Time is of the essence when John and Dorian race to save the patients of a black market heart transplant ring

By Nick Nadel
Updated December 17, 2013 at 09:04 AM EST
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This week, we dive back into the artificial body parts black market that has been an interesting runner throughout the series thus far. So let’s get into episode six, “Arrhythmia.”

We kick off with a depressing peek into the future of our healthcare system, as people stand in line at a clinic waiting to receive assistance from hologram doctors. One poor guy is about to hear his diagnosis when the hologram starts to flicker out. (Insert Obamacare joke here.) Suddenly, a man wielding a gun storms in and demands to see a surgeon. He’s going to have a heart attack and needs a cardiovascular surgeon right away. Suddenly he collapses and whispers his final words to the doctor: “They killed me. They killed me…”

In the squad car, we find John and Dorian arguing over a red light that John has just blown through. John says that Dorian should break a rule now and then. They get a distress call and head to the clinic, where Dorian comes face-to-face with another DRN model repairing a machine. He looks just like Dorian! (Hang on a sec — Do all the DRNs look like Dorian? I assume so, right, since all of the MXs have the same face? Also, will we ever find out who was the original inspiration for the Dorian face?)

Dorian says it’s weird to see one of his kind doing menial labor, since they were designed to be cops. (Remember that Dorian dodged this fate, as he was going to be sent to NASA before John had him recommissioned.) “You were designed to be a cop? Huh,” John quips. The gunman is revealed to be Leonard Lee, a man with terminal congestive heart failure who had a Biomech artificial heart. However, the doctors have no official record of a transplant ever happening. Looks like we’re dealing with an artificial parts black market. (Speaking of, is John still getting his back alley memory treatments? What happened with that?)

Later in the car, Dorian has a surprise: he’s bringing his DRN lookalike along for the ride. He wants to help Dorian 2 achieve his original programming and be a cop instead of working fixing medical equipment, which actually is pretty noble in and of itself. It’s not like he was cleaning toilets or anything. Rudy calls and reveals that Mr. Lee’s artificial heart has a special modification that he needs to run diagnostics on. John is annoyed with the motorboat noises that Dorian 2 is making and stops the car and says that somebody has to get out. Suddenly, Dorian 2 bolts out of the car and tackles a random guy talking to someone in another car. The driver of the car abandons his vehicle, which hits another parked vehicle, which hits a fire hydrant, which shoots through the air where it hits a flying gyroscope thing which then slams into a nearby MX giving a woman a ticket. It’s a great, Rube Goldberg-ian moment. I seriously cannot get enough of random MX destruction.

NEXT: Two Dorians for the price of one! Turns out Dorian 2 tackled a wanted fugitive named Rafael Vasquez. Except Rafael did his time, and Dorian 2’s files are outdated. Dorian confesses to giving Dorian 2 his case files back. Cut to Maldonado screaming at John for all the mayhem. (That’s pretty much all she does this week. Poor Lili Taylor. Can’t she get a robot boyfriend or something?) John asks Dorian why they are “taking Mr. Fixit for a ride along.” Dorian explains that when he was decommissioned, he hoped there would be someone to wake him up again. John woke him up and gave him a chance to be a cop again, and he wants to do the same for Dorian 2.

At the station, Stahl learns from Lee’s mother that he was out of options for his condition and had to get an illegal artificial heart transplant. John and Dorian visit Vastrel, the medical company who made the artificial heart and has a name that sounds like a cholesterol-lowering drug. Dorian suggests that John donate something to help kids get synthetic parts, since he himself has a synthetic leg. Dorian notices John never discusses his synthetic part, something which I’ve noticed too since this is the first mention of it since at least episode three. Upstairs, Vastrel employee Colleen Rivera recognizes the artificial heart as the work of her company, but doesn’t recognize the other part Rudy found inside of it. She reveals the heart was registered to a woman named Mrs. Galinski who passed away two years ago. When a patient dies, the nursing home sends them a document to confirm that the artificial part has been destroyed. Not a very effective system, John notes.

John and Dorian visit a crematorium and ask the technician, Henry, about the artificial heart. He says they have to take out any inorganic parts before they cremate the bodies. After John reveals that Mrs. Galinski’s heart was found in someone else’s body, Henry confesses to selling the heart to a man named Oscar who offered to buy any biometric hearts he came across. He says the parts are saving lives, and just because something is used that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. (Like Dorian!) Stahl calls John and informs him that Mr. Lee made a regular money transfer to the same unmarked account. Also Rudy has figured out that the modification is basically a timer that limits how long each heart will function. The timer counts down 30 days and will shut down the heart unless someone resets it. Mr. Lee’s heart was not reset. John realizes someone is running an extortion racket. “They’re all on borrowed time,” Rudy says.

NEXT: Did he say the ‘Lex Luger’ test?John asks Henry to set up a pick up with Oscar. In the car, Dorian 2 is running through his files and doesn’t understand why he was decommissioned. Dorian explains that their model had some problems, and some people even went as far as to call them “crazy.” Dorian 2 asks how they knew which models were unstable. Dorian revealed that they designed a test (dubbed the Luger Test) to weed out faulty DRNs, but the powers that be grew nervous and scrapped the DRN model altogether, replacing them with the emotionless MX line. (So are we to assume that Dorian would’ve passed the robot psycho test? Which side of the emotional android spectrum does Dorian fall on?)

Oscar finally shows up for the heart, and the team tracks him with an aerial drone. Oscar enters a building and gives the heart to a doctor who adds the timer chip. The cops burst in mid-transplant and shut it down.

Later, Henry the cremator gets a call telling him not to reset any of the hearts; the cops are onto them and they need to stop what they’re doing. At the station, Det. Paul questions Oscar, who says he’s just a courier, he doesn’t know where the money comes from. The doctor who was performing the transplant tells John he’s not running the organ trafficking ring and is unaware of the timers on each heart. Meanwhile, people with artificial hearts are calling to have their timers reset. The team realizes that the people with the artificial hearts are going to die. Henry leaves the timers counting down without a reset.

On the street, Dorian examines a woman whose synthetic heart has died. They realize she was going to make a payment, but the suppliers didn’t care; they were shutting down the operation. Stahl scans the symbol on one of the victims and finds a connection — they had all applied for transplants at Vastrel but were rejected by Colleen Rivera due to lack of insurance. John and Dorian visit Colleen, but the doctor doesn’t recognize Colleen as the woman who approached him about doing the heart transplants. Dorian asks who else has access to patient records, and notices Colleen’s assistant, Jacinta, is missing. The doctor identifies Jacinta as the woman he’s been working for.

John and Dorian raid Jacinta’s house and determine that the bodies are disposed of after the timer shuts down the heart so the device can be reused. Who do they know who gets rid of bodies? Henry the cremator! At his lab, Henry has killed Jacinta and is about to incinerate her body in a final bit of evidence housekeeping. Dorian gives Dorian 2 a gun and says to cover them and follow protocol. But Dorian 2 is too afraid to help. Inside, John sees Jacinta in the cremation machine. Dorian and John chase Henry, and a gun fight ensues. Dorian scans for a room layout and heat signatures, and then bursts through the wall and takes down Henry RoboCop-style.

NEXT: Have a heart, John!Back at the station, Stahl reveals that Vastrel has agreed to replace all the artificial hearts at no cost to the patients. Now in custody, Henry says he hasn’t seen Dorian’s model in a while and notes it must be nice to have all the time in the world. Dorian finds Dorian 2 looking through his old cases. Dorian 2 reveals that he once saved a little boy from his mother’s crazy boyfriend by breaking protocol and killing the boyfriend. He remembers hugging the little boy and feeling that was his proudest moment as a cop. (It’s like when John hugs every widow he helps.) He thanks Dorian for reminding him of how much he missed that. The episode ends with Dorian taking Dorian 2 back to the medical clinic, but leaving him with the memory of the time he saved a child’s life. Oh, and Maldonado sees Dorian with his doppelganger and freaks out. Oh, that John and his robot partner that she assigned to him will be the death of her!

Overall this was a solid episode. The two Dorians were a lot of fun and the black market organs storyline was an interesting way of showing how artificial intelligence has affected the health care industry. One of my favorite aspects of the show thus far is how it deals with the way humans interact with the technological marvels popping up around them. We all hope for a future where artificial parts will keep us alive indefinitely, and this episode shows that there’s a dark side to that dream.

It should be noted that technically this is episode three (as we’ve discussed, Fox has been airing episodes out of order) which explains why Dorian and John still have a bit of tension in their partnership. I don’t see why Fox couldn’t have aired this episode as episode three. It’s much more of a piece with the first couple of episodes than the Die Hard-esque “Are You Receiving?,” which is actually the sixth episode, and it explains a crucial part of Dorian’s backstory with the reveal of the Luger test. (No clue when we’ll be seeing episode four, by the way.) Now that the show is finding its groove, hopefully Fox won’t tinker with the episode order and let the story progress naturally.

Next time: John Larroquette joins the cast as Dorian’s creator! John teaches some kids about what happens to bad guys. Oh, and homicidal robots! See you in three weeks when Almost Human returns on January 6th!

Bonus video of the week: What’s bugging RoboCop? Drugs!

Episode Recaps

Almost Human

In a not-so-distant future, human cops and androids partner up to protect and serve
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