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- Episode: The Bends (Season 1 Episode 4)
- Starring: Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Minka Kelly, Mackenzie Crook
- Written By: J.H. Wyman (creator), Daniel Grindlinger
- Directed By: Kenneth Fink
- Network: FOX
- Studio: Warner Brothers, Bad Robot
ALMOST HUMAN: The Bends Review
By Jarrett Kruse
December 04, 2013
Almost Human arrives on FOX
While the first three episodes of Almost Human established an excellent pace for the freshman action-drama, episode four falls into some stale territory. Instead of focusing on the leads of Kennex and Dorian, we are given a showcase for police tech Rudy (Mackenzie Crook) to go undercover to infiltrate “The Bishop's” drug operations and the new drug called “The Bends.” While it gets off to a fast start, the episode does not capitalize on the previous weeks' establishment of following the leads and the momentum built since the premiere. While they are obviously still a big part of the episode, they choose to go with a second-tier character who while very funny and witty could have waited to steal the show from Kennex & Dorian to later in the season.
When an old cop friend of Kennex' (Cooper) is murdered by The Bishop's drug cadre while his “chef” is being tested on how to mix The Bends (a kind of audition for “cooks” that mix Bends), the PD is left trying to figure out if their fallen brother in blue was on the take. While Kennex is adamant that his old friend was most definitely not in on any shady dealings, you can tell right off the bat that he clearly is conflicted. He hasn't seen Cooper in over five years and at the behest of Captain Maldonado opens an investigation into just what went down. After a conversation with the narcotics chief the by the book Maldonado is determined to help Kennex clear his old friends name. The Bends is catching on like crack in the 80's and the drug is sweeping the city with overdoses by young kids. The goal is to set up another meet with The Bishop and this time bring their own cook. Enter super-geek Rudy who is at the ready to get out of his lab and go undercover as an upstart cook ready to enter the big leagues. But Rudy? Really? The guy that never leaves the tech lab and deals mainly with synthetics is going on a massive sting operation? I thought that while this sounded like fun, it was a little too much to take in after just three episodes.
Don't get me wrong, it was funny as hell but just a little too much to ask for this early. In fact I really do dig the balance of humor that the show manages to fit into each episode which is really tough to do in a science fiction show. Somehow the smart scripts continually pack in smart and genuinely humorous dialogue that has been steadily maintained thus far. So my gripe with episode four is not with the script but not really capitalizing on a stellar first three chapters and continuing to explore Kennex and Dorian's relationship as both cops and friends. Michael Ealy continues to kill it as Dorian and is a real scene-stealer with his comic acting. The scene in the sushi bar is laugh out loud funny when the synthetic flexes his comedic chops. What I like most is that you would think that it would be the synthetic that would be hard, rigid and emotion-free but it is quite the opposite—Dorian is a real goofball when he wants to be. His “synthetic soul” is a perfect compliment to Urban's Kennex that is still wound really tight since coming back to the job. I did want to point out that the fight scenes towards the end of the episode were really well done and I like that the tech does not go overboard and everything on the show seems like something that we will have within the next few decades.
The twist is pretty easy to spot and I wrote down in my notes who I thought was the real identity of The Bishop and I nailed it. It would have been cool to establish The Bishop as a recurring villain throughout the first season rather than show their cards immediately. Its not a terrible thing but I thought it was just a little cliché for a new show that is hot right out of the batters box. Gotta pounce on that momentum especially on FOX who we know is quick on the draw to cancel a show that does not perform well. Everybody remembers the whole Firefly fiasco that has become the stuff of legend. I am hoping that they hold off making any big decisions and really give this show a chance because it deserves it despite this small misstep.