‘Almost Human’ Photo Recap 1×11: “Disrupt”
If you were a child of the ‘90s and had cable, this episode of Almost Human was probably a nightmarish parody of one of your favorite Disney Channel original movies, Smart House, starring my Disney crush Ryan Merriman (not to mention a post-Married With Children, pre-Sons of Anarchy Katey Sagal). The film centers around a computerized house equipped with a vaguely suspicious (albeit efficient) cyborg maid who eventually goes off the rails, causing the whole house to spiral out of control. She locks everyone inside and torments the children. Don’t worry—Ryan Merriman gets out safely. Nonetheless, it is sort of a terrifying premise, especially now that an idea like a “Smart House” isn’t nearly as far off as it was in the ‘90s. “Disrupt” touched on this issue some, but it was also a timely nod to our fear-dominant culture. Is a security system that shoots a teenage boy for trespassing really worth the safety it provides its inhabitants? This episode brought up some dark themes, but it did manage to squeeze in a few good giggles here and there. But mostly it just made me want to re-watch Smart House. Is it on Netflix? I’ll check and get back to you.
The episode started off innocuously enough, with Rudy running some diagnostics on Dorian’s processing core—except whoops! Something nefarious is afoot because Dorian somehow has an unaccounted memory of being a little white kid with a toy train. More importantly though, Dorian was none too pleased about being plugged in while he was sleeping. I would be disoriented too if I woke up with a wire in the back of my neck and Rudy staring at me.
I loved how much pleasure John took from Dorian’s struggle. He seemed genuinely elated by the idea of Dorian being exposed to the “messiness” of human connection. That line was probably the closest John has come to saying something legitimately wise. Human relationships are messy, and it’s interesting to see that from a robot’s perspective figuring all this out for the first time. Granted, John’s solution—to live alone and isolate himself from other people—is probably not the healthiest way to overcome the untidiness of human interactions. Which is why it’s great that John and Dorian have each other to help navigate the tricky waters of friendship (and maybe more…). Also, I don’t know how Michael Ealy delivered that line about shaving John while he slept with a straight face, but it was amazing.
While we’re on the subject of things that are “messy,” let’s check back in with the Bennett family, who are proud owners of their very own Smart House.
These people obviously never saw Smart House, or they would never have decided to live in a home that was more intelligent than they were. But this was no malfunction of the house, it was foul play. The whole culturally relevant backstory came out: one year ago, a teenage boy named Aaron Kasdan had been murdered by the Bennetts’ Smart Home security system while he was doing some light trespassing. It was time to start rounding up suspects…right after John made sure every police officer believed that Detective Paul was out because he’d come down with the most embarrassing ailment possible.
Oh, Jonathan…you trickster, you. This little side story was pretty amusing, and eventually it tied in with the whole “respecting privacy” theme that Dorian was all about. For someone who values his own personal space, Kennex is not very considerate when it comes to other people’s privacy. Or maybe it’s only when it comes to Detective Paul, since, to be fair, he is kind of a tool.
They intereviewed Sam, the creepy hologram butler, who let them know about the thousands of threats the Bennetts received. So, yay, plenty of leads to follow. On their way out, Dorian had a flash of that memory with the kid and the train, and he got disoriented for a second. Between his random memory flashes and Kennex’s flashback episodes last week, these two are quite a pair. Having said that, I don’t exactly feel like it’s safe for either of them to be driving, so they’ll have to look into getting a chauffer. I know Rudy would love to get out of the lab more, so maybe he would volunteer.
John and Dorian met with the CEO of Synturion, the company that created the Smart Homes, and her lawyer who was totally going to be killed off in ten minutes.
Meanwhile Stahl was interviewing the mother of the teen who was killed last year. Because apparently that’s what Stahl does now: she stoically questions suspects without revealing any details about herself or her feelings.
Remember back in episode five when I was kind of complaining that all we learned about Stahl was that she liked soccer? I would love to unearth another Valerie gem like that one. Sigh… At least she got to wear a fun wig in this episode. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Dorian and John were driving together when Dorian had another flash of the train memory. (If this is some kind of Anna Karenina foreshadowing or something, I will seriously regret not reading that book in high school.)
Well that certainly ruined the mood of John and Dorian’s romantic evening. Someone hacked into the city grid and plastered Aaron’s photo on all the screens. Let’s follow that lead to red herring #2, shall we?
They traced the hack back to someone called Crispin X. John and Valerie went to talk to the resident afficionado of all things computer related to see if he had any intel on how to track down an infamous hacker (and get more screen time for Stahl).
Rudy got them all dolled up to go to the hacker party so they could track down Crispin X, but when they got there, they discovered that the “party” was more of a virtual experience than an actual physical party. They also discvored that Rudy was not as good as he thought at creating plausible hacker disguises.
Hands down, best scene of the episode. Nice accent, John. Please do that always. I would have liked more Kennex/Stahl undercover shenanigans, though. Plus, I loved the J.J. Abrams shoutout to the Alias episode where Sydney and Vaughn went undercover at some goth club or something, and I swear Vaughn was wearing the same black coat Kennex wore.
When they finally found “Crispin X,” he turned out to be a predictably young, pasty kid with stringy hair and a flair for the dramatic.
Nabbed him! Too bad Crispin isn’t the killer. Oh, and he prefers to be called Nico. I gotta say, this kid was pretty awesome. I kind of wish he could be a recurring character. Nico is tied with John’s eyeliner for my favorite thing in this episode.
Back at the lab, Dorian and Rudy were having some more quality time. Rudy told Dorian that he used to wake him up periodically and they’d have philosophical discussions and play chess and have fun hilarious exploits involving mail-order brides. LOLz abound, basically. But when Dorian got called up to the big leagues, Rudy erased the memories of their time together since it wasn’t exactly on the up-and-up.
How adorable. And convenient! Dorian asked Rudy to put all those memories back, so we’ll have months’ worth of development between these new old friends within the span of two episodes. Well played, writers.
Did you guys notice those neon color-changing koi fish in the fountain outside?
The future is a strange and beautiful place.
Kennex was getting his jollies questioning Nico about his many legal violations—none of which involved killing the Bennetts, however.
Did I mention I really like Nico for some reason? He has so much charisma! He ended up helping them track the photo that appeared in the threatening emails that all the victims received. And by “victims,” I mean the Bennetts and the Synturion lawyer, who got killed by a Smart House when it sucked all the oxygen out as part of its fire safety feature.
Nico traced the photo of Aaron to discover that there was a girl in the original image. She’s the one who’s been hacking Smart Houses. See? Nico would totally be a helpful addition to the team. Let’s keep him! As if he wasn’t proving his usefulness already, he was invaluable when John and Dorian went to confront Emily and save Synturion CEO Kay. Nico was like a ninja, counter-hacking Emily while she tried to unleash the Smart Home’s wrath on John, Dorian, and Kay.
This was pretty awesome. Kennex had the idea to hack the hologram projectors and create a bunch of diversionary projections of himself to throw off the Sam bots. Way to go, Nico! Now if only these Kennexes could start a boy band together…
It’s too bad Dorian missed this because I’m sure it would have fulfilled one of his many Kennex fantasies. Sadly, Dorian was having significantly less fun getting the gears beaten out of him by Sam.
He escaped the Sam droid just in time to face off against Emily—without her computer to hide behind.
She quickly thought through the scenario and realized that Dorian’s programming wouldn’t allow him to let her taker her own life. She told him to leave her and go get John before the oxygen got sucked out of the building. Dorian refused to leave her, and kept staring into her soul with his beautiful eyes until she cracked and started crying. She just really missed Aaron and felt guilty that he had been on his way to see her when he was killed. Score one for Dr. Dorian and his magic therapeutic gaze.
In the meantime, Nico saved them all from suffocating.
MVP of the episode right there. Welcome to the team, Nico!
Another highlight was Halverson (I think that’s what I read on his name tag) turning in his contribution to the Detective Paul Donut Pillow Fund. Maldonado was understandably confused and irritated.
Oh, Maldonado… How have you not yet learned to just expect that any time something strange or inconvenient happens, it’s Kennex’s fault? By now you should just assume John is like the troublesome leprechaun you can’t get rid of. (Minus the pot of gold.)
In another moment of perfect plot execution without character development, Stahl showed Aaron’s mother that he wasn’t the loner she thought he was.
Rudy and John had a serious conversation about Dorian, who was still having flashes of that weird train memory that Rudy seemed convinced was the sign of the apocalypse or something.
Commence Dorian Watch 2014! I think some group sleepovers might be in order. You know, just to make sure Dorian is being watched closely enough. He might flip out at any moment and go on a toy train rampage. I definitely thought the train memory thing was going to be connected to the hacker and that it would all be resolved by the end of the episode. Psych! That was not the case. Dorian’s implanted “organic memory” is totally unrelated, which is bad news bears, according to Rudy. Man, they are really opening a lot of cans this season. The Insyndicate case, “the Wall,” Dorian’s corrupt train memory, and I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one or two other plot lines. It’s great to beef up the serialized storylines, but I would like to see some of them unraveled a little bit.
Between Kennex reveling in his escalating prank on Detective Paul, Nico’s endearingly sleazy smile, and John’s cockney accent, this epsiode definitely had some strong moments. What was your favorite part of “Disrupt”? Who is your favorite new character: Nico, Halverson, or that female officer who was concerned when John told her about the sex bot thing? What do you think the deal is with the little boy and his train? Are you excited to see the new Dorian/Rudy dynamic when Rudy gives Dorian his memories back? How much would you pay to see a deleted scene of Rudy giving John his goth hacker makeover? Leave a comment below!
As always, thanks to TV.com’s brilliant Price Peterson, whose hilarious Vampire Diaries photo recaps were the inspiration for mine. And thank you for reading!
*All images are property of FOX Broadcasting