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'Almost Human' recap: It's a family affair

Season 1 | Episode 9 | “Unbound” | Aired Feb 3, 2014

The beginning verse of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Family Affair” is surprisingly apt to “Unbound.” A parent has two kids; one kid is “[s]omebody that just loves to learn,” while the other becomes “[s]omebody you’d just love to burn.” No truer way is there to describe Dorian and Danica.

Almost Human-Unbound-1The episode begins with our favorite cops being buddies that get on each other’s nerves. But this time, there are schoolchildren in the mix! There are slash fan fiction writers out there who have often posed the question of what it would be like if Kennex and Dorian raised kids. As we see from this instance of babysitting, Dorian is the parent who sets the rules, while Kennex is the parent who thinks the other parent is being too much of a fuddy-duddy. Dorian offers the  kids a moment with Captain Maldonado, while Kennex ho-hums in the back and counter-offers with a disgusting image of a criminal’s demise.

We leave this moment of levity to get to the crime of the week. This crime is a lot different from the others in that it would have impacted the series’ storyline for seasons to come. If only things at Fox went right.

A woman is mugged by an unknown assailant. After she hands over her purse, the criminal shoots her at point-blank range. The MXs track the criminal down and shoot him after he tries to open fire on them. Once they and their commanding officer realize it’s a bot—a scrap bot refitted to commit advanced actions—the MXs take it to the evidence locker. Unfortunately, through a built-in alternative power source, the bot comes back to life and finds what inSyndicate—that terrorist group that had tried to break into the locker a while ago—wanted so badly: the head of a woman bot. The bot, now with the woman’s head, walks out of the evidence locker, but not before shooting the attending officer.

By the way: The headpiece made for the scrap bot is amazing. Kudos once again to those who worked on the special and visual effects.

Almost Human-Unbound-2Danica—as the bot comes to be known—could pose a threat to the city’s security, not just to the people themselves. The threat is that if she’s a terrorist tool, she could create a breach in the Wall and cause mass chaos. These possibilities are discussed while Maldonado, Kennex and Stahl are having a freak-out session in front of the precinct’s monitors. While they banter back and forth, Dorian has been quietly yet sternly asking to be let in on the information they have about this particular bot, since he was probably  decommissioned before she was created and has no knowledge of her.  “Captain, what the hell is going on?” Dorian asks Maldonado, deploying his rare use of curse words. Maldonado’s short answer is that she’s a ruthless killer; the longer she’s out, the more the deaths will increase.

Kennex finally tells Dorian the whole truth. Years ago, LumaCorp, the company behind the DRNs, was absorbed into the police department after the bots’ initial success. But soon they began to “malfunction,” or as I think of it, act too human for humans to be comfortable with. After they were decommissioned, the police replaced them with the MXs and left LumaCorp a failure. In a desperate attempt to come back, LumaCorp created the XRNs, meant to be more soldier than police officer. Kennex goes into full Quint mode when he details the day the Danica debuted. Danica massacred politicians, city notables and police officers for three days. “Twenty-six cops went into that building,” Kennex says. “Never came out alive.” Kennex’s team managed to corner her and take her out—or so they thought.

Meanwhile, Danica is searching for a new body. Rudy tells Kennex and Dorian that the internal power source is probably about to go out, not to mention the crudeness of the scrap bot’s body. Danica breaks into a makeshift lab and uses what looks like a woman sexbot’s body. Strangely enough, it looks like she’s admiring herself and the bot’s skimpy clothing in the mirror. This is a part that could be considered anti-feminist, since it goes against Danica’s personality and narrative. Anyway, she gets dressed in combat gear and hears a sound. It’s a man. “Danica,” he says, as if relieved (or scared), but soon Dorian and Kennex arrive with the report that the man has been knocked unconscious by Danica.

Almost Human-Unbound-3The man says he’s Nigel Bernard, but upon first glance, Dorian knows that this man isn’t named Bernard. Nigel recognizes Dorian and rushes over to him, cradling Dorian’s face as if he were his long-lost child. In a way Dorian is his child; Nigel (real last name: Vaughn) created him and the other DRNs.

Vaughn tells Kennex—who is suspicious of Vaughn throughout the whole ordeal—that Danica wanted him to take her back to his lab. But, since the DRN and XRN fiascoes, he’s been stripped of his robotics license and his lab. Vaughn says he doesn’t know what Danica could want, but he seems to want to have nothing to do with it; he’s still haunted by the massacre. Kennex does feel some sympathy when Vaughn discusses what it’s like to be defined by a less-than-favorable event. But Dorian, ever the good child, gives his “father” some encouragement: “It’s not our past that defines us. It’s what we do now.”

Vaughn says that he can possibly track Danica with some of his old lab equipment, so Dorian and Kennex put in the request for the release order. Somewhere else in the city, Danica breaks into a tech company and kills the workers to get to the clean room. When Paul and his team get on the scene, he relays back to Kennex that 500 ZNA processing cores—advanced tech for androids—have been stolen. This means that someone could be building an army of militant, Danica-like androids.

The crew has to work fast. Even Rudy, who was starstruck to a fault after meeting Vaughn, his robotics idol, buckles down to business. Through Vaughn’s released tech, they find a silver case numbered “1068.” This has Danica’s unique signature, which will locate Danica. They also find the cases of Synthetic Souls Vaughn created. Vaughn says he did nothing different when creating Danica, but he thinks his desperation and resentment must have had an effect on her creation.

Rudy calls in a robotics expert to help Dorian and Kennex. The expert, Luther Estes, states that the person behind reprogramming the scrap bot is a genius, using concepts that are just now being theorized. The person is also probably younger; he thinks the genius is a Neo Tokyo resident named Hikari. Dorian contends that it could be someone from over the Wall. Luther laughs off that idea; the Wall supposedly doesn’t have the resources for this kind of work. Dorian is usually right with his theories, but this time, no one believes him.

Danica drives a taxi that she killed the driver over, when a woman and her child enter the car. The woman thinks she’s just a taxi driver, but after Danica sternly tells her twice that the cab is off duty, the woman begins to get the message. It seems like she’s gotten the message a little too late, but her daughter compliments Danica’s beauty. That compliment saves the family from death. Why? Who knows.

The signature has followed Danica to a ritzy restaurant. Unfortunately, Vaughn tells Kennex that he has to stick an activated needle into the back of Danica’s skull. Kennex is less than thrilled, to say the least. But out he and Dorian go, with words of safety from Vaughn to his “son.”

AlmostHuman-ep109_sc40_154The restaurant is the host of an event for City Councilman James Hart. Danica storms in with the intent to kill. Kennex, Dorian and the MXs also storm in, intent on stopping her. The MXs go down quickly, as does Kennex, whom Danica knocks out. As she aims at Hart, who is injured, Dorian shoots at her. He asks her why she’s doing this. “Because my sacrifice is necessary, just like yours,” she says. A fight ensues, and Danica has the upper hand. Just as Dorian is preparing himself for death, Kennex attacks her. She rounds on him, punching and hitting. As he goes down again, he starts laughing; he’s pulled one of her grenade pins! He kicks her out of the door right before she explodes.

Afterward, Dorian and Kennex are concerned about each other’s safety. Dorian seems especially concerned after seeing Kennex’s bloodied and bruised face. Kennex credits some of his success to his synthetic leg. Dorian asks if he’s finally not anti-synthetic, the meaning also applying to him. “It’s growing on me,” Kennex says before they share a hearty handshake.

The mission is over, right? Nope! Vaughn is nowhere to be seen, and the vials of Synthetic Souls are gone. Dorian realizes that Vaughn wants a lab to build bots. But where could he have gone? Once again, Dorian gives his Wall theory, but again, no one believes him. Turns out that Dorian’s right; Vaughn makes his way over the Wall.

Almost Human-Unbound-4Last thing: It is nice to see how close Dorian and Kennex have become. Kennex is very worried about Dorian’s mental state after his run-in with Vaughn and Danica. Since there was nothing different between him and Danica, Dorian worries he could become like her. “How could the same man that made her make me?” he asks. “You’re not like her and you’re not like him,” Kennex responds. “You’re you, and nothing’s going to change that.”

What do you think about this episode? Discuss below!

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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