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?
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?
If I’m being totally honest, I’m still not 100% sure what the reasoning behind this week’s big crime was. Then again, I tend to kind of zone out when Michael Ealy and Karl Urban aren’t on screen. (In my head I imagine them off together reenacting scenes from Dirty Dancing and feeding each other chocolate covered strawberries.) At first it seemed like some radical group known as the “Holy Reclamation Army” was behind it—which I was actually kind of intrigued by—but then it was like, “JK, just your standard Palladium heist. NBD.” So that was a little disappointing. But on the plus side, John and Dorian spent a good portion of the episode stuck in a stairwell together, which is never a bad thing.
Leave it to Fox to pull the sex card in the second episode of a new series. If the pilot assured viewers that they were in for a thrill ride of action, violence, and futuristic special effects, episode 2 was a not-so-subtle reminder that Almost Human also offers oodles of sex appeal. Personally, I was just grateful they didn’t go the other predictable route and find some excuse to have Minka Kelly go undercover as a prostitute or something. If you’re going to portray women as nothing more than sexual objects, at least make them actual objects. Of course, this show operates on the idea that some robots have the capacity for human emotion, but nonetheless, I’d rather see actual robots than female characters who act like robots. But enough about the morality of using sex bots as a ploy to garner ratings… Read the rest of this entry
Joel Wyman (one of the brilliant minds behind Fringe) has a new show on Fox, which means my life finally has meaning again! At least until this one gets canceled. (Just kidding…I hope.) Almost Human puts a futuristic spin on the buddy cop genre by pairing a surly detective with an android partner who has been programmed to be as close to human as possible—complete with a sense of humor, a temper, and all kinds of other fun side effects of humanity. Karl Urban (Star Trek) plays John Kennex, the robo-phobic cop who wears his scowl like it’s part of his uniform. His android partner Dorian is played by Michael Ealy (The Good Wife), who might actually be the most beautiful person to ever live. If any of you watched Ealy’s buddy cop series Common Law on USA last year, this is pretty much the same premise, but one of them is a robot. Of course, no one watched Common Law, which is why it was canceled. But enough about my poor track record with TV shows…
Before we dive into this recap, let’s get a few things straight: 1) Michael Ealy has the face of an angel and the body of a Britney Spears backup dancer, and I will be commenting on his unearthly beauty with extreme frequency. Get used to it. 2) There’s a pretty good chance that I will be operating under the assumption that John and Dorian should be/are in a romantic relationship. (Don’t blame me for their sizzling onscreen chemistry.) Lastly, 3) Please be advised that approximately 80% of the content of my recaps is sheer nonsense. The other 20% is probably stray observations that no one cares about, references to Fringe or Lost, and shameless appreciation of Michael Ealy.
Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you. Let’s get started!
“Sacrifice” was an appropriate title for the Arrow season finale since it was definitely the central theme of the episode. That, and dramatic lighting cues. (More on that later.) Oliver’s father sacrificing his life so his son could live; Oliver sacrificing his love life to help save Starling City; Detective Lance sacrificing his safety to try to save the Glades; and of course, the incomparable Tommy Merlyn, whose sacrifice marked the single saddest moment of the show to date—including that time Yao Fei made Oliver kill a chicken. (RIP Clucky.) I have to say, I was pretty shocked by the ending, but it was a sufficiently climactic finale, due in large part to the aforementioned dramatic lighting.