There are only two episodes left in Almost Human‘s first season but instead of building up to a finale, ‘Beholder’ is more than a little boring.
Let’s bitch it out…
Almost Human has tons of potential. Even in its worst episodes, there are interesting elements. Unfortunately the writers seem to purposefully ignore the most compelling elements of the series, often focusing on generic standalone cases of the week that at best feature innovative world building and, at worst, feel like standard cop cases with a techno-twist. I’m not suggesting that the show abandon its one-and-done format; clearly the decision has been make the show procedural rather than serial. Unfortunately in the last few episodes even the procedural elements have been misfires: a case that starts off intriguing ends up somewhere completely different, often eschewing the elements that made it interesting in the first place.
Last week’s episode, focusing on smart homes that are programmed to kill their owners, is a prime example. AV Club Kevin McFarland nails it in his criticism that the episode began as an examination of class and protectionism became a climax between two hackers trying to out-program each other. This week the same thing happens: a serial killer murders people for parts, but by episode’s end, it’s essentially Beauty and the Beast redux featuring a deformed man who simply wants to be loved. This tale may be as old as time, but that certainly doesn’t make it fresh or interesting (groan worthy? yes). The idea of anatomy replicating nanobots is compelling, as is the class stigma of the Chrome club that bristles at Stahl’s (Minka Kelly) profession, but this is all jettisoned out the window in order to tell the story of the man who needs to look pretty for a blind date who ironically turns out to be blind. Thanks heavens that’s where this tale ends up; I was almost worried we might get to investigate Stahl’s past, or explore the role that class plays in the city’s 756 annual murders.
Ordinarily I would be far more forgiving, but the fact that this is happening in the second last episode of the season (which may end up being the show’s only season) is incredibly frustrating. Having introduced us to InSyndicate, Kennex’s (Karl Urban) radical girlfriend, DRN creator Nigel Vaughn (John Larroquette) and the Wall and, last week, Dorian’s (Michael Ealy) implanted memories, there are more than enough dangling plot threads that deserve attention.
I may not prefer them, but I am okay with procedural episodes if they feature solid character development or if they expand the world building. Almost Human appears to have forgotten that it should be building up to something to capitalize on the end of the season, not delivering more stand alone episodes that fail to build on anything that has come before. At this point, I’m hoping that next week’s finale can bring some of these disparate elements back into focus and end the season on a strong note.
At this point, I’m unsure whether the writers have the competency to deliver something great…
- This point annoyed me to no end: why, if you had only two facial parts left to collect, would you go after the eyes first and not the cheekbones?! It doesn’t make any sense?! I imagine laser eye surgery and contact lenses have some kind of equivalent in this techno-fabulous world, and yet our killer saves the decayed piece of his face that’s highly noticeable for last? Madness.
- Taking it a step further: how can anyone even be blind? Surely with all of these advances something as pesky as loss of sight is correctable?
- Dorian (after Kennex wonders why he was holo-blocked on a date): “Well…and I’m just positing this…perhaps you’re boring?”
- Dorian (when Kennex blames technology for driving a wedge in society): “On the way back to the precinct, let’s replace your bionic leg with something useful, like a tree branch or a shovel.”
- Dorian (when Kennex asks what they see in his driver’s license): “A terrible picture. You should get it redone.”
With only one episode left, what are your thoughts? Have you been yearning to revisit some of these stories or are you comfortable cruising with the procedural episodes? Any theories about where the series is headed? Still enjoying the banter between Urban and Ealy? Sound off below
Almost Human airs its finale next Monday at 8pm EST on FOX