Welcome to the Almost Human recaps!
Last week we met Detective John Kennex and his android partner Dorian in the two-night premiere of Fox’s new sci-fi series from creator J.H. Wyman (Fringe, Keen Eddie!) and executive producer J.J. Abrams. We’re three episodes in, and so far the show is a fun (if somewhat uneven) throwback to classic sci-fi/cop drama mash-ups of the ’80s like Robocop, Blade Runner and Alien Nation. (Remember Alien Nation, the movie and short-lived Fox show where the aliens could be killed with salt water?? Why hasn’t that been remade?)
Since this is our first Almost Human recap, here’s a quick overview of the show before we dive into this week’s episode:
The year is 2048. In a dystopian metropolis that for copyright reasons is nothing like Blade Runner‘s Los Angeles or Robocop‘s Detroit, crime has gotten so out of control that cops are now paired with android partners that basically serve as walking deadpan smartphones. John Kennex (Karl Urban) is a gruff cop who lost his partner and his leg in a shootout with Insyndicate, a criminal organization whose members have bar code tattoos on the back of their necks for some reason. (The name is also an awkward portmanteau of “insidious” and “syndicate” that unfortunately doesn’t sound nearly as threatening as the writers want it to.)
After waking up from a two-year coma, John now has a synthetic leg which his body is rejecting. He’s also undergoing illegal back alley medical treatments to help him remember just what went down during the shootout (it was an ambush and Insyndicate was probably/definitely tipped off by someone inside the police force) and also what happened to his girlfriend who we’ve only seen in a cryptic video message. John is assigned an MX — stiff, by-the-book androids that every cop has to work with — which he promptly sends hurtling from a moving vehicle once it gets too nosy about his back alley clinic visits. He’s then partnered with Dorian (Michael Ealy), an early android model that was decommissioned for displaying too many erratic, human-like attributes. (You might say Dorian is “almost human,” or you might also say he’s like a more easily agitated version of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.) John doesn’t trust android officers since he blames one for leaving his partner to die, and it takes him most of the pilot to warm up to Dorian. But, as Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) tells John, he was partnered with Dorian because they are both “special.” (Does that mean John is also a robot???)
So far, John and Dorian have investigated a heist with ties to Insyndicate and shut down a group of Albanians who were using human female DNA to create advanced pleasure androids. This led to Lili Taylor delivering the line, “Her DNA was found on the sexbot” with a straight face. If you’re not on board after that, it’s gonna be rough going from here on in.
So for episode three, perhaps we’ll get more hints about the mythology Wyman teased in a recent interview? Or maybe we’ll get to see more of the seedy underbelly of the city. After sexbots, just where will this show go? If you guessed “headfirst into a generic hostages-in-a-highrise plot straight out of a ’90s Die Hard knockoff that would’ve starred Jeff Fahey,” then you’d be correct. Also, ugh.
Let’s dive into episode three, “Are You Receiving?”
Next: It’s Die Hard…in a building!