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TV REVIEW: Almost Human’s “Strawman” Offers a Creepy Suspenseful End to the Season

By on March 4, 2014
L-R: Dorian (Michael Ealy) and Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban). Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher / FOX

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

Almost Human ends its first season on a strong note with the creepy, suspenseful, humor-infused “Strawman.”

This freshman drama has had its ups and downs but this episode highlights what its die hard fans have come to love.  The witty banter and touchy feely moments between its two leads was in display showcasing the natural chemistry of the crime-fighting duo.

The episode begins with a kindly man in a wheelchair helping out a homeless girl at a shelter. He tells her he knows of another shelter close by when they find out this one’s full. Nice guy turns creepy dude when he drugs her with a prick of his ring, gets up plopping her in his wheelchair and dumps her body in his van. Now that’s the way to begin a show.

Meanwhile, back at the station, Dorian (Michael Ealy) is getting his annual performance review with all of his coworkers being questioned about him.  Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook) steals the opening scenes with his hilarious turn as the nerdy techie so awkward he makes Anthony Michael Hall from all John Hughes’ 80’s flicks look like the smoothest Casanova you’ve ever seen (yes, I’m that old). Rudy is so nervous he gives the most ridiculously funny answers to the review board’s questions, ending the interview with, “If I had a child, I would want Dorian to raise it instead of me.”  We feel exactly the same, Rudy. In fact, I’m wondering if you don’t have some protective order in place demanding you stay away from all children.

Dorian is the calmest one saying that helping people is “the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

 Co. Cr: Katie Yu /FOX

Co. Cr: Katie Yu /FOX

John Kennex (Karl Urban) messes with him saying he spilled all their secrets including the little tidbit that Dorian scanned his balls once.  Yes, we remember that one too, John.

As the guys banter back and forth with an ease  that can’t be faked, they head to their murder of the week.  It’s the sixteen-year-old girl we saw in the first scene lying very dead in an alley. The creepy gets a little creepier when it’s discovered that her organs have been removed and she’s been stuffed with straw. The weirdness just keeps rolling when John says it’s a copycat murder.  Ten years ago a serial killer was arrested with the same MO by his father, Papa Kennex (guest star John Diehl)  The collar was the biggest of Edward Kennex’s career coming right before his father was killed while under a swarm of suspicion for being a crooked cop.

Please tell me Almost Human didn’t just lay another mystery in our laps because God knows we don’t have enough to keep straight with “the wall,” the betrayal of Dorian’s maker, the betrayal of John’s woman, and whether the series will even get a season two.

Co. Cr: Katie Yu /FOX

Co. Cr: Katie Yu /FOX

The cop-droid pair must’ve seen that ancient film Silence of the Lambs and go to visit their serial killer, Michael Costa (guest star William “Big Sleeps” Stewart) in jail. He doesn’t talk about chianti.  Instead, he declares his innocence, says that John’s dad believed him, and reveals older Kennex even visited him in lock up right before his death. John thinks he’s telling the truth.

Rudy discovers that the victims are replicas – bio printed versions of the actual people. The printer couldn’t make organs to scale, so the killer had to remove them making it look like some psychopathic ritualistic killing.  The original killer is still out there striking ten years after his initial spree.

More importantly, Rudy also reveals to Dorian that the review board wants to question the DRN again.  Lom recommends that Dorian act like an MX since people seem to love them.  I feel like Rudy’s advice should never be taken unless it’s in the matter of what laptop to buy.  Dorian does take his advice and tries to imitate an MX.  Luckily, in spite of his sad impersonation of the impersonal droids, he’s deemed an asset to the unit and gets a glowing review.

In the meantime, from a dark and lonely room, John accesses his father’s files and watches recordings of his dad talk about the Strawman case. The last image shows Edward Kennex saying he thinks he put the wrong man away.

They are making progress with the help of John’s deceased father.  We know they’re really closing in when Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) figures out that homeless shelters are the killer’s hunting grounds.

While waiting for their killer to appear, John and Dorian talk about the older Kennex with Dorian asking if the rumors of his corruption could be true.  John talks admiringly of his dad telling a story of how after busting a drug dealer, his dad wouldn’t take any of the seven million dollars they recovered.  A supervising officer orders him to, but John’s father won’t touch a dime.  “There’s no way he was dirty,” proclaims Kennex.

They find the killer at a shelter and follow him in his van. Nothing says serial killer like a creepy van, kids.  Turns out the the killer cloning his prey is Glen Dunbar (guest star Shaun Smyth), a man with a genetic disease using his victims to rebuild his deteriorating body.

Our cops follow him to his Frankenstein lab discovering several dead, but also a couple of casualties still alive.  In the exciting final moments, Dunbar knocks out John then chokes him. Yes, if Kennex doesn’t make it, FOX, you can go ahead and cancel the show right now.  John finally shoots the killer, and we can all be happy he will live to fight another day.

The final scene is all robromance and humor solidifying the partnership between man and DRN.  John’s feeling a little weepy eating noodles alone.  Dorian shows up bearing gifts.  The review board told him about all the nice things everyone said about him especially his partner who stated that Dorian was a big part of why he wanted to stay on the force. Dorian melodramatically cries saying that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to him.  Oh, and the gift?  It’s a new, more bionic leg with many upgrades.

Co. Cr: Katie Yu /FOX

Co. Cr: Katie Yu /FOX

It’s up in the air right now on whether Almost Human will be renewed for a second season or canceled. The series has left us with so many questions I think it would be cruel and unusual punishment to leave it like this with no resolution.  The following it’s formed is pretty respectable, so here’s hoping the network cancels some other show (The Following, perhaps) and leaves our favorite android/cop pair intact to solve some crimes of the week, banter more about scanning balls, and answer some of the burning questions it’s left unanswered.  We’ll be letting you know the fate of the drama as soon as FOX announces. Fingers crossed. After all, more of Karl Urban can only be a good thing, right?   

Random Notes

Shocker of the night…Detective Paul (Michael Irby) has a heart. He gives a homeless guy some money. Miracles never cease.

Dorian channels his inner Lionel Richie singing “Hello” to his partner.  John looks like he’s going to be sick.

Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) barely made an appearance in this one.  So there’s another reason to renew.  We need to find out how her date with the chrome went and see how it stacks up with a future date with John. More fingers crossed.