FOX’s Almost Human Disrupt TV Show Review. Almost Human, season 1, episode 11, ‘Disrupt’ revolved around the death of a well-to-do couple, at the hands of their own Smart Home security system. Between those deaths occurring on the anniversary of another killing – a seemingly harmless teenager’s intrusion, that spawned outrage – and the apparent hacking of the Smart Home’s A.I., there was reason enough to suspect foul play.
For Dorian (Michael Ealy), Det. Kennex (Karl Urban), and Rudy (Mackenzie Crook), there may have been a hacking issue closer to home; but with some daylight between views on what that issue was. Dorian, having moved in with Rudy, to avoid the “indignity” of recharging with MX models, came out of a recharge to find Rudy poking around his systems. Despite Rudy’s insistence that it was a routine diagnostic, Dorian felt violated. Rudy, for his part, would share a much graver concern, regarding what he found hidden in Dorian’s system, with Kennex.
The title of the episode referred to a group of politically activist hackers, an evolution of Anonymous, I suppose. Having made the Smart Home’s first victim a cause, they – and hacker-for-hire, Crispin X (Reece Thompson) – were the principal suspects; but there was also the company behind the A.I., and the A.I. itself (Matthew Kevin Anderson) to be considered. Rounding things off, were the boy’s mother, and a matter of his online connections (or apparent lack, thereof).
‘Disrupt’ was a pretty by-the-numbers procedural, and may be indicative of a formulaic aspect to such episodes. Regardless of how creative, cutting-edge, or ambitious the crime, there always seems to be a crime-of-passion, by cold-and-calculating corporation, by righteously begrudged friends/ family dynamic. It is then left to the viewer to figure which of these gets collared, from case to case, and it hasn’t been much of a challenge, thus far.
Kennex really shouldn’t have to work so hard at being unlikable, in order to serve as a counterweight to Dorian’s universal charm. This time around, however, he pulled a prank on absent Det. Paul, that turned into a pretty funny running gag. I have to admit, there is a certain value, to Kennex’s prickliness, when it is directed at the right people. Paul has been the only Human at the precinct to routinely antagonize Dorian; so clearly he was meant to be “the right people.”
Another highlight of the episode was the nice blend of hacker v hacker, and android v android combat, with the odd Human thrown into the mix. In a future where a very definitive point is made of pairing man and machine, it would have been far too convenient to separate cyber-crime, rogue robots, and old fashioned Human scum-and-villainy into self-contained elements. Cyber warfare moves too fast for most people to keep up with, and android-on-android violence is bloodless (if not painless); so having Kennex serve as the intersection point, for the action, added a true element of suspense to the episode’s climax. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sold that a security android, supposedly superior to Dorian’s DRN model, would be so easily fooled by holographic decoys. Dorian utilized infrared sensors; so unless those holograms produced mimic heat signatures, his adversaries should have been able to get around those.
There was no moral ambiguity to ‘Disrupt,’ and the main plot was neatly tied up, complete with a happy ending. The Dorian subplot, however, either opens up new possibilities, regarding Dorian’s larger mythology, or, better still, furthered elements to this mythology that have already been set in motion.
Whatever Almost Human‘s faults, episode to episode (I even resisted making an I, Robot comparison – gimme a cookie!), as long as viewers are given something to look forward to, there will be a reason for them to keep viewing. That is, of course, assuming the well hasn’t already been poisoned by the showrunners’ baffling decision to air episodes out of order. Firefly disease is a thing, now.