Home > TV and anime > Almost Human: Season 1, episode 10. Perception (2014)

Almost Human: Season 1, episode 10. Perception (2014)


Almost Human: Season 1, episode 10. Perception (2014) welcomes us to the world of smart drugs on two quite different levels. In our backward days, we just have street drugs to give pleasure if not happiness. The first of these drugs makes people smart. The second helps people remember when used in conjunction with a machine.

Walk through a forest and suddenly you understand the whole ecological process of growth. Stand on a stage and discover a world of music at your fingertips. However, as with most “something for nothing” offers, there’s a downside to this wonder drug. The person who takes it at the wrong dosage dies. Just think. For one brief instant you can know what it feels like to be a genius. The next you feel like Leonardo da Vinci or whichever dead genius takes your fancy. So Detective Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) has one body going through autopsy and our dynamic duo get to bicker over the body of the girl in the woods. Both have containers only openable by the holder’s DNA. Both containers are empty. While trying to deal with this case, Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) is getting memory flashbacks of his betrayal by Anna and loss of leg. He’s not the happiest of bunnies. Not for the first time in this season, new background information is sprung on us poor viewers. We now learn that, in addition to the naturally produced children, there are “chromes” who have been genetically engineered to be bigger, better, more beautiful, or whatever is the trait du jour. It seems Stahl is one of these tweaked people so she’s integral to this investigation. As one of the insiders, she’s supposed to be able to talk with the new generation. Except, ironically, she’s just as excluded as the naturals. Everyone apart from the immediate peer group is inherently inferior. No-one else can understand them.

Stahl (Minka Kelly) and Kennex (Karl Urban) not being a couple

Stahl (Minka Kelly) and Kennex (Karl Urban) not being a couple

The autopsy shows a chemical link to a girl from the same school, the appropriately named Mendel Academy, who died seven months earlier. It seems we may have a serial killer on the loose. Meanwhile we get visual confirmation Kennex is taking a drug to stimulate his recall and risking diarrhea (and other more serious side effects). Dorian (Michael Ealy) is supposed to report this abuse but Captain Sandra Maldonado (Lili Taylor) has also seen Kennex on the internal monitoring system. Pig-headed Kennex asserts he has the problem under control. No-one else is convinced particularly when he crashes the patrol car with Dorian almost decapitated. The problem is Kennex is obsessing about remembering something that will help him catch Anna. This pursuit of revenge seems essentially nonconstructive. As is required when challenged, Kennex walks out of an interview with Internal Affairs. He can’t have it both ways. If he can’t remember what happened before his traumatic injury, then he can’t defend himself against the accusation he failed to follow protocol and therefore was negligent in allowing Anna to infiltrate the police through him. But if he can remember, he should be able to give significantly more detailed information about how the infiltration was achieved. This leaves us with one loose end which he has managed to dredge out of his memory. The Russian matryoshka doll has been broadcasting everything said in his home all these months. The infallible police failed to find the bug when they swept immediately after the injury landed him in hospital.

When the dust settles, we’ve identified the killer who hacked the drug printer and multiplied the dosage in the pills by 1,000 — a fairly sure way of causing death. Had this episode been in a proper context, it could have been really interesting. Any society that allows the creation of an elite by genetic manipulation is opening itself to the possibility of conflict. As it is, our current culture has issues between the haves and have-nots. If rich parents are buying the enhancement of their children and then placing them in key power-broking positions, this could be social dynamite and a “rich seam” for exploration. Even in the microcosm of this episode, the tension between Stahl and the new generation was revealing. Their contempt that all she had managed to do with her talent was to become a detective was fascinating. It may also partially explain why Kennex has been slow to act on the probable sexual attraction between them. He’s not the most confident of people and may not want to get too close to someone who might outthink him. It was also interesting to see Dorian rather pushed out of the limelight. His contribution in this episode was reduced to warning Kennex of his drug abuse and wearing a fetching plaster on his ear after the car crash. So Almost Human: Perception was yet another example of potential wasted. With just a little bit of work in the earlier episodes, this could have been properly set up and have been more powerful. The only good thing I can say about it is we do seem to be pursuing a broader narrative thrust towards resolving the InSyndicate element and Anna’s role. Since we’re now almost certainly stopping at thirteen episodes, there should be proper resolution of this plot element.

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 11. Disrupt (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 12. Beholder (2014)
Almost Human: Season 1, episode 13. Straw Man (2014).

  1. February 12, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Not a bad episode. I seem to remember a passing reference to Stahl’s “genetically enhanced” status in an earlier episode, and this builds on it–and on her ambivalence about it. One of the minor themes I’ve found interesting is the recurring theme of drug-use. Today, more than 10% of people in the US take some sort of mind-altering chemical, from energy drinks to anti-depressants, and the stigma against drug-use is well and truly gone (even in sports today, the rule is simply Don’t Get Caught). As drug design gets smarter and cheaper, I fully expect to see the world going the way portrayed in this series.

    • February 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

      I’m currently living in a culture where more people are employed in the private tuition industry than as teachers in public schools. Such is the social pressure to excel in every subject in every school level that every aspect of life has to be organised around the competition for credentials and the ladder climbing in careers. People are obsessed by the status of some careers and the money that flows from having such jobs that they become meticulous in the way they dress, what car they drive, what credit card they have, and so on. You can’t be here ten minutes before someone asks you what job you have, how much you earn, how many children you have, which school they go to, etc. It flows through every minute of every day’s experience for the majority. Yet this show has produced the ultimate way for the rich to cheat and it has never been shouted from the rooftops. People would be obsessing about waiting to have children so they can save enough to get the right gene tweaks to give their children the best chance of competing for the better jobs. There would be endless gossip about the children who have had the treatment. They would be the celebrities — think Justin Beiber for the boy thrown out of the school and back home with his disabled mother. There would be online sites following their every move. There would also probably be death threats and the need for additional security through the police force and private agencies. And so on.

      It’s so frustrating all these plot options have just been ignored in the development of the series. Yes, the “smart” drug element is there but that would be subordinate to the gene tweaking.

      • February 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm

        I suspect we haven’t seen its appearance before because none of the main characters are family people. Also, the technology may be relatively new. However, you are right; the show really is leaving too much on the table. This episode put me in mind of Gattica, and I found myself wondering what else we weren’t being shown.

        Incidentally, you live in a very odd place.

      • February 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm

        To understand the culture of this part of the world, take South Korea as an example. On the day of the annual college entrance exams, planes are grounded, roads are closed, and places of worship fill up with parents praying for divine intervention as their children have the perfect silence of a capital city holding its breath while they write their answers.

      • February 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm

        Holy cow. Makes me glad to be an American.

      • February 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm

        As these “tiger economies” grow through their obsession with education and the application of knowledge, they will take all the high-end work from the old successful countries in Europe and America. These are societies competing with the West and, on present trends, winning the battles.

      • February 12, 2014 at 12:39 pm

        Brain-drain and political stability still favors the West, but you are right; the center of gravity of the world economy is shifting, and eventually the West is going to find itself having to adapt.

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