Almost Human episode 5 review: Blood Brothers

Review Billy Grifter 11 Dec 2013 - 09:56

Is Almost Human becoming disjointed due to a lack of overriding story arc? Here's Billy's review of Blood Brothers...

This review contains spoilers.

1.5 Blood Brothers

Last week the episode was allocated to giving Rudy more personality, and this week the spotlight shifts to Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) as the primary focus.
As the head of her department she clearly never read the bit in the leadership manual where it tells you not to get emotionally involved in a case. Something that seems very relevant to her battle of wills with super-smart Ethan Avery.

It starts as a courtroom drama, and then develops into a case when one of the women giving evidence is killed while giving said evidence. At that point surely the trial would be abandoned, as the jury would surely be influenced by seeing her gunned down? Nah, that happens all the time in the future, it appears.

But she’s not the only witness, there’s another called Maya, and we know she’s bonkers because she dresses like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. Actually, while the character was hard work most of the time, I though Megan Ferguson who played Maya was actually pretty good, considering the dialogue she had to work with. Her sixth sense is the means by which the case is actually solved, though without much explanation as to how enhancing people’s brains can connect them to dead people.

Things moved along at a reasonable pace with the usually strong character moments between Dorian and Kennex, until the end, where the writers obviously got bored. The final set piece where the holographic Ethan Avery and Captain Maldonado walk towards his three remaining clones was so full of holes it could have graced pastrami on rye.

My first thought was that this special effect, if possible, wouldn’t be remotely convincing, because the ground they're traversing isn’t perfectly flat, and the lighting in the corridor is totally different from that outside. But assuming they had software that could fix that, there was an even bigger issue with the court case. Surely the existence of four perfect clones would be an excellent rebuff to the witness identifying Ethan? Yes, they were younger, but any defence lawyer would have a field-day with that positive identification. And, he’d walk, unless one of his clones testified against him as the killer.

But the cardinal sin of the closure was what Dorian did with the vehicle, running after it and then flipping it using his android strength. As unexpected as that was, it’s a nightmare for future writers. Because whenever a car speeds away you’ll wonder why Dorian doesn’t just flip it, like he did here.

Overall, I liked Blood Brothers more than the previous two stories, but it still wasn’t as well considered or executed as the second story, Skin. The attempt to humanise Captain Maldonado didn’t entirely work, and their initial efforts at making Minka Kelly more than a fashion accessory weren’t conclusive. She’s got chemistry with Karl Urban, but frankly she’d have that with anyone with an X and Y chromosome, and probably any other combination. In five episodes we’ve discovered she drinks Bourbon, which is hardly a character trait cornucopia.

What’s really missing at the moment is any bigger story arc, as we’ve not returned to the Syndicate since the pilot. What I’d like to know is what was the series of events that caused Dorian to be deactivated previously, what happened to the other DRM robots, and why did they never implement Asimov’s three laws?
For this to work more than just a by-the-numbers futuristic buddy cop show the synthetics need to have their own sub-culture, unknown to humans, rather than just be their robot counterparts with easily repairable features. Kennex needs to be on a journey where he realises the world he lives in is different than he’s assumed, and Dorian must surely evolve too.

I’m finding the series so far disjointed, mostly because they’re showing the episodes entirely out of production order. But the promise offered by the first two stories hasn’t been realised, either because the writers got cold feet delivering something that edgy, or they’re already convinced it won’t make it through to a second season.

Read Billy's review of the previous episode, The Bends, here.

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