Almost Human episode 7 review: Simon Says

Review Billy Grifter 8 Jan 2014 - 09:34

Dorian's emotional side gets the better of him in this week's Almost Human...

This review contains spoilers.

1.7 Simon Says

Early on in this episode my hopes got raised that we’d be getting to the real reason that the DRN series was discontinued, but that wasn’t the case.
However, that didn’t make the outbursts from Dorian any less entertaining, as he suffers wild mood swings having not been given a full recharge.

Michael Ealy has been enjoying himself as Dorian, and this continues unabashed as he takes his character in some obtuse directions in scenes that could so easily have been unscripted.

Between the wilder side of the DRN series, we’ve got a longer plot arc about Dorian wanting to live outside the Police precinct, and a narrative that’s borrowed directly from the Keanu classic Speed (1994). All that’s missing from it is the bus full of character actors, as the bomb hostages are wearing explosive necklaces rather than being driven by Sandra Bullock.

What elevates these proceedings is the quality of the smaller characters that are introduced for this single episode. The first victim, Ramon, is Alessandro Juliani who was amazing as Felix Gaeta in Battlestar Galactica, and also notable playing Dr. Emil Hamilton in Smallville. He doesn’t have a big part here, but he sells it well.

The actor who gets the short end of this stick is undoubtedly David Dastmalchian, who plays disgruntled ex-bomb disposal guy Simon. He doesn’t get missing fingers, or actually much to do, other than seem unhinged. It’s a shame, because he's excellent at being creepy and nuts.

The story is traditionally broken into three acts, each covering the abduction by remote control by Simon of a victim, the last of these being Kennex. The part of this that didn’t make any sense was that doing these horrible things with online broadcast delivered such a small number of watchers. You could easily get 3,000 people to watch the right colour paint drying, I’d suggest.

What I also didn’t follow, and maybe somebody better understood this, is why Simon handcuffed Kennex to the park bench by his artificial leg? This is the one that could break that bond, where his real leg couldn’t. That smacks of a direction that the plot originally took that was then dumped, for whatever reason.
There’s some nice tension in the final resolution, where Dorian climbs to stop Simon. Even if they avoided explaining how Dorian got to the bottom of the building without being seen. In that sequence they also inserted a nice interchange between Detective Paul and his MX. These two are becoming the alternate mirror version of Kennex and Dorian, where they have no effective working relationship whatsoever.

These shows live and die based on if people like the relationships, and so having more than just the Kennex/Dorian one is critical. I’m still concerned how weak some of the other supporting cast members are, and this week poor Minka Kelly barely gets a line again. I like Lili Taylor as Captain Maldonado, but her character still isn’t anything more than could be written on a Post-It, in big letters.

Where it works, as it has from the start, is between Dorian and Kennex, which is what this episode returns to repeatedly. The final scene where Dorian gets his wish not to live at the station, but discovers that life with Rudy might be actually worse, was appropriately light-hearted. However, with these performers I think this show can be much funnier, if the writers allow themselves to embrace the absurdity of some of the situations.

Having lost viewers in early December, the numbers were up 6% from their previous episode with an adult audience of 6.20 million in the US for this story. These will adjust a little, presumably not down.

I do hope that the audience for this show grows, because I’d really like to see a second season, and at least a return to the subplot outlined in the pilot story. I also want to know what happened to the DRN series, which Rudy told us directly wasn’t the mood swing issue and he classed as ‘erratic’ behaviour. I’d love it to be a hidden protocol, as per Robocop.

Almost Human isn’t great yet, but it’s not bad either, and as such is worth the attention it gets. Kennex and Dorian are back next week when The White Cheetah and My Happy will be fighting crime once more.

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

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Definitely a good episode. Not only did it have an actor from BSG, but I'm sure the lime "Who's a happy toaster?" was a reference as well.
I enjoyed this episode more than most from this series, even if it was one of the most sci-fi lacking episodes. If they can keep doing episodes as good as this, but with crimes based more round future tech, it'll be a good series.
Something I've been wondering: what's with the wheels on the police cars? They're all just modified Fords, why do they have such odd wheels? We've seen normal cars in the background, and it's only set 34/5 years in the future.

For a 'by the numbers' piece of pulp fiction, this is more than acceptable.
The plot point this week of the budget constraints of the precinct was a nice touch that dovetailed sweetly into the everyday life of the cops and the dialogue is quite sharp from time to time.

But more rigorous script editing is needed. For example, the scene where the Captain is profiling the perp has the sexy detective spelling out the very damn obvious a beat later.
Yeh, we get it!
It weakens the show that it treats the audience like idiots and even worse, such lazy writing treats the characters like idiots.

What detective is going to sit there and tell their experienced, smart colleagues something so frigging obvious? They may as well be saying that hey guys…criminals sometimes have emotional problems! Who knew?!

Be advised, this is actually episode 10 out of 13. Fox is Firefly'ing this one.

The creators have said that it doesn't make much difference. Also, they showed the pilot first. Firefly didn't even get that.

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