In week three Almost Human settles in with a case of the week that proves interesting, but fails to stand out.
Let’s bitch it out…At this point the reason to watch Almost Human remains the relationship between Kennex (Karl Urban) and Dorian (Michael Ealy) and not much else. The brittle cop and the more-human-than-humans robot are slowly being fleshed out in turns both dramatic and comedic, but unfortunately the show around them still doesn’t hold much interest.
‘Are You Receiving?’ opens well with a high stakes attack on a corporate office involving hostages and a pulse that destroys most of the lobby. We have no idea why this building has been chosen or what the kidnappers want for the majority of the episode as communications are jammed and most of our main characters are held at bay off-site. Only Kennex and Dorian can save the day as they make their way up to the 25th floor, dispatching armed guards, having adventures with chewing gum and chatting with hostage Paige (Emily Rios) to gather intel. Initially it seems that the bad guys are part of the Holy Reclamation Army and they’re after a Fission Igniter, but both of these facts turn out to be fiction – they’re both McGuffins designed to distract everyone from the truth: they’re nothing more than petty thieves pulling a heist. Not only do we never get a clear idea if there’s anything more to these guys, we also never really learn what a Fission Igniter is, apart from the fact that it goes boom and can be easily duplicated if you can give Rudy (Mackenzie Crook) ~40 minutes or so.
Needless to say the identities and motivations of the thieves are less than a revelation, although leaving the audience wondering about what’s going on for so long is certainly an audacious move for a new series on its third episode. Your satisfaction for this episode, then, boils down entirely to how much you like Dorian and Kennex. Whole sections of the runtime are made up of the guys chatting, gently mocking and ultimately supporting each other on the journey upstairs. Kennex tells a story about feeling safe knowing that someone has your back which, as expected, becomes a narrative tool used to bridge the gap between him and his non-human partner, but at the end of the day the stakes in this episode are pretty low, despite the suggestion that Dorian might shut down after being shot in the head. Apparently all you need in this new high tech world is some chewing gum and a pair of nail clippers to repair a robot and keep him functioning well enough to climb an elevator shaft, take a dozen shots to the chest and still go for noodles after the case has been solved.
- As much as I enjoy the relationship between the main pair, the amount of screentime they receives just goes to highlight how little the supporting cast is given to do. ‘Are You Receiving?’ shuffles both Minka Kelly and Michael Irby to the side. Lily Taylor’s Captain Maldonado fares a little better since she gets to play negotiator and act tough, but she’s still basically just shouting at the screen at the front of the precinct. It’s not clear if these are budgetary decisions, but at some point the show needs to move some of these people out into the real world
- The episode opens with Kennex and Dorian bickering about Kennex’s lack of attention to detail. It’s slightly ironic because I wish Almost Human would pay more attention to some of its own details, such as where is John picking Dorian up from? Does the synthetic have a home of its own or does it just spend the evenings hanging out at a charging station like we’ve seen in other futuristic AI films/TV shows? It seems as though the series doesn’t think these small details are important, but for my money, they’re far more interesting than a generic hostage & heist story
- Anyone else think it’s amusing that this episode sees Karl Urban playing a cop who must make his way to the top of a dangerous building, fighting criminals all the way up? I feel like I’ve seen this plot somewhere before…
- This week’s cool futuristic technology: face manipulators. Mission: Impossible would be so proud
- Dorian (after Kennex hangs up on Captain Maldonado): “I just love that you wear your insubordination like a virtue”
- Kennex: “Dorian, you’ve been shot. Your head’s full of bubblegum” I love that the dialogue is so crazy that it doesn’t require context or explanation
You’re up: what’s your thoughts on the show as it settles in? Are you enjoying the relationship between our two leads? Wishing that the supporting cast were given more to do? Think we’ll meet the real Holy Reclamation Army later? Sound off below
Almost Human airs Mondays at 8pm EST on FOX