ALMOST HUMAN “You Are Here” Episode Recap
I’ll be the first to admit it; the score of Almost Human is doing less and less for me every episode. Now, I’m not sure if I’m predisposed to dislike the heavy beats more than I previously have simply because I’ve begun to notice it, and if so, whether this is a concern of all the series viewers; nonetheless, I’m irked. I have been irked. I believe I will be irked.
The way there’s a wail; a vocal chant layered through this episode’s opening sequence before all sound is suddenly cut off, then, save the drone of the anger management therapist’s voice, is different from what I expected. My hope that this experimentation with tonal shift will continue throughout the episode is at first answered; one of the support group members responds with mostly aggressive and somewhat passive vitriol rather than the regular emotional, saccharine, pleased response to the group leader’s platitudes.
Among the rest of the disgruntled (and though it doesn’t need to be said, angry/) crowd members, Kennex looks particularly smug. We’re told he’s apathetic towards his dead girlfriend’s betrayal and the loss of his life, and relatively optimistic with his outlook in life. This is quickly revealed to be sarcasm at it’s finest, as his jibes at his fellow group members go. By contrast to this relatively detached bantering, Dorian and Kennex’s brief exchange outside the session is testament to the partnership’s growing intimacy.
The pair set off to investigate the shooting of the man from the cold-open: Anton Cross. While the graphics in AH so far have been pretty, the medical report that dissolves into an anatomical report at the touch of a finger is particularly lovely; it’s the Kindle or Kobo done right. In standard procedural fashion, the lot of them stand around discussing the death of Cross, which one of the MX’s determine has been caused by a single gunshot wound. Kennex is sceptical in the face of the MX’s nonsensical fact-riddled explanation of how the shooting occured, and votes in favour of Dorian’s more careful analysis of the crime scene. When the MX continues to spout further and further ridiculous theories and convolunted insults at Dorian, Kennex ends it. He turns and shoots the MX in the face.
Metal shards! Metal shards everywhere!
Maldonado, who does little other than shout and stay in the office, berates both cops involved. To his credit, Kennex takes the threat of Dorian being shot in the face very seriously; further proof that the understandable chemistry is there can be seen in the way Kennex doesn’t need to detail his affections for Dorian. While Dorian isn’t aware of the threat towards him, he’s nonetheless undeniably pleased with the rapport he’s formed with Kennex — and he’s plenty happy to spell it out. Thankfully, neither of the pair stretch out what could otherwise have been a saccharine moment; the actors carry the heart of the understated exchange as it is. Rudy interrupts the moment to tell the pair that the bullet which killed Cross, acts very much like an eager puppy in that it’ll follow any target around any corner if necessary.
The pair speak to Cross’ co-worker and girlfriend, Kira, who knows as little as the pair do currently; what facts she has to offer are insignificant. She replays a message from him for them, wherein he appears briefly distracted. Here, the pair break up to investigate different sections of the case. Dorian’s briefly bombarded by a whole host of tailored commercials in an eerie throwback to the way Facebook and Youtube ads work these days, while Kennex learns that Anton Cross was being headhunted by a woman. These two streams of information coalesce into a realisation Dorian vocalises: Anton’s software uses all sorts of location tracking software (bio-scanners, voice-trackers, e.t.c) that inadvertently created the guidance system for the bullet that killed him. “Self-guided bullets,” Rudy says — and then the pair infer that Anton sold his technology to arms dealers himself.
Meanwhile. To illustrate why the weapon’s a threat, one such rogue criminal requests a demonstration of Anton’s technology. The possible target? His girlfriend.
Valerie, who at this point could be played by an android just as well, banters briefly with Kennex and Dorian about the identity of Cross’ head-hunter, Natalie, and whether it was an alias. I’m not sure what she says, but I know it prompts one of those necessary, Sherlock-esque realisation that isn’t explained immediately. Cut to Maldonado, bantering with a man named Reinhart. Upon Kennex’s entrance, Reinhart turns his attentions to our favourite grumpy detective. The issue of Kennex’s dead girlfriend’s betrayal and the men who died in the assault is toyed with here, but given the overlapping narrative and the plethora of tech-babble that we’ve heard so far, it’s difficult to keep track of what’s occurring when. While I’m certainly happy to see a return to the largely forgotten plotline at the center of the pilot — and it’s no doubt thanks to co show-runner Naren Shankar’s presence on the credits tonight — it’s difficult not to feel like the story’s oddly placed.
Mid-conversation with Kennex and Kira, Dorian unknowingly fulfils Kennex’s previous description of the androids as “bullet-catchers”: he takes the shot meant for Kira. This leads to him speaking in Korean, due to his fried circuity. (Writers take note: it’s perfectly fine to throw the ridiculous shtick to Ealy. He nails it.) Kira’s survival is, of course, an impediment to the arm dealers’ trade. Under supervision, she insists upon recovering her daughter before the pair are taken to a safehouse. Kennex is still unconvinced that Kira knew nothing of Anton Cross’s guilt, however, and when pressed she admits that she’d suspected something of his crimes. That said, he’s provided her and her daughter with a life and a father figure — that kind of emotional gift comes with ties it’s sometimes better to wish oneself free of. Indeed, Kira proposes this as her next option. Kennex, who we’ve previously seen considering undergoing the procedure himself, is the one to stop her here. While there’s a host of minute beats that Urban runs through in this moments, it’s the pauses that are most vital: he’s aware of human mortality, and aware of how crippling emotions can be at times, specifically those related to guilt or regret. He should: he’s burdened with them himself. And while it’s a stretch to attest his newfound morality and determination to live each day [i]attempting[/i] to do better to Dorian’s presence alone, the android’s surely been a key figure in allowing him to understand that it’s these distinct choices that allow him to operate on a level of humanity and empathy their previous creations have aspired to.
Trite, I know. As is now characteristic of the series, Dorian enters a moment later to tell Kennex of Rudy’s summons — and then to get fixed. I’ve previously confessed to be conflicted about, but a large fan of the car banter. The brief repair, by comparison, is just as good. Rudy, keen as ever to be a part of the team, offers his services to the matter of using Kira as bait. To interrupt our little bonding moment, Stahl calls Kennex with information on Anton. While we’ve not learnt any more on Stahl since her first introduction, save the possibility of her having a yen for Kennex, the brief banter here appears to hint at the possibility of their romantic subplot being explored. I’d vote against it if we were given a choice: for so thin a character, it’s difficult to imagine what her appeal might be.
Kennex and Dorian go through Anton’s gathered personal effects. In them, they find a video chip that, when played, shows Anton was being blackmailed to provide his security to the arms dealers through Kira and her daughter.
Pressed on whether she believes herself secure with the police, Kira runs. The police team reconvene to discover the arms dealers have made an infomercial of the magic bullet in Chechnyan, complete with footage of Anton Cross’ murder. An MX interrupts to say that Kira’s been located. The arms dealers know too. She’s underground , at a scrubber with the intention of wiping her memory, and the bullet can’t reach her there: it’ll be a matter of determining who can find her first.
It’s Kennex and Dorian who reach Kira first, though just after removing her from the scrubbing equipment, we’re granted the regular techo-music, flash-fire scenes of Almost Human‘s shoot-outs. What feels like it should be a lengthy matter or a stronger third act is done with in a matter of minutes, complete with Anton Cross’ name being redeemed when Kira’s shown the video her boyfriend was blackmailed with. Here, at last, and no matter how trite, we’re granted with Kennex’s clear compassion for the day’s victims and the victim’s associated. Kira explicitly comments upon this: it’s Kennex who’s ensured she’s retained the emotional and historical associations he, at a point, would have given up too. What’s a pity then is the fact that other loaded moments or questions, such as those related to scrubbers or the weight of one’s actions following being scrubbed, are left largely ignored in favour of familiar procedural elements. That, and at this point in time, my replays of tech-explanations are a point of contention; I’d prefer to think that the babble’s often too hard to follow, rather than my simply not understanding what they’re getting on about.
But detractors aside, Almost Human remains what it’s always been — a diverting, tweaked procedural, the faults of which are made excusable thanks to the charismatic efforts of it’s leads.