Almost Human / Screen

Seeing Double: Almost Human ‘Blood Brothers’ Review

I wonder if clones can ever be exciting again. After Orphan Black (and the perfect performances of Tatiana Maslany), can clones ever be interesting again? I know I’ll be comparing every clone concept and its execution to the hit BBC America series for the rest of the my life so maybe we’ve moved into the era where clones are just better left untouched lest they draw comparisons and inevitably fall short.  I had no expectations that Almost Human‘s “Blood Brothers” would near Orphan Black in concept as it’s not a “clone show”. In the year 2048 clone’s were an inevitable plot point, and even considering the show’s procedural element and smaller scope, I don’t think this episode really made the most of its idea here.

At first glance “Blood Brothers” had all the makings of a quality episode with some added focus on Captain Maldonado, a shady and narcissistic bad guy and a court case hanging in the balance.  Big shot philanthropist Ethan Avery (Alex Miller) was being tried for the murder of a doctor and ready to go down for it until he targeted the two eyewitnesses testifying that he killed the doctor.   Though he succeeded in killing one of them, there was one left standing,  medium-psychic (who on a good day is a petite psychic) named Maya Ferguson.

Because clones were such a natural way for this show to go, some more fun could have been had with their inclusion.  There wasn’t even any suspense (though there was a commercial break) before John concluded that clones were the answer to the Avery’s ability to be in a courtroom and killing a witness at a hotel.   On one hand this quick conclusion is to be expected because it’s 2048 and clones are apparently a kind of big deal (big enough to warrant a ban) so the characters assuming this is emblematic of where they come from.  That being said, the audience was certainly not supposed to take this cloning in as much stride considering the dramatic reveal of one of Averys dead clones during an ambush, and it didn’t live up to its hoped for effect with the quick answer to that question having come long before the clones were seen in the flesh.   There could have been a promising comparison between the clones and their autonomy and personhood and the androids and theirs, but alas, Almost Human didn’t really go there.

The episode does slightly better with the conflict between Maldonado and Avery though even that is  only treated to a couple of scenes.  With the exception of Maldonado’s confrontation with a jailed Avery near the beginning, this fell a little short as well.  Guest star Miller did a good job with Avery’s careful blend of narcissim and misogyny, taunting Maldonado about her age, her relationship status and her position on the force and telling Maldonado how unimportant she was in comparison to him (because he was like, super important).  It was a small bit of insight into Maldonado and hopefully Almost Human will do more with her going forward.

“Blood Brothers” also succeeded with Maya whose medium-psychic kick could have gotten old fast but avoided being tiring.  Rather than her ability being a natural gift of hers, it was brought on by a procedure Maya had in the hopes of being able to communicate with her deceased parents.  This turn grounded it in emotion that was different from the well-trod path of a precognitive gift being more of a curse.  Instead, Maya genuinely enjoyed being a medium psychic, but was still saddened by her inability to speak with her parents after the loss of her house and all objects that could have facilitated a reconnection. 

Most satisfying was Dorian’s relationship with Maya.  After most of the episodes had John developing bonds with each week’s featured guest star in need of police assistance,  it was about time Dorian was able to do the same.  At the episode’s start, it was Dorian to find Maya in the woods and provide support, and he was with her when she awakened in the hospital.  The two had an instant rapport, more than John did (which makes sense since Dorian definitely makes a better first impression).   Feeling sympathetic to Maya’s story of her parents, Dorian arranged to have some evidence from the arson investigation at her parents’ house released to Maya which finally allowed her to communicate with them. It was sweet to see Dorian engaging in a relationship onscreen where his make and model don’t make a human connection difficult or awkward for him.  In none of his scenes with Maya was his androidness mentioned, not even when Maya told him about his energy.  If Maya can read people, then wouldn’t it stand that reading Dorian would be difficult considering he’s a robot? Or perhaps the presence of emotions and an ability to think and discern means that Dorian is human enough and therefore able to be felt out by Maya’s abilities?

Maya was the second guest character that really appealed to me (after Paige in “Are You Receiving?”), and I wish Almost Human could do as well with the characters on their weekly roster. Even though “Blood Brothers” made an effort with Maldonado, it didn’t even try with Valerie.

Though Minka Kelly’s screen time got a boost, the same couldn’t be said for Valerie’s character development.  Her abduction by the clones did little except remind us that she’s “important” to John, effectively solidifying her place as only a love interest for him.   Besides this we don’t even get to see what makes her so important to John.  Presumably the feeling is somewhat mutual, but it’s hard to  tell with the time they spend together. The one scene they had prior to Valerie’s abduction was some tame (and kinda lame) flirting, and they closed out the episode watching a soccer game and drinking bourbon.  This would be a decent start to any procedural romance, but Almost Human keeps floating Valerie/John as something obvious and even, with Maya’s vision, somewhat fated?  Karl Urban and Minka Kelly aren’t exactly heating up the screen with their amazing chemistry so it’s important that Almost Human fill in the blanks.

Far more successful is the relationship between John and Dorian as the two have slipped easily into a banter that tonight included Dorian allowing John to take a look at his nether regions to prove that he is not, in fact, “a life-sized Ken doll”.  The humor of the two is being well-integrated into the episode’s as a whole, taking something of a backseat in the middle of their work day but definitely up for grabs before they catch a case.  And all the John/Dorian shippers were certainly given a treat tonight with John’s amazement at Dorian’s…girth.  The fanfiction is practically writing itself.

And line of the night goes to Dorian. When John asked what Dorian, an android, was doing with human-like penis replied, “Probably the same thing you do with yours.  Nothing.”

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