Almost Human, Season 1, Episode 3: “Are You Receiving?”
Written by Justin Doble
Directed by Larry Teng
Airs Mondays at 8 P.M. ET on FOX
“Hello. I’m Detective John Kennex. I’m an automated police officer with a very difficult personality.”
Dorian’s summary of his partner serves as a check on the core relationship of the show as seen through the limited perspective of a sentient calculating machine as well as a progress report of Karl Urban’s character’s development thus far.
While the first two episodes acknowledged emotional aspects, this episode explores matters involving Kennex and Dorian’s physical well-being. This presents some interesting scenes for their characters individually as well as contributing to their relationship dynamic. Depicting Kennex’s amputee status as an ongoing issue when his artificial limb (or futuristic prosthetic) begins to squeak is a great continuation of the show’s efforts to map out his personality; and it follows through on his disability being a factor in his daily routine. His stubbornness to heed Dorian’s previously suggested advice and then later reverting to the very same solution in private shows that he’s becoming more trusting of Dornian’s practical knowledge, but his pride and enjoyment of messing with Dorian explains his refusal to give Dorian the satisfaction (or affirmation of statistic accuracy) of his admitting to using the oil on his leg. The plausibility of the fix itself is debatable, since Kennex’s limb obviously relies on much different technology than modern prosthetics, which would likely see damage from the application of household lubricants- nevermind the fact that he applied the oil to his kneecap, not the actual joint mechanism- but this show gets a good grade for attempting to build character with problems typical of faux limb use.
The show owes much of its appeal to consistently flawless visual effects and its effortless integration of gadget weaponry. Sticking to the procedural format, the writing take a heist plot with few remarkable twists and turns and gives it a chaotic spin with more inventive creations, such as a device that creates a virtual mask, that add to the show’s inventory of futuristic tech. Speaking of which, Kennex’s mundane, albeit amusing, uses for Dorian’s capabilities have set up Dorian to be more of the back-up than the center-stage lead. However, when switched into action-mode, Michael Ealy shines as an action star, scaling elevator shafts and bursting in, guns blazing. The logic of using Dorian in high-risk situations is solid and supports the practicality of android partners.
The main issue that remains to be addressed is the weak presence of its supporting cast, especially its female characters. Neither Lili Taylor’s Captain Maldonado nor Minka Kelly’s Detective Stahl lend any great service to the case, the former lacking negotiating skills commendable in a strong leader and the latter doing nothing more than look on helplessly as the hostage situation unfolds. In addition to the regulars, Damon Herriman as the criminal ringleader is also excluded from any attempt to flesh out the characters who aren’t front and center. Along with two female hostages and every other passing police officer, the world of Almost Human comes across at times as almost lifeless, waiting to be brought out of its shell by some more character-encompassing dialogue.
One might wonder how Almost Human could possibly manage to keep up its charade of futuristic effects and development of robotic characters (a description not solely reserved for the androids) through an entire season, let alone for years to come. This week’s episode continues to clear the air of any doubt that this show is on the right track for prolonged success. “Are You Receiving?” gets enough things right that the few issues that it can’t shake hardly reduce it to an extravagant failure. It is, undoubtedly, the best episode so far. And while that’s not much to say after only three episodes, it’s a good sign that things can improve in weeks to come.
Are you becoming a fan of this evolving production or is the apparent gender divide making you wary? Were you impressed with the effects of Dorian’s damaged skull membrane or were you too distracted by the possibility of ‘Fifty Shades’ still being referenced 35 years in the future? Leave a comment and share your thoughts below!