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Almost Human – Recap: Don’t Scan My Testicles!

Almost Human continued its two-part series premiere tonight with a follow-up to the pilot that worked off of the age-old angle that sex sells, even if it’s synthetic sex.

Episode 2 of the series premiere of Almost Human, “Skin,” featured a case surrounding sexbots, and I just added that term, “sexbot,” to my Mac’s dictionary. I’m covering a show that takes place in 2048, after all. I need to get with the times. This is a dystopian feature complete with androids infused with human DNA, evidence wiping flash bombs, and, as usual for any time period containing the human race, a heaping dose of bigotry. It’s sort of strange to sympathize with Dorian (Michael Ealy), the emotional and warm DRN android, along with a cast of intelligent officers, all of whom seem to treat MX robots like walking heaps of junk until they need a wingman, another gun firing alongside their own, or, well, sex with a hottie. Still, the partnership of Dorian and John Kennex (Karl Urban) drives the show, and part of what makes Almost Human fun is that John hates machines and views Dorian merely as a stellar exception. For a show that is so grounded in the concept of technology-based crime, there seems to be plenty of heart to go around, human or otherwise. Here is the Recap and Review of Season 1 Episode 2 of Almost Human, the series premiere, “Skin”!

Episode 2 opened with the oddest pay-for-sex scene I’ve ever witnessed on my television screen. Of course, this was no ordinary sexbot prostitute type of a situation. Sebastian Jones was a man with a plan, swiping as much information off of the bot’s anatomy as he could before a group of thugs swooped in, shot him dead, and erased any trace of DNA from the room with a nifty new piece of technology, a flash bomb that erases that sort of pesky incriminating data from any crime scene. Throw in an invisible mask that renders the wearer’s face untraceable on camera, and things truly got sticky. Here’s the thing. This is the not-so-distant future, yet it seems pretty far off to me. Meaning, Almost Human can do whatever it wants because it can make any technology it needs these characters to use to move forward with the plot. The MX bots can do basically anything as it is. This additional technology makes me wonder how there is even still a police force to begin with.

Much of Episode 2 centered on John’s lack of a personal life. Dorian initially poked fun at the man’s “negative energy,” the kind of bad vibes that scare off little kids and kitty cats. John is the kind of cop who thinks stabbing his own synthetic leg as a gag is the best way to make a kid smile. Still, he has a certain charm about him that bred a bit of hope in Dorian, who spent a portion of “Skin” off screen setting up a dating site profile for John. At one point, the DRN even pointed out John’s utter lack of a sex life in a conversation that ended with these lines from John:

You’re scanning my balls? Don’t scan my testicles! Ever again.

Oh, Friends!

After assessing the hotel crime scene, watching some surveillance footage of the sexbot leaving the scene with Sebastian’s killers, and sifting through some of the fallen man’s belongings, the partners eventually made their way over to an actual sexbot showroom run by Sebastian’s partner. This partner, who’d been suing Sebastian for intellectual property rights, wasn’t of too much use to Dorian and John, mostly out of fear of putting himself in jeopardy. In fact, Dorian seemed more concerned with John’s rising heart rate as he stood surrounded by beautiful synthetic women. Is it strange that I feel uncomfortable using the word “synthetic” considering the fact that Dorian has made such a stink about labeling the word as an android slur? I’ll discontinue it. The robot rights movement begins now! Sebastian’s partner did inform John and Dorian of the reason why such a talented artist as Sebastian had managed to go bankrupt, though. Their largest client, a group of Albanians, pulled out of their deal in favor of creating their own products. This, needless to say, tipped the dynamic duo off to the next possible culprit in the crime against Sebastian.

Fox "Almost Human"

Fox “Almost Human”

Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) popped up throughout Episode 2 with super helpful bits of information. Like I said prior, this is a show where anyone can do anything because it’s a dystopian futuristic society with a side of comedy. Valerie filled John in on her discovery that the sexbot Sebastian had been analyzing, the one who was subsequently swept away, had left human DNA as she was rushed from the hotel property. The DNA, in turn, matched that of a missing woman. Around this point, we witnessed another abduction. This time, a young mother was kidnapped right in front of her little son, giving John the perfect opportunity to test his skills with kids down at the precinct. Dorian watched on judgmentally as John pretty much nailed questioning the little boy. Of course, bribing him with a living toy giraffe didn’t hurt matters at all. See, Almost Human can give us anything! The boy managed to remember that the pair of scummy men who’d stolen his mommy had driven a big silver car, a vehicle that Dorian subsequently began tracing the moment he caught wind.

This group of Albanians ran a nightclub in the city. Yuri, the man in charge, welcomed John and Dorian with obvious disdain open arms as their men tested the bots in the club for human DNA. They’d come up short, but as viewers who were privy to the guilty parties at work, we knew it’d only be a matter of time before something popped up. Valerie, piecing together that a silver vehicle matching the description given by the boy, had been scrambling its license plate data at every given security checkpoint, essentially pinpointed the criminals they were looking for. Jeez, what a dead giveaway. They were better off with good ol’ stolen plates!

Fox "Almost Human"

Fox “Almost Human”

This is where things really started to get interesting in Episode 2. The police force managed to take in those accused of abducting these women and killing Sebastian, yet they would say nothing. Vanessa, a sexbot whose skin was clearly made from human DNA, would do her best to help. The bots are all incredibly lifelike, but some are modeled to more closely resemble humans, such as Dorian and most sexbots. Vanessa was programmed to form bonds and nurture those connections, so John’s cold interrogation of her did nothing but unnerve Dorian. John talks to androids like they’re mere computers, nothing more that expensive scraps of metal and faux flesh that speak english. For example, he didn’t think to ask Vanessa where she was born. Instead, he’d ask her about where she was made or who created her. Dorian, however, was able to make an emotional connection with Vanessa quite effortlessly, eventually leading her to divulge information further incriminating this Yuri character.

As the events of the episode had continued to transpire, Dorian and John had also managed to discover the body of the sexbot from the opening scene. The android, however, had been stripped of her skin entirely, leading John and Dorian to deduce that this team of sexbot creators was specifically harvesting female human skin to create more lifelike products. Vanessa, who’d been taken into the station most likely just before she could be terminated as well, then proved to be further useful. Dorian recognized a specific glitch in this particular model of sexbot. This was, essentially, the reason many of them were discontinued to begin with. As it turned out, Vanessa could work as an unknowing tracking device, sending out signals like a GPS during each of her reboots. Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook) is certainly his own brand of a breath of fresh air on Almost Human. As the police force’s go-to bot mechanic and all-around tech geek, Rudy was especially fun to watch during the goings-on of the sexbot situation. His one-on-one session with Vanessa, in which she’d get him all hot and bothered while he attempted to tap into her locator chip, was a great little moment during Episode 2.

Eventually, John and Dorian had the location of this dastardly flesh lab. Breaking in and witnessing the devastation these crooked scientists had created in the wake of their creepy sexbot scheme, the partners were relieved to find that the little boy’s mother was still very much alive and well. Back at the station, John waved goodbye to his little buddy, but it would be Dorian who’d have a tearful farewell. Dorian had bonded with Vanessa, and after a second episode that in some ways centered on the concept of an afterlife, especially after the death of an android, Dorian was inevitably forced to put the advice John had previously bestowed upon him to good use. According to Sandra (Lily Taylor), Vanessa contained human DNA, and thus, faced an imminent deactivation. He sadly bid Vanessa adieu, promising her that she’d head to a better place and that he’d certainly remember her. See, this is Almost Human’s most interesting overarching plot. These officers talk to Dorian as though he’s a friend and a colleague, yet they essentially treat these androids like they’re merely tools to be used.

Fox "Almost Human"

Fox “Almost Human”

To close the recap, John and Valerie certainly have a special chemistry brewing. Valerie is, as Dorian had put prior, John’s ideal type, yet John subsequently chose to head out on another date after a job well done. Rather than dinner and a movie with a prospective new lady of interest who’d hit up “Dr. Richard’s” dating profile, John made the decision to finally face the widow and young son of his fallen human partner. It seems it’s time that the young boy learns about his father.

 

What did you think of Almost Human Season 1 Episode 2, “Skin”? Did the two-part series premiere deliver? Have you enjoyed watching the interesting dynamics of the relationship between humans and androids? Will John and Valerie give it a go? (Duh.) Is there love in Dorian’s future?

Thanks for reading my Recap and Review of Almost Human Season 1 Episode 2, “Skin”!

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