Home > TV and anime > Almost Human: Season 1, episode 12. Beholder (2014)

Almost Human: Season 1, episode 12. Beholder (2014)

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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.

Eric Lathem (Michael Eklund) gets the eyes he's always coveted

Eric Lathem (Michael Eklund) gets the eyes he’s always coveted

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).

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  1. February 26, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Gah.

    I liked the theme: social alienation. “We are meant to be loved.” was a perfect final line for the killer, and it moved me. Unfortunately the rest of the episode made me face-palm several times, because of the hand-waving attitude this show has to the tech.

    1.) Why the “fatal copy” side of the process? If the nano-bots are simply recording DNA, then any sample of the donor’s DNA should suffice (after all, down in our DNA, every cell is the same). Here the writers were obviously stretching for a way to make copying someone’s DNA in order to get a desired physical feature a HOMICIDE.

    2.) If the trials actually disfigured test-subjects, how could the nano-bot treatment now work flawlessly? Especially on someone who had been horrifically scarred by it before?

    3.) Having the nano-bots work on you is obviously traumatic, possibly life-endingly so, so how does our murderer get the power to effortlessly morph between faces while walking down a street (and if he can do this, why is he still scarred and bandaged).

    The problem with making a near-future police procedural is that in order to make new technology part of the plot, the writers need to make the technology consistent; instead, they are defining new tech as being able to do “whatever it has to” from scene to scene (you’ve commented on this before, with their use of holograms).

    And all that aside, my last face-palm was the revelation that the object of the murderer’s affections was BLIND. Really? We couldn’t have gotten the moral point without slapping us in the face with a dead-fish O. Henry twist like that?

    Gah. As much as I want to like this show, it insults our intelligence.

    • February 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      I get that Stahl is the other part of the Almost Human triangle with Dorian but the level of social and emotional analysis underpinning this series is at the infantile level. The scene in the chrome club was just too normal. These are people who view themselves as an elite. The club lacked signs of overt wealth and power. Their manners were not dominant enough. The school was better. And, as you say, the SF plot was abysmal.

  2. February 26, 2014 at 4:16 am

    For a much more interesting misuse of sci-fi tech, see last night’s Castle episode.

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