It may not be the Almost Human mid-season finale that many fans had hoped for, but it sure is a strong end-of-the-year finish, nevertheless. With two DRNs (Michael Elay), an annoyed Kennex (Karl Urban) and a never-before-seen crime, creator J.H. Wyman is tempting audiences to tune in next year, to find out the full story behind a certain Detective’s mysterious ex-girlfriend. The question now is: will you?
In this week’s episode, “Arrhythmia,” written by Alison Schapker (Fringe, Alias), Kennex and Dorian take on a case of a man who somehow knew the exact time of his own death, which leads television’s new duo into the highly-evolved world of black market organs. As the source of the bio-mechanical organs begins to be revealed - and Dorian’s new friend, DRN 494, rejects a return to service - it’s a rush to find out who, exactly, is behind all of these transplants before the rest of their clientele is “switched off”, once and for all.
For a series filled with as many hidden gems (read: actors) from the big screen, it can’t be easy to highlight a character story without sacrificing the overall quality, or pacing, of whatever the task is at hand; and it’s almost impossible to do it without introducing new characters that would likely have to return, at some point. So what Almost Human pulled off by doubling Michael Elay is quite ingenious; how they pulled it off – both visually as well as logically – is even more so.
Both Kennex and Dorian haven’t really evolved all that much from the beginning. Their ability to work as a team, however, has, and yet the series still relies on Dorian carry much of weight, as far character development goes, to push Kennex (or himself) in to revealing more about the man (or machine) we now watch each week. In this episode, Dorian finds a like-minded friend in DRN 494, so now many of the internal conversations that Dorian would merely have in his own mechanized mind are now presented outward, to himself, or at least a version that could have been, if things would have been different.
Synthetic or not, Dorian truly is the heart and soul of this series and, as the series title suggest, is the only one looking inward, as well as outward, to better understand his place in a world filled with humans who, while being able to feel and emote, largely do anything but. Still, much of Dorian’s way of thinking can be considered idealistic, and in world where anything is but ideal, there are some harsh truths that he must come to terms with. Dorian’s earnest intent in reviving a decommissioned DRN allowed him to connect with an alternative version of himself, to see that, though intent is everything – even in saving a little boy’s life – the rules and laws that are put upon synthetics can quickly result in the loss of the life he was built for, and which he’s interested in pursuing more of.
The story of this week’s episode, too, built the series up even more. Though we’ve see a few instances of futuristic crimes in past episodes, this is the first one that felt as if it could have supported a feature-length runtime, and it’s a terrific example of how creative minds can use a television budget to continuously create familiar, yet unique, futuristic tales with striking visual effects. After all the wondering of what may come from the airing of Almost Human’s missing episodes (2, 3 & 4), it now appears to be more calculation-based than anything conspiracy-related.
“Arrhythmia” may very well be the sixth episode to air, but it is actually the third episode to be film and perhaps the series’ strongest episode yet. Whether it be because of the additional visual effects needing more time, or J.H. Wyman’s calculated scheduling of episodes - or both - the mysterious case of missing episodes has all but come to end. It’s now very unlikely that episodes 2 and 4 are being hidden away because of issues relating quality, but because the series’ is not yet ready to delve into the weighty story of Kennex and his ex-girlfriend.
Next month Almost Human will take part in some confusing scheduling shenanigans, thanks to Fox, and will have to wait-out the Sleepy Hollow season 1 finale and The Following season 2 premiere before making a full return to the air. With another 2-week hiatus in the cards for Fox’s new series in late-January, it’s likely that Kennex’s forgotten tale will return to help ease the new series through a challenging obstacle that can’t simply be dismissed by citing the holiday season. Whether or not audiences will around to stick around until then is another question – one that unfortunately won’t be answered until February.
_____Almost Human returns Monday, January 6, 2014 @8pm on FOX for a 2-week run, then returns again on February 3.