I shouldn’t have to aggressively take notes in order to review and recap a television show. Sure, I jot down interesting bits, big plot points or plot twists, things I think I’ll need to remember—that’s normal. Making sure I write down as much information as possible on the other hand is weird, and it wouldn’t be necessary if Almost Human was at all memorable.
To speak positively for a moment before jumping into the complete rundown, it was a funny episode with some great lines from Dorian, delivered comically by Michael Ealy, but the latter isn’t very surprising. The most frustrating aspect of this show is its continued determination to be nothing other than average: they’re phoning in the episodes rather than trying to do or say anything of interest or substance. Despite my want to enjoy this show I just can’t seem to bring myself to, especially with the onslaught of strong freshman year shows that we’ve been privy to in the last six months or so: Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine Nine, True Detective and Masters of Sex to mention a few. Not every show needs an important message, they don’t all need to be high concept with writers such as Vince Gilligan behind them. But they need something to keep viewers interested and Almost Human seems devoid of anything like that.
Writing a review shouldn’t feel comparable to pulling teeth.
With that said, this is my last review for the show considering its quality doesn’t seem to warrant more. It’s been eight episodes and the show has yet to impress me. While I’m all for the goofy television shows that are pure escapism (again Sleepy Hollow, Teen Wolf, Once Upon a Time) Almost Human has remained too straight edge and too cool for its own good.
This week’s episode “You Are Here” seemed to have lightly taken a page from both Wanted and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as there is a device that shoots guided bullets as well as a device called “the scrubber” which helps erase unwanted memories.
We open with a man being chased by one of those tracking bullets just before he’s slowed down by the police and killed by it. Right before he was shot he had been yelling about someone who was going to find him.
Meanwhile, John is apparently coping with anger issues at an anger management meeting. We see a group of disgruntled people—which is clearly meant to play for humor—just before John is posed his own question, about how he’s been dealing the past few weeks. He says he’s fine, that he has his health, his job, a decent life, what is there to be angry about?
The group leader quickly brings up his ex-girlfriend that was running with a crime ring, which resulted in him losing his leg and getting a prosthetic one.
That, if no one could tell, is exposition dialogue at its worst. It isn’t there help elevate the story, it’s there to remind the audience of the awful thing that happened to the character in a demeanor unbefitting to a group leader.
They’re rarely so intentionally antagonistic.
Dorian is waiting for John to get out and they’re soon on the crime scene, where not only do they work with other androids to solve the murder of the man Anton Cross, but it also shows us John’s anger issues.
I love themed episodes.
The synthetic has a theory about how the bullet could have hit Cross that’s calculated but far-fetched so John turns to Dorian for his opinion which is just as calculated but less absurd on the grand scheme of things. The MX speaks up and tries to remind John that Dorian is an inferior version and shouldn’t be counted on for his reasoning. John, having had enough, shoots the MX in the face.
Anger issues, remember?
At the station the Captain is reprimanding John for drawing a weapon and especially for shooting it. Richard, the other cop that floats around the series when necessary, is mad since it was his MX that got shot and tells John that he should watch out for Dorian next.
Richard is told to leave and the Captain tells John that he needs to get a handle on things. Keep his head cool, refuse to be a loose canon and allow for the therapy sessions to help.
Because remember, John has poor anger management skills.
John agrees for now and he and Dorian take the latter’s lead on Anton’s girlfriend who may have some information on the event. On the way we get some budding friendship banter where Dorian teases John about how he must like him to shoot an MX in his defense. John denies it but we all know it’s true and we all wish that there were scenes like this that actually try to show character growth.
They meet up with Cara, Anton’s girlfriend, to tell her the bad news as well as ask her if there’s anything she can remember that would explain what happened. She tells them that he was a gamer and spent a lot of time online, but that was it. Nothing suspicious about his actions at all.
Rudy had told John and Dorian previously that there was an unrecognizable power source behind the bullet that killed Anton and now, Dorian has a pretty good idea of what it was. He realizes that the company that Anton worked for specialized in advertisements that would use tracking devices to create ads specifically for the person watching it. That is their link to the shooter—the bullet was directed by the person who shot it.
The person in question ends up being a woman named Natalie and her little group that wishes to have the device for themselves so she lines up her next target: Cara.
At the station they’re worried that this weapon could be heading towards a mass production and and looking for a distributor. Valerie investigates where the money could be coming from while John and Dorian go back to ask Cara some more questions. It’s not long after that we see Natalie lining up her shot, promising her followers that the bullet never misses before shooting. Before it can hit Cara, Dorian senses it coming and steps in front of her and taking the bullet himself. It doesn’t kill him but it does scramble up his wiring and he’s left mumbling in a foreign language.
The question now is why would they want to kill Cara if she didn’t know anything about it. John decides she needs a safe house and makes sure her daughter Amy is with her. He also stops by Rudy’s to fix Dorian up before completing the assignment.
Cara believes that she should get all of her memories of Anton “scrubbed” (erased) and that way Natalie won’t want anything to do with her anymore. John is against the technology and advises her against, and also he needs her for his own plan which is to use her as bait.
During this, Valerie has realized that Anton was being extorted and he was being targeted despite being the one who developed the software. He created the device and sold it to Natalie but things soon turned sour.
Cara has taken the bait and leaves the safe house to go to the scrubber so that Natalie will find her and just as she does, Dorian and John arrive to have a shootout with the week’s thinly written antagonists. They win, obviously, and rescue Cara. Cara however doesn’t wish to leave with them, wanting to go through with the procedure but John talks her out of it with some news.
At the station he and Dorian tell Cara about what happened with Anton. Natalie had been sending threats to Anton about Cara and her daughter if he didn’t do as they wished, so he complied and sold them the software which they quickly turned on him. Anton never did anything wrong, he was only trying to protect the ones he loved.
Natalie thanks him and gives him a memento to thank him—an old note handwritten in pen (which is apparently archaic) by Anton to Natalie. It’s supposed to be sentimental but considering our care for the character is essentially non-existent it doesn’t work as planned.
What works even less is the following scene where John tries to recreate a moment told to him by a grieving girlfriend by writing a note to Valerie to get her attention. It’s another example of a character and relationship we’re supposed to care about and just don’t due to the lazily drafted characterizations.
This show shouldn’t simply be given up on—it still has potential—but it isn’t noteworthy in the slightest which makes writing for it simply tiresome. I hope it figures itself out for the fans who continue to watch, but to me it’s seemingly had too many misses with very little reward.
Not a terrible episode, but nothing that redeemed any of its past mistakes.