The past makes an unexpected return to John Kennex’s life as he investigates the case of a killer who’s MO is eerily similar to the Straw Man, the serial killer his father, Edward Kennex, put away before he was suspiciously murdered in the line of duty not long after.
The future isn’t all glitz and glamour as, despite the technological revolutions, it has more than its fair share of destitute. Abby’s one of those, taking advantage of the newly established city-wide nutrition programs for the less fortunate, she’s saved from harassment by a wheelchair bound Glenn who seems nice enough. But what’s the saying about the devil often being in disguise? Glenn’s that devil, drugging Abby and pulling her into his van and driving away, no one the wiser.
For Dorian, it’s a big event. It’s the DRN’s annual performance evaluation by a review board of three. They speak to Maldonado, Rudy, Kennex and the main star himself, to ensure he’s firing on all cylinders, so to speak. He gets nothing but glowing feedback from his peers though, on the way to a case, Kennex jokes a bit about their less than appropriate interactions (“you scanned my balls”). The levity is quickly squashed when they find Abby’s body and Kennex identifies the Straw Man’s MO. Kennex tells Dorian that catching Michael Costa AKA, the Straw Man was “The collar of his [father’s] career, right before he was killed.” When Dorian tries accessing the case files, he’s rejected as they are sealed. Back at the precinct, Dorian suggests visiting Costa and everyone agrees. Before interviewing the convicted killer, Kennex address Maldonado about his father’s case files and she promises to “take care” of the sealed status. At the prison, the once schizophrenic Costa drops quite the bomb on Kennex; his father believed Costa to be innocent. When he hears an alias his father used to use, Kennex is more than intrigued. Costa’s info on the elder Kennex looking into crooked cops and stolen robotics parts further strengthens Kennex’s resolve in uncovering the truth.
Stahl’s analysis of the stitching in the victims being exactly the same as the original killings on top of John and Rudy working together and realizing the “victims” are actually replicas (discovered based on Rudy’s find of no dirt under the fingernails and Kennex using his father’s clues), created by an old organic printer, it’s news that the ‘killer’ actually wants his victims alive, but for what purpose? After finding another body that corroborates with Rudy’s theory, Maldonado comes up with the plan of driving their quarry into a trap. They have cops and MX droids overtly patrolling 44 of the 46 city shelters, opting for more subtle methods in the final two. Detective Paul, showing that he can be more than a Dick, briefly bonds with one of the less than fortunate teens at the shelter. John and Dorian are staking out the shelter and when Dorian asks if Ed Kennex could have been guilty of the crimes he was charged in, Kennex tells him the story of how honest his father was, even in the face of other crooked cops. “He’s the reason I became a cop,” Kennex says, “there’s no way he was dirty.”
It doesn’t take long for the plan to work as Paul ID’s a van driving off in an alley and, with the help of drones, they capture the perp’s face and ID him as Glenn Dunbar, a trader of illegal tech on the black market. They follow him to the pier and, there, find several of his victims still alive. Kennex is cold-cocked by Dunbar who, after throwing the cop around a bit (not an unusual thing in Almost Human), Kennex is able to get his gun and pump the criminal full of lead. Dunbar was a cyborg, abducting unsuspecting people to experiment on in order to better the biotech keeping his degenerative disease from claiming his life. With the case solved and everything brought to light, Kennex is able to free an innocent man (Costa) and clear his father’s name.
After all the advice he’s received, Dorian gives the final evaluator an MX impression but the man doesn’t need to be convinced. With Kennex and the others giving Dorian nothing but the highest respect, the DRN has been given a renewed service ‘contract’. He joins his partner and thanks him with a top of the line cybernetic leg—a gift that will truly keep on giving. Jokes aside, the two share a special moment, one that nearly brings Dorian to tears (can he even cry?). “I was made to feel, John,” he says to Kennex’s chagrin. The officer is ready to dig into some noodles when the call comes for officers to respond to a robbery. Peaceful meal interrupted, Dorian and Kennex exit stage right, ready to take on some bad guys, the same way they’ve done this year…
A Fitting End…or New Beginning
- As procedural episodes go, “The Straw Man” is average in its primary story vein. Where it shines is the stories at the periphery. We find a bit more about Edward Kennex, the true goodness in Detective Paul and the solidification of Dorian and John’s relationship. Couple that with the unanswered question about why Maldonado insisted Dorian be reassigned to the police force, what’s going on at the other side of the Wall, and the previous growth of Detective Stahl and you have the ingredients to propel Almost Human into a second season.
- If I’ve mentioned it once, I’ve mentioned it a thousand times, the chemistry between Karl Urban (Kennex) and Michael Ealy (Dorian) is the backbone of this show and why I love it so much. No thanks to the network execs airing episodes out of order (why in the blue hell would you do something like that…HELLO, do they NOT remember Firefly?!?!) definitely messed with the emotional continuity of Kennex and Dorian’s relationship. Even with that, the two actors had such a great feel for one another and their characters that they have been able to overcome such a ludicrous and unnecessary handicap.
- I’m not sure where things go from here but, after 13 episodes, ‘Almost Human’ may have its flaws but there’s a substantial amount of material created to continue building onto this future world.