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Almost Human: “Arrhythmia” Keeps A Familiar Beat

By on December 17, 2013
Dorian (Michael Ealy, L) and Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R). Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

Dorian (Michael Ealy, L) and Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R). Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

The latest episode of FOX’s new sci-fi, buddy-cop drama Almost Human kept to the formula of some of its stronger episodes, but still leaves plenty of room for more growth.

This one was heavy with the John Kennex and android partner Dorian robromoments that give the series such potential. It feels like each week is coming closer to something memorable but falls a little short. I’m not giving up on the series.  In fact, I’m optimistic bigger and better things are coming.

The opening scene gives us a glimpse of a hospital in the future, and it’s not a very enticing view.  Patients are lined up like cattle, treated as less than human.  A man comes in with a gun, frantic, desperate and demanding to be put on a heart machine.  He says his heart is going to stop.  Sure enough it does, but not before he cryptically says, “They killed me.  They killed me.”  This will be the crime of the week. If there’s another shoot out at the end, I’ll be as clairvoyant as this guy who predicted his own demise.

Kennex and Dorian are on the case.  Turns out our victim, Mr. Lee, had a black market bio-tech heart. During the investigation, Dorian runs into a decommissioned DRN who is basically his twin.  He decides to let him join them on the investigation because he’s never heard the expression three’s a crowd. Kennex is, shocker, less than thrilled. You can see him thinking that one Dorian is more than enough sometimes.

The cute banter continues in this episode with Dorian describing John as grumpy on the outside and morose and malcontent on the inside. Kennex says he’s in ride-along hell.

Dorian shows his human side again when he explains to Kennex why he brought his twin with them. He says that he just wanted to be a cop.  “You woke me up.  You were that person for me.  I want to be that person for him.” Even Mr. Grumpy Pants can’t deny that.  He agrees to let twinsie tag along.

Their big break is a connection between the black market hearts and a funeral home. The mortician, Henry, gives up the goods pretty quick admitting he takes the bio-tech hearts and  sells them.  It’s just his effort to recycle.  They are perfectly good hearts after all.  He helps the boys set up a sting with the main bad guy.

Meanwhile, Rudy, our resident nerd, discovers that the hearts are set up to stop working in thirty days unless they are reset. All these people are on borrowed time and unless they can pay up, their hearts will stop beating.  So it’s all about money.

During the set up, a bad guy picks up a heart from Henry and takes it to a warehouse.  Kennex and Dorian bust in and break up the operation, stopping a heart transplant in progress.  The woman is not thrilled that her time bomb heart was not put in her.  She tells Detective Stahl she’ll take any additional time with her family.

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, C) and Dorian (Michael Ealy, second from R) interrupt a transplant operation. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, C) and Dorian (Michael Ealy, second from R) interrupt a transplant operation. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

The guys they pick up from the warehouse aren’t in charge.  They point to a mystery woman named Karen.  We find out pretty quick that Karen is a secretary at Vastral, a leader in manufactured hearts.  We also find out in warp speed that Henry is not quite so virtuous and has been part of the scheme from the beginning.  This is going to get solved in the allotted time of one episode, so some things will be rushed.

Kennex and Dorian take off to bust Henry who is shutting down operations.  He makes a break for it, gun in hand and yes, who needs a Magic 8 Ball?  There’s a shoot out at the end.  Dorian has another badass moment of the night as well.  Last week it was flipping a van, this week it’s breaking through a wall to bring down our bad guy.

Can a formula be too formulaic?  This show is cranking out each episode in a cookie cutter formula that is so predictable it’s going to become boring.  Crime of the week will be solved; cute partners will have funny banter; Dorian will have an android kick ass scene; there will be a shoot out at the end.

As I said, I’m holding out hope for something more.  Not the deep character study of a Walter White/Jesse Pinkman pairing, but at least as deep as Tom and Jerry.  With JJ Abrams (Lost) and JH Wyman (Fringe) running the show, how can it fail? Are they resting on past successes and not giving this one all they’ve got? Or is the series still finding it’s footing and building steam as the season continues.  I can’t help but feel that the best is yet to come.  That we will see memorable scenes between our two lead actors, that Kennex’s would be romance with Detective Stahl (Minka Kelly) will go beyond the making goo goo eyes at each other stage, and that the theme of mortality and what it is that makes us human will be explored beyond a quick one liner.

Hopefully, the transformation will begin when the series reruns on January 6.  Maybe there won’t be a shoot out, or maybe Dorian will fail miserably, or better yet, perhaps Kennex and Stahl will actually hook up. A new year, new possibilities.  I’m looking forward to seeing the chemistry between the two leads developed further, and the writers mixing up a new concoction to ring in the new year.  Almost Human is almost there.  Let’s see if it makes it in 2014.

Random Notes

  • Funny banter continues… the radio’s not working, so Kennex bangs on it repeatedly.  Dorian says, “Keep banging on it, caveman.” He also issues John a ticket for running a red light.  With partners like that who needs…
  • Cool futuristic gadget of the night comes from Dorian.  It REALLY comes from Dorian, himself.  He pops out his eye, complete with gross squishy noise, and says his eye is also a remote camera.  Awesome!
  • Touchy feely moment comes with Dorian again this week.  His twin is saying how he broke police protocol to save a kid.  The child hugged him for a long time, and it was the most human connection he’s ever had.  When Dorian erases twin’s memory at the end of the eppy, the former cop android has forgotten all his cases but still remembers that hug.
  • Dorian’s upset that twin had to go back to his old job, so he says one thing can cheer him up – to drive.  We think Kennex will give in to that hopeful look in Dorian’s eyes. John says no in typical McGrumpy fashion.  Aw, maybe next time, cute android boy.

One Comment

  1. Len

    December 17, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I liked the episode, but I too think it still needs to show me ONE great story. The ratings are bad, I don’t think we’ll see it in 2014, though.