With a one-two punch, J.H. Wyman’s new series, Almost Human, is effortlessly stealing the thunder of all the new fall shows that came before it. In the second installment of Fox’s two-day premiere event, Dorian (Michael Ealy) takes us on a fascinating journey through beauty and tragedy in the near-future, breathing more life and spirit into television’s new favorite synthetic.
In this week’s episode, ‘Skin,’ written by Southland writer and producer Cheo Hodari Coker, a surprisingly complicated tale is weaved through the underbelly of society’s sex bot trade when the most famous inventor of romantic companions is found dead.
And because Whyman and Coker decided to prove that 60 minutes is rarely used to its fullest on network television, or that all the awe-inspiring technology and advancements in weaponry and toys isn’t enough to keep us entertained, the futuristic tale of the mechanized working girl is masterfully transformed into a powerful and heartbreaking conversation about mortality and legacy.
Coming off of the much-talked-about, much-loved series premiere, all eyes are on what may be J. H. Wyman’s opus in its second episode, to see whether or not the impressive size and scale introduced in the pilot can be consistently repeated without sacrificing the plot, or worse, its two acting juggernauts, Urban and Elle.
Even so, no one could have – or should have, thanks to the unreliability of network television – expected Almost Human to push aside any interest in simply maintaining their (already elevated) status quo and, instead, raise the bar on itself – which it cleared and them some.
Wrapped in the artificial elegance of synthetic companionship, an earnest question about mortality and “being remembered” is posed by Dorian, which brilliantly (and every so sneakily) inserts the one thing the show was missing but audiences haven’t had the time to notice: heart.
As Dorian’s quest for meaning – or the knowledge of it, at least – continues, both he and Kennex (Urban) are able to slowly their layers of humanity through conversation and situation, now giving viewers a good look at the heart (as well as the imagination) that’s driving Fox’s new primetime darling.
In two nights – two episodes, really – Almost Human has already gone above and beyond what is truly (perhaps unfortunately) required of a new series to succeed on network television; it would have been safe if it were to simply stand as a sci-fi police drama – for a few seasons, at least.
Instead, Wyman appears to pull out all the stops in his new series, making sure to build a solid foundation from which a strong series can be built upon for years to come. But can Almost Human be that perfect? The answer, as it turns out, depends on how far you look ahead.
Right now, Almost Human has proved its concept and proved that it has heart. What’s next is for Kennex’s “team” – Maldonado (Lili Taylor), Stahl (Minka Kelly) and Lom (Mackenzie Crook) – to be required to step out from the confines of the bullpen, come together and rely on each other while in action, in order prove their worth as a group.
But of course, if you’ve already watched the preview of this season of Almost Human, you know that’s exactly what’s going to happen down the line.
Almost Human returns next Monday with ‘Are You Receiving’ @8pm on Fox. You can check out a preview of this season below: