Almost Human Review 1×11 “Disrupt”
Without a doubt, watching Kennex and Stahl playing cyber-hacker dress up was fun! Seriously, they looked so Matrix-y, I was waiting for Lawrence Fishburne to come out with for red or blue pills! Dorian's storyline of dealing with his insecurities, and invasion of privacy. The more he gets to respond as a human and less an MX, the more I think we'll get into the drama of his future as a cop.
I wasn’t in love with how the story was paced, it felt disjointed at parts. Sometimes, even a little, anti-climatic. The one element that kept my attention as Dorian’s story, and although I liked the current Crime of the Week, it didn’t blow me away. There’s also no real feeling of continuity with the previous episodes. Some references to past circumstances like Stahl’s chrome DNA, or even Dr. Nigel Vaughn (John Larroquette) potential part to play with Dorian’s mysterious memories. I mean if someone as brilliant as Vaughn can create a DRN, couldn’t he have as easily embedded those memories? It’s a tease, but at least give some kind of connectivity to the series’ history. It keeps it interesting.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Within the world of FOX’s futuristic series Almost Human there’s often a sense of awe when seeing how technology plays an astounding role in the everyday lives of its citizens. This week, “Disrupt” introduces viewers to “safe homes” where home security is ensured remotely, on standby, through a business corporation. It’s a subject one can say is almost readily available; hell there are phone apps that allow you turn on and off your appliances while you’re on vacation! Well, let’s just say it doesn’t end too well, and our favorite law enforcement team is one the case.
One of the significant plot points in “Disrupt” is Dorian’s (Michael Ealy) growing storyline in forming relationships with humans. We open the scene with Rudy (Mackenzie Crook) doing a little bit of a clean-up with Dorian’s circuitry. It seems pretty routine until we realize Dorian has no idea this is going on. It sparks the debate about privacy, and although Detective Kennex (Karl Urban) tries to reassure Dorian it doesn’t seem to work.
Kennex: “Don’t you think you’re overreacting? You know, if I woke up in the morning and someone had given me a clean shave, I’d be happy.”
Dorian: “So, if I shaved you while you were unconscious, that would make you happy?”
Up until now, Dorian has limited interaction with humans over the years, since his growing partnership with Kennex we see how deep Dorian is starting to assimilate among humans. What I loved from this scene is getting insight into how Dorian is changing his perspective with his role in society. For the past several episodes, Dorian expressed concern over being treated like a “thing” which is unfeeling and cold. As he mentioned in the pilot episode he “feels” as deeply as a human. And isn’t this what the series is about? Exploring the elements and characteristics which make us human?
We also discover during Rudy’s sweep of Dorian’s core processor that there are embedded memories, human memories, which are extremely unusual for a synthetic DRN model. It signals what could potentially be damaging for Dorian’s future. Will these memories be the first sign Dorian may develop a glitch?
Dorian: “We are friends, you don’t have to keep things from me.”
One of the great parts of “Disrupt” is watching the dynamic between Rudy and Dorian. When Rudy goes on about how used to have long conversations with Dorian, and play chess, it makes you wonder exactly what information they exchanged during that time. Of course, Rudy had to erase those memories before sending him off to work with Kennex. This is an interesting piece of information, judging from Rudy’s expression it could be a reminder of a lonelier time for him, or perhaps something a little more sinister. Rudy has a history of working with some shady characters, and all his talks about android prostitutes makes you think there’s more to him than meets the eye. Perhaps by the season finale, Rudy will be the dark horse we don’t see coming.
Home Sweet Home?
Alongside Dorian’s dilemma of his enigmatic “memories” the LAPD must investigate murder couple whose deaths are attributed to an advance security system that is controlled by a virtual hologram and complete with high power weaponry. Coinciding with their deaths is another murder, of a young man, whose accidental death sparked heated debate on the safety of such home securities.
Although the subject is aimed towards the dangers of using “safe home” security, the bigger picture seems to be honed in on the topic of guns and other forms of high power weaponry. It’s a twist on the current debate of gun control and misuse of it. The violence that comes in the right to bear arms; in 2048 it seems to still be a hot topic. I wouldn’t say this episode is entirely political, but how could it not be considering the recent current events of violence in schools and in our neighborhood?
There is also the use of a rogue vigilante group called “Disrupt” which draws a striking similarity to the way infamous hack groups with Anonymous and 4Chan work in bringing their own brand of justice.
A lot of the parallels within “Disrupt” opens the door for discussion on gun violence, and somewhat vigilante justice. Although, a lot of the weight in handling the subject is lost as it doesn’t become as much of the central issue or theme throughout the episode.
The absolute scene stealing moments correspond with Dorian’s mysterious storyline, and even though it’s an interesting topic it doesn’t grow either.
The Trouble With DRNs
What is going around in Dorian’s head? It’s never a good sign when anyone, let alone an android like Dorian, starts zoning out. Earlier video promos for “Disrupt” give the impression that Dorian was going to go all out rogue. Unfortunately, that is an entirely misleading plot point. Dorian doesn’t go all crazy, but he does have implanted within his cyber-noggin organic memories that makes you wonder what exactly happened while Dorian was decommissioned, and why he was specifically chosen for Kennex.
I don’t know what’s worse, disliking an episode or feeling ambivalent about it. “Disrupt” had a lot of potential OMG moments, but just when it feels like we’re going to go there, it diverts back to the secondary plot. When we think we’re going to find out about Dorian’s memories, we switch back to the safe home subject and vice versa. There’s never really a major moment that blows the lid off the episode like in “Unbound” which is one of the best episodes of series thus far.
Even though the entire episode was at its best, it did have great scenes and moments that remind us of how these characters are growing each week. The scene between Kennex and Dorian talking about how difficult it is being human, is a nice touch.
Kennex: “Now you know how hard it is.”
Dorian: “How hard what is?”
Kennex: “Human connection, man. It’s messy. People in your space, people in your skull; it’s why I choose to live alone.”
And without a doubt, seeing both Detective Stahl (Minka Kelly) and Kennex run around looking like they should be in an episode of Aeon Flux with their cyber/hacker gear definitely leaves as much of an impression as Kennex’s British accent. All in all, “Disrupt” is an enjoyable episode, but doesn’t seem to pack as much of a punch as previous episodes.