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Who’s A Happy Toaster? Almost Human “Simon Says” Review

By on January 7, 2014
Karl Urban as Detective John  Kennex. Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher / FOX

Karl Urban as Detective John Kennex. Co. Cr: Liane Hentscher / FOX

Almost Human was back with a new episode that shook up its established formula, at least a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong, it stuck to the crime of the week neatly solved by episode’s end with witty banter between the two leads.  It did stray somewhat off the usual path by giving us a little fear in watching Detective Kennex (Karl Urban) being put in danger and there was no prerequisite shootout at the end.  This episode had the feel of the pilot that showed so much promise.

“Simon Says” begins with an energy shortage being announced. As a result, the androids won’t be fully charged and of course those new fangled MX’s will be getting priority over the outdated DRN’s. An outraged Dorian (Michel Ealy) calls “not fair” and says the new guys get all the perks.  He pouts, and we know we’re in store for a not fully charged Dorian showing mood swings worthy of the worst case of PMS in recorded history. He does not disappoint.

Cranky Dorian immediately brings up his need for his own place even suggesting he move in with Kennex.  He’s shot down when the detective explains that his spare room holds all his high school trophies for football.  He makes the mistake of saying his nickname was “White Cheetah” and we know that’s going to come back to haunt him.

(guest star Allessandro Juliani) is forced to wear a collar bomb in Almost Human's "Simon Says."  Co. Cr: Katie Yu / FOX

(guest star Allessandro Juliani) is forced to wear a collar bomb in Almost Human’s “Simon Says.” Co. Cr: Katie Yu / FOX

Enter case of the week – a man, soon to be victim, driving a car is stopped by a seemingly homeless person who spritz’s him in the eyes with knockout spray.  When victim number one wakes up, surprise! He’s got a bomb strapped to his neck. Yes, we’ve seen this before, at least a few times, but it’s exciting nonetheless. The guest stars do an excellent job of making us feel for them, so we’re willing to ignore the overused plot line.

A female computer-generated voice tells the neck bomb guy to go to the bank he works at and demand $427,000. Exactly. Not $426,732, but $427,000.  The victim does what he’s told, and we see this week’s bad guy, Simon (guest star David Dastmalchian) getting overly excited while watching the whole ordeal. It’s revealed that he’s not the only one getting excited. He’s streaming the show over the internet with viewers being added as the time to detonation draws closer. Worse yet, most are cheering for the poor guy’s demise.

Kennex and Dorian pull the guy over as he makes his escape from the bank, but can’t get the bomb off his neck in time. Dorian tells John to put up a shield. Kennex reluctantly does it, apologizing to the man, knowing he needs to contain the blast. They find out the victim was a loan officer at the bank he just robbed.

Our heroes discover the identity of the next target, a young lady named Jeanie.  We see her wake up with a bomb necklace and start walking through a park doing just what Simon says.  He says dance; she does it. Kennex and Dorian reach her and our favorite android desperately follows the instructions of their co-worker Mr. Gadget, Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook).

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R) and Dorian (Michael Ealy, L) in the "Simon Says" episode of Almost Human. Co. Cr: Katie Yu / FOX

Det. John Kennex (Karl Urban, R) and Dorian (Michael Ealy, L) in the “Simon Says” episode of Almost Human. Co. Cr: Katie Yu / FOX

Simon is watching and not too pleased when Jeanie says she knows who did this to her, a creepy guy she met on the internet who put the cray in crazy.  Dorian’s having a hard time disarming the bomb. After all, he’s only at 47% charged. He tells John to put up the shield. Kennex refuses and ends up helping Dorian diffuse the bomb just in the nick of time.

Meanwhile, viewers are increasing by the second, posting comments like “YOLO!”  Really?  We’re going to have to put up with YOLO that far in the future?

The bad guy also gets upset about the YOLO comment and breaks his computer screen in a rage.  Well, maybe it was really the fact that the police saved his target from death. Those meddling kids!

Turns out Simon is targeting his victims with a purpose. The first guy was a loan officer who turned him down for a loan. Jeanie was weird and rejected his particular kind of crazy.  Best of all, he was at the police academy, training with the bomb squad before being dismissed for psych issues.  Crazy.

Simon lures our good looking crime fighters to witness the explosion of a trailer.  Cool, pyrotechnics! Then, he knocks out our main guy with that nasty spray and straps a bomb to John’s gorgeous neck. I’m pretty sure he won’t get a synthetic neck to match his synthetic leg if that thing goes off, so things just got real.  Kennex is chained to a bench, trying to get the bomb off, while Simon slips in the tidbit of information that he’s now got a remote to detonate the bomb. This week it felt a little more tense.  Unlike previous weeks when no one really seemed to be in danger, this time around we feel for Kennex and the pressure he’s under.

Dorian figures out that Simon is watching all this unfold from a nearby clock tower.  He decides to climb the tower even though he only has 15% charge left. He barely makes it to the top in time with just enough juice to freeze the bad guy with a shock before passing out.  Kennex cuts the pesky red wire and all is right with the world. John gets to keeps his beautiful face firmly attached to his beautiful neck.

Back at the station, Capt. Maldonado (Lili Taylor) pours Kennex a drink, saying they’re celebrating winning. Kennex reflects that despite being totally crazy, Simon was on point in one area – black marks follow you around. “The way people look at me. If you hadn’t ignored the psych report,” he says thanking his boss without having to drop the macho exterior.  Kennex also asks for a favor that we know will lead right back to Dorian.

In the final scene, John takes Dorian to Rudy, who is really excited, talking non-stop about partying, and girls, and a hundred other things.  Dorian is getting his wish!  He’s getting a new place.  Well, an old place … with Rudy.  They’re going to be roommates. Can you say, “match made in heaven?”   Dorian looks less than thrilled, and you can’t help but laugh at the grin on Kennex’s face.

Both of our heroes seemed a little more vulnerable this week, and that makes for good television. They weren’t invincible; they had weaknesses revealed, and it was a much needed change of pace. No shoot out and no amazing android super power at the end.  This was a good beginning to lead us to the next part of the season.  Hopefully, relationships will be explored as well as the vulnerability of our two stars. Almost Human isn’t there yet.  But almost.

Random Notes

  •  Kennex is told not to complain about his android not functioning at full speed “and that includes your leg.” Low blow!
  •  Best line of the night was John asking Dorian, “Who’s the happy toaster?”
  •  Cool tech moments were a robotic arm making a beautiful rose at a floral shop and the shield that contained the bomb.
  •  Unfortunately, the would be romance between the beautiful Detective Stahl (Minka Kelly) and John Kennex made no headway. They barely spoke to each other although she looked appropriately worried when he had the bomb around his neck. I’m sure she was thinking how she’d like to trade places with that bomb.
  •  The previews for next week show the duo growing closer with Kennex defending Dorian’s honor in a classic robromance moment.  Should be hilarious.
  •  Less than fully charged Dorian equals funny Dorian.  He almost squeezes Jeanie to death in a “more than friends” hug after diffusing her neck bomb. He’s glitchy and quirkier than ever when running low on power, much to the amusement of John. It made for some cute bromoments that revealed Kennex as protector to his man-made friend.