It feels like a weight has been lifted. This week saw Almost Human become the show it should have been from the beginning – a thought-provoking, character-driven sci-fi crime drama. Finally, everything seems to have fallen into place.
The main plot this episode concerned the murder trial of Ethan Avery, who appeared to be the ‘nemesis’ of Captain Maldonado. Alas, the trial goes awry, as one of two eyewitnesses, giving their testimony via hologram, is killed before the eyes of the court, whilst the other manages to escape. What followed was a fast-paced story involving illegal human cloning, a psychic medium, and the various characters intertwined around it.
For once the show managed to cover sci-fi concepts – including cloning – in a way that was fresh, interesting, and above all, generally unpredictable. Of course, we knew Avery would end up either dead or in prison, and that the status quo would be resumed, but the route to this ending was unclear, making for a far better episode.
Much of this came from the fact that there were far more character moments, and far less action scenes. This had a two-fold advantage: we got to explore characters not really given a chance to shine previously, which also meant that when we did reach the action, it was both more exciting and more appropriate. Given that the plotting has been the major downfall of the show in previous weeks, something this particular reviewer has been loathed to point out, to see the plot actually be the highlight of the show this week is a massive relief, and hopefully a sign of a stronger second half of the series.
Additionally, as touched upon above, there was excellent characterisation this week, and not only of the regular characters outside of Dorian and Kennex – that alone being a relative first – but also with two fully fledged supporting characters in the form of Maya the psychic, and Ethan Avery (and his clones as an extension of his personality one could argue). Whilst the role of Maya was very strong, with a well developed background, Avery was even better, if only because no other villain has got anywhere near the same amount of development as him so far, with them all being predominantly ‘Mafioso’ types of some sort. The Avery ‘family’ of clones presented a completely different dynamic, even if the end result of death and destruction was ultimately the same.
On top of the better plot and characterisation, this was also an episode far more akin to traditional science fiction in how it paralleled the present day and explored intriguing thematic content. The ethics of cloning and the validity of medium’s were both touched upon, however briefly (a blurred background Rorschach test could be seen in Dr. Turner’s office incidentally) – yet even more interesting was how the show seemed to convey the attitude that Maya’s faith and spirituality in the end won out over Avery’s science and purpose. Avery’s clones were killed, and him locked up, while Maya’s vision she gave to Kennex of ‘bourbon and running’ turned out to be true – Kennex sharing some of his favourite drink with Detective Stahl whilst watching the football (sorry, ‘soccer’), though whether this was thematically significant rather than just a narrative development is less clear.
So all in all, an overwhelmingly good episode, by the standard of any show, and for one so inconsistent and troubled as Almost Human, it’s an incredible improvement, and hopefully one that carries through the next set of episodes.