ALMOST HUMAN Recap: “Blood Brothers”

     December 9, 2013


Almost Human continued its positive trajectory with another great hour that helped expand the show’s immediate world (by giving time to characters like Captain Maldonado and Valerie Stahl) and also its futuristic framework, casually mentioning things like “the anti-replication guys” being “backlogged with work.”  The show has also maintained its layered approach to procedural storytelling that makes it stand out among so many law enforcement series, thanks also to the strength of its characters and its creative use of its sci-fi genre.  Hit the jump for why “when I read about his murder, it killed me.”

almost-human-blood-brothersI have one feminist issue with “Blood Brothers” which I’m sure you all can guess, but let’s save that until the end.  For now, I want to look at what Almost Human is getting right.

The Case of the Week revolved around cloning, a staple of any sci-fi show.  Ethan Avery was a great villain though just in the way he was able to get into Maldonado’s head, but like last week, this storyline could have been one that was stretched out and utilized over several episodes.  Understandably, broadcast shows that are set up like this one are hesitant to introduce multi-episode arcs so soon (if ever), and tend to prefer a more encapsulated episode structure.  But it speaks to Almost Human‘s strengths that the show could easily be an even more complex series, and might eventually turn into one.

For now, it’s doing a good job.  Mentioning cloning and “the anti-replication guys” suggests that cloning is a big issue, and one that the government is having trouble regulating.  This is such a great stroke of world building, and also makes it likely cloning will show up again in future episodes.  The integration of tech, particularly the holograms, was also a nice touch.  Seeing a woman being murdered in real time without being able to do anything about it because everyone is watching her hologram was really creepy.  Plus, the fact that that tech showed up later to ensure Stahl’s safety out of the hands of the clones was a good callback.

Even with all of this, “Blood Brothers” found time to incorporate a medium into things.  Maya was a great one-off character who created real emotion with the story of her parents and her cerebellux procedure (which the show answered the question of “so why doesn’t everyone get it?” with a quick note about it not working for many).  Maya’s story also helped with the world building — in addition to creating androids, humans are also looking for ways to expand the brain’s functionality.  It also touched upon something outside of science, with the suggestion of a mysticism that gives Maya her ability.  Again, a lot to explore with all of this, and hopefully the show will return to it.

almost-human-blood-brothers-minka-kellyAnd of course, there was the developing romance between Kennex and Stahl, the hot girl who drinks bourbon and likes sports.  It’s a bit too cliche, but, there you have it.  There’s little doubt the two will have a long-simmering flirtation that is impeded by untold obstacles, but so it goes.  Less encouraging though was Maldonado playing into Ethan Avery’s suggestion that her life work and achievements mean nothing without a man’s validation, both professionally and sexually.  It was so demeaning, but the fact that the Maldonado was able to get her revenge on him at the end by attacking his insecurity (of being forgotten) was a great moment … until the lawyer complimented her out of nowhere, which made her smile.  Everybody appreciates a compliment here and there, but it being shoehorned in completely undermined Maldonado’s character, reinforcing the idea that she does need male sexual validation to feel worthy.  Grumble.

That aside, Almost Human has really come out of the box swinging this season, and with so much competition, it’s been very successful in building a diversified audience … though not a huge one.  Look, even friends of mine who don’t like sci-fi like this show — spread the word!  Get more viewers!  I selfishly want this show to keep going for awhile.

Episode Rating: B+ (points awarded for an overall good episode, but deducted for one-dimensional female characters).

Musings and Miscellanea:

— The interplay between Kennex and Dorian continues to be endearing and funny, and I want there to eventually be a YouTube supercut of “Car Conversations with Kennex and Dorian,” because that seems to be when the best lines and funniest interactions happen.  The show is still ignoring the setup of Dorian being a “crazy” android (because he has emotions and, apparently a penis), but that’s ok to let slide given how good of a foil he is to Kennex’s surly demeanor.

— Dorian agreeing with Maya about Kennex’s faults was a highlight of the episode.  So funny.  Michael Ealy plays him so perfectly.

— Important future note: in 33 years, Americans will care about soccer.

— “When i read about his murder, it killed me” – Adelaide.  Unintentionally (I think) funny bit of bad wording.

— I would like to see more explored about “clone families” and the politics of cloning on the show … hopefully one day.

— “She’s a kook” – Kennex.  One of those throwaway lines that was so very funny thanks to the timing and how Karl Urban said it.

— The thing about Valerie and the bourbon and the “prophesy” was a little hokey.

— I wonder what other “super” human abilities have been discovered through the procedure Maya had?

— Yes, I know I said last week would probably be my last to review the show, but I’m back!  For this week at least, we’ll see where it goes from here.