Almost Human finished up its truncated first run of episodes (it’s on a break until January) with a strong hour focusing on illegal organ transplants. Only six episodes in, the series already has a good patter, and has established its world and its major characters in a familiar but engaging way.
“Arrhythmia’s” trajectory felt a lot like a Law and Order episode, where good, methodical police work leads the detectives down a rabbit hole to get their ultimate prize (they may encounter small-fry crooks along the way, but the kingmaker is saved until last). This winding tale may have been a traditional approach, but that doesn’t diminish its ability to entertain, which it certainly did. Hit the jump for why, “just because something is used, doesn’t meant it lacks value.”
“Arrhythmia” might be the best episode of the series so far, because of its completeness. In other episode-long arcs, complex ideas like cloning, or departmental issues like a mole, have deserved more than just an hour’s dedication. As mentioned in previous weeks, it’s a sign the show has a lot to talk about, but the problem is that it seems to be burning through concepts too quickly (unless, hopefully, they return to them at some point). But “Arrhythmia” showed that Almost Human can deal with a lot of really complicated things all in one episode, and have it feel very satisfying. Maybe it was because the episode’s issues were so grounded in our current world.
The medical tech on the show was some of the only tech that didn’t seem entirely far-fetched for existing in 33 years. Illegal organ transplants happen now, and the show has already established that the future world has a thriving black market. The idea that organs might be created that have a diagnostic component is not hard to imagine; the fact that criminals could modify that to create a time to further extort those who have bought these illegal organs is even less of a stretch.
“Arrhythmia” flirted with issues of insurance, certainly a resonating current issue for viewers. In the future it seems, very little has changed. If you don’t have the right insurance, you don’t get the right care. That desperation and inequality can lead to drastic measures, and an expanding of the black market. It was a nice touch too that “Arrhythmia” included a few characters in the criminal chain who thought they were working for the greater good, and the consideration by the police force that by doing their jobs, people would die (the opposite of what they mean to do).
It was a complicated and emotional episode that managed to give a voice to almost all aspects of this idea of illegal organ transplant in a way that made sense within the hour. Great procedural storytelling — heck, just good storytelling.
Then of course there was the introduction of the second DRN, a fantastic way to illustrating the flaws in the model that we haven’t seen at all with Dorian since he was recommissioned. His desire to save the Decom, just like Kennex saved him, showed his compassion and desire for emotional purpose — much like the Decom telling Dorian about his human connection to the little boy he saved (a story which also explained his hesitation to pick up a gun again). This is one arc that keeps cropping up, and we heard more about the decommissionings this week than ever before. Dorian’s suspicions about why the model was phased out for something less sentient are probably very valid. The DRN’s crave human connection, disobey protocol, and become affected by their actions. The DRN’s were too human.
All in all, a fantastic way for the show to finish up for the holiday break. The ratings are still not particularly healthy though (it’s being considered a toss-up whether it will be canceled or renewed), so as I say every week, convert more people to the cause!
Episode Rating: A
Musings and Miscellanea:
— It bothered me all of last week that I didn’t talk more about that awesome van flip that Dorian did. This week, he came out of a wall to stop the criminal. Fucking badass. Also, the Decom’s Rube Goldberg machinations to catch another criminal (who had done his time … oops) were awesome. The show doesn’t have to do something so interesting — the Decom could easily have just run and tackled him, or Dorian could have just come around the corner to make his catch. But the way these little scenes have played out shows the series’ commitment both to fun and ingenuity.
— Kennex’s interaction with the two DRNs was a delight. Hilarious.
— Did anyone else catch the reference to bitcoin? Another great connection to the current world.
— “He’s grumpy on the outside, morose and malcontent on the inside” – Dorian about Kennex.
— Also a nice touch that the company will pay to give those with illegal hearts new ones. Typical corporate ass-covering, as Kennex pointed out, but still a happy ending.
— Vaporizing humans, the wave of the future!
— The cop who we haven’t really gotten to know yet calling the courier Rasputin was great.
— I wonder if 4% is the current average for donations?
— Dorian: “How much did you donate?” Kennex: “Enough to buy some silence.”
— That question of immortality seems one that will come back into play regarding the Droids and how it affects Dorian.
— Almost Human returns January 6th … find more viewers!