You know that big fall premier show you have really high hopes for and at first impression it does not wow you, yet it still manages to engender enough good will to make you keep watching? Almost Human just hit the point of diminishing returns like a car into a wall with “Simon Says,” not that it was god awful, but really disappointing. After seven episodes I feel like we should be knee deep in some type of bigger conspiracy or excessive challenge. Instead we are just moving along, and the show seems to think it has earned the right to not have questions asked about it’s direction. The plot was substandard, the characters felt off, and the villain was quite possibly the most condescending and backwards part of this entire episode. Almost Human is not Sherlock, Psych, Castle, or even White Collar in terms of it’s character relations or plot development. Those are buddy cop shows that earned the right to have all of their parts out of whack for one week, Almost Human has not earned that right as of yet. This does not seem to be a lack of plot, but rather a lack of vision on where the show wants to go and what it wants to be. So let’s dive in.
So lets start with the biggest problem in my opinion the lack of a driving narrative for the show, which has never been more evident than this week. We are now seven episodes into what is likely a thirteen episode season, and yet we have no big bad, no larger conflict, no animosity between partners, in short nothing that makes this series worth coming back to besides Urban and Ealy’s performances. By this point in most show we at least know who is supposed to be the rival for our hero, but Almost Human seems so inhumanely reluctant to name a villain. This is not Psych, where we come for the characters and humor and stay for the quirky Scooby-Doo-esque mystery. I am watching this show because I know it can create a suitable big bad. The show has seemingly dropped all pretenses about Kennex going after The Syndicate, and Dorian is not really having the problems I thought he would assimilating back into present day. Everything is just so easy for our heroes, and with out this challenge, this threat, I truly lack a desire to tune in from week to week. The bomb collar plot could have been connected to the bigger picture, rather than be another depressing one off.
Speaking of the sense of threat, how exactly was Simon meant to be a quality villain? The writers chose a very specific archetype for him, the internet shut in who was wronged by the world, and it really did not work. More than anything I felt insulted that Simon was given this role as all of the interesting parts of the scheme, the puppeteer like aspects of his persona, were quickly reduced to a farce in the face of Kennex’s machismo. Simon could have been Jigsaw from Saw, but the writers never dared to take that opportunity, instead sticking to a by the book Jock vs Nerd face of that felt pulled from a bad high school show. This has nothing to do with the actor who played Simon, instead the way in which he is written was nothing short of pitiful. After the second hostage I did not know what else to expect from him I mean he just took all of his frustration and focused it on Kennex, it was a lackluster idea to force the hero onto the stage, and I just found myself wishing for a more fulfilling villain.
There was always a limit to how far Ealy and Urban were going to be able to carry this show, and I can strongly say that without a doubt “Simon Says” was that point. There are so many larger elements missing from this show whether it be a creative storyline, an overarching big bad, even the amount of interesting and fun tech was missing from this weeks episode. The use of the Darknet was a modern day story that was not evolved to benefit from the parameters of the show. Sure, Dorian’s lack of energy was a fun storyline but it is starting to feel like they are milking Dorian for effect rather than actually progressing his character. I want to see where this plot line involving Rudy and Dorian living together is going, but I really do fear it is going to wind up being super lackluster and have no payoff. I want to believe this show has potential, just as much as I want any show with talented people to, but if you choose to just play it safe in sci-fi you are not going to succeed. Hopefully we go up, because guys, there is nowhere else to go.
Final Grade D
+Ealy and Urban still good
-We have reached the point of diminishing returns
-No real sci-fi element
-Simon was lame and insulting
-Where is the big threat
-Dorian’s face lit up like a disco when he was lacking a charge. It was a fun quirk
-Those prefabricated roses were a fun quirk, sadly they were the only one of the night.
-Dorian really needed to manage his energy better, it was a lackluster plot device.