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Chris Doucette

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Almost Human Recap, Episode 4, 'The Bends'

Posted: 12/05/2013 8:48 am

There's a new drug on the streets of -- wait, what city is this show in? I know the show is filmed in Vancouver but Vancouver-as-what? Does anyone even know?

The new street drug is called "The Bends" and it's so powerful that it kills the user. The only good news is that it's made from algae which means in 2048 our oceans are still alive. Hooray! What can I say? I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy.

A mystery ringleader named "The Bishop" is looking for a new cook to produce The Bends. They interview a guy for the job, discover that he's an undercover cop and kill him. How did they find out he's a cop? He was wearing a subcutaneous wire! Sounds pretty futuristic until you realize that nobody in present day terminology calls it a sub-clothing wire. We just call it "wearing a wire." Which is what they should have done in the show and then surprised us when they reached into his gut to pull it out. (Note to television writers: show, don't tell.)

The undercover cop was Kennex's friend and Kennex avenges his death by ferreting out The Bishop and holding him accountable for his crimes. And in a distracting-yet-amusing fashion choice, Kennex does all his work while styled like lesbian comedian Kate Clinton.

For comedic effect, their science nerd Rudy goes undercover to get a meeting with The Bishop. Rudy, after all, is the only one capable of making the The Bends which will earn him a meeting with the elusive Bishop. Everyone makes a big deal about how nobody meets The Bishop. However, The Bishop is not hard to meet at all -- it took Rudy less than 60 seconds to make the product and get the meeting. This wasn't a game of chess, it was a game of checkers. Instead of calling him The Bishop they should have called him The King.

Kennex and Police Captain Maldonado figure out who The Bishop is pretty quickly by calling the suspect and using a Garmin GPS to confirm their suspicions. Wires, GPS, and caller ID -- this is police work in the future? No wonder why criminals have run amok.

All of this undercover action takes place in an "abandoned" warehouse that somehow still has electricity and is lit up like a Christmas tree. When Rudy, Kennex, and Dorian realize that Rudy's cover is blown, a foot-chase and shootout ensues. A lot of shots are fired and they all miss. The police of the future have all the accuracy of a G.I. Joe cartoon. Dorian (who is underutilized in this episode) gets into hand-to-hand combat with another android. But instead of figuring out an interesting take on how robots would fight each other, they simply mimic how humans fight each other with punches to the gut. It would have been more interesting if the two robots just stared each other down and volleyed TCP/IP attacks back and forth.

Eventually, Kennex catches The Bishop. The Bishop starts mouthing off about how powerful he is and how he'll be back on the streets in no time. And then, in a scene that actually surprised me, Kennex responds to The Bishop's threats by shooting The Bishop dead at point-blank range without hesitation. Kennex took the leap into some pretty dark territory by serving as judge, jury and executioner. And I have to say -- it was pretty thrilling. In an instant, Kennex went from a rather banal, brooding archetype to a much darker, complicated character.

My only wish was that they had continued the scene with some follow-up from Dorian who could have teased out some of the moral and ethical implications of what Kennex had just done. As a viewer, it's easy to cheer the immediate justice and see Kennex as the hero -- but then you think, "Wait a minute -- Kennex is a dangerous cop." Which is exactly what you want in a TV character.

The episode tried to end on a light note. Feeling emboldened by his service undercover, Rudy joins Kennex and Dorian on their way to a strip club. Kennex dismisses Rudy and expresses embarrassment at being associated with him. Which is a weird reaction to have considering the fact that Rudy just delivered a pretty strong performance undercover, allowing Kennex to bring The Bishop to justice. That's not ending on a light note. That's ending on a mean note.

Then again, it's 2048. Maybe the reign of the nerd is over and the jock is back on top. And with even fewer morals than he had before.

Beep.

 

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