Almost Human review: Beholder.

Previously on Almost Human: Disrupt.

It’s a long story.

And I want to hear that story. Stop underwriting Stahl! Seriously, it’s such a shame. This show is wasting numerous opportunities. It’s all well and good to tease at a character’s backstory, and to reveal it slowly, but it’s a bad idea when it could replace an otherwise mediocre and lacklustre storyline. Or, more importantly, John’s manpain.

Episode ordering issues and underwritten characters

Honestly, why do we still have to deal with this? John seemed to be doing so well a couple of weeks ago. It’s understandable that Eric’s words would resonate with him, but I’m done with seeing him mope for an entire season. He could have gone and had that drink with Dorian, the show could portray him trying to get better, trying to connect. But no, what we see is brooding and pain and Dorian trying to raise John from the depths even though the man is so, so far away from pulling his own weight.

I’m also miffed because a lot of the pain in the last scene stems from Valerie going out with another guy — another Chrome. There’s the crux of the thing: there’s a tier above the humans, that it’s not just humans distancing themselves from the droids. It’s engineered humans distancing themselves from the mere mortals, being human itself isn’t the benchmark anymore — at least for the rich kids. That dilemma is all well and good, except that the show is starting to smack up upper class SciFi. Where are the poor, the ones who can’t afford all that progress? So far, we’ve only seen the shiny, the lavish, the sophisticated. Where are the desperate, the paupers, the ones who can’t afford medical procedures because the cost is still too high even though technology in medicine has advanced so far? Are they all hidden beyond the Wall? That mysterious construct that everyone seems to know and just take for granted, the thing that Dorian hasn’t yet protested against, even though the implications surrounding it being mentioned smack of social disparity and selection?

So, apart from the fact that any sort of romance between Kennex and Stahl has been based solely in the boy meets girl trope, that bit at the end also highlighted the severe holes in what could have been a compelling narrative asking a lot of questions.

John being attacked by a suspect

The question is raised whether Almost Human will return

There’s only one episode left in this season, until the question has to be asked whether Almost Human will be renewed for another round, and so far neither the producers nor the network have done themselves a whole lot of favours. FOX has screwed with the narrative and the characters by rearranging the episodes willy-nilly, and the writers have consistently scrambled great opportunities for great Science Fiction.

Dorian and John, arguably the most important characters on the show, who need the best material to work with they can get, were underserved in this episode as well. The writers are running in circles, with Dorian doing something to annoy John, John grouching about technology, Dorian reminding him that, hello, your leg is science, man, and then John grudgingly admitting that progress is good and being vaguely adorable towards Dorian, who’s obviously pretty smitten with his partner.

As much as I love the two of them, and as much fun as it is watching Karl Urban and Michael Ealy play off each other, even that routine can get boring, if there aren’t enough moments that stimulate growth and character development.

Eric Lathem, the killer of the week

The case of the week, revolving around a man killing people in order to achieve perfection of beauty before meeting the woman of his dreams… I appreciate the gender constellation here, I do. On many other shows, it might have been the other way around. But still the story didn’t ask any questions about beauty, not really. It put the suggestion out there by featuring Chromes and lots of pretty faces, but that’s not enough, not when this reticence is becoming a pattern with the show as such.

Next: Straw Man, the season finale.

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