Almost Human episode 12 review: Beholder

Review Billy Grifter 26 Feb 2014 - 10:12

Will Almost Human reach its much-deserved second season? Here's Billy's review of the penultimate episode of the first...

This review contains spoilers.

1.12 Beholder

If, like me, you expected this episode to return to the larger story arc and be a set-up for the season finale, you were probably massively disappointed by Beholder. In terms of the development of the show though, it wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. Instead of a way in to the finale, we were given an entirely self-contained story that reworked the Darkman premise, with just a twist of The Twilight Zone.

The basic plot showed someone damaged by a medical experiment cherry-picking their new face from disparate parts of other people, with the unfortunate side effect of killing them to get their DNA. The plot never actually explained why the DNA couldn’t be gathered without the nano-bots, and why their activation in using that DNA didn’t kill Eric. Actually, if we really go there, there were numerous plot holes. He’s identified following one victim from a bar, where working at the DVC he already has his home address. I noticed the woman of his dreams was blind from Kennex’s viewpoint in Eric’s flat, something he’d failed to grasp in six months of observation. And while I’m on that subject, Julie was played by Rhonda Dent, who isn’t really blind, which is why when the delivery man goes to hand her something, she reaches for it!

I could mention another half dozen narrative and continuity problems, but I’d be avoiding what really excited me about this story, which was that Minka Kelly was finally allowed to do some acting. Given that she’s one of the five main actors in this piece (now Michael Irby, Detective Paul has disappeared), she’s been veritably shafted by this show so far. I can’t even blame the out-of-production-order presentation of the show, because this story and the next were shot last. What’s evident is that when they do give her some dialogue and character interaction she’s great, and should this show be cancelled, it will be one of the massive muck-ups that Fox made over the season.

The character development for Stahl was welcome, if overdue, and hinted that perhaps Chromes would become a major subplot in unravelling the Syndicate, should we every return to that subject. And, that’s the rub here. Because in viewing figures Almost Human is on the bubble, and we never actually return to them or explore the world beyond The Wall. That would be sad, because Almost Human has really developed over this season, and so much of it works, even if it’s been somewhat disorganised from a character development viewpoint.

But back to this one. One aspect of the show that I really like is that they like to throw into each show a couple of odd future technology concepts, some of which are more fanciful than others. The best this week were the digital golf course, something we’ll probably see in the next decade, and the wacky exo-suit that we certainly won’t. The exo-suit was homage to the same idea in the original Total Recall, and an interesting entry point for Tony Cox as Di Carlo.

But those curiosities aside, the importance of this story was that it developed Stahl’s character and demonstrated that Minka Kelly can do more than look marvellous. In an interview she gave recently she revealed that her character has a twin, though I can’t see we’ll get that reveal this season. Which begs the question will we get another season? Ratings for Beholder were a season low, unfortunately. Personally, I take that Karl Urban is talking this week about a second Dredd outing as a bad omen for this show, despite my interest in seeing a sequel to that movie.

But I’m super-curious about how they’re going to conclude this one next week, given that they’ve got a single story to move the story arc forward and provide some glimpses of what a second season may deliver. What I do know is that Dr. Vaughn doesn’t play a major part in the season finale, annoyingly. That probably means that if it does end there, it will be a very untidy exit.

Let’s all hope it doesn’t.

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

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