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ALMOST HUMAN “Perception” Recap

Perhaps it’s simply me, but I’ve had great difficulty engaging with Almost Human on a weekly basis. The phenomenal chemistry between Dorian and Kennex aside, there’s something appealing about the way tonight’s episode begins: with a close up of an eye. That cuts away to feature a wisp of a girl, entirely entranced by her setting. We’re promptly treated to a glimpse of what she’s seeing in this mossy, branch-riddled shot, and it’s classic Almost Human fodder; a blue-and-orange holographic grid overlays the environment, warping the bark and leaves with mathematical equations. She’s joined by another girl, this one conducting a symphony. It’s worth nothing that the two are attractive — though while this grows to be a significant point later on, in comparison to Hannibal’s depiction of a spectrum of realistic appearances, one wouldn’t /notice/ that the girls are striking-looking within Almost Human’s model-made universe.

Given my ongoing dislike for the show’s reliance upon heaping on the tech music, the silence in which these two girls move is preferable — and dare I say, more ominous? There’s a sort of art to be found in hooking one’s viewers without gunshots and rapid-fire cuts that could be replicated more, Almost Human writers.

(If you read these articles and take my advice, I’d also like more opportunities for Dorian to go slightly haywire. Just a thought.)

We return to Dorian and Kennex. In contrast to the previous easy banter we’ve seen between the pair, the two are tense; terse; Dorian in particular, is frustrated that Kennex turned off his locator chip in the morning. This — along with many other elements of tonight’s episode — can be attributed to where the episode originally fell within the running order. “Perception” was slated to be one of the first few episodes prior to their rejuggling, and it shows. Kennex, relapsing back into memories of his ex-girlfriend and the figure who betrayed him, is hardly steady: throughout the episode he’s suffering blackouts, drifting, and popping pills. At one point, Dorian questions Kennex’s mental faculties, prior to questioning whether his partner’s been visiting a Recollectionist. The answer to this is yes, and one can’t help but continuously note the skewed parallels between the pair: as a piece of software, Dorian’s capable of recollecting any data or information he so chooses, whereas Kennex might wish he possesses the trait himself. In turn, Dorian likely longs to develop the full spectrum of emotions; something Kennex possesses, and appears at times, to loathe.

 

Which brings us to tonight’s case. The two aforementioned girls collapsed during their appearance within minutes of one another, which is understandably suspect; beyond that, the pair both carried a certain container upon them, though both were empty. More significantly, the two attended the same school — Mendel Academy — and were chromes: genetically-engineered children. Valerie Staahl, our erstwhile love interest for Kennex and otherwise backgrounded character, falls into their ranks. Minka Kelly, who’s not done anything particularly interesting or noteworthy in her fun thus far, doesn’t much rise to the challenge. Pretty as she might be, it’s hard to feel for Stahl’s plight when there’s little reaction; indeed, she fits the part of chrome relatively well.

At the very least, she acts as a crucial source of information on the two dead chromes.

The group determine that the two deceased girls knew each other well via their social networking accounts. Furthermore, they’d both died with the same unrecognizable drug in their system. Another girl had previously died with the same drug in her system, though this was deemed an accident, on account of a lesser dosage. They briefly call in on her (Lila’s) mother, who admits that her daughter’s drowning case was so inadequately managed that she called in a private investigator.
Rudy’s called in and it’s determined that each drug was tailored to each girl’s DNA, which would have required a particularly complex mechanical set-ups in the first place. The team use digital records to trace the drug back to it’s original dealer, Julian. He’s been recently expelled and the cause for his mental disorder’s revealed: he loved Lila, regardless of her flaws, and records from her proved she felt the same. Lila’s representative of what we expect in the chrome personality: she strives to be the best, yet feels she constantly falls short of the mark. With the help of Julian, she’d taken the drugs and walked into the sea, with the intention of taking her life. Let’s be brutally honest here: in the context of a re-watch, all the poignancy of a scholarship student taking her own life out of feelings of inadequacy is about as familiar as it comes. No new ground’s broken in the discussion and rehashing of inferiority within a technological environment, which is a damn shame, given that Almost Human had greater grounds to discuss tech advancements versus the matter of humanity and which ought to win; beyond that, with Julian’s drug intended to advance a chrome’s understanding of the world, and Lila’s mother being the grand orchestrator of this revenge plan, the ways in which plain, pure-bred humanity gained an upper hand over the other two should have warranted some comment.

On a whole, one could sum up Perception and much of Almost Human in the following phrase: it’s not hackneyed, and it’s not boring either. It’s simply unmemorable.

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The Author

Viv Mah

Viv Mah

Viv Mah's quite likely far too invested in theatre, film and TV. Currently she studies Journalism at RMIT and has also written for Signal Express, Australian Stage Online, Buzzcuts and Battle Royale with Cheese. She also has a terrible penchant for overanalysis and waxing poetic about cool one-liners.