ALMOST HUMAN “Skin” Review
First of all, sorry for the lateness. My broadcast of FOX kept cutting the audio, making it absolutely unwatchable. I had to wait until the next day to watch this show on Hulu. Almost Human concludes its two-night premiere with “Skin.” When making a show about human-robot relations, one subject is bound to be explored sooner or later: sex bots. And by gum, wouldn’t you know it? It was their second episode. Cue sexual innuendo about rushing into things, jumping the gun, um…earliness and…stuff. Possible spoilers coming up.
The episode starts off with a guy wooing a beautiful, undressed woman with scanners. Oo la la, kinky. A few men are watching this particular act of debauchery from through a hidden camera and are immediately troubled by this. Not disturbed, WTF is that guy doing? troubled, but troubled in a way that prompts them to walk in the hotel room with a silencer, shoot the guy, take the sex bot, and throw a DNA bomb to corrupt any evidence they could have left in those three seconds of being there. First of all, that is a clever move. Second, DNA bomb? How appropriate for this episode! Way to go, writers. I love you. Hire me.
Later, Kennex and Dorian walk onto the scene, as you do when you’re homicide detectives. Before they enter the building, someone notices that Dorian is a bot and kids coo in awe at his awesomeness. “What can you do?” one kid asks Kennex. Now let us remind you that Kennex is the one with the rough edges in this dynamic duo, the tough guy with all the machismo. With a grin on his face, Kennex tries to impress the kids by sticking his knife into artificial leg. Commence the screams of terror. Dorian merely shakes his head in disgust.
The victim, as we find out, was a manufacturer of a top-of-the-line brand of sex bots. Naturally the investigation leads to the former partner who now controls the victim’s intellectual property on the sex bots. He obviously did it, right? He had everything to gain! Nope, not this time, Law and Order fans. There is a third evil party galavanting about, and they’re abducting women. You see, the victim was killed because he was scanning the sex bot for human skin, human skin that puts a premium on the bots because of their tactile realness. The men who killed him belong to a sex ring who just recently went independent and began making their own bots…with harvested human skin taken from abducted women. I’m gonna call these particular bots skin-jobs. If someone isn’t going to in this episode, I might as well do it.
This episode was surprisingly profound and funny at the same time. “Skin” not only takes the opportunity to poke a little fun at Kennex’s obvious tension build-up, but it continues to add some insight into Dorian’s feelings. Dorian is curious about the belief of what happens after a human dies, more importantly, what does one say to a person whose loved one just died? This conversation allows Kennex to open up a little about the death of his partner and how he has yet to talk with his family since the raid incident two years ago. “Who will remember me when I die?” queried Dorian. This question wasn’t necessarily directed to Kennex, who didn’t answer, but rather to us. It speaks to our fears about death and whether or not our lives had any impact on the world at all.
“Skin” also touches on how wildly irresponsible humanity can be towards robots. I’m talking about some models’ capacity for empathy. Sex bots are built to empathize with humans in order to bridge a connection to customers looking for a little more than just sex. It’s believed to be simulated empathy, however, and sex bots have a limited range of conversation outside of “I can make you feel better.” But one skin-job hinted at a possible evolution of her empathetic programming. She shows some concern over where her fellow skin-job (the sex bot from the beginning of the episode) had disappeared to.
By the end of the episode, Dorian makes a gut-wrenching decision and chooses to witness the execution of a skin-job. “Where am I going?” she asks Dorian. He pauses for a minute and says, “To a better place.” Augh! How sad is this? Dorian blurs the lines between humanity and robots to near invisibility, and Michael Ealy’s performance continues to inspire. Karl Urban loosens up a bit and shows some vulnerability, especially when Dorian reveals to Kennex that he has set up a dating profile for him.