By Jae-Ha Kim
July 14, 2006

After eluding agents from the nefarious Centre for a good three years, Jarod (Michael T. Weiss) finds himself back at the shady research facility (that kidnapped him during his youth) in the opening episode of the fourth and final season of “The Pretender.”

Held against his will, Jarod is caged and routinely tortured by Miss Parker’s (Andrea Parker) calmly evil brother, Lyle (Jamie Denton, who would go on to bill himself as James Denton on “Desperate Housewives”). But, as the opening to each episode points out, Jarod is a pretender–a genius who can become whoever he wants to be. He can pass himself off as an FBI agent, surgeon, or drug addict.

But what he wants more than anything else is to be free from the Centre and search for his family. By the end of the premier episode, Jarod has escaped the Center (again) and is helping those in need. In this final season, which ran on NBC in 1999-2000, Jarod finds love with a woman who has cancer, Miss Parker and Broots (Jon Gries) have an affair (albeit in a Raymond Chandleresque dream sequence where Miss Parker says of their unlikely tryst: “Do you hear that Broots? Pigs are flying.”), and Raines (Richard Marcus)–carrying a bible as he drags around his oxygen tank on a squeaky cart–claims to have turned over a new leaf. Of course, nothing is as it seems.

This four-disc set includes all 19 episodes. (Look for Erika Christensen (“Traffic”) in “Corn Man A Coming.”) As much as it is a show about righting wrongs, The Pretender  is also a drama about revenge. Jarod has no problems crossing the line and doses out an eye-for-an-eye method of justice. Carve up a soldier and try to pass his murder off as a suicide?

Guess, what, buddy? Jarod’s going to do the same to you.

Of course, Jarod isn’t a murderer and he never actually lets anyone die. But he does scare his victims into confessing. Never mind that the taped confessions wouldn’t hold up in court. It still makes for good drama.

As for the photogenic Jarod and Miss Parker, the writers have created an intriguing codependent relationship that’s rooted in love, admiration, and just a touch of fear. Their lives are intertwined–especially after they discover a young man to whom they’re both related. The final episode is a tad anti-climactic, leaving viewers wondering who survived a horrific explosion. Of course, the answer is to be found in the two made-for-TV movies released after the series ended.


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