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Almost Human 1×12 “Beholder” Recap

We’ve reached the likely penultimate episode of Almost Human, when we can assume J.H. Wyman and FOX are pulling out all the stops to get this show renewed for season 2.

Assuming is always foolish, since “Beholder” is exactly like the previous 11 episodes I’ve unfortunately wasted my life on, as we receive a mostly mind-numbing procedural case of the week story, recycling many of the same elements we’ve seen on ALMOST HUMAN since it started in November. Surprisingly, there were some promising story developments and a couple good scenes (!), as well as THREE mentions of the mysterious wall (that’s three drinks, for those playing along at home), but it didn’t prevent me from laughing uncontrollably into the couch at how stupid it was the rest of the time.

We’re nearing the end of my weekly observations on this show, and its perpetually insulted intro. This week, I take a look at the first shot of the title sequence:

While it’s likely just a continuation of the monorail or elevated train tracks (a la BATMAN BEGINS), it almost appears like there is some sort of wall to the northwest of this nameless city that Kennex, Dorian and company toil in (as far as I know, we still don’t have a name for it; how stupid is that?). Is this the mysterious wall that was invented from thin air a few episodes previous? Considering the city beyond it looks just as purdy as the rest of it, and the wall hardly surrounds the entire downtown, I’m just grasping at straws here, desperate for some sort of answers.

As the intro states, the “police are not prepared” for this dark, vague, stereotype filled BLADE RUNNER-esque future, and neither was the audience, let alone the writers.

We open on a Patrick Batman/Norman Bates hybrid look-alike, playing future golf at his home, on his VR driving range, as one does in 2048. Despite his psycho look, he’s clearly the victim here, and gets accosted by a heavily bandaged (and hooded) gentleman, slurping out some vivid blue liquid from the guy’s neck through a syringe or something, leaving the posh golfer dead.

At the only precinct in the future, Samantha calls, looking for John. Kennex is uninterested in the call, perhaps because WHO THE F*CK is Samantha? There was a Sam on the British BEING HUMAN, but that crossover isn’t happening. Apparently Kennex went on a date with this Samantha the night previously, and she invited holograms of her family along for the ride, a clear no-no. Dorian answers the phone and explains that Kennex didn’t want to talk to her, blowing up his spot, breaking the bro code, something Kennex actually says. Samantha holo-blocked him, after all. Then, Valerie arrives; you can tell she’s Kennex’s true love interest by the way that she exists and is Minka Kelly. By the way, random observation: I think you could count the number of times that Valerie ISN’T wearing a brown or dull or puke like color on this show on one hand. Why are they trying so hard to mute Kelly’s looks? Perhaps because she’s ashamed of her Chrome-like origins, and wants to mute her own beauty? I think that’s giving ALMOST HUMAN writers too much credit, but let’s pretend that’s the reason she’s stuck wearing poop colors all the time.

Anyways, Valerie has a case for Kennex, because she couldn’t possibly solve anything without their help. Even a Chrome woman is no match for a flawed man and his flawed robot. A Chrome woman is more like Internet Explorer. At least that’s what it feels like, when Val literally walks over, and reveals that a Chrome has likely been murdered, and needs Kennex to investigate. The Chrome was deemed of dying from natural causes, but Chrome’s don’t die young…so Val knows something up. When Kennex and Dorian get to the body, they find the minuscule puncture mark, proving her suspicions correct. The weird part? The killer has 7 different DNA strands, apparently. Are we looking at a serial killer?!

Who cares, but yes. The bandaged man is played by ubiquitous villain Michael Eklund (ARROW, THE CALL, ALCATRAZ), who’s always a good choice to play a creep, but when said creep is obsessed with his looks and wants to create the perfect face, and that perfect face turns out to be Michael Eklund’s, an actor hired precisely because his face is so…villainous, the believability of that scenario is a little strained.

So of course, Eric (Eklund), goes to a dingy technical warehouse where a greasy man in a lab coat is doing god knows what, and demands another injection. To speed things up: the doctor used to work for a medical corporation that used nanobots to replicate body parts on other patients. Unfortunately, the procedure stopped patient’s hearts, giving them Arrhythmia, and leaving the beauty seekers to look like versions of the Toxic Avenger. The experiment was scrapped, of course, but the aforementioned doctor continues practicing without his license (a trope they’ve used at least 3-4 times on this show), and is working to repair the damage he caused on Eric’s face. He’s doing so against his will, apparently, but this show has little room for more than one layer or wrinkle at once.

The man who abhors wrinkles, Eric, apparently has killed 7 people (thus, 7 people’s DNA), grabbing perfect body parts in the process; considering how messed up his face still is, you wonder what it is these 7 people unwittingly donated.

 

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Let’s move onto Valerie, who believe it or not, actually gets character development and something to do this episode. It’s too little, too late, but she goes to a Electus, a private Chrome Club, to get some insight into the murder investigation. There’s none to be found, but the point of her visit becomes dropped immediately, because she has to deal with guff from a Chrome bitch, who sneers at her decision to be a police officer. Val: “I’m proud to be a police officer…whenever I stop a bad guy…”; unfortunately, this show makes us believe that she’s never stopped a bad guy, or has maybe once, so I couldn’t help but snort at her retort. Regardless, Val makes mincemeat of the snooty blonde, showing serious ‘tude in the process, and it was the best Minka Kelly has been on the show, ever. Where has this  been? Unsurprisingly, she gets spotted by the owner, a stupidly handsome man named Chad or something, who eye boinks her several times throughout this episode, and is casually thrown as a romantic obstacle for Kennex, keen timing for a show on its second to last episode.

One of the dumbest, most unintentional hilarious parts of this episode, comes when Chad and Val are talking about unique Chrome jobs. Chad’s brother is a sculptor (shock!), and his instrument? “You ever heard of a Chainsaw?” The way he asks the question, it’s as if chainsaws are a relic of the past, long forgotten, displayed in museums with descriptions only hazarding guesses at their true purpose. Or his brother is Ash from Evil Dead.

En route to Rudy, who is taking a look at holographic recreations of the dead bodies (okay, cool), Dorian mentions that there have been 756 murders over the past year. This is another indication that either ALMOST HUMAN writers have no concept of accurate statistics and population, or the city/civilization WITHIN the wall is super tiny, a hypothesis I first made in “Simon Says,” thanks to a sad number of people that use the Internet in the future. Or cops and law enforcement are really good in the future. Pause. BWAHAHAHAHA. That’s a laughable premise if you’ve watched any episode of this show, or listened to the oft-quoted intro, in which the lady repeatedly states: “police are not prepared.”

Rudy’s upset that Kennex and Dorian didn’t let him know that there was a beauty killer on the loose, because he’s clearly a target. It’s hilarious; Rudy’s humor is the weirdest. It was clearly a joke, but I was hoping Rudy’s “Rotschild” nose became an object of Eric’s desire, and that Rudy would be in the cross-hairs, but alas, this show isn’t that clever. At the end of this scene, Rudy exclaims the point of the crime and episode: “This is about nanobot plastic surgery!” and surely anyone not watching this episode for work purposes flipped the channel at that pathetic/goofy act break.

That’s when Kennex and Dorian investigate the aforementioned medical company, another ALMOST HUMAN staple. Meanwhile, they use something called “facial rec” to track the killer. In the future, recognition is entirely too many syllables, and facial rec sounds so much cooler anyways. NEW DRINKING GAME RULE: Drink any time someone says “facial rec.” Weirdly enough, they seem to have located the killer, but it takes them another 15 minutes to find him find him, after he’s killed another, a woman with gorgeous green eyes.

Val finds the fresh body, and it’s near the wall (drink)! On the way, Dorian points out Urban’s flaws; apparently he snores, knowledge Dorian uncovered through conversations with Kennex’s “smartbed.” Really show? Really? I’d like to have a conversation with their smartwriters.

Oh, Valerie forgot that Chromes were people too; that’s how much she hates her origins. As always, she just needed a cute guy to like her to discover this inner truth about herself and her “people.” Ugh.

So, because they only ID’d the killer, and don’t know where he’s having his nanobot surgeries (even though they totally found him on a surveillance cam earlier), Kennex and Dorian go to a robot fight club to add more quirk to the proceedings. There, Kennex punches a large woman in the face, and out pops Tony Cox from Bad Santa. Naturally, the woman was just an exo-suit for the little person. WHAT?! Anyways, meet DeCarlo, one of those “contacts” who “knows things” and points them to the plastic surgeon’s den of dastardly deeds. There’s no reason for this whole sequence to exist, but I can’t lie, it reminded me of the effects of psychotropic drugs. Kennex even threatens to throw DeCarlo over the wall (drink!).

After one of the most pitiful “Oh no’s” ever uttered by a one-note villain, the Doctor somehow kicks Kennex’s ass, Kennex forgetting that if he KICKED back, the doctor would likely land in about 17 pieces (probably scattered across the wall), as he has the most powerful leg this side of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Instead, Dorian saves his ass again.

At one point in the episode, I made a comment about the ridiculous spinning 3-D faces of the victims and Eric, and apparently, that was the connection all along. These people all got their ID’s updated, and are in the same DMV district! Thrilling stuff, and it’s how Eric found potential organs to harvest/replicate. Lesson: it’s always the DMV’s fault.

Eric spies on Judy with “Crimson & Clover” playing in the background. It’s super bizarre. He then gets his creepy on further, through the most boring online conversation with Judy, the woman he’s perfecting himself for, and watching. It’s an embarrassing sequence: there’s a line in the convo about meeting “face to face,” (CLEVER!) and at one point, an alert blinks on the bottom of his screen, warning Eric that the “Nanobot Investigation Progresses.” Convenient. This is about when I lost it, laughing into the couch cushions for a solid 30 seconds.

Then, shocking me completely, the best scene of the episode happens: Eric surprises Judy by stomping into her apartment. You’d think she’d be freaked out and terrified, but…she’s blind, not only to you know, seeing things, but to common stalker techniques too. It’s actually a heartbreaking, sad, kinda beautiful moment, and I didn’t even care about them. Eric tried to perfect himself for her, and she would never have been able to see his face, and his appearance mattered little to her. He was an awful, evil, serial murderer psychopath for NO REASON. When the cops stampede in, Eric jumps off the building. Poor Judy.

We all just want to be loved, is the point of this episode, or something approaching one (and beauty is in the eye of the…”Beholder”), and so Kennex asks Val out for a beer. She was just heading to the exact bar he invited her to (yay!)… with Chrome Club douche (nay!) who stole her poop colored vest, and perhaps her heart. Wah wah.

With an episode that did nothing to prepare us for the finale, I have no concept of what we’re going to get from this show next week. Considering FOX has aired the episodes out of order… have we already seen the finale?

GRADE: B-