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TV REVIEW: Almost Human’s “Disrupt” Channels Its Inner Bradbury

By on February 18, 2014
Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, L) and Dorian (Michael Ealy, R) in Almost Human. Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher/FOX

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

Almost Human’s latest venture “Disrupt” was worthy of Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes” with the wicked being a smart home turning killer.  This is the future after all, where androids work with humans and homes apparently think for themselves, up to a point.  “Disrupt”  is the perfect follow up to last week’s episode where John Kennex (Karl Urban) was the tortured soul agonizing over the loss of his team (including his leg), and the betrayal of his girlfriend.  In this one, Dorian (Michael Ealy) is the one with flashbacks of a very unusual kind.  More on that later.

The episode begins with resident nerd Rudy Lom accessing Dorian’s processing chip. “Simple defragmenting” he explains to a less than thrilled Dorian who feels a little violated.

Kennex says, “I’d be happy if I woke up and someone gave me a shave.” Dorian responds with the android-creepy, “So if I shaved you while you slept you’d like that?”  Kennex looks like he may lose his breakfast.  Yeah, apparently, the robo-bromance hasn’t risen to quite that level yet. Love the funny banter between these two.

Rudy sees an image from Dorian that says fatal error.  Uh, oh.  That can’t be good.  I know when my computer does that it’s almost easier to buy a new one.

Cut to an affluent, sad looking couple, the Bennetts. In the span of about five minutes we see the wife allude to death threats, go swimming, drown when a hard plastic cover encases the pool, and the husband get shot by his own home’s security system when he tries to save his wife.  One of the best intros of the “case of the week” this season.  The smart home was hacked, went a little wacky, activating the cover and shooting the husband.  All the while, the robot manservant, Sam, looks creepily on.

Enter John and Dorian to crack this intriguing cyber case. They discover the couple had received over 50,000 threats the past year, all in response to a 16-year-old boy, Aaron, who was shot down by their security system exactly one year ago when he made the fatal error of climbing a wall and landing on their property.

Our crime fighting mandroid duo immediately suspects a cyber terrorist group called Disrupt of hacking into the Bennett’s security system for some justice in Aaron’s death.   What happened to the good old days of screaming at a kid to get the heck off your lawn?

Those pesky kids of hacker nerds are at it again. This time they cause a blackout throughout the city, the only light on screens flashing Aaron’s image.  First, they kill a couple, now they try to stop us from using our devices?  Kennex and Dorian decide this madness must come to an end.  They need to track down a badass hacker (is that an oxymoron?) who goes by the moniker Crispin X.  Surprise, surprise. Rudy Lom knows this guy, confirming my suspicion that all nerds hang in packs and know each other.  How do they propose to find this guy?  Well, the gorgeous Valerie Stahl (the equally gorgeous Minka Kelly) will pose as Rudy, code name Aphid.  Of course, Stahl and Rudy could be twins, or related…or are maybe the same species (doubtful).  Anyways, Stahl and Kennex go to a cool cyber hacker party complete with glow sticks and undulating music looking like they’re about ten years too old to get an invite.  Stahl has purple hair which says cool, cyber, and hacker with all one bold color statement.  John looks like John.

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, L) and Valerie (Minka Kelly, R) ). Co. Cr: Katie Yu / FOX

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, L) and Valerie (Minka Kelly, R) ). Co. Cr: Katie Yu / FOX

They find Crispin X who says he would prefer for them to call him Nico (guest star Reece Thompson).  Nico insists that Disrupt is not a bunch of murderers.  Yes, he caused the blackout, but had nothing to do with murder. The hacker with skills is telling the truth. However while he’s in custody, the lawyer who works for the security company, Synturion, is murdered when his home suffocates him.  Makes me start to look at my roaming vacuum of doom, the Roomba, a little differently.

Nico discovers that the person exacting revenge on those kind of responsible for Aaron’s death is a kind of girlfriend he met online, Emily (guest star Laine MacNeil).  No, not that Emily, Revengers, a different one.  In a super exciting hacker nerd showdown, Nico battles Emily through cyber space.  Emily is trying to kill the CEO of Synturion, Kay Stenson (guest star Suleka Mathew) by taking over the entire Synturion building and sending a bunch of Sambots to attack her.

Dorian and John arrive on scene with the usual, but pretty exciting this time, fight scene and shootout.  At one point Nico makes it appear there are a bunch of John Kennex’s running around just to even the odds against all of those creepy Sam’s.  Oh, if only.  I’d be putting my order in right now. One Kennex, delivered to San Antonio, Texas, pronto. Emily is eventually brought to justice in a surprisingly emotional scene where she says Aaron was the only person she had.

The final scene adds yet another mystery to this series already overflowing with unanswered questions.  Rudy and John have a gossip session about Dorian where super nerd uncovers that someone is hacking into everyone’s favorite android’s “brain.”  They decide to keep it a secret because they don’t want Dorian being accused of malfunctioning and then get decommissioned.

One can only hope that all of these questions throughout season one will intertwine into one sort of coherent story line.  We’ve got the mystery of John’s ex-girlfriend working with the Syndicate, Dorian’s maker jumping “the wall,” and now someone trying to get into Dorian’s processor.  I need a flow chart to keep up.

Overall, this episode was exciting, fun, interesting, and emotional.  It was enjoyable entertainment with excellent guest stars, especially Reece Thompson’s turn as Nico.  The TV lover in me says to just sit back and enjoy.  The critic in me says why this episode now?  It flows great from last week’s offering, but both would have made so much more sense to run after the pilot.  Is Fox playing “spin the wheel on the episode” to decide what to air next?  Give us a little consistency.  Give us a rhythm and flow in the episodes that make a little sense.  Your loyal Almost Human viewers are loving the chemistry in the leads, the futuristic cool gadgets, and the exciting storylines.  Now, please go back to the lab and give us a timeline that makes sense, that shows us you are building to a satisfying conclusion to Season 1.

Random Notes

  • The humor was everywhere in this one. The funniest lines were from the stone faced Kennex.  Detective Paul is missing in action, taking a few “personal” days.  John tells one cop that Paul had something down south pierced, and it’s apparently gone south – becoming badly infected.  Ew.
  • Kennex tells a concerned officer that Paul has haemorrhoids – INSIDE and OUT.  What?  I don’t get… never mind.
  • He tells yet another story that Paul has an infection from a sexbot.  Didn’t keep it clean enough. Double ew.
  • When the station takes up a collection to Save Paul from whatever disgusting thing he’s contracted, it’s revealed that the detective took his mom to Mexico.