Almost Human recap: 'Disrupt'
A killer "smart home" leads Kennex and Dorian to investigate a rogue group of hackers
Welcome back, Humaniacs!
This week we have a killer “smart home,” a band of pesky hackers, and Minka Kelly in a purple wig! Also, who’s messing with Dorian’s head? Let’s find out!
Hey, remember how Rudy and Dorian were bunking together? Well, turns out Rudy is running tests on Dorian’s processing core while our favorite DRN-droid is recharging. Dorian is understandably not so thrilled with Rudy poking around in his noggin, which Kennex compares to waking up to find that someone has given him a nice clean shave. “So if I shave you while you’re unconscious, that would make you happy?,” Dorian asks. (It’s been a while since the writers threw a bone to Dorian/Kennex slash fiction authors.) What Rudy doesn’t reveal is what he’s seen inside Dorian’s head — a memory of the young bot playing with a toy train.
We cut to the home of Michael Bennett, who has a super fancy Synturion home security system. He greets his home security hologram, SAM, who looks like a slicker version of one of the MX androids. Michael and his wife Linda have been receiving death threats because a year ago their home security system malfunctioned and caused the death of a young trespasser named Aaron Kasdan. But thanks to their fancy smart home, they’re the perfect picture of 2048 upper class bliss. Linda goes for a swim while SAM prepares Michael’s (presumably daily) scotch. (Seriously, I have to get one of these smart home thingies.) SAM watches Linda while she swims and asks how the temperature of the water is. A little creepy, but nothing homicidal yet. Suddenly, a news report about Aaron’s death appears on the TV. The cover on the pool closes, trapping Linda. When Michael tries to save his drowning wife, the home weapons system identifies him as hostile and shoots him.
The team arrives at the scene, and Dorian discovers that the home security system malfunctioned at the exact same time that it killed young Aaron Kasdan one year prior. Maldonado is too no-nonsense for coincidences and thinks that they have a homicide on their hands. Turns out someone hacked into the security system, but left no trace. Also, the Bennetts had been receiving a ton of death threats, so lots of suspects.
At Synturion, Kennex and Dorian meet another SAM, only this time he’s an actual security android and not a hologram. Right before they meet with Peter Newsome, Synturion’s counsel, and CEO Kay Stenson, Dorian gets a flash of the memory Rudy uncovered earlier. Mrs. Stenson got into home security because she was assaulted and wanted to help people feel safe. One group, called Anonymous, er, I mean, “Disrupt,” has been particularly vocal in their attacks on Synturion. Kennex says maybe so many people are angry at Synturion because they remember the days when a kid jumping a fence would’ve been met with an angry shout and not a hail of gunfire. (If you’re noticing some nods to the George Zimmerman case, well, you’re not alone.)
NEXT: Don’t Disrupt This Groove…Stahl meets with Aaron Kasdan’s mother who reveals she was at a vigil for her son when the Bennetts were killed. Mrs. Kasdan believes that “smart houses” are dangerous and explains that Peter Newsome made her son out to be a criminal. She doesn’t know why her son trespassed on the Bennetts’ property that night, but he didn’t deserve to die. Aaron was a loner, and spent a lot of time on his computer. (Not sure why the idea of a kid being on their computer all the time is novel by the year 2048, but just go with it.)
In the squad car, Dorian is still getting flashes of being a kid, which isn’t possible since he came into being as a fully formed, dashing adult. Suddenly, the lights go out all over the city. A photo of Aaron is projected with the words “Justice for Aaron.”
Later, the team watches a video from Disrupt claiming responsibility for the blackout. They’re targeting Synturion and other companies who are putting dangerous tech into consumers’ hands. The gang consults Rudy, who knows Crispin X, a “hacker for hire” who caused the blackout. Rudy thinks Crispin will be at a party celebrating the successful hack. So instead of sending Rudy in, which would’ve been hilarious, Stahl decides to go in using his hacker name which makes zero sense. Kennex volunteers to go with her, and Rudy says they need to look the part if they’re going to pass as hackers. This means leather and spiky hair. Also, Stahl wears a purple wig that makes her look like Olivia Wilde from Tron Legacy crossed with a character from Jem and the Holograms.
At the party, Stahl and Kennex discover that everyone there is jacked into a virtual reality world that strangely looks like a ’90s rave. They find Crispin X, whose real name is Neko.
Dorian and Rudy discuss Dorian’s new childhood memory. Rudy admits that when Dorian was decommissioned, he would occasionally wake him up and they would engage in spirited discussions. (Also some yodeling a “whole mail order bride debacle.” Uh, that needs to be a flashback episode…) Dorian says that they’re friends and Rudy doesn’t have to keep things from him. (Rudy is of course keeping something from him.)
Neko admits he hacked into the city grid to honor Aaron Kasdan but didn’t kill the Bennetts. Meanwhile, Peter Newsome has been murdered by his smart home. Dorian and Kennex determine that the murderer is someone who knew Aaron Kasdan personally. They offer Neko immunity, and in exchange he finds out that a girl named Emily Wilson was in the other half of the photo with Aaron. Turns out she has a history of violence and disappeared soon after Aaron was killed. Cut to Emily hacking into Mrs. Stenson’s personal computer and leaving a photo of Aaron with the words “Do you feel safe?”
NEXT: Robot fight!
Emily, now in control of the building’s security systems, sends the SAM androids after Mrs. Stenson and starts the oxygen shutdown sequence. Luckily Neko is right behind her playing hacker cat-and-hacker mouse. Dorian locates Emily but is attacked by a SAM android. A tussle ensues (yes, robot fight!), while Kennex has Neko use the hologram system to replicate him and confuse the other droids.
With a minute left until the oxygen system shuts down, Dorian faces off against Emily. He tells her that Aaron cared for her and that she shouldn’t take her own life. At the last second, Neko stops the oxygen shut down. Emily reveals that Aaron was coming to see her the night he was killed.
At the station, Stahl tells Aaron’s mother that he was trying to connect with Emily and shows her messages of support sent from all of her son’s online friends. D’awwww! Even in the future people apparently still do the whole “holding a heartwarming sign in a photo meme” thing. Kind of surprising Stahl didn’t pull up Buzzfeed 2048’s list of “20 Heartwarming Messages In Support of Aaron Kasdan.”
In the lab, Rudy shows Kennex the shadow files he found in Dorian’s processing core. Turns out the images are organic memories that someone has implanted in Dorian. Kennex thinks they should tell him the truth, but Rudy wants to find out what is going on first. They agree to find out why the images were implanted in Dorian and by whom.
Despite the rather heavy-handed nods to the Zimmerman case and hacktivist groups like Anonymous, this episode was pretty solid overall. Yes, like every hacker storyline ever, the episode ended with people typing and yelling at computers. Still, the SAMs were appropriately creepy and the runner of Kennex coming up with increasingly embarrassing things to explain Det. Paul’s absence provided some comedic relief. Dorian’s memories are an interesting mystery to add to the pile of interesting mysteries that the show has been gradually teasing out. To recap, we have the mystery of what’s beyond the Wall, who or what Dr. Vaughn is working with, where Anna is, what happened with Kennex’s dad, and how Minka Kelly’s hair always has that just out of the salon glow. (Chalk that last one up to the whole chrome thing from last episode.)
Unfortunately, it seems that our favorite robot buddy cop show is “on the bubble” in terms of its chances of being renewed for another season.There are two more episodes left of the initial order of 13 and zero indication of an extension beyond that. With Bones retaking its old time slot in a couple of weeks, Fox may be about to send Almost Human to the canceled show scrap heap. So now would probably be a good time to, say, start a “save the show” petition and/or start bombarding Fox with cases of Ramen noodles.
Next week: More future tech! More Dorian and Kennex car banter!
Bonus video: A clip from Smart House, the 1999 Disney movie starring Katey Sagal as “Pat,” the titular automated house who can do everything from whipping up a smoothie to playing boy band dance clips on demand.