You know how you can tell that the Almost Human season finale was great? Because even though it revolved around one of my least favorite Fringe alumni (dammit, Anil! Stop ruining everything!), it was still one of the best episodes of the season. No offense to Shaun Smyth (I’m sure he’s a really nice guy), but I can’t look at his face without thinking of Anil and how much he annoyed me throughout the entire last season of Fringe…which is why I felt so vindicated when he turned out to be a super evil kidnapper/cyborg. That’s right, bucko—you weren’t fooling me with that nice-guy façade, helping out those poor homeless teens. Aside from Anil ‘s unwelcome appearance, this episode was chock-full of awesome, mostly involving Dorian’s evaluation, which forced John to admit how much he totally adores his partner. “Straw Man” also delved into John’s background, since his father worked on the original case. This episode really hit the trifecta of humor, action, and character development, with a healthy side of Jorian swoon. Not even Anil could rain on that fabulousness! Though he did try pretty hard…
Ask and you shall receive! After eleven episodes of blank stares and droll expository dialogue, we finally unlocked the mystery of Valerie Stahl! (Or at least we found the key.) I was so excited to see Stahl get to be an actual person in this episode, even if we didn’t find out why she became a police officer. ”Beholder” (as in “eye of the”) was a great example of Joel Wyman doing what he does best: telling stories about human connection while also making you laugh and grossing you out a little bit. Part of the reason I enjoyed this episode so much was because it had a very Fringe feel to it (even more so than usual), not to mention the perfect balance of action, humor, emotion, character development, and Michael Ealy’s face.
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.
This week’s Almost Human was all about the drugs—and not the fun LSD kind like they were always doing on Fringe. This was the super-fancy kind that futuristic teenagers take until things go really badly and three of them end up dead. Also under the influence was Kennex, who was popping memory pills to try to remember all the details leading up to the ambush that served as the worst break-up ever. Nothing says “it’s not you, it’s me,” like blowing your ex’s leg off. “Perception” also delved into the concept of “chromes,” which refers to humans who have been genetically altered to produce smarter, healthier, better-looking people. If there’s one thing that can make a group of snotty prep school kids even more intolerable, it’s making them all genetically enhanced. It was like an entire school of CW cast members but without the obligatory homely nerd. In fact, they were all too smart for their own good, if you ask me. I mean, what teenager designs a drug that lets you see math equations?
Football season is over, which means Fox can finally get back to its regularly scheduled programming—AKA sexy police robots instead of Cleatus the NFL robot. (I still can’t believe he has his own Twitter.) And oh, how I’ve missed Dorian and John and their undeniable sexual chemistry (and occasional crime-fighting). This week’s episode was like a futuristic Frankenstein retelling (but not in a ridiculous way…*cough* I, Frankenstein *cough*), but instead of an ugly green dude with neck bolts, Frankenstein’s monster was a hottie with an automatic weapon (played by MMA fighter/actress Gina Carano). This was all well and good, and there was plenty of fighting and blowing things up and tender emotional moments between Dorian and John (well, at least two moments), but the real highlight of the episode (other than Rudy talking about his lack of venereal diseases) was the reveal of a rather large piece of mythology: something called “the Wall.”
I’m not gonna lie, when they first started talking about “the other side,” I was seriously hoping that there was an alternate universe in play here á la Fringe. They’d break down the Wall only to come face to face with Peter and Olivia and Walter, and we’d have a surprise spin-off on our hands. (Hey, a fan can dream.) Then I thought maybe this was just a metaphorical wall, like Pink Floyd was always singing about. But, alas, when we saw John Larroquette attempting to zip up the wall to the other side, it was clear that this is a very large, very literal wall that we’re talking about. But before we start theorizing about what’s on the other side, let’s review the rest of “Unbound.”
Remember back when John was all surly and suspicious of Dorian, and he hated everything android-related? We got a little flashback to those days—before Dorian took him on a magic carpet ride and showed him a whole new world. This was because the episode was aired out of order. It was originally supposed to be the second episode, but Fox bumped it in favor of the sexbots episode. Because who needs plot continuity and character development when you can just show naked ladies? Being reminded of how much ornerier John was whenwe first met him actually made me appreciate how he’s developed since then. Although it’s hard to tell sometimes when the episode timeline is more confusing than the last season of Lost. I’m excited for everyone who will be watching this on DVD and hopefully with the episodes in their intended order. How special that will be for them! Anyway, it was still a good episode despite the noticeable earmarks of its incorrect order.
I am starting a campaign to keep Dorian on 50% battery power or lower AT ALL TIMES because he is far too entertaining when he’s not fully charged. Punching things, calling Detective Paul “little man,” commenting on the softness of victims’ hair…he’s like a Magic 8 Ball of hilarity, oscillating between rage and joy. The one thing that disappointed me about this episode was that it didn’t end with John and Dorian becoming roommates, which I was so hoping would be their solution to Dorian’s accommodations problem. Other than that, it was a solid episode, if a little dark. It harkened on some very relevant issues, including a critique of our blood-and-gore-obsessed entertainment culture. Why do we keep paying money to see Saw sequels? Still, that’s not quite as bad as 8,000 people watching a live video of someone about to have their head blown off. Did I mention it was a disturbing episode? That being said, I like that this show makes you think sometimes, and even though this one was on the more serious end of the Almost Human spectrum, it still had plenty of laughs—most of which were due to the fact that Dorian was PMS-ing like crazy.
This episode should have been called “Healthcare and the Two Michael Ealys.” The central case was a black market organ extortion racket, which brought up issues of health insurance, robot doctors, and biomechanical organs. Dorian also adopted a stray DRN he found working as a mechanic and took him on a field trip. Dorian wanted to give the droid a chance to relive his glory days as a police officer, back before The Man decided that DRNs were too “emotionally unstable” to work in the field. Sure…because it’s not like humans ever break protocol or make irrational decisions or demonstrate emotional instability. It was a big Emotion episode, but without veering too far into saccharine territory. Maybe I’m biased because I kind of worship Joel Wyman, but he has a way of examining the complexities of humanity and the way we connect with each other in such a way that’s meaningful without being cheesy. Sure, there was plenty of talk of hugging and feelings, but this episode was still less sentimental than that Kohl’s commercial where the young couple sneaks into their elderly neighbor’s apartment and decorates it for the holidays. (I cry like a tiny baby every time I see that ad.)
Sometimes I feel like a TV-addicted leprechaun, and my pot of gold can only be filled with meaningful glances and smiles between John and Dorian. Luckily this occurs several times per episode—especially when that episode involves Dorian opening up about how John was his knight in shining armor who awoke him from an endless slumber. Before this recap devolves into some strange slash fairytale makeover of Almost Human (that actually sounds awesome…can someone please write that?), maybe I should start the actual recap portion. Sound good? Good.
This week’s episode was all about the ladies. After weeks of sitting on the sidelines, Detective Stahl (Minka Kelly) finally got her fair share of screen time in this week’s clone-themed episode. We can now add “likes soccer” and “good at getting kidnapped” to the short list of personality traits for Valerie Stahl. Also taking a turn in the spotlight this week was Captain Maldonado, who got all “this time it’s personal” on some wannabe Charles Manson psycho killer guy. All in all, it was a pretty good episode. I didn’t even mind the last scene where they kind of hit us over the head with the inevitable John/Valerie romance. (I’m not complaining, I just think it’s sad that John and Dorian have much better on-screen chemistry than John and Valerie, but I’m guessing we won’t see a same-sex human/android romance on network TV for at least ten more years.) Is it crazy of me to suggest that Maya the medium/psychic (petite psychic on a good day—ba dum tch!) become a recurring character who occasionally helps them solve cases? It could be fun to inject a little Long Island Medium into this show…especially if she keeps trying to talk to John about his aura. That was almost as good as John trying to talk to Dorian about his, uh, equipment. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first.
Cockroach cameras, algae narcotics, and chess jokes were pivotal points of this week’s episode, which finally gave one of the secondary characters a chance to shine. Don’t get me wrong—I’m perfectly happy to have every scene revolve around John and Dorian, but it was nice to see Rudy as more than just the comic relief lab geek. Maybe now I can finally stop thinking of him as “the guy with the wooden eye from Pirates of the Caribbean.” I have to wonder if we would have gotten more development of the supporting cast by this point if Fox had aired the episodes in the correct order. (This was supposed to be the seventh episode, not the fourth.) Good call, Fox. It’s not like airing episodes out of order has ever ended badly for your or anything. That does explain how John and Dorian’s dynamic went from chilly-at-best to “get a room, you two” between the first and second episodes. Also, should I just assume that Agent Stahl’s (Minka Kelly) personality got lost somewhere in one of those early unaired episodes? Anyway, enough of me rolling my eyes at Fox. Let’s get back to Rudy—or should I say Callum Waits: wearer of fedoras and expert narcotics chef?