Almost Human: Bloody Brothers


Sometimes I wonder if I am too forgiving of a TV show.  There are certain shows, like Almost Human, that I give a pass to.  Things like, plot holes, poor dialogue or rushed story lines don't bother me because I am predisposed to liking them either because of their pedigree or their format.

I read a review of "Blood Brothers" the most recent offering from Almost Human, on io9 today authored by Rob Bricken.  (You can read that review here.)  To put it mildly, he hated it.  Not just a little, but a lot.  You know when the F-bombs start flying there is a problem.

I like Rob's work.  He does a mailbag column for io9 where he answers a variety of questions mostly dealing with popular culture and science fiction in general.

Apparently he has been stuck with the assignment of reviewing Almost Human and God knows how long that will last given the tone of today's review.

I tried to leave some feedback for him, basically coaxing him back from the ledge.  The site only accepted part of my comments and drew the line when I tried to link to my own blog. 

Basically, I urged him to seek out the things Almost Human does well instead of fixating what they do poorly.


For example!

I had recently wondered aloud in these pages where Dorian sleeps.  Answered!

He sleeps with all the Ken dolls!  (Nope, I'm not going to post an image of that.  Too creepy.  Funny.  But creepy.)  The writers correctly assumed their viewing audience wondered the same things I did and answered it promptly.  Nice.


Dorian complains to Kennex that he is "miserable" with that arrangement and appeals for help.  This is where my personal antenna went up.  Recently, I posted a review of the episode "Are You Receiving?"  In it, I wondered about Dorian's state of mind and whether he was going to suffer from depression or not.  (Read that post here.)  Since he confesses to a state of misery in this episode I can only assume that his mental state is indeed vulnerable.  I think this will happen incrementally so let's not get too excited but it worth watching for.

Here's what Michael Ealy went on to say about Dorian's state of mind in an interview with Buddy TV. 

"We're gonna find out. Right now, the chemistry is so good now that we're starting to grow on each other. And he sees my value and I see his humanity which wasn't there in the pilot. I'm starting to see his humanity now. For Dorian, his range of emotions - depending on what they show — it can go from very, very emotional to pretty stoic. And that's been kinda fun to play, especially in the action sequences when he's just unstoppable."

I'm excited about the "range of emotions" Ealy speaks of.  This is the type of thing Almost Human does well.  I only wish Bricken and the other detractors of Almost Human could see this.

Dorian's humanity shone through when he spoke of family in the context of his relationship with Kennex and the rest of the police squad.  He displayed tenderness when he reached out to comfort the wounded psychic, Maya, as she lay recovering from her wounds in the hospital.  Another nice touch by the AH writers.  It must of been difficult for Dorian to hear Maya say "We all know we are going to lose our parents some day."  Not having parents must add to Dorian's state of "misery" but he handled it well.

Here's where Dorian makes a mistake.

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Dorian chases down the van full of Ethan Avery's "brothers".  In a fit of anger he catches the van and flips it over.  Kennex and Stahl look on in amazement.  "Why hasn't he done that before?" Kennex stammers.

I'll tell you why John, it's not something humans can do and this is the type of thing that separates Dorian from the rest of humanity.

It's a little depressing.  Dorian acted out and proved he is not one of "us".

These are the types of things Almost Human does well.  I'm guilty of pumping the show up but it is not nearly as bad as Bricken and the rest claim. 

I think we can give the writers a pass here.  After all, they're only human.


Comments

  1. Hi Dave,
    I read the i09 review as well, yikes. I found this episode disappointing, lots of interesting ideas unexplored. I'm hopeful that things will improve.

    In the climactic scene the hologram ruse was exposed by (wait for it) a flock of birds. It's always birds ;)

    So human cloning is possible and there's an Anti-Replication Department that is heavily backlogged. Why exactly is cloning illegal? What are the ethical or moral objections in the AH world? What would it do to a human emotionally and psychologically to be a clone? What implications does it have for their sense of identity, individuality and is that different than being an identical twin? The psyche of the clones was barely explored other than they felt a familial allegiance to each other and their progenitor. They had some individuality. The one who died was named Eli. One was dominant and level headed while negotiating with the police, another is emotional and wants revenge, a third is passive. There are Rorschach blots framed on the walls in the office of the house where the clones were living. Was Ethan Avery a psychologist? He certainly was psychoanalyzing Maldonado. There are several ideas to be explored here and I don't think it is the last time we'll see cloning.

    There was a clear parallel between the basement "dormitory" where Dorian and the other police synthetics spend the night and the basement with identical beds where the Ethans apparently slept. A legion of human-like robots = OK, a legion of cloned humans = NOT OK, but clearly the lines are blurring. Dorian is starting to rebel to being treated the same as the MXs, no privacy and he looks down on them with their "dead eyes". You've pointed out the ongoing racism thread between humans and synthetics. Dorian identifies more with humans than synthetics, but he seems not fully either one. What will it do to his sense of self when he is (inevitably) confronted with other DRNs? Will he feel a kinship toward them or have an identity crisis? Is this one of the reasons the DRNs were shelved in favor of the emotionless MXs?
    (continued)

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    1. Hi Lynne,

      I need to start handing out awards for awesome feedback. Your thoughts definitely qualify. Would you rather a trophy, placard, or statuette? Wait, how about a t-shirt for "most awesomest feedback" with my picture emblazoned across it?

      Oh, god, no, not the t-shirt.

      I'll address your "Anti-replication" paragraph first. I'd like to think there was a major event or set of events that preceded the AH time line. Something where replication or cloning got so bad there was actually a war or revolt fought over it. Maybe even a civil war to "free" the clones. Then again, if so, then where are they?

      Let's say there was a clone revolt and it ended badly for them. Worse yet and excuse my grim thoughts, what if there was a clone pogrom or "Final Solution" like that perpetuated by the Nazis. It may have occurred in one country or several but it got so bad that the world fought over this final solution because it was so horrific.

      Oh, god, I am starting to creep myself out. Think of it as a replay of World War II except without the Pearl Harbor. The shame of the persecution of the clones was so bad that humanity could not deal with the aftermath and decided to outlaw cloning.

      I'm on my way out so I will pick up on this when I return

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    2. I have returned. I'm going to continue my reply to the first part of your feedback.

      Okay, you had wondered if Ethan Avery was a psychologist. I can't quite remember myself but I think it may have been his mother that was the psychologist. I thought they went to her house to look for clues. But as Roger Clemens used to say, "I may have misremembered" that part.

      It was interesting to see all the clones develop different character traits. Does that mean they have distinctive personalities or is something akin to pack animals like wolves or dogs wherein one is the Alpha, the next in line is Beta all the way down to the Omega. If I correlate this with my "war" theory from above then maybe the clones developed a hierarchical structure like that of the wolf and that is why mankind was threatened by them.

      It makes me think of the old "Space Seed" episode from the original Star Trek where Khan and his minions had develpoed a new race of human beings that were separate from the rest of humanity and a war was fought for dominance of the planet.

      Kind of scary. We'll have to wait and see if the writers intend on pursuing this back story.

      Interesting that Dorian looked at the MX's with their "Dead eyes". If the eyes are indeed a window to the soul then I would assume that Dorian sees them as soulless. This reminds me of Battlestar Galactica where there were the "Toasters" and and also the "Skinjobs". The Cylons with the "Skin" were much different than the "Toaster" versions. I don't think they looked down on their metal exterior counterparts but they were certainly more advanced.

      However, Dorian does seem to look down at his counterparts and *spoiler alert* I've read another Dorian will be introduced. I have a lot of theories for that particular event and I may just blog on that subject alone. I wonder if the new DRN will have a clone like relationship with Dorian. Will they behave like a pack or will something new happen? I think I need to break out my old Sociology books.

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    3. Oh I like the idea of a past clone incident. Is that the "Ordeal at the wall" that Maldonado was honored for? Is that why a narcissist who clones himself would get under her skin? It's easy to think that failed cloning efforts would result in mutant, defective people. (The ethics of that alone would probably get the practice outlawed.) What if there were emotionless clones made? Human in intelligence, reasoning capability and free will, but devoid of emotion. Blurring the lines even further with the synthetics.

      I like the Cylon parallel. The skin jobs looked at the toasters almost like pets. They were capable of independent actions, had emotions, yet could also connect in a hive-mind, borgish way. I think the cylons of the same model shared memories, etc. I really need to go back and watch that again. There was a needing to be remembered thread with them as well.

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    4. Right, I hope we get some more snippets about the past such as the, "ordeal at the wall." That would be illuminating.

      I wonder if people in the future have found a cure for being mentally handicapped. Or did something go wrong with the cure and the clones opened up old wounds to another dark corner of human history? Maybe there is a connection there and the outlawing of cloning.

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  2. (Part 2, apparently I am overly verbose this week...)

    Again the desire to be remembered is brought up as a quality of the human condition, this time in Maldonado's parting words to Avery. I had a lot of issues with Maldonado's behavior in this episode, hopefully just a glitch in the writing this week. However, I was curious why Avery didn't needle her about motherhood rather than male attention (eyeroll) as a source of insecurity. It would fit in with his own desire for descendants as a way to be remembered. So much of human history places heavy emphasis on the purpose of women being to bear and nurture children. We don't know whether Maldonado is a mother or has been a mother, but it would have been reasonable for Avery to guess that Maldonado chose career over family and may feel guilty or incomplete because of that choice. Perhaps this is territory to be mined in future episodes. Oh and let's just consider the implications of clarifying Dorian's equipment and Maldonado's loneliness in the same episode.....Come to think of it every single member of our little team seems to be lonely.

    Maya and the cerebellex procedure. It "worked" for her, she's hearing voices but are they of the dead? Or is her increased intuition and perception simply manifesting as voices? Regardless, we have to assume that there are other people out there who have had this or other procedures with more extreme results than hers. Who else is using brain enhancement for ill or good? Are we headed for minority report? That bit of "playing God" will surely come back. I like the Maya character and hope she returns. She has a fun energy and her scene in the car at the end was surprisingly touching. I found it interesting that Dorian even has an aura. I kept hoping she would touch him and drop some clues about his back story, alas, no such luck.

    Lastly, with all the tech advances of 2048 vehicles still instantly explode when they flip over, sigh.

    chilly in Boston, Lynne

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    1. All right, allow me to address part two of your feedback.

      I think a lot of people were upset by Maldonado's behavior. We really don't know her that well but she didn't see like the type to be blindsided like that. I think in reality they may have rushed the writing a little bit for dramatic impact and it ended up hurting the character instead. By the time she got her revenge at the end of the episode it seemed a little shallow.

      As far as the loneliness is concerned, I think this entire series is going to be a mixing pot of existential crises. Even if someone gets their isolation fixed I'm sure it will be robbed from them.

      I liked the psychic Maya. A little fruity maybe but that's ok as long as they don't lay it on too thick. I see her as a recurring character the same way Felicity became one on Arrow.

      When she confessed she had nothing that belonged to her parents to Dorian and therefore couldn't communicate with them I was sure Dorian was going to take her hand and press it against her face. She belonged to her parents!!! I was so sure that was going to happen. They need to put me on their writing staff.

      Hey, maybe the clones were able to adapt to extra sensory power without the operation and that is what got them in trouble with humanity. Maybe they felt closer to God. Or maybe Humanity was jealous of their advanced nature, I'll have to think on that.

      Super awesome feedback Lynne. I hope I addressed many of your concerns and thoughts. Your statuette should arrive before Christmas!

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    2. Oh I love the idea that clones made the psychic leap without the cerebellex procedure! That would scare everyone enough to outlaw them.

      Ha Ha, every once in a while an episode gets all my wheels turning at the same time. You sir run that way far more consistently. Thanks for providing an outlet :)

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  3. Lynn, you make me feel better, I thought I was the verbose one! But your points are well thought out.

    This show is very confuddling...! It just throws all these deep taboos things at you, just slaps you in the fae with them (for which I applaud) and then lets little things go that weaken the whole thing. Since the entire internet, it seems, has had their fun complaining, I'll just point out one or two things I enjoyed:

    Right, what I liked. First off, the ''Ken doll'' thing. Maybe it was ridiculous. Certainly made me chuckle... If desired (so to speak), one could say ''well, take away a man's wanker, and whataya got?'' You have Dorian, as surprisingly sensitive and empathic character. Of course then they had to go and ruin that by not only giving Dorian one, but making him and Kennex compare their screwdrivers.

    I'm not ashamed to say I chuckled again. I'm scandinavian. It's no biggie. (so to speak) Boys and their toys.

    I happened to like Cindy Lauper's psychic ability. (sorry I can't remember her name). The character herself was terribly interesting. Phsychic abilities are a gentle interest of mine, not as a supernatural thing, but as actual abilities of the brain, and in this episode, they writers kind of posited that ''what if'' the brain IS capable? I like it.

    I like the police cheif character but really didn't like the way, all of a sudden, at the end of THIS episode, she gets the random notice she wanted. Maybe in a future episode, okay, but right at the end of this? No.

    I also don't like Kennex' love iinterest - she is way too pretty (sorry) and just doesn't seem to fit. Maybe it will work, but... Oh yes, she makes me thank of that police character in Fringe, season... 2, I think? She was in one or two episode and was gone, she just didn't fit.

    This is such a strange show I've simply got to keep watching... If only to see the geeky genius have another episode... :-D

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    1. LOL thanks Ingrid. Yes, I feel like the show is introducing all these interesting themes, but not really taking a stand on them or having the characters do so. I don't really mind the occasional below the belt humor either. We certainly had that on Fringe and it was actually a welcome relief from the constant tension. I guess I think that AH needs to get us invested in some high stakes first. I'm hoping for some sort of swerve with Stahl. Perhaps it's too Bladerunner to make her a synthetic? Or a next generation designer clone/human who doesn't even know she is one? There has to be some twist there because they are lining her up with Kennex a little too perfectly. I can't even express how groan-worthy weak I thought they wrote Maldonado this week. She should have have weaknesses, but letting this dude get under her skin so easily seemed very odd. You have to think she's dealt with a slew of chauvinist/misogynistic men during her career. OK end rant.

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    2. Hi Ingrid,

      Good thing I keep the smelling salts handy. You just said that Minka Kelly is "too pretty." Is there such a thing? Did you ever watch "Friday Night Lights"? She was a young love interest in that show too. The curse of being "too pretty." You won't see me complaining!

      Almost Human has had a rough go of it lately. The ratings are droppping and interest is waning. Much of the complaints mirror what you've said. It's a good thing they are on hiatus now. A good time to circle the wagons take stock and see what works. I hope the show matures a little taste wise and they continue to explore the philosophical questions on what it means to be human.

      Would you say you prefer Sleepy Hollow to Almost Human at this point?

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    3. Ummm... They are so different, I find it hard to say I prefer one over the other. In some way I prefer Almost Human, and in other ways I prefer Sleepy Hollow. Strangely, I find they have similar strengths and weakness: both are great ideas, but certain floor boards are a bit creaky. I hope both continue on, because they each have something to say. Even if I don't agree with all their opinions (points fingers at Sleepy Hollow), they each have worthy ideas to explore.

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