After last week’s two-night premiere event, all eyes are on Almost Human for their next installment, to see if the new series can maintain the high bar it set for itself. Thankfully, 2048 appears to be alive and well on Fox, as this week’s episode, “Are You Receiving?”, reveals that J. H. Wyman’s futuristic tale has no intentions of slowing down. (But will it?)
In this Dredd-esque adventure - written by former Fringe writer Justin Doble - a shape-shifting twist on the familiar game of cops and robbers forces Kennex (Karl Urban) and Dorian (Michael Ealy) to combine their powers with the LAPD “home team” – Maldonado (Lili Taylor) and Stahl (Minka Kelly) – in order to save many hostages from a promised execution. When what’s thought to be an attack by the Holy Reclamation Army turns into case of mistaken identity, Kennex and Dorian must figure out what the real target is – and fast.
If the Almost Human series premiere helped sell the concept, then the second episode helped solidify the partnership between Kennex and Dorian. Now, in episode 3, an earnest justification for Reginald’s expanded team at the LAPD is provided - and with it, Fox has unequivocally secured itself a hit series for the foreseeable future, further putting more pressure on the other networks, which have far more scheduling options available to them.
As Kennex and Dorian slowly ascend the building’s (almost) empty levels, in (almost) constant communication with Maldonado and Stahl, to their inevitable showdown with the hostage takers, the series, as well as everyone watching, is able to briefly pause and assess the show in its true form. In many ways, AH has surprisingly been able to crack the impossible code of bringing a big-screen adventure to network television – a code which Fox unfortunately got wrong with Terra Nova. Still, Almost Human is network television series through and through, and it (slightly) shows.
For every beautifully shot piece of advanced technology, there’s also - at times - a slightly-blurred CGI background which appears to be just out of grasp of the series’ television budget. Such slights are almost impossible to detect, however, which is a testament to how the series’ writers and producers are able to use their imagination and creativity to sidestep the complications that arise from working within a medium with so many limitations. The only question now is: What’s next?
In this episode, Maldonado and Stahl finally received the justification that they, as well as the series, needed in order to step above and beyond what previous buddy cop tales have instilled in viewing audiences. What started off as just a partnership between Kennex and Dorian has since evolved to include the two team members who appear to have a mobility issue, thus accomplishing the seemingly impossible task of creating an earnest team in a world where everything is more fascinating than teamwork – something that ABC's 8pm counterpart, Agents of Shield, is still attempting to perfect now, in episode 9.
For all intents and purposes, Almost Human is a network show of such quality that, as each episode passes, it becomes more and more difficult to ignore the pessimism that a lot of viewers are saddled with as they navigate television’s vast landscape of many generic and/or poorly-realized “gotcha” tales, while maintaining some semblance of sanity.
Now three episodes in, the chances that next week’s episode will disappoint are statistically high, as a network show can only be so good, right? Of course, if J. H. Wyman’s follow-up to Fringe has taught us anything, it’s that statistics are a thing of the past, and this series is, if anything, an anomaly, both in-front-of and behind the camera. And even if it wasn't, Karl Urban and Michael Ealy surly are.
Almost Human returns next Monday with "The Bends." @8pm. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below: