The third episode of Almost Human proves that the show knows what it wants to tell — tell the most basic of cop show stories while added wild new technology into the mix. It's not a bad combination, but unless Almost Human eventually adds more to it, it's going to stay a diversion, albeit a pleasant one.
So a group of terrorists run into a high-rise building and take a bunch of office workers hostage. The team is lead by Dewey Crow from Justified (he's awesome in Justified, for what it's worth) who immediately plants an exceedingly vertical bomb in the building and tosses a hostage off the 25th floor with a sign around his neck reading "NO COPS STAY OUT" to make his point.
Of course, at that point John and Dorian are already in the building while trying to evacuate everybody, and of course when Captain Maldonado tells them to get out of there John pretends static is interfering with their communication and decides to do his best John McClane impression while Dorian follows and basically makes fun of him. After that the police shut off all communications from the building, mostly for plot purposes so the police can't get in touch with John and Dorian, although the show says it's procedure (they do give the terrorist leader a special cellphone to talk to each other).
At this point, John and Dorian take the slowest trip up 25 flights of stairs I have ever seen portrayed on film or television. Seriously, I'm a fat nerd with asthma and I'm pretty sire I could have beat them. But it's okay because it gives Dorian plenty of time to make fun of John (the high point being when Dorian answers the emergency calls inside the building [again, seems like it would be good for the police to have access to those] and does his John impression).
Meanwhile, various events happen on or near the stairs: A hiding office worker calls John and Dorian and provides them information, John and Dorian encounter one of the terrorists who damages Dorian, John has to fix Dorian with a simple non-technical solution i.e. putting bubblegum in his wound (although using a dirty q-tip was, frankly, a shitty idea even for John). They also discover — and which shouldn't be a surprise to any regular watcher of police procedurals — that the terrorists are not really terrorists at all, but people pretending to be terrorists as a diversion to rob a nearby building of its Palladium (I assume they mean the '90s role-playing game company, of course). Unlike like most police procedurals however, the bad guys are using Facemakers to look like the known terrorists — portable devices that give you someone else's face. There's also some stuff about how these guys are using special light token to project messages to they crooks in the other building, defeating the police's communication shutdown, and also the bad guys are demanding a fission igniter, and it takes Mackenzie Crook awhile to make a fake one but turns out the bad guys don't even want it and it all ends up being a waste of time.
Eventually, John and Dorian learn that the robbers are going to set a lightbomb (whatever that is) and are going to kill all the hostages despite promising not to — those cads! — so Dorian climbs up the elevator shaft, into an air vent, and drops down on the terrorists and basically shoots one of them. But even their numbers are too much for him, and he ends up getting shot repeatedly, and the leader is about to put a bullet in his brain when of course John sneaks up using the Facemaker and shoots all the rest of the bad guys.
It's important to note that Almost Human's solution to this situation is straight up murder. Dorian clearly bursts through the air vent with the plan of shooting everybody he can, and when John joins them he doesn't even try to tell them to throw down their weapons or anything, he just shoots them the second he arrives. It's a little weird. Also, I' 95% sure I heard Dorian telling a guy to stay down that he was already in the process of shooting.
And that's that, besides the requite scenes of the entire police station applauding the brave two police officers who put it all on the line by disobeying direct orders, and one where Mackenzie Crook yells at John for fixing Dorian with bubblegum (admittedly, Dorian has an excellent retort).
Again, there's not much to this episode of Almost Human other than the tech. The SFX has lessened from last week — no real surprise there — but there's still enough with the Facemaker and the vertical bomb in the beginning and some other stuff to hold a scifi fan's interest. I do wish that the show would either add some kind of larger, overarching plot, or some higher stakes than just rewalking us through the classics, but this is still only episode three, so I imagine it's coming eventually. I can't imagine the guy who did Fringe being content with a "very familiar crook of the week" show for long.
- Speaking of Fringe, this show feels so much like Fringe without including anything mad science-y and with way more cop stuff. That's not a criticism, just an observation.
- New Dorian powers: Foreign languages, complete language imitation, heating coffee.
- Also, that "coffee heater" crack seemed kind of humanist, or whatever the robot version of racism is called.
- "Hey, what's with the disco face?"
- Even Dorian thinks John's ice fishing story is stupid. He's right.
- John's middle name is Reginald, because his dad as a fan of "old-time singer" Elton John.
- Karl Urban is 41 years old, but let's say John Lennex is 35 in 2048, making him born in 2013. Even if his father sired him later in life — let's also say 35 — that would make his father born in 1978. That's essentially when I was born, and I know exactly zero hardcore Elton John fans. Just sayin'.
- I have no idea why anyone would program a robot to sing along to "Benny and the Jets," but my god I'm glad they did. Seriously, the cop stuff can be rote as they want as long as there's some interesting tech and they includes scenes like that.