Sexbots… erm… make that Intimate Robot Companions or IRCs. I guess it was just a matter of time before a show revolving around androids dove into this subject, but Almost Human certainly didn’t waste any time. The second episode of Almost Human opens with a scene of a man named Sebastian Jones talking with a prostitute. Of course everyone watching knows she is a robot. Regardless Mr. Jones seems to have no interest in sleeping with her. Instead he seems to be running some tests. As he is finishing up, two men come in, shoot him and take the girl. We get this episode’s first glimpse of Almost Human’s super cool tech in this opening sequence. The two men who take the girl sprayed something on their faces which made them appear as light to cameras (called flash masks) and before leaving the room where the shooting occurs they roll in what is later revealed to be a DNA bomb used to make sure no one could find any evidence they may have left behind. These are both accompanied by some great looking effects and are more proof that I am just going to love the technology featured in this show.
Next up our detective team arrives on the scene. A little investigating by Kennex, Dorian and their fellow officers reveals that Jones was a high-end sexbot maker whose company has gone bankrupt. They also find that the IRC he was with apparently left some DNA behind when she touched a wall outside the room. The DNA belonged to a woman who went missing recently. One thing leads to another and they discover that some Albanians that used to be a client of Jones and his former partner have decided to cut out the middle man and make the robots themselves. But to beat out their competition they are using real women as a source for more realistic skin. With the help of another IRC who was made with human skin, the gang finds the “skin” lab, shuts down the operation, nabs the culprits and frees some of the abductees before it is too late for them.
Just purely from a case standpoint, I think I preferred the pilot’s. I guess robotic prostitutes are just a bit too weird for me though there is no denying it makes perfect sense in the world they have created for Almost Human. But everything around the case felt improved, so the episode as whole didn’t feel like a step back at all. While the pilot may have gotten a giggle or two out of me, “Skin” was a legitimately funny episode of television. There was the running gag about how bad Kennex was with kids (and cats) brought about when he tried to entertain some kids by stabbing himself in his prosthetic leg which was all good for a laugh. My favorite sequence was the one that occurred in a car ride about halfway through the episode. Dorian made a dating profile for John which leads to a conversation that includes the line “You’re scanning my balls,” John unintentionally describing Detective Stahl as his ideal woman, and finally Dorian ribbing John about his nervous, almost robotic voice when Stahl calls them at the end. In my review of the pilot, I mentioned how much I thought this show would be improved since they started getting along towards the end of that first episode. Their banter in episode two shows what a fun relationship I believe they will have and made for a much more humorous hour of TV than the first.
Despite how chummy they seem to be at times, there are still some struggles and growing pains with their partnership. Kennex still has some problems when interacting with androids as evidenced by his actions and line of questioning with the IRCs. This makes for some interesting conversations between the show’s two leads. Along with the laughs, the case and their evolving relationship, they both had some more serious stuff they are dealing with too. Dorian is grappling with what to say to people when they have lost someone close to them and wondering about the legacy one leaves behind. John makes a connection with the son of one of his victims (the little giraffe toy part was cute) and it makes him reach out to his former partner’s family as a result. Both worked well to add a bit more of an emotional side to the proceedings.
A few more things worth noting:
- It feels like I didn’t talk about anyone besides Kennex and Dorian. The rest of the cast really is in a supporting role. “Angry Cop” seemed less like he had a vendetta against John this week and more like he was just kind of playing the role of “Sleazy Dude” in the sexbot discussions which might be a step up for him. I do think there is potential for fun between Kennex and Stahl. The Captain and Rudy (the tech guy) seemed fine if unspectacular this episode.
- The blue effects on Dorian’s face are actually quite cool. Interesting to see all the different things he can do like his lie detector skills this week.
- I loved when Dorian asked, “We don’t need a warrant?” which John took as a statement and said, “I agree.”
- “Benedict Android strikes again.”
“Skin” represented what will probably make up a large part of Almost Human. It ignores some of the larger mythology questions posed in the premiere and hones in on the week’s police work. While some of the larger overarching plotlines may have been absent, the show did spend time on further developing the characters and bond of its leading duo. So while it may have felt very procedural in nature, I think this aspect along with the original setting and technology will help it stand apart from Generic Cop Procedural #17. If this episode along with the pilot gives us a good idea of what they have in store for us in Almost Human, I think we are off to a very good start and I’m excited to see where the creative team takes us as the season rolls on.