Almost Human: Skin, Review

The second episode of Almost Human's two-night premiere event is even better than the first!

“Skin” answers the question that was bound to come up almost from the second we were introduced to the prospect of sentient, empathetic, and for all intents and purposes, living/breathing humanoid androids. After all, what are most great advances in technology eventually used for? So after a strong pilot episodeAlmost Human goes right for the sexy.That’s right…it’s the sexbot (or “bang bot” to use the charming colloquialism) episode of Almost Human! They wasted no time. It’s good that Almost Human decided to get this out of the way right in the opening minutes of the second episode. What’s impressive is how “Skin” used this theme not for shock value or titillation (I’m looking at you, oh…virtually every procedural on the planet), but to give us a deeper look into the culture of the near future that Almost Human shows off. Although, let’s be real, there are plenty of sexy robots on display here.Basically, “Skin” is a vice procedural plot that’s been knocked a little sideways. A high-profile sexbot manufacturer is murdered by his shady competition. A series of abductions lead the cops to conclude that these women are being harvested for their DNA…which is then being used to build better, more realistic sexbots. Incorporating human DNA into androids is illegal (not to mention, so is kidnapping), so Kennex and Dorian are on the case. The blatant sexuality of the bots is contrasted with Kennex’s own lack of human companionship, something which Dorian calls him out on in hilarious fashion. It’s great watching Urban and Nealy in these scenes. Whether they’re bantering about Kennex’s dislike of cats or how (ahem) “backed up” he is (you had to be there), their chemistry is genuine and would work in any number of “buddy cop” scenarios, let alone the sci-fi one on display here. When they finally do discover one of these modified bang-bots, Dorian notes a connection between them. Like the sexbots, Dorian’s decommissioned android model is on the fringes of polite society. A sexbot manufacturer even points out that they incorporated some of that model’s emotional capability into his work. As expected in an episode like this, the thematic and visual similarities to Blade Runner are unavoidable. But the familiarity of Almost Human’s setting and themes actually help here. There’s no need to overexplain this future or most of the technology that has been encountered in these first two episodes. The visual cues that make Almost Human feel at times feels like it could be taking place in some corner of the RoboCop or Blade Runner or even the rebooted Star Trek universe are more help than hindrance. It’s probably what has allowed the show to hit the ground running the way it has and simply tell stories without too much set-up. It helps that this is a future we might actually want to live in to some extent. Even simple visuals like the “flash-mask” technology in the episode’s opener or the animatronic toy giraffe on Kennex’s desk up the “cool” factor considerably.Almost Human‘s second episode is visually appealing, well-acted, surprisingly touching, and genuinely funny. Can it maintain this pace over the course of a season? We’ll see. But when you’ve got a pair of leading men like Karl Urban and Michael Ealy at play in a flashy sci-fi environment like this, it may be tough to miss even if it stumbles. At least for now, Almost Human is essential viewing.

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4.5 out of 5