Almost Human recap: 'Simon Says'
Kennex and Dorian play "Simon Says" with a mad bomber who broadcasts his twisted games over the Internet
Happy New Year and welcome back to the Almost Human recaps!
When we last left off, Det. Kennex and his android partner Dorian had just taken down a seedy artificial body parts ring. Oh, and Fox was airing the episodes out of order. Certainly that has changed in the new year, right?
Unfortunately, no. This week’s outing, “Simon Says,” is actually episode 10 in the production order despite it being the seventh episode to air. (Also, we were promised John Larroquette as Dorian’s creator in the last episode’s “next on” promo and he’s nowhere to be found this week. Did Fox use the holidays to shuffle around the episodes yet again?) To make matters even more confusing, next week we’ll be getting episode two. When will episode nine air? Who knows!
Well, at least we get a fun and intense installment this week. With its successful mix of comedy and actual stakes, it just might be the best episode yet. Plus, we find out what Internet commenters are like in 2048. (Hint: they’re pretty much like Internet commenters in 2014.) Simon says…let’s get into the recap!
We kick things off this week at the precinct, where the squad is dealing with the after effects of a solar flare. Power is running low for charging the androids, and Det. Paul is in charge of the rationing because he gets all the crummy gigs at the station. Suddenly, Dorian storms in and decks Paul for giving the MX androids charging priority over him. Dorian apologizes and explains that he has barely half a charge left and it’s causing his emotion circuits to be on the fritz. It’s nice to see these two butting heads since the whole thing about how the other officers don’t trust Dorian has sort of been dropped. (You can blame the Fox Episode Shuffle Bot 5000 for that one.) Also, ya gotta love Paul asking his MX why he didn’t back him up and then ordering it to go get him coffee.
In the squad car, Dorian is on edge. His personality interface is on the fritz, and if he doesn’t recharge soon, his other systems will start to power down. Oh, and he’d also really like his own space away from the stiff MXs. (This is a call back to a few episodes ago when Dorian floated the idea of rooming with Kennex.) We also find out that Kennex has a trophy room dedicated to his salad days as a high school sports star. Kennex and Dorian’s banter continues to be a delight. (And can we all agree that Michael Ealy kills it in this episode? It’s unlikely he’ll get an Emmy nod since sci-fi shows are routinely ignored come awards season, but he really should get some accolades for what he’s doing here.)
NEXT: The Darknet Rises…Next, we jump to Ramon, this week’s first victim. (We know he’s going to die soon because he’s talking with his wife on the phone about what he wants for dinner. That’s the cop procedural show kiss of death.) A masked man posing as a window washer approaches Ramon’s car and sprays him with a knockout liquid. Poor Ramon then wakes up in the 2048 version of Saw with a bomb strapped around his neck.
As a mysterious man watches, Ramon is told to take the gun in the briefcase next to him and go to the bank where he works. Turns out the whole thing is being streamed on the Web, complete with a scrolling comments section offering up such bon mots as “LOL. This is a hoax!” and “He scared like a PUNK!” (That one comes courtesy of a commenter named “H8erade,” which I guess means that Gatorade is still plentiful in 2048 for that particular reference to work.)
Ramon is then forced to steal money from the bank or else he’ll be blown up. As he speeds away, begging his mysterious attacker for the code to disarm the bomb, Kennex and Dorian show up and a chase ensues. Unfortunately, with only 46 seconds remaining, there isn’t enough time to save poor Ramon. Kennex promises to find the culprit responsible for this, then proceeds to encase Ramon in a hand-held shield which we’ve never seen any of the cops use before but I’ll excuse it since it’s a cool visual. Ramon explodes, as does the video’s comments section, with viewers asking our mysterious villain to “do another one” as if they’d just watched a video of a cat lip syncing to a Ke$ha song and not a human graphically dying inside a bubble. Oh, and a few viewers still think the whole thing was a hoax even though they live in a world with android cops and portable shield technology. Is a live-streamed murder all that crazy, people of the Internet in 2048?
Later, at the station, Det. Stahl tells Capt. Maldonado that the whole thing was broadcast live on an “unpatrolled part of the Internet” called “Darknet.” Yikes! That sounds pretty scary. Can you imagine a secret part of the Internet where all kinds of shady stuff happens and — oh, wait, that’s a real thing that’s already happening right now. I kind of wish that the writers had come up with a different twist on the Internet instead of playing the Law & Order: SVU game by trying to scare us with something that already exists. (People are doing terrible things on unrestricted servers?! You don’t say!!) Well, you know what they say about The Darknet. It may not be the Internet we deserve, but it’s the one we need right now.
Anyway, Maldonado knows there’s “a lot of disturbing videos” streaming on Darknet (uh, she knows this how exactly?), but is surprised that nobody is monitoring it for murder. They are, Val says, but they can’t keep up! Val says the person responsible is all about “putting on a show and getting as many views as possible.” (You know, like anyone who has ever uploaded a video to the Web.) She adds that the video got over 3,000 views which, to be fair, is pretty low by YouTube standards. Good luck getting a revenue share deal, shadowy evil dude.
NEXT: Is OK Cupid still around in 2048? Meanwhile, in Rudy’s lab, Dorian’s low battery is causing him to pick up radio signals. They discuss Dorian’s desire to move out of the robot warehouse, and Rudy notes that being alone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, despite being able to make robotic butterflies whenever you feel like it. (That’s not a metaphor — Rudy makes robot butterflies. Oh, I hope we see those before the season finale…)
Kennex asks Rudy if he should be concerned about Dorian’s mood swings, a callback to how the DRN android models were decommissioned due to not being able to keep their human-like emotions in check. Dorian overhears this because Kennex is whispering loudly only a few feet away and also because he’s a robot with super hearing. Maybe go in another room to voice your concerns about your robot partner, Kennex. Rudy plays the audio from Ramon’s car, which leads the team to the address where the mystery man was directing him to. They find an ancient compact disc selector which plays a message from the bad guy. Turns out the next victim will be a woman named Jeannie Hartman and only Kennex and Dorian can save her.
Later, our mystery man calls up the flower shop where Jeannie works and orders a dozen roses. (The artificially created roses in this scene are pretty cool. Are we to assume most vegetation and plant life has been destroyed by this point?) The mystery man knocks out Jeannie, attaches a bomb to her neck and announces to his viewers that the next show will be in 45 minutes. At the station, Det. Paul says there’s no connection between Jeannie and Ramon. He knows this because he “checked their social networking profiles.” Good to know that by 2048, trolling Facebook will still be law enforcement’s primary means of collecting data. Jeannie, carrying flowers, is instructed to go to a gazebo in the park and dance to “The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies. (As you may recall from episode three, Elton John is all but forgotten by 2048. The Hollies, on the other hand, are still a favorite among the mad bomber set.) Dorian and Kennex attempt to remove the bomb with Rudy’s help, but the wiring turns out to be complex. (For a new-ish show, the writers have gone to the “cut the green wire!” well more than they probably should.)
Three minutes left, and Kennex gets the portable shield ready just in case. The commenters are ready for another explosion, and are getting annoyed that our mystery villain is giving the cops a chance to remove the bomb. Jeannie then reveals that she knows who is behind all of this. Turns out the mystery man is a guy she met online named Simon. In fact, they had a date in the very same park she’s being held captive in right now! Simon brought her a bouquet of red orange roses, but she thought he was “so creepy.” (It should be noted that Simon is played by David Dastmalchian, whose pointy features and swoop of emo hair have made him the go-to guy for creep roles in films like Prisoners and The Dark Knight.)
Like clockwork, the commenters turn on Simon, proving that no matter the year, the denizens of the Internet will always enjoy ripping on a nerdy loser. (Who cares if there’s an android disabling a bomb that’s strapped to a woman’s neck? She just called him a creep! Let’s all dogpile on the loser!) Jeannie says she got a bad feeling from Simon during their date, and when he went to the car to get the picnic basket, she took off. OUCH. She didn’t even pretend to get a text from a friend or fake an emergency? She just ran off? Well, no wonder he turned into a psychopath who straps bombs on random people for kicks! Dorian and Kennex disable the bomb at the last second and Dorian initiates a group hug. (Seriously, Ealy is great at the emotional rollercoaster stuff.) The video’s viewcount plummets, with commenters calling Simon a “disgrace.” Also, one viewer writes “YOLO,” which must mean they have a dictionary of 2013 slang handy.
NEXT: Dorian keeps going and going and going…Back at the precinct, Maldonado pulls up Simon’s online dating profile (again, trolling social media remains the team’s go-to investigation method) and they all rip on the fact that he claims he’s “shy and looking.” (I love Dorian’s over-the-top reaction, complete with fist bump, to Det. Paul’s bad joke. The more the show gives us Dorian’s approximations of human behavior, the better.) Maldonado reveals that after their date, Jeannie went on the online dating forums and warned women to stay away from Simon. (Her first tip off wasn’t his bug-eyed profile pic?)
Maldonado also reveals that Ramon turned down Simon for a loan. Val notes that he’s getting revenge on the people who rejected him because Minka Kelly needs to do something in this scene. (I get that Det. Stahl is supposed to be some sort of criminal behavior specialist, but the writers should do more with the character besides making her state the most obvious things possible about the bad guy of the week.) Even worse, Maldonado notes that Simon was kicked out of the police academy bomb squad. The team heads over to Simon’s last known address. Dorian, still amped up, tells everyone to “roll out!” (Wait, is Optimus Prime his cousin???)
At the scene, Kennex tells Dorian to stand down to conserve his battery. Kennex is called over to help out some officers where he’s met by Simon, who sprays him with his knockout spray. Also a drone blows up a trailer with a missile which is pretty cool. Kennex wakes up chained to a bench with a bomb around his neck. Simon calls and tells him he’ll detonate the charge if the cops try to evacuate the park or come to his rescue. Kennex is going to help him win his viewers back because they HATE cops.
Under the bench, Kennex finds tools to use to try to disarm the bomb himself. Like a good bad guy, Simon notes that he has a lot in common with Kennex. He’s read up on him, and references the Insyndicate (remember them??) raid from episode one in which Kennex lost his leg. (So far Kennex has yet to follow up on his initial hunch that the raid was a set-up by someone within the department. It’s anyone’s guess when we’ll get back to that particular thread.) Simon tries to play on Kennex’s guilt over losing his partner and notes that they both had negative psych evaluations. But Kennex got back on the force, while getting kicked out of the police academy sent Simon into a downward spiral. Paul and Dorian locate Simon, who has been broadcasting from the clock tower. Snipers get a bead on Simon, but Val notices that the trigger will go off if Simon is killed.
Meanwhile, the commenters are getting excited over the prospect of a cop blowing up. On the ground, Dorian notes that he can climb up the clock tower and hit Simon with an electrical charge, causing his muscles to tense up so he won’t let go of the detonator. Of course, Dorian’s only at 15% power capacity so he could pretty much shut off at any minute. (Sort of like when you’re frantically trying to collect money in The Simpsons: Tapped Out and your cell battery suddenly goes in the red.) Dorian proceeds to Spider-Man up the building, impressing Det. Paul. (“Can you do that?,” he asks the MX standing there doing nothing.) The commenters continue to egg on Simon, the viewcount rises, and Dorian’s battery power is dropping. At the last second, Dorian zaps Simon, causing him to hang on to the detonator. Kennex clips the correct wire and deactivates the bomb.
Back at the squad, Kennex and Maldonado toast their victory while Dorian recharges. Kennex notes they have thousands of witnesses to put on the stand against Simon and Maldonado takes another crack at Internet creeps saying she’s “not sure I’d like to be in the same room as them.” Kennex notes that as crazy as Simon was, he was right about black marks on your record following you around, because that’s how he’s felt ever since the botched raid. He thanks Maldonado for supporting him and asks for a favor. Cut to Rudy’s lab where…Rudy and Dorian are now roomies! I for one can’t wait to see this duo hit the town together.
Despite all the heavy-handed Internet bloodlust stuff, this episode was mostly a success, thanks in no small part to Dorian and Kennex’s growing robo-bromance. So it’s a shame that next week they’ll be back to square one in episode two. After watching their partnership grow over the past few weeks, it’ll be jarring to see Kennex back to being skeptical about his robot partner. Since every episode is fairly self-contained plot-wise, there is really no good reason for Fox to keep jumbling the episode order. Hopefully things will even out over the rest of the season as we get back to the plot points set up in the first few episodes.
Next week: Kennex shoots a MX and comes to blows with Det. Paul!