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'Almost Human' recap: A deadly game of Simon Says

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Simon Says” | Jan 6, 2014

“Simon Says” is my third-favorite episode after “Skin” and “Are You Receiving?” The tension in this episode is palpable. Even though I’d already seen this when it originally aired, I was still on pins and needles as I rewatched it for this recap. There’s also a bit of Dorian-Paul amicability that rears its head. Perhaps it was nurtured into life by the huge punch Dorian gives Paul at the beginning of the episode.

almost human-simon says-1The punch is not really Dorian’s fault; he’s at less than 100 percent of his charge, and when he’s at low charge, he can be irritable and prone to freak-outs. But even though Dorian didn’t mean to punch Paul (the precinct’s appointed energy marshal), Dorian’s anger didn’t come out of nowhere. A solar flare ruined the precinct’s charging facilities, so charge is now rationed to the most important mechs first, including the MXs. Unfortunately, Dorian still has his black mark of being “one of the crazy ones,” so he gets pushed down the ladder. Black marks are something that become a theme later on in the episode.

Dorian’s  bad mood continues when he and Kennex start their ride-along. The fact that the MXs get preference underscores Dorian’s increasing aggravation at sharing living space with them. He desperately wants his own space—preferably the trophy room Kennex has in his apartment. This highlights two things. The first is how out of order the episodes are. The first time we see Kennex’s trophy room is much later, during one of the episodes that should have aired first. The second thing is the obvious storyline crumb that was dropped. At the end of this episode, Dorian becomes Rudy’s roommate, but the way the ride-along scene was set up, you know that Dorian was eventually going to move in with Kennex. Well, if the show had made it to season 2, anyway. In any case, Kennex doesn’t want anyone moving his beloved high school trophies, which prompts him into a long spiel about when he was known as “The White Cheetah.” Dorian, who is drifting off to robotic sleep during this tale of days past, could not care less.

almost human-simon says-2Now the mystery begins. Unfortunately, it has to begin with this poor, regular chap just driving home and talking with his wife about lasagna. Our poor soul, Ramon, gets stopped by some guy that gives his car a random electro-wash. As he’s rolling down to pay the man, the electro-wash guy sprays him with chemicals, knocking him out. When Ramon comes to, he’s got a bomb around his neck. A computerized woman’s voice tells him to steal money from his place of work—a bank—to get the bomb’s code and live. He gets the money and is hoping get the code as Kennex and Dorian are on his tail. The voice tells him not to pull over, but Kennex and Dorian pull some mechanical wizardry and force his car to stop. Once they realize they’re dealing with a victim and not a criminal, they try to help him, but it’s too late—Dorian needs about five minutes to get bomb off and there are only two minutes left. They don’t want to, but they have to throw the shield around Ramon and just wait it out. Kennex does promise that they’ll get the guy who did this to him.

After Ramon’s gruesome death, the police get to work. Kennex and Dorian find cameras in the car and send the car’s data recorder off for analysis. It would appear that someone was recording the whole incident and, as Stahl’s detective work shows, that someone was providing a show to other deranged people on a sketchy, ill-monitored side of the Internet called “darknet.” Also, through Paul’s interrogation work, we find out that Ramon was a loan officer. Possibly the killer targeted him because Ramon turned him down. But with Ramon’s 10-year history at the bank, that person could be one among thousands.

almost human-simon says-3Meanwhile, Dorian is barely hanging on, energy-wise. Kennex takes him to Rudy’s to get an “espresso shot” of energy. As Kennex and Rudy discuss the technology the killer has been using, Dorian is getting more irritated by the second. “HUMANS, OFF!” he yells as he throws a bag of blue stuff at them. However, minutes later, Dorian is back to normal, the energy shot doing its work. “Who’s a happy toaster?” Kennex jokes, but even with ample charge, Dorian still isn’t in the mood for Kennex’s attempts at robot-based humor.

Rudy shows them an address and a code, part of the instructions Ramon had been given. Dorian states that even if he and Kennex didn’t pull him over, Ramon would have been dead anyway; the address was 10 miles away and Ramon only had a few minutes left.

When Kennex and Dorian go to the location and punch in the code, the killer is already waiting for them with new instructions. The killer informs them of the next victim, a woman named Jeannie Hartman, who works at her father’s 3-D-printing flower shop. Jeannie thinks she’s just delivering flowers, but we later find her knocked out, with the creepy killer, Simon Lynch, leering over her as he turns on the bomb. She’s eventually told to go the nearby park and dance in the gazebo while holding the flowers. Luckily for her, Kennex and Dorian are already on their way.

Our duo arrive and see poor, humiliated Jeannie waltzing in the gazebo. As Dorian (with Rudy patched in to help with his charging situation) works to disarm the bomb, she tells Kennex that she knows it’s Simon. She found him on a dating site and when she met him in person, she got such a creepy feeling that she hightailed it.

almost human-simon says-4Dorian’s lack of charge and Rudy’s human eyesight are making Dorian a lot more reticent than he usually is, and he tells Kennex to put up the shield. Seeing his partner in the weeds, Kennex gives him a hand. His fresh eyes lead to the detonation of the bomb (with mere seconds left!) and Jeannie’s safety. This also leads to Dorian pouncing on Kennex in a bear hug before pulling them all in for a hug that nearly crushes both Jeannie and Kennex. Meanwhile, as the comments roll in about how Simon’s plot was foiled, Simon has a new target: Kennex.

Back at the station, Maldonado fills in the team on Simon’s motive. Simon was once a trainee for the police department’s bomb squad, but was let go due to his mental instability. The black mark of instability made Ramon turn him down for a loan, meaning Simon couldn’t open his bar. His obsessiveness made Jeannie warn all the women on the dating site to stay away from Simon. Simon was out for revenge; he succeeded with Ramon, but Kennex ruined his plan with Jeannie. It’s at the next location—Simon’s supposed whereabouts—that Kennex gets in trouble.

Kennex thinks he’s answering a call from CSI when he’s attacked by Simon; he wakes up hours later on a park bench, dressed as a bum. During those hours, a fretful Dorian finds Kennex’s locator chip. “He could be anywhere,” he says, worried. Surprisingly Paul, who usually hates Dorian, gives him some words of encouragement. “We’re going to get him back,” he says. And lo, just like the Grinch, Paul’s heart grows three sizes that day.

The Dorian-Paul team leads us to Kennex’s park bench. Kennex is bound to the bench, with only a few feet of latitude. He’s been knocked out for a long time—he only has less than 11 minutes left to disarm the bomb with a small kit. This time, though, he has Simon’s full attention. Simon tells him he has to disarm the bomb alone; if he alerts anyone to the bomb, or if the police come and/or evacuate the area, he’s setting the bomb off. He resents Kennex’s heroism. “Save yourself, hero,” he says. “The whole world’s your stage.”

almost human-simon says-8The police arrive at an adjacent building. Dorian is able to see Simon’s location at the top of the clock tower. Paul decides to get a sniper in position, but once it’s revealed that the type of detonation Simon is holding would go off if he’s shot, the sniper has to stand down. With seemingly no options left, Dorian comes up with a plan. He’ll climb up the tower and electrocute Simon, tensing his muscles so that he can’t press the button. “Smart,” says Paul, finally giving Dorian his deserved praise. Dorian is at 15 percent, but that small percentage is all Dorian needs. As Dorian starts scaling the building, Paul looks at his MX and asks, “Can you do that?” Of course, the MX has no answer.

Meanwhile, Simon is giving his Villain Monologue while Kennex is sweating bullets, trying to disarm the bomb. Having read up on Kennex’s case file, Simon is angry that Kennex was given a second chance and not him. They both had bad psych evaluations, but Kennex gets the opportunity Simon was never afforded. Simon contends that they’re alike, but we know they’re not.

Kennex is scrambling. The screwdriver in the kit flies out of his hands and he has to reach for a subway token on the ground. As he’s humoring Simon, he jams the token into the bomb and, using the pliers in the kit, cuts the wire with just seconds left. Meanwhile, Dorian, who is tapped out of power, electrocutes Simon before collapsing.

almost human-simon says-9Kennex and Maldonado celebrate Kennex’s survival and the capture of Simon, who will stand trial. Kennex is still trying to shake off Simon’s speech about the black mark, but Maldonado tells him not to let Simon into his head. While Maldonado is in a gracious mood, Kennex decides to ask once more about Dorian’s living situation. He gets a result, but it’s not the result Dorian wanted: Now Dorian is the new roommate to a very lonely and very socially awkward Rudy.

The episode ends with Kennex getting a kick out of Dorian’s unhappiness and Rudy informing Dorian of his night terrors. I can tell you from experience that night terrors are horrifying. I feel Dorian’s pain.

What did you think of this episode? Did you like Dorian’s nicknames for Kennex and Paul, such as “Sergeant Whiskers,” “Paulie” and “Little Man”? The comments section is your stage.

Almost Human is available on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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