There are no cliffhangers or surprises in the Almost Human season 1 finale, yet J.H. Wyman’s futuristic drama continues to deliver thoroughly enjoyable, episodic adventures to the end. The question now: Is it enough to garner a season 2?
In this week’s finale, “Straw Man,” written by co-executive producers Alison Schapker and Graham Roland, Kennex (Karl Urban) and Dorian (Michael Ealy) stumble upon a string of murders which copy that of a serial killer Kennex’s father put away. As Kennex digs further into his father’s case files, he finds out that an innocent man may have been wrongly put behind bars. Elsewhere, Dorian receives a performance evaluation – one which could lead to him being decommissioned.
Chances are, unless you’ve been following the episodic descriptions of the series week-to-week, it’s highly unlikely you would have intuited that this is the season 1 finale. This unfortunate conundrum, as well as the overall absence of any actual thru story-arc, continues to weigh the series down, making it impossible for the franchise to stand on its own. Though the mysterious death of Kennex’s father is, if anything, a starting point.
There is, or was, a proverbial enemy within the police precinct and Kennex’s father paid the price for digging too deep. Kennex himself searches for answers and finds them, which leads to his father being exonerated for the crimes he’s been accused of committing. Any of this season’s futuristic tales could have been used to serve this purpose, as Kennex’s father (like girlfriend) is barely mentioned, and one could make the case that many of the series’ previous tales would have been better suited to do so.
The story at hand is, as always, fascinating to watch unfold, yet the conclusion is exceedingly simple and far less poignant than most of the cases we’ve seen along the way. Like audiences have been doing from the beginning, it now feels as if producers are finding it exceedingly difficult to explain why the series should continue on, and their haphazard attempt at presenting a tale which is directly connected to its lead actor serves to only reveal other issues.
Urban’s weakness has finally been revealed: emotions. Give him a gun, badge and reason to fight the good fight and Urban can deliver a performance which turns other 8pm series into a joke. Force him to emote, however, as this finale does, and machismo sets in, preventing him from being able to realistically immerse himself in the emotions the scenes require of him.
Even so, Urban and Ealy, together, are a force to be reckoned with, and the supporting characters are able to make up for some of the heart that’s missing in the series. Whether or not it’s enough for them to receive a second-chance season 2, so to speak, is still too early to tell.
Almost Human, while flawed, has proven that futuristic tales with exceptionally talented actors can exist in a time slot typically used for more family friendly entertainment, and it did so without the budget Terra Nova had. Fox is still one of the most tightly-scheduled networks, and they have few spot available to fill with programming. Chances are Almost Human is done – but if not, a Friday night timeslot might do this series well. Just don't change the name to "Almost Human: Uprising".
Almost Human season 1 aired from November 17, 2013 – March 3, 2014 on Fox.
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