When there is a murder at an office building, John Kennex, his android partner Dorian and the LAPD arrive on the scene to see what is going on. Dorian uses his abilities to recover some surveillance footage that reveals the perpetrators are up on the 25th floor and have taken hostages. As the police make their way towards them, an explosion rocks the building’s lobby and server room in the basement below. While most of the force looks to help civilians to safety and try to diffuse the hostage situation from outside the building, John and Dorian continue their ascent to take a different approach to stopping things.
What really works about this case to me is that it isn’t all what it seems. What looks to be a hostage situation is really the cover for a heist of valuable metals in a nearby building. It may all seem a little over the top, but to me the more elaborate the heist the more fun it can be. The hostage takers are using Face Makers (tech one wears to assume the identity of someone else with some holographic-type stuff) to appear as a group of terrorists from a group known as the Holy Reclamation Army. Under this guise, the LAPD has to believe they mean business. So when they ask for a fission igniter, the cops acquiesce… at least as much as they can, crafting a fake to buy time. But that is all the hostage takers are doing too: buying time. Their stunt has caused the police to use a jammer, which is actually keeping their second team free of the nuisances of alarms during their heist. It was rather fun to see this plan revealed bit by bit as the episode went on.
It’s Kennex and Dorian who uncover the plan, but off on their own with the jammer going, they are cut off from communicating to the others. A trek up 25 floors gives the pair a chance to show off their great chemistry and camaraderie together and man is it good. There are so many fun little interactions here, it is hard to not just love these two together. When emergency calls are routed through to Dorian with nowhere else to go, he ends up doing the voice of his partner for one caller before turning her over to John. John ends up calming this woman named Paige down with a story about an ice-fishing trip. It isn’t long before Dorian is ribbing his partner for this oh-so-fascinating tale. When John shrugs off one of the little statistical anecdotes Dorian is known to make, he fires back with the great line, “You know what would be interesting John, if you told me that ice fishing story again.” But despite the joke you could tell Dorian appreciated the way John had used the story to help calm Paige (played by Emily Rios from Breaking Bad and The Bridge) down earlier. This all helps set up the funniest moment of the show as well. When Dorian takes a bullet, John is tasked with fixing him (doing so with some gum and a dirty q-tip!), but he is also making small talk with Paige to keep her calm. It is here John ends up admitting his middle name, Reginald, comes from his parents’ love of Elton John (whose real name is Reginald). Apparently Dorian had come to just in time to hear this little factoid, so at the end of the episode when John asks him to put some music on in the car, he puts on Sir Elton, even belting out some of the words to “Bennie and the Jets.” I was grinning so hard during this sequence and it was the perfect example of how fun these two are together and how hysterical Almost Human can be at times.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. This episode also allowed for some great action sequences. The final confrontation sees Dorian stepping into the role of total badass, first climbing up an elevator shaft and then dropping in and taking out almost all the bad guys single-handedly, giving us our best look so far at the kind of things he is capable of in situations like these. John has some nice moments of his own though including stepping into save Dorian at the end while requisitioning the Face Maker technology off a goon they killed earlier. Another thing I liked was that with all the cool technology they have, John ended up doing a couple little improvisational things like throwing his gun at someone or using his phone as a distraction, both of which could have been done today and were just kind of fun to see. With the hostages saved and finally another bomb they set near the end shut down, John uses the phone that was sent up for negotiating to fill the Captain in on the real motive for the hostage-taking and they are able to thwart the robbery across the street as well.
A few more things worth noting:
- So apparently FOX is airing these out-of-order. “Skin” was actually the fifth episode in the order and this one the sixth. It might explain why the two seemed so instantly chummy in “Skin” which I wrote off as the writers just wanting their buddy cop aspect to be as fun as possible right away. Though this episode included a callback to the pilot (the olive oil) which would seem a little odd to go back to after five episodes? I don’t know. Show hasn’t suffered from this so far in my opinion, but I wonder if it will be weird when/if they air episodes 2, 3 and 4 later. I guess we’ll wait and see.
- I’m sure Light Bombs are a go-to-move from the futuristic sci-fi playbook, but it still made me think of Fringe’s “The Day We Died” instantly. The fact that John falling into the ice as a child made me think of Fringe as well might just mean I think of Fringe too much though.
- I continue to ignore the supporting cast in the body of my reviews, but I guess I feel about the same as I have the first two weeks. Captain Maldonado and Rudy Lom both get some decent time here, Detectives Paul and Stahl less so. No doubt that this has been the Kennex/Dorian show so far though.
- There were some fun moments while John tried to fix Dorian like John mentioning it looks like “50 shades of purple” in his head and Dorian saying “I’m telling you that was the lavender one.”
“Are you Receiving?” didn’t feel as strong or unique as the first two episodes did, but Almost Human’s futuristic technology and setting managed to give the somewhat run-of-the-mill case a shot in the arm and the true heist motive helped to keep things from becoming too comfortable. This week didn’t have any of the deeper themes of “Skin” running through it either that let us peek into a different side of Kennex and Dorian. It did give the two leads plenty of opportunities for funny banter and action moments though. Since that really feels like the core of the show right now, I’ll gladly take a solid episode like this that delivers on that front.