There is a certain attractiveness to the way this show is structured. At first I thought it had to do with how the story is laid out, but after this episode I realized it has more to do with the intimacy of the story-telling. There are some shows with large casts (i.e. One Tree Hill, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy) where I’ve felt underwhelmed by characters with great potential because, realistically, there just isn’t enough time to give each character the time and attention they really need. There are aspects I’ve loved about casts with large shows, don’t get me wrong, but there is certainly a draw to shows that zero in on one character and his or her life. The mystery and intrigue of Sydney Bristow and Olivia Dunham serve as my defenses to this point.
Episode 5 of Almost Human’s freshman season is named Blood Brothers, but it might as well have been named A Better Human Being. And I’ll keep saying this for as long as words still have meaning: I don’t care how similar this is to Fringe. It may seem like he’s reusing stories, but I can’t tell you how many times I turned off the TV after a Fringe episode and went, “There were so many more stories to tell in there!” And that’s what I feel like Wyman is getting the opportunity to do; to tell the stories that he couldn’t fit in. A legitimate science fiction topic, cloning, is given a new dimension; what is the face of the world after it’s been addressed? There are “anti-replication” guys and laws about cloning in 2048. The world is on the other side of the issue now, where cloning has been done, and supposedly outlawed, and further laws are put in place to control it.
Each episode seems to take a look at a fairly specific aspect of humanity, play on the irony of almost human, and shovel in some quirky police banter. I’m pretty sure we could turn on the TV at any time of night and find a serial police drama, so I’ll just say that this show is set apart from those by the underlying ruggedness of a futuristic subplot. Just like Law & Order SVU isn’t about cops in New York City, the point of this show isn’t that it is set in the future; overlaid on future’s backdrop, this is the projection of one of many possible futures and the harsh realities that the characters must work around in order for life to make sense.
According to TVovermind.com, the episode order thus far has been as such: 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, with next week being episode 3. So in the second episode we saw, which was 5, there was some mention to Kennex having a bit of a connection with Stahl. At first I didn’t think much of it, I was a little sad that it had to be said before we could notice it, but I also was attributing it to a bit of Dorian’s social awkwardness or attempt to connect with Kennex. But now that I know, I am vowing to go back as soon as possible and watch them in order. Because, honestly, this is ridiculous. Maybe we don’t have pertinent mythology arising in these episodes, but chemistry is as much mythology in the J.J. Abrams world as anything else! If Jacksonville had aired after The Ghost Network, would we all have been like, “Oh, yeah, that makes sense.”? No, of course not.
And don’t even get me started on Firefly.
I’m going back to rewatch them in order because I want to see the relationships between the characters unravel naturally, not by the almighty hand of FOX.
If you’re skimming because you don’t care to hear my diatribe, you may tune back in now.
This episode took on a form I really enjoy. It’s the We-Closed-This-Case-Before-You-Tuned-In-But-Now-We-Have-To-Go-To-Court story. I like this format because it really helps us get to know a bunch of different characters really quickly without much backstory. There is so much more that we can infer from interactions that really never needs to be said aloud, and either a show never gives us this, or, more often than not, tells us what we need to know through flashbacks. Flashbacks are my least favorite. Inferring is my favorite. I don’t always need to know exactly what happened, I just want to know what kind of person came out of those events and the kind of strength they assume because of the trials they went through. In Captain Maldonado’s case, it worked very well to see the story happen in this way because at the beginning of the episode Avery psychoanalyzes her, putting her on the defensive, and at the end she psychoanalyzes him, reassuming her confidence and shaking off the dust of his pathetic attempt to destabilize her.
While Kennex is still the pinnacle by which we get a lot of this story, he’s not the main event. Luckily, this show isn’t narrated or in first-person, so we get a nice array of action. But, as I was complaining about previously, there are certain relationships that don’t feel all the way to where I am sure they are supposed to be. I can almost reach out and touch it, but it’s still just outside of my grasp. I’m giving it time.
After Haley, a key eye-witness to first degree murder, is shot and killed in her safe house during a murder trial, Kennex, Dorian, and the LAPD investigate the crime scene. They find the second witness hiding in the woods and a bullet casing next to the Humpty Dumpty android. The second witness, Maya, is a medium psychic (but a petite psychic on her good days!) who claims that Haley told her from the beyond that Avery, the man who was being tried for murder, killed her. Much to Kennex’s dismay, Rudy presents evidence that Avery was, in fact, in the room when Haley was killed.
Maya explains that she had a procedure done, to which Dorian confirms is a valid, albeit relatively new, attempt at increasing one’s capacity for intelligence. Maya eventually admits that she did it because she’d heard people can start to have a greater sensitivity to voices on the other side. She lost her parents at 19 and felt that it was too early to say goodbye to them. Ironically, of course, her ability to communicate with dead people is triggered by touching something that belong to them. While Maya was undergoing the procedure to make her a brilliant medium, her childhood home burned to the ground and she was left with nothing to touch to reconnect with her dead parents. She comes across kooky and bold, as though communicating with dead people is natural and normal, but she has a deep sensitivity to people and it seems that this is pretty common amongst the archetypical psychic mold. She is the bridge between the living and the dead, and even though the evidence she presents from the beyond isn’t exactly usable in a court of law, she interjects regular conversations with tidbits that push the detectives along the right path in order to obtain valid evidence. And really, it seems like no one but Dorian really recognizes her contribution.
Maya tries to deliver a message to Haley’s parents, but is stopped en route by Kennex and is persuaded into returning to the precinct with them. But they’re attacked by a van full of Averys, a.k.a. Blood Brothers. Maya is injured, but they manage to fend off the clones, kill one, and retain Maya.
Meanwhile, Detective Stahl has gone off on her own (sporting a Dunham leather jacket), to investigate the house of Mrs. Fuller. I believe this Mrs. Fuller is the mother of the man whom Avery allegedly killed, and her estate seems largely to be unused. Before this visit, there had been no connection between Avery and Dr. Fuller, a stem cell research scientist, and Captain Maldonado knew it. Even though she knew Avery was guilty, she didn’t know why. Stahl finds documents and pictures linking Avery to Fuller, including an incriminating and threatening letter that would expose the clones once Fuller published his research. Stahl has the evidence sent back to the precinct, but before she leaves the house she is taken hostage by some Avery Clones.
The clones use Stahl as leverage to spring Avery, the original, from prison. And this is really where I wished we’d gotten more development between Stahl and Kennex because there are a couple indications from the clones that Stahl considered Kennex someone special, and vice versa, but there wasn’t any evidence of that in the episode (save a look near the beginning when Kennex discovers Stahl is into soccer…or basketball? I can’t remember). Their cuteness could kill a teddy bear, but I just don’t feel it yet. And that makes me sad because, honestly, I love sci-fi love stories. Someone inevitably gets trapped in an alternate universe, dematerialized, or captured by rogue space cowboys.
Rather than just hand the murderous and villainy Ethan Avery over to his body doubles, Captain Maldonado devises a plan to trick the clones into handing Stahl over before they realize the gig is up. Using the technology that we first saw at the beginning, when a 3D rendering of Haley was projected into the court room in lieu of bringing her to court in person, Maldonado pretends to release Avery from custody and walks him down the hallway where overhead cameras capture their image and create a 3D rendering out in the real world where Kennex and Dorian are waiting to complete the hostage exchange with the clones. The trick accomplishes what it needs to do, Stahl gets away from the weirdo clones, and as they try to escape, Dorian prevents them from getting away (Stahl: “Did he just flip that van?” Kennex: “Why hasn’t he ever done that before?”).
Maya is able to deliver the decisive testimony that will send Avery to prison, Maldonado gets her jab in at Avery and even walks away with a compliment from Deputy Andy! Dorian gives Maya a box with things recovered from the fire that consumed her house and it seems that Maya is finally able to connect with her parents (though, she only says, “Hello,” so we don’t know what really happened there). And, to wrap things up, Stahl brings a bottle of bourbon into the break room to share with Kennex and they watch soccer together. Teddy bears beware.
I enjoyed this episode very much. The humor between Kennex and Dorian is spot on and already feels so familiar. Karl Urban could have chemistry with a hair dryer, so it’s not surprising that he is the center of our attention. He interacts well with others (note: I didn’t say plays well with others). He has a great way of delivering lines, like the one to Det. Paul, “Go back and read your How To Be A Policeman manual.”
The only thing I really want to point out is that I would have liked to see a stronger emphasis on the fact Dorian was without a chest plate for the entire episode. That has serious ramifications and is also seriously dripping with symbolism. It’s just something I thought that Wyman would use to a greater degree after pointing it out. But, as I say, there’s always too much story to tell.