The Starzl Mutation

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"The Starzl Mutation"
The 4400 episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 10
Directed by Allison Liddi
Written by Amy Berg
Craig Sweeny
Original air date August 6, 2006
Guest actors

Brian George - Claudio Borghi
Peter Coyote - Dennis Ryland
Richard Kahan - Marco Pacella
Kavan Smith - Jed Garrity
Kaj-Erik Eriksen - Danny Farrell
Chilton Crane - Susan Farrell
Jamie Martz - Darren Piersahl
J. August Richards - John Shaffner
Jody Thompson - Devon Moore
Ken Camroux - Lee Piersahl

Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Ballad of Kevin and Tess"
Next →
"The Gospel According to Collier"

"The Starzl Mutation" is an episode of the science fiction television series The 4400.


A former Army Ranger who was recruited for a secret government program contacts NTAC when an experiment giving him and his workmates 4400 abilities goes wrong, causing one patient to go on a killing spree. The wedding of Isabelle and Shawn is interrupted by a returned Jordan Collier, who asks Shawn if he knows who he is.


The episode begins with a man picking up a male hooker on a dock. After they drive to a remote location in the woods the hooker says to his client "It'll be 40 bucks to start". The John then turns to him and says "do you know how special you are?" to which the hooker again asks for money. The John then tells him that he could change everything, and must therefore die.

Back at the 4400 Center, Shawn is meeting with a well wisher before he and Isabelle's wedding. He is given a special cigar from one of the 4400, Claudio Borghi, who says that when Shawn smokes it he will see his future.

Tom Baldwin and Diana Skouris are in the woods investigating the death of a hustler. When Tom asks why NTAC was called it is revealed that the young man was mummified. A note with the number 27 is pinned to his chest. Back at NTAC Diana and Tim are told that all the cells in the hustler's body have oxidized overnight. Since there is no disease which can do this Tom and Diana are left to figure that a 4400 did it. Tom and Diana discuss Shawn's impending marriage to Isabelle, and Tom asks Diana to go with him. It is revealed that Tom is not such a fan of the marriage, and is going to talk to Shawn about it.

Shawn tells Tom that he must marry Isabelle, that its what's best for everyone.

The killer shows back up again, this time killing a lawyer working late. She is left in the stairway of the building with an 11 pinned to her. They find a partial print on the wedding band.

Back at the 4400 center Shawn decides to smoke the cigar, he has a vision of himself killing Richard.

The print they found on the lawyer gives them a match, a man called Daren Piersal. He is not a 4400, he was an army ranger. According to records he's been dead for a year. Tom and Diane decide to visit Daren's father, Daren wrote home to say he'd been transferred to a super special unit. He was told his son died in a six person helicopter, but his father looked up the type of helicopter, it can only take four people. As they're leaving Tom gets another call, another body has been found. This one has the note pinned to her chest which says "92". Marco figures out that they all have the same mutation of same chromosome (11). Its called the Starzl Mutation. He explains what this means.

At a pre-wedding family dinner Shawn's brother Danny Farrell makes a speech, and congratulates the happy couple. Richard speaks, and says nothing good about Isabelle. Shawn decides that the only way to avoid the future he saw is to leave. After leaving Shawn smokes more of the cigar. This time he sees the city as a war zone and Tom is dying. When he tries to save him Tom blames himself and says its because he talked Shawn out of marrying Isabelle.

Tom and Diana go to the hospital where the bad radiation machine was to retrieve the list of paid people from the litigation years earlier. He says that someone came in a few days prior looking for the same list saying it was needed for the military for the war on terror. The numbers on the bodies are the same as their location on the list.

Shawn decides to go through with the wedding after all, and it is revealed that his earlier vision of Richard, Richard is the cause of the war he sees in both visions.


The mutation[edit]

Starting in 1969, Seattle Presbyterian Hospital used a flawed radiation machine to treat their cancer patients. The microswitches that controlled the machine weren't working right, so the doses were wrong. This went on for just under five years. Once the hospital figured out what they were doing they tested everyone who had ever been exposed to it and in some cases the radiation induced a small mutation. This mutation is a slight alteration of the eleventh chromosome. It was named the Starzl mutation, after the company that made the bad machine. The mutation is replicable, meaning people that got it passed it onto their children. The Starzl mutation is both harmless and conserved in those offspring, they live normal healthy lives. While the offspring of a returnee normally do not retain the ability to generate promicin, a second-hand report from John Shaffner (an ex-special ops soldier) suggested that the offspring of a 4400 and a Starzl mutant will be "promicin-positive", meaning they will have abilities. This is believed by Tom Baldwin and Diana Skouris to be the reason why the abductees were returned to the Seattle area - it is the only place they are likely to encounter individuals who possess the Starzl mutation and therefore the only place they are likely to produce children with 4400 abilities.

This and other facts in his possession suggest Dennis Ryland has access to a source of information not generally available even to NTAC. Ryland will only say that such things happen far above his security clearance.

Featured music[edit]


Thomas Starzl is a real-life physician often referred to as "the father of modern transplantation".

External links[edit]