EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Almost Human' recap: On borrowed time

Season 1 | Episode 6 | “Arrhythmia” | Aired Dec 16, 2013

This episode features one of my big health fears—heart attacks. The one featured in this episode is a whammy.

Almost-Human-Arrhythmia-1We start at a hospital, where we immediately see why the show has been honored with an Emmy nom for special and visual effects. Of course, the nomination is only for the pilot, but the special effects seem to get more ingenious as the show progresses, the holographic doctor one of the biggest examples.

The holographic doctor shorts out, which leads the nurse to tell a patient that someone’s coming to fix it. Suddenly, a man waving a gun is ordering for life support. He’s taken to the cardiac surgeon, who is currently in the middle of surgery prep. The man with the gun, Leonard Li, is not a criminal; he’s distraught. “I’m sorry … I don’t want to hurt anyone!” he says. Unfortunately, he’s out of time. As he’s lying on the floor, gasping his last breath, Leonard tells the doctor, “They killed me.”

Almost-Human-Arrhythmia-4Cut to Kennex and Dorian’s car-bro-time. Kennex is desperately trying to listen to a song that sounds eerily similar to Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock,” but the radio’s short-circuiting. Meanwhile, Dorian is trying to get him to pay attention to his driving. He tells Kennex that he just ran a red light. Kennex gets even madder when, after daring Dorian to give him a ticket, Dorian does. “You should break a rule or two now and then,” Kennex says. “It looks good on you.”

So why was the scene with the shorting-out hologram important? Because the hologram mechanic is another Dorian! DRN 494 was once a police officer, just like Dorian. But like Dorian, he was decommissioned. While Dorian was scheduled to go in space, the DRN was instated as a regular fix-it guy. When Dorian and Kennex meet him, Dorian is immediately affected. So Dorian does what Kennex originally suggested for him to do; he breaks a few rules.

Unbeknownst to Kennex, Dorian steals 494 for a day and takes him on the ride-along, something Kennex is immediately annoyed by. He had just gotten used to Dorian’s mouth noises and questions and feelings. Now he’s got two DRNs in the car? He can’t even focus on the fact that he and Dorian had learned that Leonard somehow knew when he would die. Leonard’s heart transplant was also never on any medical records. Neither was his biomech heart—a  heart from the expensive biomech organ company Vastrel. It’s the best biomech heart out there, but how can there not be a record of a top-of-the-line heart?

The car ride is already a huge (but entertaining) mess, but it gets worse when 494 jumps out of the car and starts assaulting a man. The man was up for armed robbery years ago, but he’s done his time. However, 494 doesn’t know that; Dorian went against protocol and gave 494 his case files back, but the files hadn’t been updated since 494’s decommission. If only 494 had just assaulted the man, there wouldn’t be that big of a mess for Kennex and Dorian to clean up. But 494’s escapade launches a Rube Goldberg machine’s worth of disasters, including a busted fire hydrant, a destroyed car, a broken droid and a mutilated police android. Of course, Maldonado is mad.

After Kennex gets an earful from Maldonado, Kennex rounds on both Dorians. He orders 494 back to the car and demands from Dorian why he wanted to rescue the bot in the first place. Dorian says when he was about to be decommissioned, he hoped that there would be someone for him when he woke up. “You were that person for me, John,” he says. “I want to be that person for him.” Kennex acts like he’s not touched, but we know he is. But he’s still not over the damage 494 has caused. If 494 gets out of line again, Kennex promises to mess 494 up. “I’m gonna be that guy for him,” he says.

Meanwhile, Rudy has been analyzing the heart. Rudy confirms that the heart is the best money can buy, but he also finds some modifications. At the same time, Stahl is interviewing Leonard’s distraught mother. Leonard’s mom details how hard it was for Leonard—who was diagnosed with terminal congestive heart failure—to find a heart, particularly one he could pay for. Stahl also finds out that Leonard’s transplant took place at a crude, abandoned building.

Dorian and Kennex take a trip to Vastrel.  Ms. Rivera, the head of the company, is prickly—she is being accused of doing something illegal with her own products, after all. But she does tell them that the mods in Leonard’s heart don’t belong and that the heart originally belonged to a woman named Sylvia. Rivera says, suspiciously, that when people die, Vastrel is supposed to receive a document confirming the heart has been destroyed.

Almost-Human-Arrhythmia-5The paper leads Dorian and Kennex to a crematorium. The cremationist, Henry Mills, is suspect. After getting the third degree from Kennex, Henry states that he did sell the hearts to some dude named Oscar. “He said he knew people who needed them,” Henry says. “Just because something is used doesn’t mean it’s got no value.” Of course, this gets to Dorian, who is dealing with that issue both personally and with 494.

During the meeting with Henry, Stahl informs Kennex that Leonard had been taking out $5,000 each month. Rudy chimes in and says the modifications turned the hearts into timers, meaning that the person who was providing the hearts to patients was also gouging them out of their money. Rudy states that the patients are “on borrowed time.” As are the detectives, who have to stop the bad guy, whoever it is. Kennex orders Henry to call Oscar, ’cause it’s time to catch some criminals.

Almost-Human-Arrhythmia-6Speaking of borrowed time, 494 asks Dorian why the DRNs were decommissioned in the first place. He, Dorian and Kennex are in the car killing time until Oscar shows up, and 494 has no memory of the Luger Test. Dorian tells him about the test, meant to weed out the “defective” DRNs from the “normal” ones. But the Powers That Be got scared, he says, and decided to deactivate them all. “Truthfully, I don’t know if the Luger Test is accurate at all,” says Dorian, which must have touched Kennex’s heart, giving him a deeper understanding of Dorian than ever.

Finally, Oscar shows up and it’s time to use their tracking system. He’s tracked down to a building, where a doctor is getting ready to do surgery. Over the wire, they hear that the doctor is about to operate on another patient. They bust in, and it’s a little before the bust that we start seeing some of the proof that perhaps 494 is one of the “defective” ones. He wants to immediately rush in even though Kennex and Dorian are trying to wait for the exact moment. Even though 494 is raring to go, he’s not thinking clearly enough to be a cop.

Almost-Human-Arrhythmia-7At the precinct, Oscar tells Paul that he doesn’t know anything about his cargo or who his female employer is. All he knows is that he was employed as a courier. Even the doctor doesn’t know anything; he tells Kennex that the modifications were remote diagnostics to help the patients if they were in distress. Turns out the doctor is an innocent in the whole situation; he thought he was giving good hearts to people. As the gravity of the situation dawns on him, the detectives realize their own problem. If they are going to find out if the employer jumps ship, the patients with the bad hearts will die.

The employer doesn’t want to get caught, so she orders Henry not to answer the patients’ calls to reset their hearts. The final piece of the puzzle finally comes to light. After cross-referencing the poor victims with missing victims (and after some of Stahl’s detective work), they find out all the victims were on the list for Vastrel’s aid program. They were all turned down by Ms. Rivera. But when Kennex and Dorian go back to question her, she tells them it wasn’t her. Turns out it was her assistant!

But if there were victims before Leonard, where are the bodies and organs? The answer: Henry. Time to go back to the crematorium.

Before Kennex and Dorian enter the crematorium, there’s also another clue that 494 is one of the “crazy ones.” When Dorian gives him the opportunity to be a cop and tells him to stop anyone who is of importance to the case (with a gun, even), 494 gets shaky. He’s in such extreme distress that Dorian apologies.

Kennex and Dorian go to take him into custody, which results in a shootout. The shooting comes to a halt once Dorian, who has been tracking Henry’s motions, busts through the wall and knocks him cold to the floor. Meanwhile, human Kennex has been running around trying to catch Henry.

Humanity is something Henry seems to feel bitter about when he’s taken to the precinct. As he stares at Dorian, he discusses how fragile human life is. “All us humans running around, trying to get more time,” he says. “Must be nice to have all the time in the world.”

Almost-Human-Arrhythmia-9Little does Henry know that the DRNs do have a limited lifespan since they’re still police (and government) property. Dorian finds 494 reviewing his old case files. He tells Dorian about one case in particular. The case involved him saving a young boy from her mother’s violent boyfriend. When the boy—Phillip—looked gratefully at him, 494 says about that moment, “That look was the most human connection I ever had. That’s my proudest moment as a cop. I didn’t realize how much I missed that.” He thanks Dorian for letting him be a cop for a day.

Maldonado still isn’t having it when it comes to 494 being in her precinct, so 494 has to go back to his maintenance job. Dorian tells him how great of a cop he was and how sad it is that he couldn’t continue to be one. He removes all of 494’s memories of case files except for one memory—the memory of Phillip.

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