So in the future, health care is even shittier and people destroy perfectly reusable organs? THANKS, OBAMACARE.
Sorry, couldn't resist. This episode is the sixth episode of Almost Human to air, but was the third episode made. This is why Kennex and Dorian's roboromance seems to have suddenly cooled — in actuality, they're still warming up to each other (I would also like to note for the record that I only use the word "robromance" because I hate it and I want to remind people that Fox is using this word, on purpose, to market the show). I don't think this early production schedule is why I felt this episode was a marked improvement over the last two episodes, though. I think it's because it had two Michael Ealys in it, and two Michael are enough to cancel out the show's general crappiness.
It probably also helps that Almost Human doesn't try to cram any cop show clichés in the episode. It's just a straight-forward tale of a dude getting his artificial heart shut off remotely, which eventually leads to a black market artificial organ ring, where the bad guys inject little chips in 'em and force the recipients to pay a monthly fee to keep them going. Dorian and Kennex investigate the organs' manufacturer and the mortician who is supposed to destroy them, Minka Kelly tries to make an "interested" face as sad women tell sad tales, the mortician and the heart manufacturer's boss's secretary are running the ring, and it's all pretty standard stuff.
What makes it interesting is that Dorian spies another DRN model at the heart manufacturer, working as a janitor. Dorian is confused, saying the DRN series were made to be police officers — so that's interesting to know — and Dorian takes the other DRN along with them on their investigation. If you thought Dorian and Kennex were fun together, two Dorians and one surly Kennex is pretty much the best, especially because Dorian is even more prone to trolling Kennex since it's technically early in the series. Alas, the DRN model does eventually jump out of their police car, grabs a guy, whose car rolls over a fire hydrant, which shoots into the air, hitting a drone, which smashes the hell out of a nearby MX robot cop. Ha ha, it's funny because any of the random humans nearby could have been violently killed!
Turns out Dorian gave the DRN his old cases files back… but didn't update them for god knows what reason, so DRN grabbed a guy who was wanted, but has since served his time. After that, Kennex makes DRN stay in the car, although eventually Dorian invites him on a raid. Turns out DRN is scared now, even though he wasn't really before, and also it has something to do with him killing a dude who was about to murder a child even though he probably didn't have to, although DRN doesn't say he's afraid of himself or what he might do, so who knows. Anyways, he still stays in the car, and at the end of the episode he has to go back to being a janitor again.
The other thing I really liked about this episode is that this is the first episode of Almost Human to show any kind of moral ambiguity at all. The show makes it clear that reusing these synthetic organs is illegal, but when Kennex and Dorian first meet the mortician, he explains that the only reason these perfectly fine organs are being destroyed is because the companies that make them want to keep them limited so that prices remain high. Sure, the mortician is revealed to be one of the bad guys, but he isn't wrong here. And when Kennex and Dorian burst into one of the illegal surgeries just before a woman gets a new black market whatever, she's actually quite upset the cops have stopped her life-saving operation. Almost Human never follows up on either of these things, no social justice is meted out, and at the end of the episode everyone is fine and happy despite the fact rich corporations are still needlessly letting people die to service their profit margin. But hell, at least Almost Human raised some actual issues, even if it didn't explore them. It's a start.
Of course, it wouldn't be Almost Human is there weren't several complete failures and weird dystopian aspects that the show is somehow completely unaware of. Besides all the above, here's a fun list:
- If the robot that killed a dude was reassigned to janitorial duty, what must Dorian have done to get shut down? I would be shocked if Almost Human had an answer to that question.
- The mortician casually letting hundreds of people with the rigged organs die, when giving them an extra 30 days would have literally taken only a press of a button.
- My favorite scene of the entire show, where the main police cast sit around a conference table saying, "If we don't do something, all these people are going to die." No one moves from the table. Cut to commercial.
- Did they ever catch the secretary who was actually running the organ ring?
- The company that makes the organs decides to replace all the organs of the people who had illegal organ transplants for free! Fuck everybody who was waiting in line, the people that broke the law need help!
- The DRN robot's situation is not improved in any way. He even still has to return to his janitorial job.
- Note: At the end of the episode, it's still against the law to re-use medical organs, despite the fact they are perfectly fine if assholes don't put shit in them. People in dire need: 0, Corporate greed: 1,984,240,024!
- And, of course, the aforementioned irony of the robot being punished for murdering somebody, which Kennex did without qualm or repercussion two weeks ago. Hell, at least the perp the DRN killed was actually holding a gun at the time.
This has my vote for the best episode so far, although admittedly there have only been six, and I loathed two of them, so this isn't probably the greatest of honors. And since this was supposed to be episode 3, we know that it definitely does not build into anything better. But hell, Almost Human gave us two Michael Ealys, and I'll take what I can get.
- You have a brilliant robot, with incredible technological capabilities and true artificial intelligence, and when he doesn't work out as a cop, you give him a job a fucking Roomba could do? Christ.
- I know the MX models are soulless automatons, but is anyone kind of creeped out how Almost Human keeps killing police officers, even robot ones, for comedic effect?
- The show had DRN have flashing yellow lights in his head instead of Dorian's blue lights, but Ealy does such a damn good job playing both characters I don't think they were needed. I could always tell which was which.
- Apparently Bitcoin exists in the future. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
- Kennex and the DRN should be murder pals!
- John Larroquette guest-stars as the creator of the DRNs in the next episode, which airs on January 6th. Larroquette's always fun, so hopefully that goes well. See you then!