Welcome back, Almost Human-ers! (Feel free to suggest another name for us loyal fans.)
After a few weeks off, the show comes back blazing with the long-awaited introduction of John Larroquette as Dorian’s creator and Gina “should’ve been Wonder Woman” Carano as a sexy killer robot!
This week’s outing kicks off with Dorian and Kennex giving some kids a tour of the precinct. (Naturally, Kennex offers to show them the guns.) Unfortunately, Kennex’s efforts to expose some impressionable youths to the horrors of crimefighting in the year 2048 ends in one kid losing his lunch. “Bedwetters,” Kennex grumbles.
Elsewhere, a woman is accosted by a masked gunman who shoots her and takes off with her bag. The MXs eventually corner the gunman and pump him full of lead. Upon removing his mask, it’s revealed that the mugger is actually a service robot reprogrammed for evil!
Later at the precinct, the evil bot is entered into evidence. Suddenly, it comes alive! (I love the robot’s creepy design.) The bot locates an evidence box which contains the head of a female robot. And she’s no Rosie from The Jetsons — it’s robot Gina Carano! The killer bot attaches the Gina Carano head to its body, grabs some guns, takes out the guard, and beats metal feet out of there.
As it turns out, the head is a XRN, a model of robot even more unpredictable and insane than the DRX. Two years ago, the cops destroyed the XRN’s body but kept the head in the evidence locker. (Hello! The first rule of killing evil robots is “always destroy the head.”) As Stahl brilliantly deduces, someone programmed the service bot to commit a crime, get taken out and then retrieve the head.
Kennex thinks that Insyndicate is behind the theft. They made a run on their evidence locker back in episode one, so that must be what they were after. Perhaps the XRN is going to be used to take out The Wall, Kennex surmises. (“The Wall” has been mentioned a couple times before, but this is the first time it’s really factored into the main storyline.) Stahl worries that the XRN could create a breach between them and what’s on the other side. (White Walkers, no doubt.) Maldonado tells Dorian, who has no record of the XRN, that a lot of people are probably going to die. Like, for instance, a poor cab driver whom the XRN kills in order to commandeer his vehicle.
NEXT: How to get a-head in robotics without really trying… Dorian tries to research the XRN, but Kennex says he won’t find anything since the files were redacted. The XRN was made by Lumicore, the same company that made the DRNs and Dorian. Soon after Lumicore was integrated into the police force, the DRNs started to exhibit erratic behavior. (Some even took their own artificial lives as they were unable to cope with the day-to-day horrors of being a cop in 2048. Stew on that depressing thought, folks!) The DRNs were replaced by the MXs, which was of course bad for Lumicore’s business. Lumicore developed the XRN, which they designed to be more soldier than cop. (Think of it like the new, sleek Robocop versus the clunky Peter Weller model.) Lumicore held a demo for the XRN which turned into a bloodbath. Oh, and they only developed ONE model. After three days of carnage, the cops destroyed the XRN, leaving behind only its head.
After examining the discarded robot head, Rudy determines that the XRN’s body is weak and will require a power source. Cut to the XRN in a lab full of decommissioned sexbots. The XRN now has a new, curvier body and fanboys get a shot of Gina Carano in a bustier. (Hey, the producers really want a second season…) However, the XRN isn’t alone. She grabs her shotgun, swings around and sees…Dr. Vaughn (John Larroquette)!
Kennex and the team arrive on the scene and learn that Vaughn created the XRN and named it “Danica” because, uh, he had a thing for race car driver Danica Patrick, I guess? Vaughn, who is the founder of Lumicore, also created Dorian and is surprised to see that he’s still on the force. He has no idea what Danica, the greatest mistake of his career, could possibly want. But if he has some of his old equipment back, he might be able to trace her. Off to Rudy’s lab!
Rudy is in awe of Vaughn and his creation “synthetic soul.” Nigel explains that DNA might be the data, but the soul is the essence of life. He wanted to create life and thus created synthetic soul. Det. Paul reports that Danica broke into a tech company and stole 500 ZNA processing core. Rudy determines that the processing core could be used to create an army of Danicas. (Calm down, fanboys…)
Kennex and Dorian meet with a tech company rep who informs them that the bot has a cutting edge design and was likely built by a young designer. Dorian says they have to consider the possibility that the bot was created on the other side of The Wall. The tech rep snidely says they’d never have the resources over there. “Anyone this intelligent would not still be on that side of the wall,” he says. “Not willingly anyway.” (So the wall presumably keeps out the under classes? Or just Mance Rayder and his crew of wildlings? Seriously, this joke will never get tired…)
NEXT: I’ve got synthetic soul, but I’m not a soldier… In Rudy’s lab, Vaughn has isolated Danica’s synthetic soul which should allow the team to track her. Vaughn thinks of his creations like children, but once the DRNs started to malfunction, the powers that be decided that the logic-based MXs were the way to go. Vaughn reveals that he had another fleet of DRNs ready to go when his contract with the police was pulled. He then created Danica out of resentment and desperation, and believes some of that feeling may have rubbed off on her. (There’s some interesting stuff here about how a creator can affect his creation that I hope the writers follow up on.)
Vaughn instructs Kennex that he’ll have to get up-close-and-personal with Danica and jab an EMP spike into her neck. Meanwhile, Danica crashes a fundraiser for city councilman James Hart and starts blasting. At the scene, Kennex enters with a SWAT team while Dorian evacuates hostages in the back. Danica takes down all of the MXs and officers with her sweet machine gun. Kennex jams the EMP spike into Danica, but she’s unfazed. They proceed to engage in fisitcuffs, but Danica clearly has the advantage strength-wise. (Seeing Kennex getting thrown around is always enjoyable.)
Danica is about to kill Hart when Dorian intervenes and an awesome robot fight ensues. Danica kicks Dorian into a wall and he takes a spike through his chest, which in the past has caused him to malfunction but this week he was mostly fine. Before she can destroy Dorian, however, Kennex comes to his rescue. They fight, and Kennex does the ol’ “pull the pin on the grenade that the bad guy conveniently has on their belt” trick. Danica explodes, and Dorian and Kennex share a nice ro-bro moment.
Maldonado calls and reveals that Vaughn has vanished. Also, the synthetic souls are gone! Cut to Vaughn, who has the synthetic souls and is picked up in a van driven by another service bot. Vaughn was behind everything! Stahl reveals that Councilman Hart was behind the decommissioning of the DRNs and the switchover to MXs. Kennex notes that this wasn’t just Vaughn getting revenge on Hart — he’s also collecting resources. Dorian determines that beyond the Wall would be the best place to vanish to and build an army. Maldonado and Kennex are skeptical that anyone would be crazy enough to go over the Wall. Cut to Vaughn with climbing gear ascending to the top of the Wall. Who does he contact on the other side? Jon Snow, perhaps??
After a few weeks of Fox juggling episodes around and hoping that something sticks, it’s good to see the show back and firing on all cylinders. We get some awesome action sequences, a few choice Rudy one-liners, a nice Dorian/Kennex robro-mantic moment, and minimal Minka Kelly. The mystery of what’s beyond the Wall adds an intriguing new wrinkle (I’m betting it’s roving Mad Max-ian gangs of the various MXs Kennex has destroyed) and with Vaughn being Dorian’s creator, the show finally has a “big bad” with some emotional resonance. (It’s hard to care about the random Insyndicate members we’ve met so far.) Fox is still playing around with the episode order (next week we’re getting episode four), but at least we can be optimistic about the episodes to come. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Larroquette again soon. (And Carano. Danica’s head seemed to be mostly still intact!)
Next week: Designer drugs! Stahl finally gets some character development! (So I guess she’s a clone or some sort of perfect genetic creation? I’m still betting she’s a robot programmed to deliver awkward, exposition-heavy dialogue.)