ALMOST HUMAN “Blood Brothers” Recap
Disclaimer: I’ve suffered flooding issues in my house as of late, and haven’t had access to a computer/the internet for some time. That said, public libraries + their decent wi-fis are excellent. So without further ado –
Round number four.
We open with an impressively sleek, slick, series of shots featuring DRNs and MXs, all housed within a sort of dome/storage-container. There’s the requisite techno music that opens nearly every episode. We don’t linger.
Kennex, on the other hand, appears to be doing the most lingering; he checks his phone twice in the space of five seconds to determine that Dorian simply ain’t turning up. Frustrated, he goes in search of him in the robot storage unit: this turns up a particularly unappealing image of another MX with Barbie/Ken doll parts. (Read: he lacks genitalia.) It’s with the same flippancy that Dorian tugs down his shirt to display his lack of a chest covering. While I do like the lack of regard that’s paid to the way this inhumanity’s penetrated society, I don’t envy the show’s belief it needs to spell out the oddness of it all in Dorian and Kennex’s (now signature) car conversations. Thankfully, Dorian’s pleading for Kennex to assist him in getting “out of there” leads to yet another beautiful comic scene in particular, wherein Dorian displays his sizeable junk. The entire moment’s made by the sheer disgust/incredulity that appears on Kennex’s face. That, and his imitation of cipher-like Stahl (Minka Kelly)’s voice; this episode establishes it’s focus upon characters and their growth, be it in banter or concept, from the start on.
The crime’s introduced a little later than the norm. In court, Maldonado’s giving evidence on the murder of Dr Liam Fuller. She claims that Ethan Avery, a thin-lipped, grim-eyed man, most certainly killed said doctor; she has a number of witnesses who can link him to it.
The two witnesses are female: one’s a more demure one, whereas another’s a gritty-voiced eccentric who claims to be both psychic and medium. There’s something sort of shallow about the way these two are represented; there appears to be no substance to the first, and a vague sketching of a personality for the second. This has become something of a recurring trend: save for Maldonado and the sex workers from the second episode, there’s very little texturing these females present, human or bot. Before the first lady, Haley Meyers, can give her evidence, she and her protective officer are gunned away by a hitman, in one of the show’s more appealing uses of holoscreen/holographic projection technology.
To identify the shooter, Maia begins to collect the pieces of the MX shot outside the safehouse in typical ballistics fashion in order to determine whether the defendant can be linked to the assassin in any way.
Maldonado is always wisely placed in the balance between being a primary interest, and part of a subplot; part of the woodwork. This might be attributed to Lili Taylor’s subtler gravitas than others; she doesn’t let herself overplay her irritation at Ethan’s jibes. Others might misinterpret this lack of reaction as nonresponsive. Me, I see it as Lili Taylor letting her emotions run subtler under the surface; letting her reactions be particularly minute, as befits a top-ranking officer.
Kennex and Dorian question Yvonne. Here, the quirks previously precious for Yvonne begin to properly grate. Why doesn’t anyone question how it’s possible for this to work, given their advances in science? Why haven’t we spoken of God or faith or religion or skepticism here, at all? Rudy, bless his geeky heart, turns up in time to verify Yvonne’s claims that it was Ethan Avery, the man in court at the time of the shootings, who killed Haley and their supervising officer in the safehouse (as told to her by Haley’s ghost.)
Here, the structure of the show grows sloppy — sloppy in a good way, mind. While Yvonne entertains the rest of the department in performing psychic/medium readings, Stahl (Minka Kelly) draws the murdered man, Fuller’s, assistant in for questioning. Just as Maldonado’s lack of presence imght be attributed to Taylor’s care not to overstate her character’s presence, there’s little I recall or heard out of this scene, for on-screen, Kelly is flat. One could classify her the requisite smooth-talking pretty girl. It’s hard to pay attention to what she’s saying: harder still to forgive the writers for expecting that her quirks, such as programming her MX to update her on game scores, will redeem her lack of personality.
Midway through, Yvonne’s attacked y what they discover to be a clone of Ethan Avery. She provides some emotional background to the vague power she’s ‘bought’ in the (admittedly not unexpected) reveal: that she’s an orphan who hopes to reconnect with her parents, only to have that ability, too, taken away from her. With Almost Human guilty of scoring this with a violins-heavy emotional piece, I have difficulty determining the talent of the actress of pulling this off the originality of the writing. In truth, I’d rank the moment thus far at around a 4.
Kelly breaks and enters into Liam Fuller’s house.
I don’t care.
There is no point for this character to stride about, blinking and pouting and occasionally frown-smiling. Giving her a gun and an ominous soundtrack to underscore the fact she’s found some kind of clone boarding house does not help, either.
Kennex tries to call Stahl and is put in touch with Ethan instead, who’s freshly captured her. Requisite threat over the phone. Requisite “you ain’t gonna get jackshit” speech from Stahl. I fail to see how this lends her any sort of credibility or warmth; no matter how hard Kelly attempts to appear distressed, her words are too tired to have a point. Similarly, the procedural/crime element of tonight’s episode is paperthin: at one point, one of the clones questions Kelly how far she’d go to “save herself”, thus spelling out the primary question posed in tonight’s failed attempt of a thriller.
Rudy eavesdrops on the clones attempt to negotiate the return of their father/original counterpart, the first Ethan, via an MX’s ear. When mid hostage handover, the holographic projection of Ethan being ‘released’ glitches and his clones panic and drive off, though Stahl manages to get out of their grip.
Thankfully this doesn’t affect Maya: she’s able to give her evidence against the wealthy, sort-of slick philanthropist, Ethan. Maldonado, finally given the chance to gloat, taunts him as someone who’ll simply vanish.
With the bad guy now promised to be behind bars, Dorian approaches Maya one last time with items he’s recovered from her late parents’ home. Here, at last, I don’t mind the strings score that accompanies Maya’s quiet joy at being able to talk to her parents once more.
Like all other episodes of Almost Human, the question of human relationships — be they human, or what passes for a normal relationship in the android world — remains close to the surface. I’m grateful that these matters are rarely explicitly prodded: Dorian’s dislike of the other androids, for example, isn’t a character ticket that’s hounded, nor is Maya reduced entirely to an obsessive orphan. But there’s still much lacking from it’s content in terms of fleshed out concepts, and more importantly, compelling female characters. Maya marks a change from the norm in this.
Apart from that, it’s disturbing that some secondary/villain-of-the-week characters havemore weight than the females we ought to love.