Snooty reviews Almost Human: “The Bends”

What's your vote, America? Hat? No hat?

What’s your vote, America? Hat? No hat?

Boilerplate for last episode: didn’t like it so much. The fusion of Die Hard and 24 should have been a winner, but instead we got half an episode of Kennex and Dorian climbing a stairwell. Love the stuff with the two of them in the car. The rest of the episode didn’t do much for me.

So we’re off of fake terrorists and back to street crime, which I like. Almost Human seems strongest when it puts new spins on old cop show tropes. I never got much out of 24, so I definitely don’t want to see Almost Human take its cues from that other Fox alum.

There wasn’t as much straight bonding between Dorian and Kennex, which is okay. Instead, the show took some time to develop a few side players, such as…uh…

Okay, so maybe I don’t know their names yet. There’s Police Captain, and Female Detective, and Jerk Detective, and Creepy Tech Troll. I could look it up on IMDB, but frankly, they don’t have quite enough personality to deserve people-names. Rudy came close, but until he stops being so twitchy and clichéd, he’ll remain Creepy Tech Troll.

That said, this was a great episode for Creepy Tech Troll, who got to leave the lab and go undercover as a future Heisenberg, master cook of the sea-harvested drug The Bends. I’m was a little unclear as to why he couldn’t have just programmed Dorian to do the cooking, but the twist of the criminal synthetic made that pretty clear. Plus it gave CTT a beautiful speech where he expounds on the harmonics of disparate sciences. Previously he’s been a Talking Head used for exposition, but he’s slowly creeping his way toward being a real character.

As macguffins go, this future drug wasn’t particularly interesting outside of its resemblance to the inside of a glow stick and its ability to turn faces into bioluminescent jellyfish. They could have used just about any contemporary drug without much difference. The technology used to catch the criminals—subcutaneous wires, liquid GPS-tracers, and brutal synth-fighting—turned out to be much more interesting.

Fox is pulling out all the stops with this show’s special effects budget, and it makes the whole series shine. The plot and the twist are as pat as they come; at no point do we actually believe that Kennex’s friend is dirty, and the Captain’s true nature didn’t add anything to the experience. Frankly, I hope the show never stretches itself with its plot, and I could care less about the meta-plot. This could be the character-driven show Fox needs, one that hopefully shapes up to be leagues better than Sleepy Hollow, and if it concentrates on that, and its world-building, I think it’ll do just fine.

Just do me a favor, Almost Human, and keep away from the terrorist plots. Be a cop show.

And be a cop show that has cops who want to be cops. Having Kennex go off the rails last episode so he could play John McClane was acceptable TV-cop-protagonist shenanigans, but having him execute the Captain for killing his friend? That’s crossing a whole new line. I doubt we’ll see any consequences come of the decision, which is disappointing, because it means the show’s in danger of becoming the kind of conservative revenge fantasy that clogged television in the early years of last decade. We don’t need that kind of crap anymore.

Huh. I never realized I had such a hate-on for 24. You learn something new every day.

 

Musings…

  • A flash-forward cold open: easy for establishing drama and anticipation without building to it.
  • Dorian’s dicking with his partner goes up a level as he orders some exceptionally fresh seafood for John.
  • Now they have handphones? Weren’t they just using smartphones in the last episode? The future is inconsistent. Or maybe he’s just an early handphone adopter.
  • “Great, now we’re friends. Never thought I’d miss my coma…”
  • The Bends sounds more like a 90s alterative rock band than it does a designer drug.
  • He’s putting his life on the line. Let CTT wear the damn fedora.
  • “Are you insane?”  “Occasionally, he is.”
  • A cooking scene? Is someone looking to pick up Breaking Bad’s torch?
  • Robo-roaches are the bugs of the future!
  • Dorian’s android-on-android violence is fucking brutal. Just what I’d expect from a proto-Skynet bastard.
  • So future LA has stopped pretending to care about police brutality, right? Either that, or Kennex grew up watching 24 and decided to model his interrogation techniques accordingly.
  • So they’ve designed a gun that tells you when it’s jammed. Why not instead design a gun that doesn’t jam?
  • So…John executes people now. Huh.
  • Ha! It’s the return of the police four-wheeler.
  • “Any chance we can get into a bar fight?”  “NO.”
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About snootyfilms

A tormented genius in a world that doesn't deserve him.

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