Is anyone still watching Almost Human? As these reviews have documented, the show has been so erratic that it wouldn’t be a surprise if a large portion of the viewing audience had given up by now. Given this erraticism, it should come as no real shock that this week’s episode, Disrupt, was a pretty good watch, although not to the standard of two weeks previously.
The premise this week was essentially one of police versus hacker, as first a ‘smart home’ and then a company headquarters were hacked. The smart homes in question didn’t actually seem all that high-tech, just a bunch of holograms on walls and a holographic servant/housekeeper. Regardless, on the ‘plagiarism-scale’ the show fared quite well this time, although it was a tad reminiscent of the scene in I, Robot where a demolition robot is overridden and destroys a house with Will Smith in it. But in general, this sort of household technology is at best window-dressing in most sci-fi, so to make it the central concept here was interesting.
It also made for some great sequences at the start and end. At the start, we saw the ‘smart home’ turn on its occupants in chilling fashion – the wife oblivious that as she swam in her pool, the clear cover was trapping her underwater, and the husband rushing to save her, only for the house to deem him ‘hostile’ and shoot him. It could have been cheesy, but it instead was really well worked, and effectively drilled home the threat at hand. The end sequence was a more rudimentary one, as Kennex and Dorian infiltrated the hacked headquarters of ‘Centurion’, the company behind the smart homes, yet it was still well executed and exciting. It also marked a departure from the usual Almost Human ‘storm the building’ scenes, in that it made a far bigger deal of the set, with a fair few wide location shots to show off the modern HQ.
The sequence was even more of a success because it made better use of the supporting characters, as well as exploiting the situation at hand. There was the use of the ‘ticking-time-bomb’ trope in the form of the oxygen being depleted as a fire suppressant, and also the ‘damsel-in-distress’ trope through the Centurion CEO trapped in the building and targeted by hacked androids. Given that this was a viable threat and someone could genuinely die, it formed a tightly interweaved end to the episode.
On the character development front, there were a couple threads throughout the episode. There was Kennex’s at first funny, then later annoying lies about why Det. Paul was off work, from ‘a piercing ‘down there’’ to ‘using an infected sex-bot’. There was a mini ‘thought-for-the-day’ in Dorian’s admittedly understandable wish to not be probed whilst asleep, calling into question the concept of personal space, whilst, most importantly, there was the revelation that Dorian ‘remembers’ being a child, despite the fact that he never was one.
If the show spent half as much time tying up threads as it does setting up new ones, there would be a far more interesting continuous narrative for it to work with. Disrupt was a solid action episode, featuring a plot that was more original than usual, and some great sequences at the start and end, whilst fitting in various side threads throughout.