I think the most enjoyment I took out of this episode happened at the very beginning when Dorian and John had a discussion about the former’s penis.
Why? Well, aside from my juvenile sensibility, it may be because it was a moment of true chemistry between the two stars, alluded to the science of the world while still having a sense of fun with it and allowing the characters to show a wealth of personality. It was ridiculous but I laughed unexpectedly when one of the first images we see of the episode is one of the droids who has appeared naked with Ken doll-like attributes.
So Dorian and John are on their ride along and John finally breaks the silence to tell Dorian that he can’t get the image of all of that plastic out of his head. He has to ask, is Dorian like that too?
Dorian is offended, saying he doesn’t have to answer but he will because his designer was much more considerate and wanted him to look and feel as human as he could. He then shows John his penis for greater effect, to which John responds “is that all for one person?”
Yes I laughed, I laughed hard. It’s an easy joke but it just worked so well.
After last week’s exercise in patience I can’t say that I was particularly thrilled at the prospect of enduring another episode. However, it’s hard (and ridiculous) to write off an entire show after only one definite dud. There would have to be quite a few more to even consider that. Luckily, the episode did enough to redeem itself from last week’s mess but they still haven’t lived up to the full potential their premise is allowing them.
The scene following the opening is with Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) who is at a trial where a young man stands accused of murder—we know he’s guilty because of how the camera keeps panning over to him as he smirks all evil like. This trial is part of the problem of the episode: it seems to be a storyline being continued from the previous episode, as if he’s a baddie we were supposed to have previous knowledge of, but we don’t. So, we’re stuck in this awkward position where the characters know more than the audience, which is rare.
We at least deserve some hints!
Two girls are about to be called to trial via hologram (how cool and Trek-like) one of whom is a medium—she can talk to dead people.
Or spirits to make it seem less grotesque.
However, just as one of the girls is called to the stand she’s killed just as the medium, Maya, makes a getaway just in time to save her life. Maldonado is convinced it’s Ethan Avery, the suspect, and goes to confront him. She tells him she knows it was him and that he was going to pay. He taunts her, tells her about how her career is going nowhere, how being a woman has made her isolated in a male-dominated field, how she has to be wrong about him since he was at the trial the entire time.
Of course, we still know she’s right considering the sinister setting of the scene.
Seriously, only a maniacal laugh could have made it more conspicuous.
Meanwhile Dorian has found Maya and John is at the scene of the crime trying to piece it all together. Dorian and John meet and speak with Maya to try and figure out if she saw anything before the other witness was killed. She said she didn’t anyone but Hayley, the other girl, saw Ethan’s face.
She tells them she knows this because she’s a practiced medium and Hayley is currently telling her. At first I thought adding a psychic to the mix may be a bit too much, even for a science fiction show, but I was wrong and her storyline turned out to be my favorite by the episodes end.
Rudy backs up her claim by saying a voice detection tool labeled the voice as belonging to Ethan. It still doesn’t make any sense considering he was at the trial the entire time, under Maldonado’s watchful eye.
They realize that Maya has left and they chase after her, telling her to get in the car or else she’ll be putting her own life in danger by being out in the open and the only person with evidence against Ethan. She does as they say but it isn’t long before they run into trouble when a van of armed men jump out and start shooting. They end up safely out of the way but not without Maya getting shot in the shoulder just as John gets a good shot of one of the armed men. When they remove the man’s mask they find Ethan Avery underneath, or at least someone who shares his likeness.
Turns out they’re clones.
Dorian and Maya share one of the best scenes at the hospital where they discuss what happened to make her want to become a medium. She tells him that it was after she lost her parents right before she turned 19. It was sudden and unexpected and she wanted a way to reconnect with them, to feel their presence. So she became a medium and suddenly she was hearing voices except not her parents. Her house and all of her parents’ belongings had been burned down, severing the physical connection that would lead to the spiritual one.
It’s well acted and poignant and it allows for Dorian to once again get the most humanistic and soul searching piece of the episode. It also allows us more insight into a world that trains people to become mediums.
On the other side of the episode where the less than stellar storyline lies, Valerie has been kidnapped by one of the Averys and is being held ransom. He makes a call to John and tells him about how much he and Valerie must dig each other, he says to either make John more desperate or to make sure the audience have been hit over the head hard enough with the romantic pairing coming our way.
Needless to say, Valerie is rescued because it’s only been five episodes and we learn that Ethan killed his doctor because he had threatened to reveal that he was a clone.
Which apparently is still taboo in a world inhabited by a large population of androids.
It’s okay every show has a good loophole.
Dorian gets another one of the best scenes of the episode where before he parts with Maya he gives her a small gift. It’s an evidence piece from when her house had burned down which allows a connection to be forged between her and the spirits of her parents. The look on her face proves again that Michael Ealy’s Dorian is EASILY the best thing this show has going for it. Heartfelt gestures done by characters can either come off as trite or genuinely moving and this one was luckily the latter.
I wish that had been the last scene, it would have been a wonderful last scene to an uneven episode that was at the very least fast-paced and entertaining, as opposed to last weeks.
But no, we had to deal with a tacked on last scene that very easily could have cut.
I don’t think I can put into words just how much the Valerie and John pairing annoys me. On the shallow level, the fact that they had her liking sports and appreciation of bourbon being drawing points for John furthers an annoying “one of the guys” tropes that media seems to constantly perpetuate. It’s especially frustrating after the Valerie character was forced to fulfill the “girl in peril” role.
The real irritation, however, comes from how the show is going out of their way to force feed the relationship to us. Five episodes in and we’re already being told that this couple is the couple to root for rather than allowing the audience to come to that realization on their own. The show has come across the idea that male lead character plus supporting vacant female character equals TV gold and it isn’t the case. If the characters aren’t able to make a natural progression into a relationship that is worthy of rooting for, it’s not meant to be. It’s too soon into the show’s run to be determining “end game” couplings and I hope that this narrative is diverted at some point rather than being forced to watch the romance unravel. A good television couple is either built on great chemistry by the two actors, character personality traits or a narrative that makes sense within the context of a show.
It seems like we’re stuck with them for now (unless John’s mysterious ex-girlfriend returns from wherever she ran off in pilot episode nonsense tidbits) so we’ll all just have to grit our teeth and bear it.
This is all assuming I’m not the only one with an issue with it.
Overall a decent episode, the show hasn’t lost me yet.
Apparently this episode was supposed to originally be the eighth to air…could this possibly have anything to do with how disjointed it felt?