Well that was a massive improvement for the series, color me surprised. This show has been in a rough patch considering the network’s inability to handle this show. They’ve been airing episodes out of order and considering the nature of the show that requires us to learn to care about the characters we’re confronting. It has thrown the narrative for a loop. By airing it out of order we’re given disjointed storylines for the “will they, won’t they” relationship between John and Valerie. The Captain’s importance goes from 100 to zero, Rudy seems either like an established character or one who’s still stuck on the sidelines and we’re never up to date on wherever John and Dorian are in their partnership.
This week clears this up a bit, at least the last note. And on top of the clarity, they also world build in a way that they haven’t since the first two episodes, adding nuance and layers to the crime-infested city our duo resides in. We’re lead into the episode with this higher form of technology leading the way. We see the inside of a cramped hospital where a man is arguing with a hologram nurse when she starts malfunctioning—leaving the man hanging on whether or not he has a disease he should be worrying about. It’s a nice seemingly arbitrary touch to an episode that showcases how the futuristic tech isn’t necessarily helpful or quick.
Soon, a man named Mr. Lee runs in with a gun and threatens the hospital staff and then the surgeons to help him quickly with his heart—he says he’s needs a cardiovascular surgery or else he’ll die just as his heart fails. He recited the time of his own death. We’re then planted smack dab in the middle of another Dorian and John bantering scene, lest the audience forgets they’re watching a sci-fi buddy cop television series. Dorian is trying to get John to obey the rules of the road which includes stopping at red lights rather than racing straight through them. John says that Dorian should break the rules every once and a while. At the crime scene at the hospital, before they’re able to look into the mystery, they first encounter another droid with Dorian’s face.
Dorian is understandably wigged out and is confused as to why he (hence forth dubbed Dorian 2.0) is working as hospital maintenance rather than a police officer as his models are supposed to. He doesn’t have time to question him about it yet though and he and John go to learn more about Mr. Lee’s death.
They learn that Mr. Lee had seemingly known the exact time of his death and believed that he was being murdered so the case is labeled as a potential homicide. On the way out Dorian has grabbed Dorian 2.0 as a tag along and is trying to convince John to let him come for the ride. John is dubious at first but agrees after some pushing from Dorian.
The heart has been sent to Rudy and he learns that the heart was a state of the art bio-mech heart that worked in such a way that every 30 days it required updating. Mr. Lee was indeed killed because his heart was never updated. Meanwhile John and Dorian are experiencing a bit of a blip with the latter’s plan since Dorian 2.0 had a moment of going rogue where he arrested a man on charges from three years previous. Dorian had given him his old case files along with some police database info, but never thought of updating the information.
John wants to know why Dorian thought any of this was a good idea and Dorian says it’s because when he was first decommissioned he remembers thinking that he hoped there would be someone who would wake him up, someone who allowed him to do his job again. And then John woke him up and he was allowed to be a police officer just as he wanted, and now he wants to be that person for Dorian 2.0. John understands, sees the sentiment involved and allows it as long as he stays in the car the entire time and stays out of trouble.
They then deal with the issue at hand: the heart and how it was contained. The go to where the body was cremated and ask the technician who tells them about the black market organ donors he’s working for and how the heart Mr. Lee had and the other organs he had were all second hand. John and Dorian don’t think highly of this to which the man replies that just because an organ has been used doesn’t mean it’s no longer useful, that’s just something they’re told so that companies make more money.
Despite his allegation the fact remains that there may be more than 100 people out on the streets with these unclassified organs. The Captain wishes to put a stop to this and advises Dorian and John to make a tail. They tell the cremator to schedule an appointment with the distributor and then tail him once he arrives for the newest organ. They follow him until they reach their destination where they realize there’s a surgery about to take place. They run in to interrupt and arrest the Doctor and distributor and wake up the patient who is none too pleased with her time being taken away.
At the station, the same woman tells Valerie that she didn’t save her life. She knows the consequences and the money she’d need to spend for a black market heart, but she also knows that it would have given her more time with her family and that’s all she wanted. It’s a way to shed light on the complexities of the situation. Despite the integrity of the arrest, how fair is it to the woman who’d been hopeful for time with loved ones.
They quickly piece together that the surgeon didn’t know the whole story. He thought he was working for a group whose main purpose was to help but he’s told that the company is only in it to make a quick buck, the patients’ organs are ticking time bombs so that each month a new payment can be made. More money for a potentially faulty organ. The problem is that this means there are missing bodies unaccounted for and going through a missing persons list, Dorian tells John that many of those names correspond with names who were rejected by an insurance company and therefore likely to have been approached for black market organs.
They realize that the cremator was the man who must have been disposing of the bodies after a number of patients went into sudden cardiac arrest on the streets after he refused to flip the switch on their timer. They find him and run him down, arresting him. Back at the station, Valerie informs John that she spoke with an insurance company who promised all of the patients with the faulty organs new ones free of charge. Which is nice but seems unlikely in the world that the characters inhabit.
In a nice aside, we meet up with Dorian and Dorian 2.0 with the latter telling the former about his brightest moment of being a cop. He tells him that the incident that led to him being decommissioned happened when he broken into a house to gun down a man looking to kill his girlfriend’s young son. Dorian 2.0 found the child and reassured him and the look of faith in the child’s eyes was the most human connection he ever experienced, solidifying his love of his job. He’s thankful he got to remember it.
There’s a moment where we think it was all for naught when the Captain orders Dorian 2.0 to be returned (which is such an inanimate object vernacular which is weird when it comes to the droids with synthetic souls) to the hospital. However, although Dorian wipes the memories of being a cop and any information into the police station, he keeps the memory of the child he saved. It’s the poignancy that comes from sharing a moment with another human, from Dorian refusing to sever the bond that Dorian 2.0 got the chance to share. It’s all about Dorian feeling as human as he can despite the fact that his eye can pop out of his head or that he can control a car with his mind—he has emotions and he’s proud of them.
If there’s any pressing issues with the episode they all have to do with the general inconsistencies within the characters. John and Dorian seem to be built on the model of making your characters whatever the story needs them to be from week to week. So while they keep their quick-fire banter there’s always some new reasoning before it that doesn’t always line up with the characters we’ve met in previous episodes. John is either grumpy or the one antagonizing Dorian, either straight laced or wanting to have a good time. Dorian is either the silly, lighthearted on to Karl Urban’s perma-scowl, or like this episode at the beginning he’s the one who is living by all of the rules and codes set for him just so that when he goes and drags Dorian 2.0 along with them it seems like a greater change of pace.
Despite this, the episode was strong enough that it was easy to take the character information without complaint—the duo were fun, had one of the best scenes they’re shared six episodes in and it was an exciting plot that used a countdown to its best effect.
The show is back January 6, and I hope that in that space of time viewers won’t forget to watch (because the ratings are nowhere near phenomenal) and that the show grounds itself and manages to figure out the story it really wants to tell.