It’s true! After complaining about the show’s sameness last week, “Beholder” (112) broke a few of the rules. It also gave us a few surprises and something serious to think about along the way.
The initial sparring between John Kennex and Dorian is actually funny. I laughed out loud—several times. Dorian answers John’s phone, plays oblivious, and tells the caller John is gesturing that he doesn’t want to talk to her. Dorian coins the term “holo-block.” When John contemplates “Whatever happened to two people sharing a meal and connecting, you know?” Dorian responds “I do.” “You wouldn’t know!” (See, this is funny because Dorian doesn’t eat. ) The exchange plays on the great chemistry and timing between Karl Urban and Michael Ealy. Even Capt. Maldonado gets in on the quips, telling Detective Stahl she keeps John around because “I lost a bet.”
A couple weeks ago, we learned Valerie Stahl is a “chrome,” a woman genetically engineered for beauty, intelligence, and any other desirable trait. Police work is deemed beneath the dignity of chromes and Valerie hasn’t moved in chrome circles in a while. She says cryptically hers is “a long story.” I think I’m supposed to care, but I don’t.
This week we get more information about the chrome world, but it’s rather unsettling. It reeks of prejudice and exclusivity. The fact that Valerie begins to reconnect with her kind is presented more as a stumbling block to her hooking up with John Kennex than any deep-seeded personal issue she might have.
But the story this week isn’t really about chromes, it’s about beauty and love, and how we sometimes think the two are connected.
Someone is killing attractive people, although I don’t fine the “beautiful” victims any more attractive than the rest of the cast. But that’s Hollywood, where even the most plain of Janes is, in reality, a beauty. (Example: Jim Rash, Oscar winner and Dean Pelton on Community, is @RashisTVUgly on Twitter)
Rudy’s upset he wasn’t immediately notified of the beauty killings because he believes he is a prime candidate. Ah, Rudy. At least this week his idiosyncrasy isn’t about sex fetishes. But Rudy’s not here just for laughs. He puts John and Dorian on the right path of the killer’s motives, introducing us to “nanbots” that can perform targeted plastic surgery. (It reminds me a little of the “nanites” on last week’s Intelligence that caused death. The moral? Beware of anything nan-ish.)
The mystery isn’t who’s doing the killing, but why. The killer is obsessed with beauty and he’ll go to any lengths to obtain his perfect face. He was a plastic surgery junkie even before he volunteered for the failed nanbot plastic surgery trials. The trials left him severely disfigured, so now he’s trying to reconstruct his ideal face. Except he’s using the same technology that caused his disfigurement in the first place. Huh?
There are holes in the story, as is usually the case with Almost Human. The donors in the nanbot plastic surgery trials died, and the subjects, like our villain Eric, severely disfigured. Now that nonbot surgery is off the tables (legally), the donors are still dying, yet Eric is trying to undo the damage with the very same procedure that caused the disfigurement.
And while were discussing things that don’t make sense, why would Eric go through all that effort to achieve his perfect face and not do anything about his whack hair?
Eric’s motivation for killing nine people? He wants to impress a woman he’s been corresponding with online. But when they finally do meet, it turns out she’s blind. Perhaps it’s a heavy-handed moral, but it’s a twist I did not see coming.
Yet in the end, Eric still thinks love and beauty are the same thing. They’re not, and Eric’s end is fitting.
In the other end, Valerie connects with a fellow chrome, leaving John alone to ponder… life? fairness? Whatever it is, it’s a nice representation of the softer side of John Kennex.
Technology of the Week: Dicarlo’s exosuit. Everyone’s surprised when Kennex knocks a woman out for no reason, but she turns out to be a sort of robot, with a small person (the highly enjoyable Dicarlo, played by Tony Cox) inside. Runner-up: Dorian’s defibrillator app.
Next week is Almost Human‘s season finale. What? Did they plan on a 13-episode season all along, like Sleepy Hollow? The story telling doesn’t support it. There’s been no build-up arc. What about Insyndicate? John Larroquette? The Wall? Will the series get a second season? Perhaps it’s going offline to fix some of the shows flaws. It has potential, it just hasn’t achieved it yet.