Almost Human Review Episode 1×04 “The Bends”

by

Almost Human

My Baby’s Got The Bends

When an episode starts with a shooting then cuts to a “24 hours earlier” caption, you know lives will hang in the balance, there will be plenty of action, and someone almost always winds up dead. In “The Bends” the latest episode of Almost Human we explore the world drugs. Since the debut of Almost Human most episodes have played like mini James Bond films. However, “The Bends” conveys more of a neo-noir feel about it that in some scenes moves like a scene from the classic film Chinatown.

Not Quite Requiem For A Dream…But Almost There

Futuristic drugs and the way law enforcement have advanced in its ability to give someone a wire is pretty amazing and painful looking. Take Cooper (Steve Bradley), an undercover cop, who meets with a couple of nefarious dealers who are ready to make an exchange of some kind. Too bad for Cooper, his internal wire becomes detected, and they literally rip it out of him through his belly button; leading much to his demise. The drug of choice causing all this commotion comes from a form of algae; its properties create a high, and the street name is called “The Bends.”

As it turns out Cooper is a friend from Kennex’s past. It’s at this point the story becomes personal, and the way he reacts sets the pace for the rest of the episode. It’s unclear if Cooper is a good cop or good cop gone bed.

Kennex: “He was a good cop. No way he was dirty.”

Dorian: “When was the last time you saw him?”

Kennex: “Five or six years ago.”

Dorian: “A lot can can change  in five years, John.”

Almost Human 104 (1)Later, in the precinct, Kennex learns that Cooper had a rough patch recently, and that the drugs found by his dead body indicate he was crooked; or could have been on a rogue mission to prove that The Bends was a major threat for the city. Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) takes the lead once more, and is joined by Cooper’s supervisor, Captain Alexio Barros (Benito Martinez) who informs Maldonado of Cooper’s behavior. Meanwhile, Detective Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) informs everyone the dangers of The Bends, that the addictive contents of this new street drug will cause a major epidemic.

Determined to prove Cooper’s innocence Kennex and Dorian explore the last few places he may have traveled; this leads them to a cabin in the woods where a recording shows that Cooper was indeed innocent. He was building a case against the “Bishop” a druglord who is the main supplier of The Bends.

Kennex: “Cooper was my friend, and until someone can prove any differently, he deserves my allegiance.”

As Kennex and Dorian make their way into solving the identity of “Bishop” and avenging Cooper’s murder; this episode does a good job of using it as a tool to delve more into Kennex’s past.  He has less wisecracks which, actually, is nice for a change. Karl Urban seems always at his best when he is playing more of the intense dramatic scenes; it’s a nice counterpart to Michael Ealy’s more emotional portrayal of Dorian.

Checkmate!

In an effort to capture the “Bishop” Kennex wants to go undercover to get the “Bishop” much to the concern of Captain Maldanado.

Maldanado: “You can’t cook Raman let alone The Bends.”

Kennex: “I can cook Raman…I can order Raman.”

It’s nice to know that in 2048 people still use Raman as part of their daily diet. Yet, despite Kennex’s pleas, Maldonado asks him to consider who they have at their disposal to convince the “Bishop” they can make their own drugs. Kennex solution?  Rudy (Mackenzie Crook).

Run Rudy Run

Almost Human 104Rudy’s background as a technician, in addition to his beautiful mind, makes him the perfect candidate. Although, you gotta feel sort of bad for this guy, he’s going to be in the line of fire. Then again, when you got backup of a road-rage tough guy like Kennex, and a damn good android officer like Dorian around, I’d feel pretty safe.

As Rudy puts his neck out, and on the line, we get closer to unveiling the true identity of the “Bishop.”

[SPOILER ALERT!]

Since “The Bends” has a lot of twists and turns of a classic noir, the identification and reveal of “Bishop” came as no surprise; greed, power, and corruption do go hand and hand. So it came as no surprise that Cooper’s supervisor– Captain Alexio Barros –one of his own at the precinct, was the man behind the deadly drug.

And now the past has caught up with the present; Rudy is staring at the men at the drug exchange, and when he recognizes Barros runs off but not before getting shot. Kennex and Dorian come to the rescue, as usual, and what transpires is simply one of the best fight scenes of the series so far. Kennex attacks Barros like some war machine, and slams him against walls while Dorian has an android versus android showdown.

Final Thoughts

“Almost Human” is progressively getting better and stronger with each installment. The main challenge of the episode is keeping an even balance on the tone. Sometimes, there is so much action the character build seems to be compromised. In “The Bends” we get just the right amount of background story for Kennex, humor, and wonderful support from the rest of the ensemble. Definitely, one of my favorites so far.


Almost Human Episode 1×05 “Blood Brothers” airs Monday, Dec. 09 at 8|7c on FOX