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.
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).