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Almost Human, Ep. 1.04, “The Bends” works as a whole but moves in an unfortunate direction

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Almost Human, Season 1, Episode 4: “The Bends”
Written by Daniel Grindlinger
Directed by Kenneth Fink
Airs Mondays at 8 P.M. ET on FOX

“If you approach your work with reverence and pour your very soul into it, it starts to get a life of its own.”

In one of the best moments from this week’s episode, Mackenzie Crook’s Rudy Lom gains the trust of a drug-dealing dirty cop with an insightful, self-empowering speech detailing a philosophy that the writers seem to be making a conscious effort to learn from.

Seeing Rudy work undercover is a treat since Mackenzie Crook has a reason to stick around for longer than a minute and take on some material that shows off his ability to play unsure and awkward. Rudy is a fun and quirky character to feature, and his presence here doesn’t go to waste. Supported by some spot-on scoring, an element the show has incorporated splendidly up to this point, the undercover operation-gone-awry gives Rudy some comedic moments (which include some hit-and-miss flatulence humor) and sets up a fight sequence pitting Dorian against another android and Kennex against the drug cartel’s leader and inside man to the police investigation, resulting in an unfortunate turn for Kennex.

The choreographed violence between the two androids is exciting to watch since we’re not fully aware of their limitations and weaknesses nor any tricks or special abilities they may have yet to reveal. It’s interesting to see how well Dorian holds his own against other robots on a level playing field, despite the lower stakes of repairable or replaceable robots duking it out instead of humans. The special effects are once again top-notch as the two androids brawl, the eventual dismemberment of one looking especially well-animated.

The unsettling nature of Kennex’s fight once again contrasts his morality with Dorian’s synthetic yet solid ethics. We’ve seen variations of the same situation time and time again: the anti-hero doing the wrong things for the right reasons. But the offhanded way the episode concludes without any repercussions for Kennex’ final shot nor any hint of an internal investigation down the road could ultimately lead to Kennex taking on even more of a power complex, becoming the good guy whose abominable actions are justified by the mere fact that he is the show’s frontman and therefore untouchable by consequences that normally destroy careers. In the TV universe, it would appear that the “right” thing to do is save the perpetrator’s reputation by sweeping any and all crimes under the rug, a strategy long-supported by procedurals in the past. A looming question is whether or not this unfortunate trend will be corrected and if Kennex will be made accountable for his actions here and whatever else transpires before then.

With every passing episode, the absence of an appearance from the band of criminals from the pilot becomes even more concerning, making it seem like a piece that will never fit in with the original puzzle. Besides bringing some of the other characters to the forefront, Michael Irby especially, the plot here is mostly insubstantial, providing some moments for character interaction without much growth- we’re still just beginning to know who these people are, for better or for worse.

How did you like this episode? On a scale of “unphased” to “completely grossed out”, how traumatizing was that opening diner scene? Would Kennex stand a chance against Dorian in a fist-fight? Will things between the two ever get rocky enough that we’ll have a chance to find out? Leave your thoughts on the “The Bends” in a comment below!

-Amanda Williams


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