Almost Human: Season 1, episode 4. The Bends (2013)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 4. The Bends (2013) sees the banter between the two heroes taking on new levels of interest as they debate whether Dorian (Michael Ealy) should wait in the car while Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) eats his Japanese ramen, or they should discuss the relative merits of food from a tin or live on the hoof. Because Dorean has the language package, he can talk to the Japanese proprietor and arrange a practical joke, but I’m increasingly uncertain what the point of these interplay moments is. In entirely human dramas, there are filler conversations between cops or family members or vampires and their renfields, and we tend to accept people talking about the latest game, should dad be put in a home, or is the latest batch of blood from the piggery hitting the spot? But the conversations in this series feel as if they are deliberately exploring just how human Dorean can appear to be and how cranky but loveable the human Detective is. Giving Dorean a sense of humour sufficient for him to play a merry jape says something about the quality of his programming. Or are we supposed to be looking beyond the mechanical body and software brain? Is this intended to make us wonder whether the DRNs, as the early version of this android revolution, were using human brains until they could “perfect” the physical analogue? Put another way, is the big reveal going to be that Dorean is actually Robocop?
So this is a hack plot about the good cop who was our human hero’s friend back in the day. Six years later, he’s found dead, apparently collaborating with the street drug industry which is about to launch a new product called The Bends (it’s derived from seaweed, hence the tenuous connection to the sensations experienced by divers). So now our human is on a crusade to clear his friend’s reputation. To do this, he negotiates with Captain Sandra Maldonado (Lili Taylor). He wants to continue the investigation “off the books”. The masterplan is for loveable, eccentric Brit scientist or brain-box Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook) go undercover as a cook to draw out the drug dealing kingpin. This gives Rudy his moment in the sun to be told not to wear a fancy European suit and a fedora when posing as a low-life cook to the drug addicted. To set up this meet, our two low-profile cops go into a bar in the seamy side of town and fight their way through a crowd full of low-life to find one of the bottom dweller drug pushers who can send a message to the kingpin. Of course, no-one in this bar or the surrounding block would have noticed the arrival of said notorious cops nor that they openly talked with him in the street outside. None of his associates would see the release of said dealer’s girlfriend on weapons charges. It’s just a coincidence she was freed on the exercise of a police officer’s discretion. The kingpin would never suspect he was being set up within days of the last set-up. Such criminals are, by definition, intensely stupid people who will respond to invitations from their street dealers obviously doing deals with the local law.
The chronically nervous Rudy tosses down a magic drink which turns him into a GPS transmitter and goes off into the dark warehouse. He’s so so over-the-top nervous he even tells the criminals his real name. I didn’t predict that level of dysfunction. I thought the scriptwriters would leave the character with a shred of dignity. Hah! As if. This is a Brit and so becomes the punching bag for all American prejudices against those afflicted with intelligence. This performance out geeks even the uber-geeks in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Faced with such terminal incompetence, Dorian has to go in to help the human from committing suicide by logorrhea. Yet despite all this, the kingpin spirits Rudy out of the building — wow, who could have seen that coming. How did the kingpin know the neutralise the GPS drink? If there’s any cliché left out of this plot, I can’t see it. It’s 100% pure recycled bullshit. So shoot here, fight there, hide here, celebrate victory there. When the grieving widow is wheeled into police headquarters and gushes, “Thanks for not giving up on my husband. You’re a good man, John.” it sums up the puke-making sentimentality that ruins shows like this. Put another way, watching Almost Human: The Bends rots both human and android brains from the inside out.
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 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 12. Beholder (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 13. Straw Man (2014).