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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Almost Human 1.3: Change of Face

You can tell a really good series from just an ok series by the way a non-game-changing episode plays:  if it provides a wallop and a jolt and a laugh even in a business-as-usual episode then it's a really good series, even a great series.   So I was pleased to see how good Almost Human 1.3 was tonight.

The decisive way the good guys get the drop on the bad guys is by Kennex using a change-of-face device, but there's lots more.   Dorian getting shot in the head and Kennex doing emergency work on Dorian's purple circuits - in all kinds of shades - and making it stick with a piece of what passes for chewing gum in this future ... Dorian asking Kennex if he's trying to put a woman almost a hostage to sleep as Kennex tries to calm her with a story how he got through a situation as a boy when his life was at stake ... talk of "New Tokyo" and all kinds of satisfying futuristic touches.

It's been suggested that Kennex may be an android himself, but I'm still thinking not, because (a) that would be too close a clone of Bladerunner indeed and (b) why make such a big deal of Kennex's cyberleg if the rest of Kennex was cyber or totally inorganic too?

But there are lots of other Bladerunner touches in Almost Human - and of Gibsonian cyberpunk in general - as well as Asimov's robots, who inevitably and enjoyably reside in any good robot story worth it's salt or circuitry.  Tonight we get a taste of Asimov when Dorian divulges that he doesn't eat, much as R. Daneel didn't eat in Asimov's robot stories, either.  Or, actually, Daneel did eat, for the sake of fitting in with humans, but he did not digest the food.

Which raises an interesting question: what is the mix of organic and inorganic in Dorian?  The issue of skin has already been addressed, but what about other functions and characteristics of human and, for that matter, living organisms?

Dorian confides to Kennex near the end of the episode, before singing "Benny and the Jets," that he doesn't want to die.   Is self-preservation a function of life rather than machines?   If my car said to me, stopping breaking so quickly, you're choking me, and you might make me crash, would my car be alive?

It's a measure of how good Almost Human is that it leads to such questions.

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