Almost Human is back from its holiday hiatus with the episode ‘Simon Says’. Despite it being a good show it sadly did not use a cliffhanger like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to keep viewers returning. Instead Almost Human is still in standalone mode with each episode being a self-contained story arc. The story thus progresses only slowly with the focus laying particularly on the relationship between Dorian and Kennex. I suspect that shortly the focus will be places more on creating some sort of mythology with ‘The Syndicate’ acting as the principal villain, I guess we can be grateful the show didn’t rely immediately on the antagonists for all the thrills. Almost Human is also getting a lot of good buzz from an unusual place, the press. Review for aired episodes have seen an upwards trend with the special effects and banter between Michael Ealy (Dorian) and Karl Urban (Kennex) receiving special merit.
The episode starts with Detective Richard Paul (Michael Irby) that due to a solar flare the police androids won’t be recharged. This gets him instantly punched in the face by Dorian, who explain he becomes irritable of he doesn’t get charged. While Dorian and Kennex are discussing whether Dorian can stay in Kennex’s apartment in another part of the city a Mr. Ramon (guest star Alessandro Juliani) is knocked unconscious by a tranquilizer and has an explosive collar placed on him. The bomber forces him to rob the bank he works at. Kennex and Dorian manage to disable his car but discover that within the minute or so remaining on the bomb timer they can’t defuse the collar. Kennex raises a force shield around Mr. Ramon, promising they will find the bomber just before the collar explodes.
Quickly Kennex and Dorian discover that Ramon’s car was equipped with camera’s and that the entire affaire was filmed and broadcast on the internet. Captain Maldonado and Detective Stahl discover a warehouse from where parts for the bomb were made. Once there Dorian and Kennex are taunted with the face of the next victim, Jeannie Hartman. They discover her in a park with a collar bomb, as Dorian tries to defuse he repeatedly suffers from seizures due to a steadily lowering battery capacity. Jeannie meanwhile tells Kennex of a date with a creep she had a few months back, the name of the date was Simon Lynch. With the help of Rudy Lom Dorian manages to disable the collar just before the timer runs out.
Captain Maldonado quickly the background of Simon Lynch, he was kicked out of the bomb squad for failing his psych evaluation. While explaining his history she is also made aware of Dorian’s erratic behavior, but Detective Paul refrains from mentioning he was struck by Dorian. Kennex, Dorian and Paul set out for the trailer where Lynch now lives but can’t because it is wired. Kennex is lured away from the scene by Lynch and kidnapped. He awakens in park with a bomb collar of his own around his neck. This time Lynch states he isn’t allowed any help or else he will blow him up. Kennex has to use tools to try and disarm the bomb himself. As the police are monitoring the broadcast online they quickly arrive at the park but can’t help because of the threat that Lynch made. Dorian spots were Lynch is hiding and attempts to sneak up on him so he can be stunned without setting of the charges. Kennex meanwhile has a discussion with Lynch about his own failure at passing the Psych evaluation. Just as the timer runs out Kennex manages to disarm the bomb while Dorian stuns Lynch, thus also consuming the last of his battery power.
In the final scene Captain Maldonado and Kennex are discussing Lynch and Kennex’s failed psych evaluation. Kennex thinks that people look at him differently because of what happened when he led his team into a Syndicate ambush. Dorian meanwhile is offered a place to stay with Rudy, who explains that whatever happens in the lab stays in the lab.
This episode hit the right spots in so many ways. The suspense created by the collar bombs, the creepy bomber, the irritable Dorian, the very good special effects and a Detective Paul who for the first time in the series actually seems like an interesting character. This episode reminds me a lot of the early days of Person of Interest when that show wasn’t as established and pretty much every episode had a very unique and polished feel to it. ‘Simon Says’ is a similar episode as are a few of Almost Human that have already aired. For a moment or two there was even a hint of Blade Runner when a slow jazz cue could be heard in the background, it made my skin crawl (in a good way).
The episode also stood for allowing secondary characters such as Captain Maldonado, Detectives Stahl and Paul more screen time and be an actual of the investigation process. In previous episode they were too often relegated to influencing matters with just a single scene.
My only irritation with this episode is the premise that was necessary for Dorian to lose his self-control. A solar flare isn’t what I would call a very original piece of writing. I could have understood mechanical failure or a virus better. Sadly there was also no other consequences of the solar flare that could have made it more interesting.
Score; 8.8 / 10. A very good episode of Almost Human.
Almost Human will be back on January 13th with the episode ‘You Are Here’.