Almost Human- Episode 12

Episode recap + review! + bonus Science and Tech side notes and links!

In the first scenes we see a wealthy chrome in his natural habitat: Virtual Reality golfing in his large house, when a badly disfigured man jumps up behind him. He administers a syringe that gives the man a seizure and then he sucks fluid out of the man’s body with another syringe.

At the station, Kennex receives a call from a woman he’s seeing, Samantha. He had a bad date, she kept taking phone calls and ignoring him. Dorian answers the phone and says, “Kennex can’t talk right now. He’s waving his arms and mouthing ‘no’.” Then Dorian tells Kennex that he’s boring. Stahl comes up and says that she’s been tipped about a possible homicide. EMTs said it was a heart attack, but he was a Chrome and Chrome’s don’t have congenital defects. Curiously, the body is still at the scene even though there are no crime scene techs and Stahl was tipped off by another Chrome, which means someone should have been there or the body should have been removed from the scene before it started to decay and stink up the place. Anyway, Dorian finds the injection point. The wound was contaminated by DNA of 7 different people. Who all died of the same “natural causes.”

Stahl runs down leads and pays a visit to a Chrome Club looking to obtain surveillance footage. She faces off with a snarky blonde and a handsome man asks her about her decision to be a cop. Which apparently is a long story. Anyway, he gives her the footage. She brings it back to the station and she and Maldonado look it over while talking about Stahl’s recent experience with Chromes. Stahl, usually resentful of her upbringing tries to avoid Chromes and she says that she forgot that they’re people, too. Maldonado says it’s important to be around people who are like you and understand you. To which point, Stahl says, “Is that why you keep John around.” Maldonado: “Nah, lost a bet.”

Stahl sends footage to John

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Facial recognition is reading him as 2 of the 8 victims. They also look up his Bitcoin exchange- Almost Human loves Bitcoin, however, virtual currency hit snags this week as Mt. Gox, an exchange site for Bitcoin, got hacked and lost possibly 6% of the total money invested in Bitcoin. This was due to the malleability of transaction numbers and history. Back to the plot; Rudy figures out that he’s stealing parts of people’s faces, he’s using nanobot plastic surgery. Face lifts at an atomic level. A doctor involved in the trials is questioned. The trials didn’t go well. Donors experienced arrhythmia and died, recipients were horribly disfigured. There seemed to be a lot of them. Why did they keep doing this? Kennex and Dorian find out that the person performing the surgery will need “an actuator.”

Back with the killer, he’s blackmailing his doctor into continuing the procedures. Turns out he volunteered for the original trials. He gets some new eyes at the expense of a barista.

Dorian is antagonizing John again, “They more flaws you have the more human you are. You’re very human, John.”  They’re on their way to meet an informant, “Di Carlo” (who turns out to be a little person- Bad Santa actor Tony Cox, in an exo-suit of an overweight woman). They’re at some kind of trash burning, Mad Max, punk rock Fight Club. Anyway, Di Carlo gives up the location of the actuator. They find out the man wants 10 procedures and there have been only 9 victims. They extrapolate who the next victim will be. Stahl and some others keep an eye on him, the murderer knows he’s been discovered and heads out to search for another victim.

After some leaps in logic, Kennex figures out that the killer is a DMV employee, Eric Latham. Stahl surmises that he has Body Dysmorphic Disorder and that’s why he is consumed by this need for perfection. She says he’s inundated with images of perfection and unable to cope. Which for this world means not just media but being designed from birth to look beautiful. He’s trying to speed up the procedures so that he can meet a woman, Judy, who he met online and is scheduled to meet face to face. With irony that hits like a brick, she’s blind. He meets her briefly,before the police arrive. Eric kills himself in front of John.

Kennex is thinking about Eric Latham and he decides to take a chance and ask Stahl to go have a drink. But she’s already heading out with the man from the Chrome Club, and we’re treated to a “brooding and staring off at happy people in the night while 80s music plays in the background” closing sequence. I don’t mind 30 seconds of angst.

I was really happy with this episode, there was a good balance between all the characters. Stahl, Kennex and Dorian all got to show their particular talents. Stahl got to show her investigative skills instead of somehow landing on tips and watching TV. And it addressed privilege and class. Stahl is a Chrome and having this privilege doesn’t make her a bad person, it also doesn’t make her a better person, either. Right now there is debate about using DNA of 3 people (male female and an extra donor woman) to replace mutated mitochondrial DNA and prevent birth defects. But there’s a question of “where does it stop?” and opening the floodgates for “designer babies”.  And on the surface you might say, “who wouldn’t want this? I don’t want my children to have degenerating vision/predisposition to kidney disease/go bald when they’re 17.” But what we end up with is what you saw in this episode, technology used to further divide a class line as well as race lines (all white people, dark haired males, mostly light haired females. Episode before last followed the same pattern, with the exception of one family), engineered to look perfect, have no physical failings and be geniuses. They look down on Stahl for being too blue collar, they’re meant for industry. They are meant for preserving a superior way of life for themselves. Well, that’s terrifying.

But on a smaller scale, aren’t we doing that already? People partner with someone “like them” in some capacity, if they choose to breed the child will be a product of the coupling with whatever benefits and negatives that comes with. And what’s seen by negative to some is not always the case, such as the instance of Deaf couples selecting embryos that are more likely to be Deaf. Sitcoms joke about superior cells used to make babies, such as Caroline Channing donating her “Ivy League eggs” on CBS’s Two Broke Girls while Max’s low rent genes are a dime a dozen. How far is the next step, really? The Chinese are already trying to crack the genetic code for genius by analyzing samples from individuals with IQs over 160. And if you can get it, will you be considered a bad parent if you don’t?

Anyway, a 45 minute sci-fi drama just made me think about the implications of designer genetics. I wish they would officially renew it, because it’s really good. Well, most of the time. And Kennex and Stahl are still dancing around each other, we still don’t know what’s going on “over the wall” and we don’t know where Anna is. Next week is the finale and I can’t imagine this will all be wrapped up neatly. I would miss Rudy and Dorian the most.

Almost Human -Episode 11

Since the episodes were rearranged, making last week’s super heavy drama and Kennex internal struggle and the Anna situation and this one… seemingly nothing about that. We got interesting background plot cookies about Dorian. Dorian received some implanted memories that he tries to make sense of. Rudy puts the kibosh on that, but there’s still the matter of who planted them and why. 

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But the central part begins with a family. Their very secure smart-house wrongly identified an innocent teen as a threat and murdered him. Thankfully we don’t spend too many precious seconds that I could by ogling Karl Urban listening to ramblings about the family’s “right to own a smart-house.” If you think this sound like a supertech adaptation of stand-your-ground-laws gone awry: you would be very very right. With Zimmerman never shutting the fuck up, and the recent Dunn trial it’s not hard to see how a terrifying and heartbreaking sci-fi plot could be birthed from these tragedies. But Almost Human made the *interesting decision* to make the teen white and the family black. I think TECHNICALLY the house was still the vigilante/cowboy/wannabe Batman/asshat/murderer. But I’m not on board with the racial switcheroo that happened here. They didn’t lean heavy on it, racism has never been addressed (classism has frequently) and I think we are to believe that 2048 is “post-racial” the episode focussed more largely on flaws in technology that we trust with our lives.  Which is good. People still don’t understand why the “race swap” is bad? Let me take a moment: Families of PoC children have to worry about their children getting shot at for walking down a street and then victims get blamed for what time it was/how they were dressed/crimes someone else committed/other people’s racism and frankly fucking no one has to worry about being murdered by a house, AND people who programmed the house and crunched the data probably would have been skewed to NOT address a white teen cutting through the lawn a threat. That’s why it’s bullshit.

On the positive -background characters are very diverse. A few tropes were apparent (hackers that dress like they are in the matrix, the aforementioned “ironic” race role reversal) but we have brown female CEOs, female hacktivists and EOE for villains all around, every episode. Gender equality for the bad guys.

Oh, and Stahl got out of the station! She went undercover as a hacker! She went with Kennex, “Aussie?” accent +eyeliner. Weirrrrd. But cool.

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More cliches survive. Kennex saves the babes and has got jokes. The jokes this time were at Detective Paul’s expense. He was out and Kennex spread increasingly embarrassing rumors about why he was absent.

Maldonado’s reaction was so rad. I love her as a character. 

The early scenes of the house turning against the family were flat out terrifying. 

This show NEEDS to be renewed. NEEDS TO BE. So far no new eps ordered. Makes me nervous. How can FOX cancel so much good Sci-Fi but still air American Dad. Get it together.

Live tweet with me next week! 

Almost Human episode 8

You are here.

We get *some* insight to John and his issues he’s attending group therapy/anger management class with what I can say is a very poor counsellor who seems to purposefully be antagonizing him and the other attendees. Dorian is waiting for him after the session and says, “Hey Mr. Friendly, How was angry class?” adorable. 

A man is running through the streets and a transit cop asks him what his problem is, he says “please, no. They’re going to kill me.” and out of nowhere he is struck by a bullet and falls dead. No one saw the shooter. His name is Anton. Det. Paul’s MX comprises a theory about the shot, Dorian has another. The MX describes -at length- that Dorian is inferior, compromised and recalled… Kennex shoots the MX’s face off. Richard Paul is not amused and neither is Maldonado. Paul and Kennex get in a slapfight after Paul threatens Dorian. Dorian teases Kennex with a shower of “You like me” ‘s. I LOVE Dorian.

Anyway,the reason they didn’t see the shooter is because some Eastern Europeans are demoing a weapon, a magic bullet that can target anyone and shoot around corners anticipating obstacles. Intense. The buddy cops question Anton’s girlfriend. She claims she doesn’t know anything. They have theorized that Anton sold tech from his dayjob to these criminals. But when they ask Keira more questions, Dorian senses that the bullet is coming and he takes it for her. How heroic! It also throws his system out of whack and he only communicates in Korean for a while. I LOVE Michael Ealy.

Keira wants to scrub her mind, thinking that if she gets rid of memories of Anton no one will have reason to come after her.Then they find evidence that Anton was being blackmailed/extorted and that the bad guys sent him a video threatening Keira and Amy.And they realize that the criminals are making an infomercial to sell the tech and that Keira will be taken out either way. Keira escapes from the safe house and Kennex finds her before the mind eraser. Dorian and Kennex make short work of the arms dealers and they saved the girl again. And she has a heartfelt moment going through Anton’s effects when she finds a pen, reminisces about how they used to write love notes (it’s 2048… apparently pens are over, not unreasonable). But the whole thing was gawky and weird.

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Lloyd Dobbler “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” awkward.

Then we get another dose of flirty cuteness when Det. Stahl gives John an energy chew… he writes her a note. What does it say?! 

Once again I really like seeing the concepts for tech and ideals, but it followed it’s typical “1st victim is male: dead. 2nd victim: female, alive.” Basically if there’s a woman and Kennex talks to her… she’s gonna live. The beginning of the ep reminded us that Kennex has been through tough times and has issues, and then it was quickly dismissed with tough guy one liners and quirky jokes. At some point I want to know what’s up with his missing girlfriend and why she set up his squad and left him for dead. Metaplot, please!