Oh what an utterly lackluster episode. If I hadn’t jotted down some notes I doubt I would have been able to retell what had happened in any type of concise or interesting manner, maybe because the episode seemed unwilling to write its narrative in a concise or interesting manner. I would have been able to say with clarity that Rudy’s character gave me second hand embarrassment, Karl Urban continued to floor me with how completely wooden he is as John compared to almost any other role ever that I’ve seen him in and that Minka Kelly was vacant as the Valerie character once again.
Voila, I looked over my notes and it seems I was correct in my assertions, all of that did happen and more.
But let’s beat a dead horse for just a second, indulge me, so that we can talk about the distressingly underwhelming performance Karl Urban is currently turning in. And this is coming from a fan—a fan who has said on numerous occasions that he’s a standout in Star Trek, memorable in a long list of faces to remember in The Lord of the Rings and made an emotionless character interesting in Dredd so why on earth is he so dull and so bereft of charm in Almost Human? The script isn’t anything above his set of talents, there is nothing in the character that should be difficult to tap in to and he’s done an American accent before without it detracting from his performance.
What is going on and what can we do to make it stop?
I don’t know about you but when a show like this not only manages to bore you but also confuse you I get awfully restless. There are rules and guidelines about the world we’re watching that makes me confused and not in the way of me simply being slow to the uptake but more in a “Why can these police officers be so violent with their suspects?” type of way.
I can suspend my disbelief for fantasy, science fiction, what have you, but I’d rather not suspend it for basic human conventions.
This episode tried to be clever by having the episode begin 24 hours in advance but the day preceding the event is so listless and uninteresting that they would have been better off simply telling the story in a basic, linear form rather trying to upset the status quo and bringing in their own form of artistry. The stakes weren’t high, we didn’t care about Rudy enough to care about the pickle he’d gotten himself into, and instead we were forced to watch the 24 hours play out in all of their dull glory.
Indulgence over. I promise.
After the flash-forward segment with Rudy (Mackenzie Crook) we’re brought back to present time where we see an undercover cop shot and killed after being caught trying to get information about a drug distributor called The Bishop.
Cut to John and Dorian at the scene of the crime where they find the man’s body, Trevor, who John knows as an old friend whom he hadn’t seen in five or six years. He said he was a good man and despite evidence he would never have turned into a dirty cop. It’s a timely guess because Dorian then finds the wire he had been wearing, indicating that there had been a larger play at hand.
At the station the Captain doesn’t want to pursue it but John is—for reasons hardly explained other than a scene between him and Trevor’s wife—determined to clear Trevor’s name, no matter the cost. He offers himself up as the person to play the part as potential cook but that’s shot down and he’s told to find someone else.
And surprise, he does and it’s Rudy! Rudy who as of yet we’ve only seen, for the most part, in the confines of his little science lab where he creates bots and tinkers and helps John with delving back into his past, he’s supposed to be a genius and this episode should have been the one where some complexity was added to his archetypal character.
Instead the quirks were broadened rather than elaborated on.
I think it can be a great thing when a new show creates a fully realized cast so that they can create a strong group dynamic and quick (let me reference, again I’m sure, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast as the best new show example of this). It’s important that we enjoy the characters and their interactions.
But nothing was done to further divulge any information on Rudy that we didn’t already know, instead he was used more so as a way to show how Dorian and John interacted with him. John is all too ready at the beginning to send him into the field despite his lack of training and Dorian is the one to make sure he’s okay and to reassure him of his safety.
It’s little moments like that that make this episode not a complete bust.
Rudy goes through a night of basic training where he’s given a background for the character he’s playing as well as practicing cooking the drug he needs to perfect for the distributor (oh my poor aching Breaking Bad heart) with a few glitches along the way.
The following day the plan is put into action and it gets off to a rocky start when Rudy accidentally gives his first name before rectifying the mistake. There’s a team including John, Dorian and Valerie as backup, ready to run in when something gets messed up and surely enough, they’re called upon. Dorian goes after him first to try and salvage the case and Rudy makes up the story that Dorian is his rogue android that he bought on the black market and rewired.
It soon goes to hell as the real Bishop is released and takes Rudy to a different empty warehouse, separating him from all of his protection including the recently arrived Dorian and has him make a batch. This is when we flashback/forward to where we began the episode and Rudy causes a diversion and makes a run for it, is then shot in the arm and just in time for Dorian and co. to come in and save the day.
Another case solved. Or is it?
Wouldn’t it be cool for one of these storylines of the week to pop back up in following episodes? For this drug plot to not just miraculously disappear? It seems however that that is too serial of a narrative to hope for and all we can really wish for is a developing relationship between Dorian and John whose banter continues to be the highlight of each episode.
The episode ends with the two joined by Rudy, against John’s wishes, as they head out for a celebratory drink which John reinforces will be beer. Because you know, men. Again this would all be fine and lovely if I had actually grown to care for the character in the hour but as it is I don’t know how much I care for our leads.
It’s frustrating because getting a filler episode so early on in a series isn’t a very good selling point and it makes it seem like the writers have already lost the intent of their characters and the motivation of where they want them to be by a certain point. The last two episodes worked so well because they delved into the idea of who and what androids are, their purpose and the moral integrity of using them as pawns, especially ones such as Dorian that have a synthetic soul.
This episode was supposed to be some mystery drama with some snippets of humor and it didn’t work.
The problem I could foresee happening to this show is its inability to access brevity and accept its camp quality. Shows such as the first season of Once Upon a Time (let’s not mention the following season), Sleepy Hollow and Doctor Who work so well because they create serious thematic cores but surround it with campy and escapist visuals and ideas. We can run away with the story all the while staying grounded in what the meaning of the episode is. Almost Human spent this episode trying to tell us how serious the drug on the market was while trying to inject a humorous character with Rudy and in the end it resulted in a muddled tone.
This is one definite dud in a strong enough season thus far. While it’s not enough for me to lose interest, it does make me worry about where the show is going.
Was anyone else as let down as I was?