Almost Human / Screen

Thanks But No Thanks: Almost Human ‘Are You Receiving?’ Review

The police procedural isn’t anything that hasn’t been seen on television before, but it’s amazing what a leap forward in years and fictional technological advances can do for an otherwise run-of-the-mill procedural.  Almost Human is bound to adhere to the many rules of the subgenre and touch on the traditional stories usually referenced, and it did so with tonight’s “Are You Receiving?” in which John and Dorian dealt with a hostage crisis, but it benefits from taking place in the year 2048 where the most typical of plotlines get a bit of extra energy with all the new gadgets. 

The case-of-the week started off strong but fizzled as what began as an intense hostage crisis became a diversion for a jewel heist across the street. This episode would have benefitted from a more streamlined case, especially as gang’s methods seemed excessive to steal jewels.  Killing loads of people and attempting to kill cops while simultaneously hoping to avoid that entire hoopla with an undetected, adjacent heist seemed contradictory.  That being said, the gang certainty covered most of their bases by posing as an extremist group. 

But as procedurals go, I don’t expect much from the cases-of-the-week.  Its function is to provide a vehicle through which we can get to know the characters and at times they’re bound to be ridiculous, but this one was definitely a step down from “Skin”.  The sexbots integrated better in Almost Human‘s main themes and provided character development at the same.    Perhaps that was why “Skin” replaced “Are You Receiving?” as the season’s second episode and part two of the premiere event.

Though the case was wonky, John and Dorian proved themselves to be a strong team.  After “Skin, we didn’t really need an episode to inform us of this, but “Are You receiving?” did a great job of showing John and Dorian working together.  Isolated from the rest of the force due to a shut down of outside communication, John and Dorian were forced to rely on and trust one another which wasn’t difficult.  In between their sarcastic exchanges, the two are a great team and John took Dorian’s advice about using olive oil on his creaky synthetic leg and patched Dorian up in the field after he was injured.

Though the case dwindled as it neared its conclusion, the strongest aspect was Paige (Emily Rios), looking to protect her younger sister who had been taken hostage.  The actress was suitably sympathetic and likable in her determination to protect her younger sister, and Rios did a great job with her, especially as the episode called for her to be in distress for the entirety of it.   The episode managed to portray her fear without it taking over the entire character and Paige’s decision to leave her hiding place and go to her sister’s side – which would certainly read as a dumb move – was made acceptable by her success in her endeavor.  It was nice to see Paige, though being abundantly unqualified to deal with the situation in which she was placed, still be allowed moments courage that paid off for her.

After the case had concluded and the hostage takers all stopped, Paige thanked John for his help but left out thanking Dorian.  She questioned where he was but after John informed her, there was no mention of Dorian in her gratitude.   Like “Skin” Dorian wasn’t included in the gratitude of the victim-of-the-week which was glaring considering how Dorian went to face the hostage takers and felt an overarching duty to do so because he was “designed” for it.

This mode of thinking introduces a question of whether or not Dorian is considered worthy of thanks for his sacrifices.  He felt fear when the ringleader was pointing his gun at him just as any human would, but he’s not a “man” like John is. Dorian certainly has a lot of advantages over John as demonstrated when he took on the many hostage takers on his own and took many bullets in the process but still remained mobile which a human couldn’t have done. 

These advantages seem to make it impossible for people to thank Dorian  for his good work not because the work wasn’t good but because it’s what is expected of him (and of his design).   But just as his design makes him capable of taking on a bunch of hostage takers, it also makes him capable of human emotion. His fear could have sent him running in the opposite direction instead of straight into the line of fire, but it didn’t.  Though the death of an android isn’t the same of that of a human, it’s still a death, and Dorian could have died just like John.    But this isn’t acknowledged by humans who find Dorian’s sacrifices to be a given whereas John’s bravery deserves thanks because of his humanity and the potential loss of his life, which is valued more because of its basis in flesh and blood instead of complex circuitry. 

In what was a sarcastic exchange between Sandra and John, she said she wasn’t going to thank him for doing his job, but people do thank John for doing his job. This thanks is well-earned as law enforcement do put their lives on the line when there are certainly less stressful, less dangerous vocations to pursue.  But unlike Sandra, people don’t see John’s actions as a job requirement, but they do with Dorian because he’s an android.  At the moment Dorian is fine with this because he doesn’t really have a choice but to be fine with it, and he does want to be a cop so we can assume thanks isn’t really something (or John) really requires.

But John still gets the praise and the gratitude and it makes him feel good.  When Paige hugged him and introduced him to her sister, John was happy about it because he’d done something good for someone else, and it’s a very human thing to want recognition and acknowledgement, but Dorian isn’t human and therefore doesn’t receive it.




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