Kennex and Dorian investigate deaths caused by a new designer drug with ties to Detective Stahl's past
Credit: Liane Hentscher/Fox
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Welcome back, Almost Human-oids! Or perhaps you prefer “Humaniacs” or “Stahl-agmites”? (Ha ha, just kidding, that last one will never catch on.)

This week’s episode, “Perception,” kicks off with a visually stunning teaser where two young women separately tweak out on a new designer drug. In both cases, their minds are expanded and they see all sorts of colors and patterns. One walks through the woods and is surrounded by bees. The other conducts a virtual orchestra. It’s all pretty weird. Suddenly, they both collapse. Don’t use futuristic designer drugs, folks.

Meanwhile, in Kennex’s spacious apartment, our hero is dreaming of his ex-girlfriend Anna. You know, the one who betrayed him and helped raid the precinct. She says she wants to show him something, but you’ll have to wait a couple acts to find out what it is. Kennex wakes up and leaves himself a digital Post-It note (this would’ve been an excellent place for some product placement, Fox!) as a reminder. It’s sort of like a dream journal, but spread out all over the wall like the musings of a serial killer.

Kennex and Dorian then go to examine the body of the girl who died in the woods, while Det. Stahl takes a look at the late conductress. Also, Kennex calls Dorian “Benedict Android” for revealing his location to Captain Maldonado, which is my favorite robot-related pun this week. Looks like both girls died of cardiac arrest likely due to an overdose. Kennex finds a container in his victim’s pocket. Suddenly he gets a flash of Anna from his dream. The other victim also has a container. Yep, definitely drugs.

Turns out the girls, Scarlett Davis and Eleanor Church, were genetically engineered “chromes” just like the precinct’s resident specimen of human perfection Detective Stahl. Not to be confused with the Web browser of the same name, chromes are basically super fancy test tube babies with perfect genes. Maldonado suggests that Stahl deal with the parents since she’s down with the chrome life herself. See, chromes don’t get addicted to drugs since they are genetically perfect, but they do like to experiment with the hard stuff because apparently you can’t remove the curiosity gene. Dorian reveals that the same drug compound was found in the body of a girl named Lyla who attended the Mendel School with Scarlett and Eleanor.

Meanwhile, Kennex is still getting flashes of Anna and pops one of the pills he occasionally takes to help jog his memory. Except Dorian knows that Kennex has been taking pills, because he checks his vitals every 72 hours. D’oh!

NEXT: Kennex (re)collects his thoughts…

Dorian asks if Kennex is seeing a “Recollectionist” (a back alley memory doctor) and lists the side effects of the drug that he’s currently popping like Tic Tacs. (Of course diarrhea is one of them. Sorry, folks. Pharmaceutical science hasn’t really evolved all that much by 2048.) Kennex says back off man, he needs the pills to remember details about the ambush.

(Okay, now here is a perfect example of how Fox’s episode juggling is messing with story continuity. Production-wise, this is technically episode four but it’s airing as the tenth episode. So are we to believe that this is the first time that Dorian has noticed that Kennex is taking dangerous memory boosters? If he regularly checks Kennex’s vitals, certainly he would’ve noticed the drugs in his partner’s system before now. Dorian suddenly getting wise to Kennex’s pill popping works in episode four. Not so much 10 episodes deep.)

Moving on, Lyla’s mom reveals that her daughter isn’t a chrome like her pals, she’s just a normal girl in a school filled with perfect students. (She’s the scholarship kid at Gossip Girl academy, if you will.) Stahl talks to a girl who, like Lyla, is one of the few “naturals” at the school. The girl can tell that Stahl is a chrome. (No kidding — the impossibly perfect cheekbones are a dead giveaway.) Turns out the drug works best on chromes — it expands their mind and makes them achieve their full potential. Also, it should be noted that all of the chromes at the school are creepy Stepford children.

Later, Rudy determines that the drug was created using a chemical printer. (So by 2048 you’ll be able to print out your poison of choice the same way you do your yard sale fliers.) They trace the chem printer that made this particular drug to an expelled Mendel student. Also, Lyla only took one dose and her cause of death was drowning, while Eleanor and Scarlett died from large quantities of the drug, leading Dorian to deduce that the dealer killed them. In the car, Kennex gets another flash of Anna, and they get into an accident. Dorian now has to wear a bandage on his ear, which is pretty funny. The dealer’s name is Julian, a student who knew Lyla. Dorian scans him — he’s so high right now on the super drug. Julian says someone hacked the printer and upped the doses that Eleanor and Scarlett took.

That evening, Maldonado and Kennex meet for drinks to discuss Kennex’s pill popping. Kennex still feels guilty for letting Anna into the precinct, which led to the evidence room getting raided. Maldonado says he can’t let revenge consume him. Also he’ll need to talk to Internal Affairs because, you know, cop show.

NEXT: What do Kennex and Sochi have in common? Later, Kennex visits the back alley Recollectionist who helps him remember that Anna gave him a gift — a Russian nesting doll. (Duh. No one ever just buys a Russian nesting doll. It’s always a gift that sits on your shelf forever collecting dust.) He takes the doll to McGinnis, a lab tech who I’m 99.9 percent sure we’ve never seen before but apparently has been helping Kennex for a while now. Not sure why he didn’t go to Rudy, but, hey, maybe she’ll be a possible love interest for everyone’s favorite awkward robot IT guy.

Dorian and Kennex visit Scarlett’s dad who holo-beams in his attorney, a nice trick that saves everyone a trip to the precinct. He wanted to protect his daughter after Lyla’s death, and admits to covering up the fact that all the girls took the drug together. Also, Lyla’s mom told him they’d all pay for hiding the truth, so, you know, she’s clearly guilty.

Turns out Lyla’s mom put a lot of pressure on her daughter to be perfect and keep up with the chromes. Julian the dealer cared for Lyla and kept the recording she made after she took the mind-expanding drug. The drug made her realize she would never be perfect and spurred her to commit suicide. Her mother blamed Eleanor and Scarlett for exposing Lyla to the drug and hired the hacker who gave them the lethal doses.

At the precinct, the Internal Affairs rep thinks Kennex’s feelings for Anna clouded his judgement. Could it be that Kennex forgot to follow protocol and now can’t remember his mistake? At home, Kennex deletes his Post-It notes, realizing he’s becoming obsessive like Lyla’s mother. But he has reason to be concerned — McGinnis calls and reveals that the doll is a listening device! So InSyndicate has been spying on Kennex this whole time, perhaps inadvertently making him the leak in the department. Or maybe they were just looking for tips on good ramen spots.

So what did we all think of this episode? After last week’s reveal of John Larroquette’s Dr. Vaughn as the season’s potential “big bad” and hints of growing troubles beyond “The Wall,” it’s a little hard to care about yet another designer drug plotline. The stuff about normal people competing with chromes was interesting, but we didn’t get any further insight into Stahl’s character. So she’s perfect but also has feelings for us norms. And we should care why exactly?

Also, the episode juggling hasn’t done the Anna/InSyndicate plotline any favors. It’s hard to care about the ex-girlfriend that Kennex barely mentions when we know that Dr. Vaughn is potentially building an army of killer robots on the other side of the Wall. Hopefully the writers will connect the Anna thread to the far more interesting threat of Dr. Vaughn and the mystery beyond the Wall. Also, how about some more details about what happened with Kennex’s dad?

There was also a decided lack of Dorian punching stuff/doing anything cool or important. Outside of a few choice one-liners, he was mostly relegated to nagging Kennex about his health this week. Please don’t turn Dorian into Kennex’s personal fitness tracker, show. Also, more Rudy, please.

The episode order should be back on track next week. I’m looking forward to seeing how the back half of the season progresses. (Hopefully it involves less Stahl and more robot fisticuffs.)

Next Week: Someone’s messing with Dorian’s head!

Episode Recaps

Almost Human
In a not-so-distant future, human cops and androids partner up to protect and serve
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