Almost Human, Season 1, Episode 6: “Arrhythmia”
Written by Alison Schapker
Directed by Jeff T. Thomas
Airs Mondays at 8 P.M. ET on FOX
Marketing and advertising never promised that Almost Human wasn’t a cop show and that it wouldn’t touch on clichéd plotlines somewhere along its first season run. What it did promise, however, was that each episode would tackle any subject thrown its way in a unique and original fashion. And so far, it hasn’t disappointed in that respect. Mysterious criminal organizations, human trafficking, bank heists, hostage negotiations, drug trafficking, and compromised murder trials have at one time or another been the focus of every crime drama and cop show in existence, including this show. “Arrhythmia” takes a look at another procedural standby- black market organ operations- and injects its trademark brand of intrigue and humor into the proceedings.
The futuristic twist we get here shows humans as the victims of synthetically-altered black market hearts that are programmed to malfunction in the event that the recipient fails to meet payment requirements. The construction of the case and the investigative process feels slightly recycled, as might be expected when the show chooses to maintain a procedural format, but it moves along quickly when Kennex has to deal with two DRN androids, Dorian and a look-a-like counterpart. The pilot’s theme of blurring the lines between organic and synthic life serves as the emotional force moving this episode forward. It provides some fun moments as Dorian and his carbon-copy interact, such as the both of them gleefully exploring Dorian’s special tech features like kids playing with gadgets at an electronics store, and it goes further back into Dorian’s history through their bonding over the complexities of human emotions.
It’s nice to see the story of Dorian’s initial decommission revisited and explained, though there are still some questions left unanswered. While we know that it was the other android who acted on man-made instinct and played a part in the shut-down of the DRN line, we still don’t know if his soul alone was to blame or if Dorian also had a hand in the misunderstanding that led to his kind’s temporary leave of absence. Even though we’re unsure of where the fault ultimately lies, it’s interesting to note that Dorian’s twin faced the consequences of insubordination inspired by his humanity, and it raises the question of whether or not this will serve as foreshadowing for Dorian, who’s due to break protocol in a fit of wreckless passion, or Kennex, who has shown how wreckless he can be, but the consequences has yet to catch up to him.
Another interesting aspect of this episode is the look at the future medical world. Much as it does today, the field of study designated for biological repairs and replacements symbolizes the hope that humanity can one day reach anatomical perfection, an achievement represented by the humanlike androids. However, not even a future this distant has seen the development of more practical technology for artifical organs or even standardized healthcare, where children and adults alike can benefit from the aid of synthetic limbs or devices, regardless of their personal history. The fact that Kennex was actually lucky to recieve his articial leg is an interesting detail that gives this future a less idealistic quality and reminds the viewer that as impressive as technology may be, it is just as flawed as the humans creating it and working to make it meet their unrealistic expectations.
In the end, “Arrhythmia” shuts the door on another opportunity to learn about Detective Stahl, whose workload remains at a steady pace of appearing here and there and nothing more, but allows for a deeper look into Dorian’s psyche and getting to know the limits of a world inhabited by robots but still ultimately run by the rules of humanity.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Are you still impressed by the visual wonders brought to life by CGI? Are you still wondering about that head in the evidence room? Do you think we’ll see that explained when the show returns after the new year or is that a mystery never to be resolved? Leave your complaints, observations, and inquiries in a comment below!