Almost Human Review: “Skin” (Season 1, Episode 2)


Boobs. Boobs, purple garters and appropriately sultry music. That’s what this week’s episode of Almost Human opens with, though episode director Michael Offer laces these titillating elements and the forced pillow talk with a muted sense of paranoia which repeatedly surfaces in key synthetic-human interactions. It’s this commoditization and tenacious nature of relationships, be they offered, artificial, or the artificial offerings represented by the sex-bots that the show dives into in this week’s offering.

For the most part, it hits the mark.

Following the necessary world and personality-building established in the pilot, much of the show’s strength rides upon the buddy-cop chemistry between Kennex and Dorian. The show does well not to push this relationship into ground-breaking new depths; rather, the pair operate at a level of mutual respect that goes hand-in-hand with the kind of swift, ever-mutating Whedon-like banter that Urban delights in and Ealy rises to. “I couldn’t help but notice you’re backed up,” Dorian says at a point, delicately referring to the state of Kennex’s overflowing testicles — to which Kennex initially objects, before the pair of them swiftly fall into the topic of relationships.

While I’m usually fazed by the tendency of shows to delve into characters mid-conversation, even Almost Human‘s most blatant of character-development sermons (which occurs in a car, with Dorian pondering the nature of death and memory) is tolerably poignant — a testament to both the commitment of the actors, and my affection for their budding personalities.

While science-fiction procedurals are an uncommon conceit, to say the least, Abrams delivers yet another pleasantly diverting case-of-the-week crime: this time, women across the city are abducted to supply human skin for a growing black-market trade of properly fleshy sex-bots. Admittedly, this element’s stripped straight from procedural stock: the show’s yet to hit its stride in delivering a fresh slant upon crimes, and the crime scenes themselves are often choppy and unclear. That, and Almost Human‘s tendency to pump techno-disco-rave music through the speakers whenever Kennex and co. whip out their guns has begun to grate; while the soundtrack would have made sense within the club settings they frequented in their investigation, it’s fair to assume that a “skin laboratory” would be a sterile, silent workplace. Woven through the belly of this black-market plot is Dorian’s attempts to nut out the workings of human relationships and their complexities, versus the programming he’s too familiar with.