Almost Human Review: Episode 1×05 “Blood Brothers”


Almost Human

Love, Life, and The Great Beyond! – in Almost Human.

With an action pack series like Almost Human it’s easy to get caught up in the fight scenes and special effects. However, this week’s Almost Human “Blood Brothers” is one of the most poignant episodes to date that mixes both humor and drama perfectly. We find our heroes not only protecting a witness in a murder trial but exploring the mysteries of death too. It’s yet another strong episode where the supporting cast aid to the weight of the story while keeping Kennex and Dorian at the forefront.

Assembly Not Required

We start with Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) on testifying in court at a murder trial. Ethan Avery, a genius and extremely rich man stands as the defendant for killing a doctor, and the witnesses against his crimes are prepped to appear via hologram. It’s astounding how creatively the series has chosen to use technology to heighten the drama but serve as a reminder that while some elements of this futuristic life may be vastly different than our own, some things remain the same.

Just when it looks like one of the witnesses starts identifying Avery as the killer, a madman breaks into the safehouse and murders the witness while those in the courtroom helplessly watch in horror. The second witness, a psychic by the name of Maya narrowly escapes the shooting. It’s a jarring scene, but sets the main plot point in motion.

Meanwhile, Kennex (Karl Urban) stands waiting in a building for Dorian (Michael Ealy). It appears Dorian is getting some maintenance work done to his unit as the other MX models  move in and out of their tube like sleeping cells. It’ disturbing watching the tall emotionless androids pass a very expressive Dorian. Poor guy really does stand as odd one out, and you can’t help but feel sorry for him.

After more time has passed, Kennex decides to go down to the android chamber where he walks in on a naked MX who literally has no genitals, and looks like a life-size Ken doll. Unfortunately, for Kennex he can’t un-see everything. Kennex explains that he wanted to see what was taking Dorian so long; it’s funny considering Dorian is the one often waiting for him.

As they make their way to work, Kennex complains about having seen the MX androids naked. He asks Dorian if he is like them. Apparently, his makers were more “thoughtful,and we an idea as to what lies just beneath Dorian’s android bits .

John: “Is all of that for one person? What do you do with it?”

Dorian: “Probably the same thing you do with yours. Nothing.”

Almost Human 105 Dorian begins to tell Kennex how uncomfortable he is with being in a chamber area with the MX androids because they don’t have any emotions and are cold. Dorian begins to consider getting his own place.

As Kennex and Dorian are assigned to protect Maya, after she is found by Dorian, we get some of the best moments of the episode as Dorian sweetly listens to her as Kennex scoffs at the idea of psychic phenomenon.  In the future there are treatments where a person can modify their brain to pick up a sixth sense. Most of time it fails, but Maya explains it works for her whenever she touches an object she can communicate with the decease persons.

She goes on to explain that the witness who died identifies her shooter as Ethan Avery, which to Kennex is impossible since he was at the trial. Maya insists it is the truth. She also tells Kennex he has an aggressively red aura, which doesn’t earn her points. They keep her claims at a distant until they are ambushed by a group of armed men. Dorian and Kennex engage in a shootout where Maya is injured.  Fortunately, they kill one of their attackers and we see it is a clone of Ethan Avery.

Love and the Afterlife

At the hospital, Maya talks about her visions to Kennex and Dorian. She tells him about a mysterious figure and the smell of bourbon. Later, this plays a key into the final scenes but what is remarkable about this moment is how much we get to see Dorian interact with Maya. Apart from Kennex, Dorian has not really had as much screen time anyone else really. Dorian and Maya have a great chemistry. He shows a great gentle and inquisitive side. Watching her divulge her problems and past to him  was one of the best scenes of the entire episode.

Almost Human 105 (01)It appears throughout “Blood Brothers” the theme of love plays strongly, but in different contexts. For Kennex, watching him struggle to connect with people is an evolving topic but when it concerns his feelings for Valerie Stahl (Minka Kelly) it opens a new side to him. For Dorian his connection to Maya is a turning point for his character as we being to get the lines between his programming and humanity enter a grey area. Dorian continues to amaze me at how he flows between emotions in his scenes with Maya. Then finally Maldonado who has played her part as leader gets to shed light into the lonesome elements that come with her job. She is single without any current prospect; but she symbolizes a strength that Avery cannot crack despite the many head games he plays with her in trying to get set free.

Quadruple Visions

“Blood Brothers” reaches its height when we learn Avery has created clones of himself as a way to advance his scientific endeavors. The clones are the ones behind murdering the witness during the trial, and they are the same ones who later target Maya. However, lines are crossed when the Avery Clones take Stahl hostage while investing Dr. Fuller’s home.  They demand Avery’s release in exchange for Stahl, but Maldonado outsmarts them by using the same hologram technology at the trial to make it appear Avery is with them.

When Kennex sees Stahl in danger, there’s a shift in his emotion. Despite what he thinks, it’s clear by his expression that Stahl means something to him. It’s a turning point for him that’s hard to ignore.

As is expected, Kennex and Dorian save the day after securing Stahl’s safety. Dorian goes after the Avery Clones’ vehicle in a Terminator-sort of fashion racing at rapid speed until he destroys the vehicle.

Stahl: “Did Dorian just flip that van?”

John: “Why hasn’t he done that before?”

At first the comment seems harmless, and even humorless, however we know that Dorian’s DRN models were discontinued for erratic behavior. Hopefully, this doesn’t become an escalated issue because Kennex has barely any friends as it stands; plus what would become of their growing bromance?

Time After Time

Maya testifies at Avery’s trial, afterwards Maldonado tells him off by explaining that while he sought immortality with his experiments it was for nothing. In time, he will be forgotten while he rots in jail. It’s such a triumphant moment for Maldonado because while Avery’s taunts about her life as professional spinster, she has the last laugh. She chose this life for better or worse.

Meanwhile Dorian and Kennex find themselves with their lady friends. Knowing that Maya lost all objects that could provide a connection to her parents, Dorian finds some objects that remained after her family’s house burned down. It’s a moving scene and I love the thoughtfulness coming from Dorian. We need more moments of Dorian having his own storyline down the road. As for Kennex, I guess he can benefit from the help of a psychic friend. The final scenes of Kennex and Stahl in front of a soccer game while sharing a drink of bourbon is charming, especially when you see the look on Kennex face when he remembers Maya’s prediction.

Final Thoughts

This is the first, of hopefully not the last, episode where the baddie of the week took a backseat to the more emotional character development of its major characters. It feels like Almost Human is finding its feet in finding what works for the show. And I’ve always believed that if you make characters you grow to love and care about, the rest of the plot will work itself off. It’s also important for an audience to feel familiar with what makes the characters who they are to each other. We see that Kennex and Dorian are building a very close partnership, and it’s wonderful. Yet, Almost Human can write itself into a bind if it relies on using a formulaic bad guy of the week premise for new episodes.

“Blood Brothers” and last week’s “The Bends” breaks the mold by weaving the internal struggles for the main characters to the surface. Dorian’s slow progression in wanting independence, and functioning like a real citizen is becoming prominent. While, Kennex continues to break down some of his emotional walls by slowly developing a relationship with Stahl; ok, admitting to his feelings but watching sports and drinking are pretty intimate starters for something good.

Overall, I loved what this episode had to offer with its character development, and wonderful performances. I really hope we get to see Maya return onscreen. Since she does have a good sixth sense, it could come in handy for the precinct.

Almost Human Episode 1×06 “Arrhythmia” airs Monday, Dec. 16 at 8|7c on FOX