Almost Human recap: The Bends
Welcome back to the Almost Human recaps!
After last week’s rather lackluster Die Hard rip off, er, homage, it’s nice to see the show getting back to the sci-fi tropes that made the first two episodes so enjoyable. And what’s more sci-fi than the focus of this episode — futuristic designer drugs! Plus, android-on-android brawling and Mackenzie Crook in a fedora.
Let’s get into the recap!
Last week’s preview revealed that Rudy (Mackenzie Crook) would be going undercover, and the episode smartly kicks off with the lanky robot tech right in the thick of it. We find Rudy looking awfully nervous in a lab that isn’t his own. He takes off, and is pursued by some armed bad guys. Rudy takes a bullet to the arm, and things look rough as the bad guys draw near…
We then flashback 24 hours earlier to find John enjoying some Japanese cuisine as Dorian waits impatiently. (While John’s taste for ramen is a nice nod to Blade Runner, it doesn’t need to be constantly called back. Can he get a new quirk, please?) Our heroes banter about dining etiquette, leading to a funny moment where the chef serves John a live slug. John protests that it isn’t cooked (apparently in the future cooked slugs are a delicacy, so look forward to that) but refuses to lose face to Dorian and downs the slimy sucker.
Meanwhile, Trevor Cooper, an undercover cop posing as a drug dealer, calls his wife on his video hand phone, which is easily my favorite futuristic gadget on the show thus far. It seems perfectly reasonable that by 2048 we’ll all have smartphone chips embedded in our hands that can be used to call a loved one or order takeout with a mere swipe of the palm. Cooper and his drug cook are looking to set up a distribution deal with The Bishop, a shad0wy big time dealer. Cooper offers a sample of his green liquid drug to The Bishop’s android, who drinks it and notes that it’s 84% pure. (Just like Lydia on Breaking Bad, The Bishop is a stickler for purity.) Things quickly turn sour when The Bishop kills the drug cook and finds a wire embedded in Cooper’s stomach. Turns out Cooper is an undercover cop, and as you can imagine, he doesn’t get out of this scene alive.
NEXT: Don’t leave me high and dry…
Later, John and Dorian find a stash of the drug — which is made from a rare algae and goes by the name The Bends — in Cooper’s car. (Presumably the name comes from the sickness one gets from deep sea diving and not the Radiohead album of the same name.) Det. Paul (Michael Irby) immediately jumps to the conclusion that Cooper is dirty, because rash jumps to conclusion are his main personality trait so far. But John knew Cooper, and believes he was deep undercover. You know, because of the wire inside his tummy and all.
Back at the precinct, Captain Maldonado (Lili Taylor) is meeting with Alexio Barros, head of the narcotics division at Cooper’s precinct. Barros reveals that Cooper was a good cop, but he was a “dog with a bone” who had gone rogue in his quest to prevent The Bends from hitting the streets. Maldonado says she knows the type, and we cut to John as if there was any doubt as to which refuses-to-play-by-the-book member of her squad she was referring to. (Hint: It’s not Minka Kelly.) John and Dorian meet with Cooper’s wife, who remembers that he went to his family cabin right before he died.
While investigating the cabin, John finds the recorder that Cooper’s wire was transmitting to. Back at the precinct, the team listens to the botched deal and Maldonado reveals that vice has been after The Bishop for over a decade but nobody can get close to him. Valerie (Minka Kelly) thinks The Bishop is looking to mass produce the highly addictive Bends and create an epidemic. Cut to some teens tweaking out on the stuff and turning green, which is way grosser than junkies injecting “Nuke” into their necks in RoboCop 2. John offers to pose as a cook in order to score a meeting with The Bishop. (Maldonado: “You can’t cook ramen!” Seriously, John needs to vary his diet a smidge.) Maldonado thinks John is getting too close to the case, and wants to hand it over to Narcotics. But then John suggests the perfect team member to pose as a skeezy designer drug cook — Rudy.
NEXT: The fedora makes the man…
Rudy agrees to pose as the cook, provided he can wear “something sophisticated and European” as a disguise. (Sidebar: I enjoyed the disembodied robot head who curses at Rudy for abandoning him.) John and Dorian head to the rough part of town, which kind of looks like every other part of town, and visit a bar that John says doesn’t take kindly to androids. (You know the place is for real because they’re blaring “Welcome to the Terrordome.” For those keeping track of the music scene in 2048, last week we learned that everybody has pretty much forgotten about Elton John. It’s good to know that Public Enemy is still in rotation in seedy bars at least.) John goes in alone and immediately gets tossed out of the window. That’s what happens when you leave your super strong android sidekick outside. They eventually shake down a dealer holding some Bends, and convince him to set up a meeting with The Bishop in exchange for getting weapons charges against his girlfriend dropped. (John once again makes Dorian bend the rules, but since they never get in trouble there really isn’t any tension to these moments.)
Back at the precinct, Valerie and Det. Paul are teaching Rudy how to convincingly act like a shady drug cook. (Rudy wants to wear a fedora, but gets shot down. Clearly everyone has forgotten about Heisenberg.) Rudy tries to replicate the drug, and causes an explosion that puts a hole in a nearby android’s eye, which is hilarious. Please, show, more random android injury.
Tommy sets up the deal with The Bishop in an abandoned building by the pier, which Maldonado says makes sense as it’s discreet. (Where else would a shadowy drug dealer stage a meeting?) Rudy then drinks a serum that makes his body a GPS locator that can’t be detected by drug dealers for some reason. (Even by this show’s standards, drinkable GPS is a bit much.) Rudy goes to meet with The Bishop, and Det. Paul, posing as a bum, releases some robotic surveillance roaches, which are so much cooler than the actual disease-carrying kind.
At the meet, Rudy immediately blows his cover, and nervously passes gas while facing down the barrel of a gun. (If you had episode 4 in your office “When will the show resort to a fart joke?” pool, congrats, you can collect your winnings now.) Eventually Rudy is taken to a lab and starts his cook, where he produces a 95 percent pure batch of The Bends on his first try. (Clearly The Bends is easier to manufacture than meth.) The Bishop shows up and makes Rudy drink something that kills his GPS locator before taking him to the real lab. The team bursts in, but Rudy and The Bishop are gone. Luckily they scanned The Bishop’s face and discovered that his name is Maxwell.
NEXT: Battle bots!
John tries to get info from The Bishop’s henchman by beating the heck out of him. You think Dorian is going to be the good cop here, but instead he sticks his finger into the bad guy’s wound. The thug reveals that Maxwell isn’t actually The Bishop. You see, nobody meets The Bishop. He’s like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, only without the cat sidekick. While the team ponders the identity of The Bishop, Valerie sniffs the vial that Rudy drank from and Dorian reveals that he drank a counter-agent for the GPS solvent. John thinks someone inside the precinct must be involved since the GPS drink thing is police tech. Turns out the guy posing as The Bishop is a dealer whose case was thrown out by…Barros, the narcotics captain we met earlier! Barros is The Bishop!! This thing goes all the way to the top (of Barros’ precinct anyway)!
Maldonado calls Barros to update him on the Cooper case, and they trace his cell. (You would think a shadowy drug dealer would be more careful about his personal cellphone being traced.) Barros/The Bishop is impressed with Rudy’s skills, saying he’s come closer than anyone to a perfect Bends cook. Rudy, taking Det. Paul’s advice about believing his lies, says you have to listen to the ingredients, and relates it to the inner workings of a robot. (This is actually a nice moment that shows Rudy’s connection to the robots he builds. Hopefully the writers will build on this and make Rudy become more and more obsessed with his creations.)
We’re back to the opening scene now, with Rudy on the run from The Bishop’s men. Dorian and John show up and a firefight ensues. Dorian and The Bishop’s android get into a fight, which is awesome. (Please, show, give us more androids knocking each other around.) John chases The Bishop into the sewers, and Dorian uses a hook to rip off the evil android’s head. The Bishop warns John that he’ll go down for killing a captain. John of course kills him because he eats threats of departmental repercussion like so many tasty ramen noodles.
Back at the squad, everyone congratulates Rudy on a job well done and for not getting killed and all. Dorian insists that he and John take Rudy out for celebratory drinks at the local cop bar, which I assume is more friendly to robots than the one from earlier in the episode.
Overall, this episode was a big improvement from last week. We got to see the team work together, there was some fun banter between John and Dorian, and Mackenzie Crook continues to work wonders with an underwritten role. While we’ve still yet to come back to the Insyndicate storyline, at least this episode introduced a potentially deadly threat (we probably haven’t seen the last of The Bends) and offered a showcase for one of the show’s best characters. Still, I can’t help but wish that Dorian would start exhibiting the “unpredictable” emotions we keep hearing about. (The show’s disjointed feeling so far could partly be due to the fact that Fox is annoyingly airing the episodes out of order.)
Next week: A psychic helps John and Dorian hunt a killer! Minka Kelly in danger! (Hey, at least she finally gets to leave the precinct.)
Bonus video of the week: The intro to Future Cop, starring Ernest Borgnine as a veteran cop partnered with the future of law enforcement. As a commenter correctly pointed out last week, the short-lived show predates Holmes & Yoyo, making it TV’s first human/robot buddy cop pairing.