ALMOST HUMAN Recap – “Are You Receiving?”

     November 25, 2013

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The “good cop, bot cop” partnership of John Kennex (Karl Urban) and Dorian (Michael Ealy) continues to develop on Fox’s futuristic action series, Almost Human.  We’ve seen similar procedural aspects in plenty of other crime dramas and, though cleverly used, the future-tech on the show isn’t exactly innovative, but the secret’s in the chemistry between Urban and Ealy and their on-screen counterparts.  Hit the jump to see how the series third episode, “Are You Receiving?” is a hopeful sign of things to come, unless your head’s full of bubblegum.

almost-human-karl-urban-michael-ealyFor those of you who are new to the show as of this episode, the olive oil conversation probably came across as a little odd, but I’m happy the writers are attempting to thread some continuity of Kennex and Dorian’s relationship from episode to episode.  The best buddy cops start off as a rocky, “Odd Couple” pairing who learn to complement each others strengths and weaknesses over time.  Normally this evolution in partnership is confined to personality traits: the slob and the neatnik, the analytical and the impetuous, etc.  What makes Kennex and Dorian more interesting is that they possess physical traits that mirror each others strengths and weaknesses.  Kennex happens to have a squeaky artificial leg that he has a hard time accepting, while Dorian’s programming causes him to behave more like a human than his MX counterparts, something his creators found detrimental.  Dorian suggesting that Kennex use olive oil on his squeaky limb (and Kennex actually taking his advice) is more than a callback, it’s a milestone for the pair’s evolving partnership.

It’s a good thing the artificially-repaired human and the all-too-human android are getting along, because this episode took them into a classic “hostage high-rise” situation.  It should have been a walk in the park for Urban, who took on much tougher challenges in a similar situation in Dredd; Dorian, however, took a lot of damage in the process of protecting a floor full of hostages.  Whether it was Kennex patching up Dorian’s headwound with bubblegum or Dorian taking on a hail of bullets, their partnership was essential to saving the day and discovering the real plan behind the hostage situation.

almost-human-are-you-receiving-michael-ealy-karl-urbanLet’s talk tech since it played a substantial role in this week’s episode.  Putting aside the fact that Kennex used a dirty Q-Tip, fingernail clippers and old chewing gum to repair a high-tech sentient lifeform, there were some other cool examples of tech to be found.  The FaceMaker, which granted the wearer a completely different face, provided a nice twist to the plot and a fun moment for Kennex to jump in and save the day.  While a fission ignitor is probably a real thing (even though the military might not call it that), it gave Rudy (Mackenzie Crook) a reason to be involved in the episode, which is a blessing considering how talented Crook is.  The Lightbomb, however, only came across as a cool-sounding weapon of mass destruction (not sure if they referenced this in an earlier episode), since it was laughably easy to disarm.  The red projection disks were … interesting.

I rather enjoy the show so far, but I do have a couple of items on my wishlist.  The humor level is well-balanced at the moment, but I can see it devolving into forced one-liners unless a more engrossing plot is developed relatively soon.  These early episodes could certainly be seeding conflicts for further down the line (perhaps the palladium theft wasn’t only about money), so I hope to see elements of a bigger antagonist than just a villain of the week in the near future.  Also, I know it’s paramount to establish the partnership between Kennex and Dorian early on, but since Kennex’s reservations and surliness has already been played up, it’s time to start seeing some cracks in Dorian’s programming.  But hey, it’s only the third episode.

Rating: B+

Musings and Miscellanea: 

almost-human-season-1-episode-3-michael-ealy-karl-urbanDorian has lots of interesting uses, like heating coffee to the desired temperature.

John Kennex: “Boring conversation anyway.”

John Kennex: “What’s with the disco face?”

Dorian not only speaks multiple languages (including Portuguese) but can also mimic other voices, including Kennex’s.  Fun party trick!

Dorian: “If you want to get in shape, we can run the ropes course on the weekend.” Kennex: “Oh, can we?”

Dorian: “My Dynamic Voltage Scaling has been damaged by the bullet.” Kennex: “You want to say that a little less complicated?” Dorian: “I won’t be able to walk in five minutes.”

Dorian: “I said magenta.” Kennex: “There’s 50 shades of purple in there!” Dorian: “That was the lavender one.”

Urban’s face is great when he has to chew up some old gum.

MX: “You have five minutes to complete the ignitor.” Rudy: “You can’t rush perfection.” MX: “You have four minutes and forty-five seconds to complete the ignitor.”

Kennex: “Dorian, you’ve been shot, your head’s full of bubblegum … you can’t do this alone.”

Kennex: “No one messes with my coffee-warmer.”

Some day when sentient androids actually exist, this show’s language will be considered artificially insensitive.  Enjoy it while it lasts,  humans!

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