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'Almost Human' recap: What's your name?

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Are You Receiving?” | Aired Nov 25, 2013 (Fox)

A subtitle for this recap could have been “What’s your name?” since not only was that question asked by this episode’s big bad, but there several characters either going by different names or discussing their middle names. Why were names so important? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

The episode begins with Kennex waking up to his alarm clock and his leg alerting him. It’s easy to assume that Kennex’s leg is still bugging him about not being properly calibrated. During his routine wincing session, Kennex remembers what his new buddy Dorian told him about olive oil on bad joints. He gets some oil from his cabinet, rubs it on his knee and suddenly, no more pain!

Almost-Human-Are You Receiving-1However, he still makes Dorian upset by being late. Annoyed, Dorian remarks about how the thing he “loves” the most about Kennex is his punctuality—and the fact that the car smells like olive oil. Kennex quickly shifts the conversation from the smell to having Dorian hold some wires so he can act as a conductor to keep his coffee warm. Dorian already knows how Kennex likes his coffee—as he sticks his finger into the cup, Dorian notes that it’s at Kennex’s preferred temperature of 165 degrees. “You put your finger in my coffee!” Kennex says, annoyed. “If you like, I can put it somewhere else,” says Dorian. Perhaps I just have a dirty mind, but there are only a couple of ways you can spin this joke. Another bromance moment is when Dorian understands that the intense olive oil smell was from Kennex actually taking Dorian’s squeaky-leg advice. Dorian is chuffed, and rightly so: Kennex is finally viewing Dorian as a friend!

The bro time doesn’t last for long, since they get a call about a disturbance at an office downtown. A terrorist cell called the Holy Reclamation Army  has taken control of the building, killing the security guards, including one cool guy we see at the beginning flirting with one of the workers. RIP, security dude. The really creepy part about seeing Cool Security Dude get killed is that the terrorist leader, Lucas Vincent, asks him what his name is. He has an obsession with knowing the names of his victims. He’s a headcase, for sure.

There are a lot of interesting moments in this episode that reveal how robotic Dorian still is despite his ability to be extremely human. One such moment comes when they’re investigating the lobby and Dorian sees that the criminals have shot up the cameras. “They killed the cameras,” he says, when he could have said something a human would say, like, “They destroyed the cameras.” I would like to think that this is a genius bit of writing. If the scriptwriter was thinking in terms of how Dorian would feel about his relation to machinery, making him say “killed” is as brilliant as it is revealing about Dorian’s character.

Dorian and Kennex soon find out that their criminals are way up on the 25th floor, but as they are busy evacuating scared office workers, a huge bomb goes off, making many of the stairwells and evacuation routes inaccessible. As Kennex and Dorian are directing the workers to a new evacuation route, Maldonado tells Kennex over his cell phone that she wants them to get out as well. Kennex, a glutton for danger, isn’t going to hear it. In true Action Hero fashion, he hangs up on Maldonado after feigning static. Dorian seems shocked and immediately critical of Kennex’s actions, as he should be. Doing that could get him fired! “I just love that you wear your insubordination like a virtue,” he says.

One of the main reasons Maldonado wanted her men out of there was because the direct phone lines were about to be jammed in order to prevent the terrorists from calling to outside sources. If the signals were jammed, that would mean Kennex’s line to Maldonado would be jammed too. However, Dorian begins acting as a makeshift signal receiver/phone operator because all the calls are now being rerouted to him. Dorian uses his talent for different voices again, when he answers a call from a Portuguese woman in a female voice for calming purposes. He also answers the call from another scared woman in the voice of Kennex. He’s also mocking Kennex at the same time, something that seems a little out of character for him; generally, Dorian has more tact than that.

Almost-Human-Are You Receiving-2This woman, Paige, becomes Kennex and Dorian’s main line of help through the episode. Paige, who is hidden from the terrorists, needs them to come rescue her sister Jenna, who is one of the hostages. While she’s on the phone, they take one of the hostages, shoot him and attach a note to him as they throw his body out the window. The note warns the police to stay back. It’s now negotiation time.

The requests Lucas make to Maldonado are both expected and weird. What’s expected is wanting the police to stand down, a clear shot from downtown to the border and unpatrolled airspace. What’s weird is wanting a fission igniter. It’s military-grade tech and Maldonado doesn’t have that kind of clearance! Doesn’t matter, though; Lucas wants it and he wants it within 43 minutes. Despite looking cool as a cucumber, Maldonado is baffled as to how to save everyone since she can’t possibly get her hands on a fission igniter. Luckily, Rudy states he can create a dummy that could pass inspection.

Another instance of Dorian acting more robotic than usual is when Kennex begins to tell Paige a story to keep her focused on him. It’s a story that starts out in a way that throws Dorian for a loop. Kennex talks about when he went ice-fishing with his father and somehow fell in the lake. He talks about how near he was to death, but his father saved him. At first, Dorian doesn’t understand that Kennex is trying to keep Paige encouraged and hopeful. “You’re not alone. I’m with you. Everything is going to be okay,” Kennex tells Paige. Finally, Dorian gets it and is amused at how caring his crabby partner can be.

Almost-Human-Are You Receiving-4As they’re nearing the 25th floor, a bad guy comes out of nowhere and starts shooting at our heroes! They chase him to another office space, this one filled with cubicles. Kennex and Dorian are separated, so Kennex is left to fend for himself as he fights the criminal. He manages to trick him with his cell phone, using the ringer to divert the criminal’s attention so he can get a clear shot. Dorian has also subdued a criminal, but not without getting hurt in the process. Unfortunately, Dorian can’t walk, which means Kennex needs to fix him. That he does, but with nail clippers, a used cotton swab and chewed-up gum. Dorian is clearly grossed out, but it gets the job done. It also showcases some great comedic timing from both Karl Urban and Michael Ealy.

Before Dorian is nearly taken offline by Kennex’s attempts to fix him, the two discover that the man Dorian killed, Michael Demarais, is actually petty thief Greggor Stone, who used a “facemaker”—tech that allows the user to cloak themselves in the identity of another person. Another thing we learn is John’s middle name. As Kennex is trying to keep Paige’s attention, they start talking about Jenna. Paige reveals that Jenna’s middle name is Gertrude before asking Kennex what his middle name is. It’s Reginald. Apparently, his dad was a big Elton John (real name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight) fan.

Dorian and Kennex are told by Paige that the criminals know they’re in the building, meaning that they won’t be able to get to the top using the stairwells anymore. Paige also goes into the line of fire herself, joining her sister in the group of hostages to provide some comfort in a harrowing situation. Paige is smart enough to leave her phone on, hidden among the other confiscated phones, so Kennex can still hear what’s happening.

This is very helpful since Kennex and Dorian figure out what the criminals really want, which isn’t the fission igniter. The whole thing was a ruse for their real mission, a huge heist in the precious metals waste station that specializes in palladium! Even worse is that they plan on killing the hostages anyway!

In order to bypass the guards, Dorian takes the Action Hero reins from Kennex and becomes a one-man police force, scaling the elevator shaft and crawling through the air vents to get to the hostage room. Kennex didn’t want him to risk his life (another instance of the growing friendship between Kennex and Dorian), but as Dorian said, he was built to do this.

Indeed, Dorian shows that he was created to protect and serve. Just as Jenna and Paige are about to be shot by Lucas, Dorian jumps down from the vent, taking out as many of the bad guys as he can while getting his share of bullets lodged in his chest. One shooter hits Dorian in what looks like both the arm and leg, sending him to the floor, scrambling for his gun. Lucas steps on his wrist, pinning him to the floor and holding the gun to his head. Just as Lucas is going through his monologue about his obsession with knowing his victims before they die, Michael/Greggor appears. Surprise! It’s Michael/Greggor! It’s Kennex! He shoots Lucas (who isn’t really Lucas, but high-value robber Gerald Layton) and saves his partner. The day is saved!

When they get back to the precinct, Dorian and Kennex get a big round of applause! Annoyingly enough, no one congratulates poor, tired, shot-up Dorian. Instead, Stahl congratulates Kennex. I’m just going to say it: The “budding romance” between Stahl and Kennex bugs big-time, as it is pointless.

Almost-Human-Are You Receiving-5Of course, we’re supposed to feel more compelled by the relationship between Dorian and Kennex anyway, especially when the episode is ended by Kennex saying, “No one messes with my coffee warmer,” and Dorian switching the radio to “Bennie and the Jets” just to make light of Kennex’s middle name. Also, you can’t help but smile stupidly at Dorian adorably singing along.

What did you think of this episode? Tell me about it in the comments!