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ALMOST HUMAN “Hostages” Recap

Most bedroom opening scenes that feature the protagonist have them sweaty, yes, and swatting at alarm clocks, yes, but rarely with a leg missing.

Then again, conventional’s not what Almost Human‘s playing for.

We open with the slow-paced, devil-may-care montage of Kennex going about his daily routine, post leg-maintenance. Say what you will about Urban playing the rote gruff cop; there’s certain elements of warmth and indeed, a whimsical kind of cheer that’s highlighted in the more heart-based or absurd of Almost Human‘s scenes, such as this. But let’s save that for later.

Following the requisite in-car banter between Dorian and Kellex (and can we think up a name for this?), the pair are summoned up to a shooting-turned-hostage. Let’s talk tech for a moment here. In comparison to the love affair the show’s conducted so far with chrome lines, towering glass monoliths and holographic displays, the crime scenes are consistently gritty — as is the tech surrounding it. Curiously, despite this displacement between the luxury of the apartment Kennex can hold to afford and the sterile environments in which androids are thought to exist, the pair appear most comfortable here. Rugged cop with a taste for danger? One would presume so. I’d argue otherwise; Kennex’s comfort in this displacement seems to mirror the comfort he’s beginning to find in Dorian’s company. Moments after Dorian’s hacked into the building’s security log and determined where precisely the attackers are (the twenty-fifth floor), the building’s rattled by yet another explosion.

Now the local government/cops/what-have-you decide it’s best to send all forces in. Cue firetrucks and snipers.

Despite direct orders from Maldonado to evacuate the building, much like the stream of frazzled workers currently streaming by, Kennex feigns a disconnect and continues on. “I just love that you wear your insubordination like it’s a virtue,” Dorian snipes at this, to which our characteristically snarky hero has no reply — presumably because Dorian’s entirely on the mark.

The attackers jam all emergency calls from reaching outside the building. As a direct result, Dorian’s forced to takes two — just the right amount to introduce us to Paige (Emily Rios), one of the hostages on the twenty-fifth floor. Both desperately self-possessed in a fashion we’d only dream of in a similar situation and quietly distressed, she narrates the proceedings.

Such as the execution of one hostage, the taping of a “NO COPS” sign to his back and his freefall from the window onto the pavement outside.

They’re members of a religious terrorist group, you see — A.K.A, they tick all the boxes for bad-guy-of-the-week — and they want a weapon of mass destruction.

At this point, even the most well-trained of diplomats would struggle. Paige is no different. “I’m so scared,” she says as the cop-pair advance, and it’s the crack in her voice that prompts a gentle outpouring of support from Kennex. At this point, even the most well-trained of diplomats would struggle. Paige is no different. “I’m so scared,” she says as the cop-pair advance, and it’s the crack in her voice that prompts a gentle outpouring of support from Kennex. This occurs in the most carefully balanced of machinations Dorian’s orchestrated. While to call the android a wire or a connection between Kennex and the vulnerable figures Kennex has convinced himself he can’t afford to care for is a bit of a silly pun, it’s no less valid. See, the human possesses the stories, and by extension, the ability to connect with other civilians in a way Dorian can’t, though he lacks the desire to; Dorian in turn mimics Kennex’s voice when first on the phone to paige, so that his partner’s backed into talking to the hostage. The writers are a fan of hokey lines here; “I’m with you,” Kennex says at a point, “Do you believe me?”

But perhaps the point of phrases like this isn’t to note what’s cliched and what’s not, but rather to recognise the theme AH’s been hitting hard throughout: that there’s a base humanity present in familiar sentences, and it’s that which we connect to most. (Be it lie or otherwise.)

Back at home base, Rudy takes a look at both of the troubled faces of his superiors and proposes that he create a copy of the necessary weapon. It doesn’t sail well. The two look at one another and come to another conclusion; they’ve little time and only two plains, either of which could go awry.

Resolution: copy the damned thing anyway. For what it’s worth, both heads send one of the emotionless androids down to supervise.

The rushed work’s needed. Close to the twenty-fifth floor, Dorian and Kennex are caught out in a firefight, with Dorian’s head torn open. He has just enough time before his movement system fails to identify that the crims are using technology known as a Face Changer to conceal their identities. With precious little time for superhero-esque technology, Kennex patches Dorian back up with the slimmest of resources — chewing gum and a dirty Q-tip — while Maldonado struggles to reason with an increasingly impatient terrorist cell. Adding further fuel to that fire, Paige’s sister, Jenna, is now under direct scrutiny and unable to cope with watching, Paige sets down the phone against Kennex’s advice and tiptoes over. It’s a gentle moment and one of the kind Almost Human hopes to highlight: there’s no triumphant score nor any shouting down the phone done by either Kennex or Dorian to mar the sisters’ reunion.

For what it’s worth, deprived of her hiding spot, Paige remains gutsy. She talks her way into a bathroom break moments after sitting, slipping her phone into the pile of discarded electronics as she leaves.

Still some floors below, Kennex and Dorian locate and test out the communications system the terrorists have been using. There’s no voices on the signal, though; it’s light, and it’s light that the terrorists have been using to communicate to others in proximity of the building. The unorthodox system’s further unravelled when the pair overhear the group dismissing the weaponry as unwanted.

It’s a heist.

Now Dorian picks up on a lightbomb signal: the crims plan to kill the hostages nonetheless. Unwilling to let Kennex and the problem of his mortality come along for the ride, he goes climbing up through the elevator shaft in time to break up the attempted taking of the sisters as human armour.

Boom boom boom, gunfire, gunfire. Dorian slither-crawling, pocked full of bullet wounds, towards a gun.

And just as it looks like the android’s done for, Kennex re-emerges, victorious, with the Face Changer tech providing his disguise until he was close enough to blow Dorian’s assailant away. He calls up Maldanado; she reactives the alarm system for the robbed building. Dorian deactivates the bomb.

Day saved.

Pitiably the proceedings feel shaky throughout and the motivation two-dimensional, with even the triumphant return of the heros marred by the hasty execution of an ending and therefore, the lack of proper emotional closure. That said, it’s the committed performances of the cast — Emily Rios remains an utter revelation — and all the kid-on-Christmas-morning enthusiasm the show possesses for the tech terms and imagery it volleys keep it from sinking into turgid, unresolved serial stuff.

More character development next time, please.

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The Author

Viv Mah

Viv Mah

Viv Mah's quite likely far too invested in theatre, film and TV. Currently she studies Journalism at RMIT and has also written for Signal Express, Australian Stage Online, Buzzcuts and Battle Royale with Cheese. She also has a terrible penchant for overanalysis and waxing poetic about cool one-liners.