Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Almost Human, Season 1, Episode 3: Are you Receiving?

John wakes up on another day, getting up, taking his leg off charge and putting it on – and realising it squeaks. He takes Dorian’s advice and applies olive oil to the knee joint – and it quietens it. Hey it works! Personally, I’d be a little concerned that the outer layer of the artificial leg is permeable to olive oil and who knows what’ll happen if you get it wet, but that’s just me.

On to an office building, the Sanderson Corporation and James a receptionist/security guard and happy friendly flirting with Ms. Jenna Miller…. Awww. One of these is so going to die, it’ll be extra tragic. Ominous looking men come in the front door and shoot James after asking his name. Ok, my predictions normally need a little longer before they happen to look impressive, but I’ll take it.

Ominous guys make their way to the server room (shooting someone on the way, but this guy doesn’t have a sweet awkward flirtation with a co-worker so we totally don’t care about him) where they plant a future techy thing.

To our intrepid heroes – with lots of snark between them (they do deliver some quality snark) about John’s coffee and John being late (also they still work in Fahrenheit? Isn’t everyone switching to Celsius now?). It’s very good snark.

They’re called into the crime scene and it cuts short the excellent snark. Damn bodies getting in the way of the snark! Dorian salvages the damaged, grainy CCTV. They see them go up – but the lifts have been shut down and the attackers are still in the building- John orders the building evacuated.

Up on the 25th floor, all of the civilians are rounded up, including Jenna, and the men know the police have arrived – and activate their device. It explodes blocking some of the exits

John and Dorian continue the evacuation using the fire service to get people from higher floors but when John contacts his boss, Sandra tells him not to go up the stairs – to wait and see what’s happening. Of course, big damn hero John refuses to listen and when Sandra tries to insist he pretends he has a bad signal on his phone (or future communicator that looks like a phone and can, apparently, still get shoddy cell signal). Sandra pretty much has to follow what John suggested now since he’s going ahead with his plan no matter what and she jams all communication.

Side effect of all the calls being jammed means  all the emergency call bounces to Dorian instead who answers them in case they can get information – and he tailors his voice to each caller (also taking the chance to tease John some more, of course). Paige calls them from the 25th floor in a closet. She watches as they shoot one of the hostages and then throw him out of the window from the 25th floor where he lands in front of the police on the ground (seems rather a waste of a bullet). On the body is a sign saying “no cops stay out.”

They send in a hostage negotiation drone, apparently standard procedure (it flies and has a phone). Big bad man issues his demands – starting with removing the police presence, which Sandra does. He wants some helicopters on the roof, a clear run to the border and a fission igniter – which is very very scary military tech (a biiig bomb). Sandra has no authority to release that but it doesn’t change his demands. What Sandra does have is her computers identifying the big bad (yay I don’t have to call him big bad anymore!) he’s Lucas Vincent of the Holy Reclamation Army. And Lucas gives them a deadline of 43 minutes which is… oddly specific.

Randy offers to build a fake fission igniter which may delay them and Valerie passes on info on the Holy Reclaimation army – anti-western terrorists basically who have a past record of kidnapping who are happy to kill or die.

Back in the building John keeps getting info from Paige but she’s obviously terrified so John calms her with a ridiculously long winded anecdote. Dorian snarks this (of course) but one of the terrorist guards interrupts his quality snark (rude interruptions all the time!). Firefight through the room (with bullets. I want lasers. What kind of super future show doesn’t have lasers?)  and John uses his phone to distract the gun man so he can kill him.

John hears more gunfire and hurries over to Dorian – who has damage on his forehead. Identifying the man he shot, Dorian also passes on that they’re up against the Holy Reclamation Army – and find a little button with the word “start” written on it. The damage on his head, though he dismisses it as a ricochet, seems to be causing his systems to have problems. But Dorian double checks, opens the man’s vest inside is a device that when he touches it, changes the face of the dead man completely (from a young, clean shaven Black man to an older, bearded White man). A “face maker”. This man is really Gregor Stone – and he’s a criminal with no known affiliations. And Dorian’s damage is sufficient that he won’t be able to walk soon.

Though he can’t walk, he can identify 7 face-makers and it begs the question why they need to imitate someone else rather than just hide who they are with a simple mask? And Dorian tries to talk John into fixing him (cut the magenta wire – not the lavender one. Yes, it’s all purple. Also he’s using a filthy cotton bud but assuring him it’s clean. Well I suppose he can’t get infections). Lots more snark and John cuts a wire – and Dorian is deactivated.

John keeps poking around while Paige warns him that the bad guys are doing things and her sister (Jenna, who only came to visit her) is crying. They talk middle names to distract her and John manages to get Dorian activated again – just as Paige reports that one of the gunmen arrives, injured – reporting Dorian and John. She passes on the warning to John

At the precinct, Rudy keeps making his fake fission igniter and he’s heckled by a very unhelpful android. And Sandra gets a call from fake!Lucas claiming to have killed the 2 men she had in the building. Sandra claims ignorance and plays for more time.

Paige can’t take being separate from her sister any longer, especially with the guards threatening her, and leaves the cupboard despite John’s objection. She leaves her phone on though – but goes to join her sister. But she notices a pile of phones in the main room and, under the excuse of going to the bathroom, puts her activated phone among them.

They deliver the fake fission igniter. Fake!Lucas tells his minion to contact the other crew and hands him something. Listening in, Dorian and John are confused – what other crew? And the jammer is still working preventing all communication outside the building except the hostage phone. They look again at the little red disk with “start” written on it – and realise that by shining a light through it you can project the word – to someone within eye contact of the window. Paige also told them that fake!Lucas kept going to the window.

To add more confusion, when asked if there’s a tracking device in the fission igniter, fake!Lucas says it doesn’t matter because they’re not taking it. John wonders if it’s a distraction – the whole area has been evacuated after all. Examining the nearby buildings, Dorian recognises one, a business that trades in precious metals, including palladium. All this is a distraction while they steal the metal from the nearby building

One of the men send a message of “10 mins” to the next building where the gang starts wrapping things up, the security already dead.

Among the hostages, the men activate a light bomb – they take three hostages with them for insurance and they intend to kill the rest. They have to get up to the 25th floor – or Dorian insists he goes. He refuses to let John, it’s too risky and they’ve set guards – but this is what Dorian was designed for. He enters the lift shaft and uses super-android strength to pull himself up the cables to the air ducts.

He pulls himself above the hostages and drops down as fake!Lucas tries to take Jenna. His nifty pistol has a full auto mode (still isn’t a laser) and he takes down several of the guards before he’s shot multiple times. Fake!Lucas is just about to finish him off when John shows up – wearing Gregor’s face changer. Of course he dramatically removes it before gunning several of the guards down (their gun jams and he has to use his own).

Everyone dead or not fighting back, John calls Sandra to tell her what’s really happening – and to turn off the jammer, since that is why the nearby building’s alarms aren’t working.

The thieves in the next building are surprised by all the alarms activating – and the security system tripping, securing them in the vault. Dorian deactivates the light bomb, saving the hostages.

In the aftermath, Paige finds John and hugs him while Dorian gets patched up. They return to the police precinct to a round of applause. Sandra briefly mentions him ignoring her direct order while he insists all he heard was static. And John takes Dorian for noodles rather than diagnostics which an irritated Rudy insist on (definitely treating him like a person, though Dorian doesn’t eat).

In the car, Dorian thanks John for saving his life and they have an “awww” moment over John’s boring ice fishing story. He talks about not wanting to die, even if it’s not the same for him and John says “dead is dead.” More snark follows.

I really liked this plot line – it was twisty and completely unexpected. It’s nice to see something original like this

And I like the snark. And the continuing humanisation of Dorian in John’s eyes and their developing relationship. And the world setting really works (though I almost thought the phones were product placement.

But I do so hate the “cop ignores all the rules and all the orders – because he’s just that damn good!” trope. Rules for law enforcement are good things – can we have shows that show that? The maverick playing by his own rules usually hurts people