Almost Human episode 4 review: The Bends

Review Billy Grifter 4 Dec 2013 - 07:30

Cracks are starting to appear in the sci-fi buddy cop show that started out so well. Here's Billy's review of The Bends...

This review contains spoilers.

1.4 The Bends

I was hoping that the last Almost Human was a glitch, and that the show would smoothly return to the form that the first two outings delivered. It was not to be.

A drug deal goes bad, like they always do, and a cop dies. Has he gone bad or is something more complicated going on? Only Darion and Kennex can discover the truth, if they can handle that. And yes, it’s as generally boring as those sentences suggest.

Where the inspiration for last week was Die Hard, this week plays a small homage to the world of Breaking Bad, though it’s a pretty obtuse connection to the manufacturing of illegal drugs. In this sort of show, they never use a real drug name, instead they have a silly moniker that’s super-dangerous. Here it’s ‘Bends’, which we’re told is due to the deep sea source of the chemical inspiration behind it.

I’d found it hard to accept from the outset that Mackenzie Crook had come along just to play a techie, and this story was focused on fleshing out his character, Rudy. At the heart of it was poor Crook trying his most earnest to make Rudy seem more than one dimensional, as for no logical reason they decide to push him into an undercover bust for which he’s completely untrained.

As events plodded along, I had plenty of time to think about all sorts of things that normally I’d ignore. Is Rudy named as a nod to Rudy Wells in The Six Million Dollar Man? That was one thought I had, and other came about a whole sequences of references to Blade Runner that this episode threw up.
It started with the Noodle bar scene, then there was the car in a rainy bright city, and then later on we got some glow-stick umbrellas. Nice touches, but Blade Runner this story was not.

The nemesis of the story, The Bishop (make your own joke about bashing him, please), was played by Benito Martinez, an excellent actor with The Shield on his résumé. He did his best, but realistically his character only appeared a handful of times, before Kennex unceremoniously killed him. That was one of two rather jarring parts of The Bends, the first of which was Kennex being forced to eat a CGI mollusc in the Japanese diner.

The death of Barros just happened, without any preamble or explanation, where Kennex just decided that due-process was all a bit too tedious. Or, was it that Karl Urban though he was making another Judge Dredd movie?

But my biggest complaint is the lack of decent slice of Dorian in this story, because he’s the star of this show, whatever the publicists have told Urban. The writers also seem to miss some really good opportunities with the scenes he did have, like the one where Kennex was thrown through the window, for some dry dialogue.

The redemption, if it was that, came with the robot fight sequence where Dorian was obviously going well beyond his warranty limits. I couldn’t follow what the brief electrical flashes are meant to signify, but the robo-punch combat did inject some excitement into what had been a deeply dreary exercise in places. Mika Kelly could so easily be replaced by a poster of herself, and I’m still not finding Captain Sandra Maldonado, as presented by Lili Taylor, remotely compelling. I’m really hoping that Cheo Hodari Coker, who wrote Skin, has another episode coming, because the quality of the last two shows has declined markedly. 

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, Are You Receiving?, here.

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