Almost Human: Season 1, episode 12. Beholder (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 12. Beholder (2014) begins with a terrible warning about playing virtual golf. There’s no quicker way to lose face than playing against the machine. So our pretend golfer in shorts is distracted and gets the wrong type of hole in one side of his neck courtesy of a bandaged intruder. Switch now to police HQ where Dorian (Michael Ealy) takes a call from Samantha — the woman Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) dated last night. Naturally Kennex is upset Dorian has interfered in his private life. Dorian offers the insight that the women he dates find him boring which is why they keep taking calls when out with him. This bromantic heart-to-heart is interrupted by Detective Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) who speculates she has an unnatural death involving a chrome. Such people are genetically modified so don’t die young of heart attacks. We then get the slightly spooky view of Dorian taking a blood sample from the deceased and injecting it into himself. Of course he doesn’t have to worry about HIV or any other infection, but it’s a faintly surreal moment. Dorian’s internal CSI lab processes the blood and he announces the entry wound has been contaminated by the DNA from seven people — such bad hygiene from our killer should have consequences but this is not about the DNA. A records search reveals all seven donors are dead from natural causes.
Meanwhile, our bandaged man wearing the hoodie goes to his local unregistered physician who “fixes” his face (again). This is quite the best approach to cosmetic surgery I’ve seen in a television series or film for a while. It makes shapeshifting abilities redundant. Just one quick injection and a lot of pain, and nanobot cosmetic surgery does the trick every time. Who needs to manipulate the DNA when you can have the robots map the desired facial features from the inside of the model and then replicate the same effect inside the target human. Be still my heart — unfortunately that’s the effect the bots had on most targets. Their electrical action induced arrhythmia when injected into the models (except when those donors were prepared for the shock by the injection of adrenaline). The only drawback to this illegal version seems to be it doesn’t work on the already damaged person which is why he has to signal his continuing threat to society by wearing bandages.
The theme of tonight’s episode is not so much that people make barriers for themselves and so find it difficult to relate to those around them, but rather that technology makes barriers between people. Genetic modification makes the chromes who don’t like associating with normals. Women prefer taking calls from their friends rather than talking with Kennex on a date. When Kennex rants anti-technology, Dorian reminds John of his leg (and the salad oil that keeps it working smoothly). A further application of technology is the midget inside the obese woman — you have to see it to believe it — which is a really strange life choice when, presumably, the midget could have chosen the body of a giant hunky man. Dorian proves the exception that proves the rule. He can bridge the gap with humans because he’s a walking defibrillator who can jump start a heart assuming not too much adrenaline in the target body.
All this would not be unreasonable if it were being used in service of a sensible plot. But this is mawkishly ironic and overextended. Eric Lathem (Michael Eklund) as our homicidal nutter is forcing the reconstruction of his face so he can appear perfect when he introduces himself to his online chat partner. With time running short and the police moving in for the arrest, he finally picks up enough courage and goes to meet her. It turns out she’s blind and he’s been wasting his time. She loved him for who he was as a person, not what he looked like. It’s a ghastly moment as our facial dysmorphic disorder person throws himself on the scrapheap of life, i.e. off the top of a tall building. This just leaves one thing to perfect the already perfect day Kennex has been enjoying. He finally asks Stahl to go out for a drink with him only to find she’s agreed to go out with the chrome she met earlier in the episode. Carpe diem was not his approach to life and he’s cast adrift at the end of the episode, reflecting on how slowly the plot has moved. Sadly, although there’s some character development, the episode itself is intensely boring. And despite this now being episodes running in the order intended, Almost Human: Beholder shows no plot continuity with the last episode.
For reviews of other episodes, see
Almost Human. Season 1, episode 1 (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 2. Skin (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 3. Are You Receiving? (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 4. The Bends (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 5. Blood Brothers (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 6. Arrhythmia (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 7. Simon Says (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 8. You Are Here (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, Episode 9. Unbound (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 10. Perception (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 11. Disrupt (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 13. Straw Man (2014).