Beauty is often said to be in the eye of the beholder. What happens when someone can never see the beauty in his imperfections and is addicted to finding that perfect face? This week’s ‘Almost Human’ answers the question.

Our phantom-like Bandage Boy stalks another victim

Brian Barrow, a successful “chrome” with all the amenities and wealth of his genetically engineered brethren, is attacked and killed by a bandaged attacker. At the station, Stahl touches base with Kennex and Dorian on case, which is deemed death by cardiac arrest. Chromes don’t die from health-related illnesses and when Dorian finds a small hole in the back of Barrow’s neck, along with the DNA of seven others, all of which have reportedly died of natural causes, the cops realize there’s someone out there killing people. While the cops are running their theories, Bandage Boy goes to his doctor and demands he “do it again”. When the Doc is hesitant to do so, the attacker threatens calling the police on the doc practicing with a revoked license. When he starts the procedure, the patient’s bandaged face changes before he screams in agony.

By now the press has gotten wind of the deaths and Stahl finds a lead on Barrow’s last stop before home. While Kennex and Dorian visit Rudy to find out what killed Barrow and the others, Stahl visits an elite Chromes-Only private club where she has a battle of wits with the GM before the owner, Jake, captures her attention. He’s curious on how a Chrome could become a cop but can relate as his brother is a wood sculptor. There’s a kinship there, one that has Jake provide Stahl with the surveillance footage from the club. What they find is not only the perp following Barrow but a face that matches several of the previous victims. Coupled with his research on the victims, Rudy realizes that not only are nanobots involved but they are a part of an experimental plastic surgery procedure. To get more info on nanosurgery, Kennex and Dorian pay a visit to Randolph Ameer, a prominent plastic surgeon who started on the nano-surgery trials the year before. He talks to them about the failure of the trials, the nanobots, and the actuator—the specialized needle used to program and inject the nanobots into a donor and remove the ideal facial characteristic before re-injecting this into the patient. And one of the disfigured trail subjects just happens to be Eric, our bandaged killer, who’s taken the life of a beautiful young woman for her exquisitely emerald eyes.

The good doctor throttles Kennex before dropping dead

Using his underground contacts—namely DeCarlo, a little person traipsing around in rotund female exo-suit—points them towards a doctor in the East Turn that may have the info they are looking for. When they come a-knocking for the good doc, the latter injects himself with adrenaline, attacking Kennex before the adrenaline overloads his heart and he dies of cardiac arrest. Perusing the lab, they discover he’s Curtis McCann, a doctor that lost his license during the trials for hiding the side effects. Amongst his things, the detectives find the next victim, Jonathan Gettys. Stahl and the others are able to get to Mr. Gettys before he becomes the next victim. Thwarted by the cops protecting the last piece of his puzzle, Eric returns home only to stare longingly at a lovely woman who lives in the building across from him.

Going over the victims again, Kennex comes through, figuring out that all the victims fall within the same DMV district. As Eric speaks to his Venus through chat about finally coming to meet her, Stahl finds the file on Eric Latham, a volunteer on the trial who works for the DMV and seems to have dysmorphic disorder, a near addiction to finding “his version of perfect”. The cops storm his home but he’s already gone, visiting with Judy, his online friend. She’s shocked to see that he’s there but has a secret of her own; she’s blind thus cannot see the changes he’s made. Despite their differences, there is truly something between the two, something that could have lasted if not for Eric’s deeds. After the two kiss, they’re interrupted by the cops. Kennex chases Eric to the roof and the latter shares with Kennex his failings and emptiness. “You ever been loved?” he asks Kennex and when the detective says yes, he whispers “then you wouldn’t understand…we’re supposed to be loved.” It’s his final statement before throwing himself off the building.

Kennex is thoroughly shaken by the turn of events and, thinking over Eric’s words,  decides it’s finally time to take a chance with Stahl. But it’s a bit too late as Jake—the club owner—stops by to pick her up for a night out. He can only focus back on his work at the disappointment, so much so that he doesn’t see her looking back at him before she takes the night with Jake.

Alone and with the night to himself, Kennex sits out and watches people, and life, go by.

More than Human

  • As people, we often restrict ourselves by being overly critical to our own detriment. While Eric’s actions brought others into his own insecurities, there are those out there like him, those that cannot stand to look at the face staring back at them in the mirror, unable to accept themselves. Regardless of the technological advancements, this world will ultimately be built upon our morals as people and ability to connect.
  • The latter aspect of connecting is something that, even now, with the advent of Twitter, Facebook, and texting (to name a few) we are losing. In a future 30 years from now, Kennex sees even more of this in his life. Like any tool, technology is useful in helping us as people achieve great feats but it is not a replacement for human contact and relationships. Kennex is an old soul, a man whose values and principles vibe in more of a nineteenth or early-twentieth century man. He understands that we need to connect on a human level lest we get lost in the superficial comforts of the tech around us.