The cable guide said “Straw Man” was Almost Human’s season finale, but could it be the series finale? It was one of the series’ better episodes, but in what really matters (the ratings), it was down.
“Straw Man” was surprising (somewhat), tight (by Almost Human standards), and satisfying (more or less).
Surprising: Detective Paul returned, after a 2-3 episode absence, and wasn’t obnoxious. In fact, while undercover, he was downright nice and considerate to a young homeless man.
Surprising: A wheelchair-bound man named Glen who saved a homeless girl from unwanted advances, turned out to be not only ambulatory, but also the real Bad Guy. Oh, and he was turning himself into a cyborg. That was an unexpected turn, too.
The episode gave us our best view into the more vulnerable and human side of John Kennex. A series of killings from 10 years earlier, which had been investigated and solved by Edward Kennex, John’s father, resurfaces.
The arrest and conviction of the killer had been the high point of Edward Kennex’s career. However, he’d begun to have doubts that the convicted man was the actual killer. In reviewing his father’s files, John discovered (with Rudy and Dorian’s help) the recovered bodies were not human, but rather a copy from an “organic printer.” They realized the current and the 10-year-old “murders” were the work of the same person. (“Murders” is in quotes because the most recent victims were recovered alive. The bodies from 10 years ago? Not so lucky.)
“Straw Man” reminded me of the excellent Law & Order episode, “Trophy,” from the Jerry Orbach/Benjamin Bratt days. In it, someone was killing young boys in the style of a serial murderer from years prior. The killer in the earlier case had been caught and imprisoned, so the new murders were thought to be that of a copycat. In the course of their investigation, though, the police discovered all the murders had been committed by the same person. The scene when Briscoe and Curtis realized this was particularly chilling.
Almost Human’s reveal didn’t feel quite as powerful, but that’s probably because I’d seen this scenario played out before.
The scope of the killings turned out to be larger than a man experimenting with biotech in order to prolong his life. It all connected to a case of crooked cops and robotics stolen from the police evidence locker that Edward Kennex was investigating. In other words, it was the reason John’s father was killed. In typical Almost Human fashion, this scenario could have been part of an intriguing longer-term story, but was instead wrapped up neatly (or conveniently), if not completely satisfying.
The episode ended with a bonding moment between John and Dorian. Thankful for Kennex’s glowing input to Dorian’s performance evaluation (“He flipped a van once. Pretty cool”), Dorian presents him with a present. The gift is shaped like a leg and wrapped in gift paper (with bow). John: “Wow. I wonder what it is.” Dorian: “It’s a leg.” Ha! It’s not just any leg, but a state-of-the-art super-bionic leg, not even on the market yet. (See, there are some advantages to rooming with Rudy.) And in a lovely, human way, John actually appreciated the gift.
It was a nice ending, whether for the season or the series. While Almost Human has been a bit of a disappointment, I wouldn’t mind it being renewed for a second season. If it is, perhaps J.H. Wyman can use the off-time to tighten up the series. Like, say, hire new writers.
Technology of the week: the organic printer. But really, is a cupcake organic?
Oh, and Happy Birthday, Rudy!