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‘Almost Human’ 1.05 Recap: “On Good Days, I’m a Petit Psychic”

You know, it’s a very good thing that the cast chemistry on ‘Almost Human’ works as well as it does, because the plotting in this week’s episode is totally hare-brained. On the plus side, the episode features full-frontal nudity!

Sadly, it’s a robot that gets naked, and as detective Kennex notes, he has the anatomy of a “life-size Ken doll.” When asked if he was also built that way, Dorian assures Kennex that his maker designed him to fully resemble a human being – at which point he whips out his junk (off camera) to demonstrate, and Kennex goggles at the size of the thing. What does he use that for, Kennex asks. “Most likely the same thing you do… Nothing.” Banter like this is really fun, and saves the episode from the idiocy of the rest of its storyline.

In ‘Blood Brothers’, Capt. Maldonado (Lili Taylor) has to testify at the trial of a wealthy man named Ethan Avery who stands accused of the murder of a fertility doctor. Two eyewitnesses saw him commit the crime, one of whom seems like a perfectly sensible and trustworthy woman, but the other is a total flake who claims to be a “medium-psychic… or psychic-medium.” Due to threats against their safety, they’ve been hidden away in a safe house, and will tele-commute in their testimonies via 100% Holodeck-quality holograms. Nevertheless, just as the first one takes the stand, a mysterious baddie busts down the door and shotguns her to death, much to the horror of everyone watching from the courtroom. The psychic girl, Maya, escapes through a window and is found later by Dorian.

You’d think that the blatant murder of a witness right in the middle of a trial would kind of be a black mark against Mr. Avery. But nope, now Maya’s potential future testimony is the only thing between Avery and freedom. If she gets murdered, he’s free. Too bad none of the cops think to, you know, record her statement or something.

Capt. Maldonado takes this case very personally. Blatantly a psychopath, Avery taunts her about having no husband or boyfriend, and Maldonado is deeply shaken by the truth he speaks – because clearly, a woman in authority needs a man’s approval to validate her self-worth. What a weirdly sexist digression for this cop procedural to take.

Now in Kennex’s custody, psychic ditz Maya claims that she’s been contacted from beyond the grave by the other witness. You might expect the android to be logical and skeptical about her crazy story, but Dorian fully buys into it, far more so than the dismissive Kennex. The other girl supposedly told Maya that she was murdered by none other than Ethan Avery himself. A recording from the crime scene confirms his voiceprint. But how can this be, if he was in court at the time? And if the victim saw her killer’s face, why didn’t any of the 3D holographic cameras in the room broadcasting directly into the courtroom capture an image of him?

So, it turns out that narcissistic Avery had himself cloned, and now the clones are running around killing off witnesses. They kidnap sexy detective Stahl (Minka Kelly) and attempt to ransom her in exchange for releasing Avery. Maldonado plays along with this, but it’s really an elaborate ruse involving more holograms. (See, that came back around.) Stahl manages to escape in the middle of a gunfight. The clones drive off in a van, but Dorian catches up to it on foot and single-handedly (literally, with one hand) flips the vehicle, causing it to crash and explode, presumably killing all the clones inside.

Now safe again, Maya finally testifies in court against Avery, positively identifying him as the man she saw kill the fertility doctor.

Uhhhh… hold on a second. If we’ve established that there were a bunch of clones that looked exactly like Avery, what use is eyewitness testimony? How does Maya know which one she saw? Wouldn’t the fact that she could have seen any one of these identical-looking people committing the crime automatically create reasonable doubt?

Yes. Yes, it would. Of course, the writers of the show completely fail to grasp this. Why would they build up a story about the importance of an eyewitness, and then introduce a premise that flat-out invalidates the usefulness of that eyewitness without acknowledging this at all? It boggles the mind how anyone who gets paid to write for a living could have missed this.

No worries, though. In more important news, some guy randomly flirts with Maldonado out of the blue, thus proving that she still has some use as a woman. Whew!

Kennex and Stahl also go out drinking together and watch soccer at a sports bar. (Americans in the future give a shit about soccer? That may be the show’s most far-fetched notion yet.) Their chemistry is less “Will they or won’t they?” than “Why hasn’t he banged her yet?” I suppose that’s coming eventually.

This episode is dumb. Really dumb. The show needs to do better than this.

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