Almost Human season finale recap: 'Straw Man'
Kennex and Dorian pursue a vicious serial killer with ties to Kennex's late father.
Greetings, fellow Humaniacs! Can you believe it’s the season (and possibly series) finale already? It seems like only yesterday (well, four months ago) when we first met Detective John Kennex and his robot partner Dorian. Since then we’ve delighted to their banter, been intrigued by the show’s bubbling mythology (what’s beyond the Wall??) and tolerated Minka Kelly’s terminally dull Detective Stahl.
Tonight’s episode, “Straw Man,” answers some lingering questions about Kennex’s dad and features Dorian singing a Lionel Richie classic. So let’s jump into the recap!
We open on a homeless young woman named Abby in line for her food pill. (The little glimpses we’ve seen of 2048’s various social classes — from the privileged Chromes in their slick private communities to the impoverished street people lining up for their daily allotment of food and medicine — have helped to paint a bleak portrait of the future. You either incorporate technology into your daily life or you might end up one of the starving masses.) A man in a wheelchair tells her about another shelter that’s open that has beds and actual food. Turns out the man, whose name is Glenn, is faking the whole wheelchair thing and drugs Abby and puts her in a van.
At the precinct, the yearly review of the squad’s robotic officers is underway. And, oh, hey, Det. Paul is back from wherever he was. (Something about a vacation with his mom? Honestly, he’s barely registered this season besides being a gruff straight man to Kennex and Dorian. If he disappears permanently next season I can’t say I’d even notice.) The investigators want to know how Dorian, the station’s sole DRN model, is doing. Maldonado, Rudy, and even Kennex sing the praises of their robot pal. Kennex mentions the time when Dorian flipped over a van, a great moment that would rightly give any human partnered with a super strong robot pause.
Later in the car, Kennex jokes that he told the review panel all about the time when Dorian scanned his testicles and then promptly flashed his robot junk. (If nothing else, this show will be remembered for its frequent use of robot genitalia gags during the family viewing hour.) They examine Abby’s body and find a piece of straw. Wait for it — it seems that Abby has been sewn up and stuffed with straw. (How you like them apples, The Following?? Almost Human can do icky serial killer murders too!) Looks like the MO of Michael Costa, aka “The Straw Man.” Except that Kennex’s late father caught The Straw Man (he was the Joker to Kennex’s pop’s Batman), so it looks like the gang has a copycat killer on their hands.
Kennex and Dorian visit Costa in jail, but he denies ever killing anyone. He’s a paranoid schizophrenic and used to have blackouts, sure, but he’s no killer. Turns out Kennex’s dad believed Costa was innocent and visited him before he died. Costa reveals that Kennex’s dad was looking into something involving crooked cops and robots. Two weeks later, he was killed in the line of duty. (Coincidence??) Dorian and Kennex surmise that the original Straw Man killer is still alive. Cut to creepy Glenn from earlier picking up another homeless girl.
NEXT PAGE: Hello, is it Dorian you’re looking for? At the precinct, Stahl found that the new Straw Man’s stitching is identical to the original’s work and no longer believes the copycat theory either. Maldonado gives Kennex his father’s case file which was sealed by Internal Affairs. Kennex wants to keep his dad’s theory on the DL since some of the parties involved might still be on the force. Meanwhile, Dorian advises Rudy to act like a stiff, subservient MX robot during his next review to make the investigators more comfortable.
Looking into old case files, Kennex finds that his dad believed that someone planted DNA evidence and a weapon on Michael Costa, pinning him for the Straw Man murders. Kennex also notices that his dad circled the feet of all of the Straw Man’s victims. At the lab, Rudy reveals that Abby’s body is a clone. Also, as Kennex’s pop discovered, all of the victims are flatfooted. Using his organic printer and a cupcake as an example, Rudy demonstrates a flaw in the old printers that caused them to be unable to create arches in human feet. The killer has been copying his victims as a way to keep them hidden. But why is he keeping them alive? (Nice to see the bioprinters make another appearance. They’re a reminder of just how easy it’ll be to make clones by 2048.)
Turns out the killer’s bioprinter is unable to print human organs, thus the whole filling them with straw thing. Kennex tells Maldonado that his dad believed Costa was set up. However, before his death, someone framed Kennex’s dad for stealing robotics parts from the evidence locker and selling them on the black market.
The team finds the body of another runaway girl. Like the other victims, she has a pinprick from the meal supplement machine, so the team scrambles to check out various homeless shelters. Det. Paul poses as a homeless guy and gives a young man some money because he actually has a heart of gold under that gruff, robot hating exterior. In the car, Dorian is singing “Hello” by Lionel Richie which may be the greatest moment of the entire series. Dorian asks Kennex if he thinks his dad could have stolen the robot parts. Kennex tells Dorian a story about how his dad refused to take a cut of some drug money back in the old days when every cop was on the take. His dad was the only honest person on the force and is the reason Kennex is a cop today.
At the homeless shelter, Glenn tries to approach another victim but notices the MXs on patrol. Paul, still doing his homeless schtick, notices that the glasses worn by the homeless kid he helped out earlier have been left behind. Glenn’s murder van is pulling away but Paul calls it in, and Kennex and Dorian pursue.
After raiding Glenn’s lab, the team finds all of the victims inside coffin-like chambers. Dorian finds Glenn, but it’s a duplicate that is rigged to explode. Suddenly, the real Glenn knocks Kennex down. They fight, and Kennex eventually shoots Glenn. Dorian examines the body and finds that Glenn is a cyborg. The parts in Glenn’s lab are all from the police evidence locker. Kennex thinks his dad figured out who stole the parts. Even stranger, Officer Grant, who was in charge of the evidence locker at the time, was killed in the line of duty three weeks after Kennex’s dad.
NEXT PAGE: This is what it sounds like when androids cry…At the station, Stahl reveals that Glenn had a degenerative disease and was trying to use the robotic parts to prolong his life. His victims were test subjects for his cybernetic parts. The parts worked for a while, but when they started breaking down after 10 years, he began killing again. Kennex thinks that his dad found out about the missing parts from evidence and was killed for it. Maldonado says Officer Grant could’ve been framing Kennex’s dad for stealing the evidence before Glenn killed them both. Costa gets released and the charges are dropped. Maldonado congratulates Kennex for finishing his dad’s work and clearing his name.
Dorian receives glowing reviews from the squad, particularly from Kennex, who claims that Dorian is the reason he’s staying on the force. In the end, Dorian’s assignment is renewed. (So meta!) The season ends with Dorian finding Kennex at a ramen bar just like in episode one. He gives Kennex a gift as a thank you for the glowing review — a new, souped up robot leg. Dorian is so touched by what Kennex said in his review that he starts to tear up. But before things can get too touchy feely, our favorite human/robot buddy cop duo are called into duty.
So we end the season (and potentially the series) with a solid episode that highlights the strengths of the Kennex/Dorian relationship at the show’s core. Sure, I would’ve preferred to learn more about John Larroquette’s Doctor Vaughn and the potential robot army he’s building beyond the wall. But at least the writers wrapped up one dangling mystery and gave us some quality Kennex/Dorian bonding time. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of TV’s best (ro)bromance.
Oh, and apparently this whole time we’ve been in the city of New Pittsburgh. Huh. Didn’t see that coming. I guess in the future, Pittsburgh is going to look a lot like San Francisco crossed with Vancouver.