Almost Human ‘Skin’ Recap – Episode 01.02

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An Albanian corporation abducts women to harvest their skin for their sexbots and Dorian sets up an online dating profile for Kennex.

The Breakdown

SkinA man appears to be engaged in a transaction with a prostitute in a hotel room, but all is not as it seems. He starts running gentle medical tests on her, with which she happily complies. A man in a surveillance room sees what’s happening and sends a couple guys to take care of it. Whatever the man is doing, they want it to stop. The guys spray their faces with something called a “flash mask”, which makes their faces indistinguishable to video surveillance. They enter the hotel room, kill the man, leave with the woman, and set off some kind of sparkle bomb in the room that turns out to be something called a “DNA bomb”, obliterating all DNA evidence.

Dorian and Kennx arrive at the crime scene. Some kids outside ask Dorian if he’s a robot and they think he’s really cool. When they find out Kennex isn’t a robot, they are less impressed. To show off for them, Kennex takes out his knife and stabs himself in his prosthetic leg, which frightens the children away. This spurs a conversation between Kennex and Dorian about Kennex’s negative energy.

SkinThe man who was running tests on the woman turns out to be Sebastian Jones, a businessman and inventor who specialized in sex robots. The woman he was testing is an android and the men who killed him stole all his equipment and samples. The sex robot trade is legal but regulated, requiring all sexbots to be registered to their owners. This one, however, unregistered. Despite Jones’ innovation and financial success, he had recently gone bankrupt and all his assets were seized and kept in a repo facility.

Dorian and Kennex visit the repo facility to investigate Jones’ assets. They find a court summons addressed to Jones, telling them that he was being sued by his business partner, Lorenzo Shaw. Stahl calls Kennex to tell him that they found DNA traces from a missing person named Nicole Bloomquist on every surface touched by the sexbot.

Meanwhile, a random woman is kidnapped and her child is left behind in the parking garage. It’s the same MO as the Bloomquist abduction. Kennex tries to talk to Victor, the woman’s young son. At first he is not responsive, but Kennex notices him looking at an animatronic giraffe toy and uses it to gain his trust. Victor tells them that his mother was taken away in a silver sedan.

SkinWhile officers search for the car, Kennex and Dorian go to interview Shaw at his swanky sexbot showroom. Turns out that Jones considered himself an artist and put all his money into finding the next groundbreaking thing in sex robotics. Then their biggest client, an Albanian corporation, cancelled their contract, went into business for themselves, and left Jones and Shaw bankrupt. Shaw refuses to talk any more about the Albanians, so Dorian hacks into Shaw’s database to find them.

They go to a sex bot club owned by the Albanians and start running DNA tests on the sexbots, but none on display show any traces. The Albanians intercept Kennex, lie about owning the sexbot from the hotel, and try to bribe him. Meanwhile, the silver sedan has been tracked down to an abandoned industrial facility, so Kennex and Dorian head out to investigate. They find the sexbot from the hotel, but she’s been skinned and deactivated.

SkinThey take her back to Rudy to see if they can retrieve any memory files from her, but it turns out there’s too much damage. Dorian seems upset and uncomfortable about what has happened to the sexbot. Kennex thinks the Albanians might be kidnapping women in order to harvest their skin for their sexbots. In the car, Dorian and Kennex have an awkward conversation about Kennex’s love life and his possible attraction to Stahl. Dorian set up a profile for Kennex on a dating website. Stahl then calls to say that they’ve found the silver sedan. When they stop the car, they arrest a couple Albanians and find a sexbot named Vanessa who has traces of DNA belonging to another abducted woman. Meanwhile, Victor’s mom is brought to a laboratory and prepped for procedures.

Kennex and Dorian interrogate Vanessa but don’t get much helpful information about where the missing women are. Kennex thinks that Vanessa was being taken to be destroyed. Based on the fact that Yuri, one of the Albanians, was the one who sent Vanessa to be destroyed, Kennex raids the Albanian club but doesn’t find the skinlab. Dorian, however, thinks that he can find where it is by accessing Vanessa’s internal GPS log to find out where she was first activated, assuming that it would be at the skinlab. They find the location, conduct a raid, and find the missing women.

Unfortunately, Vanessa has to be deactivated, so Dorian decides to be there with her to help comfort her. Kennex goes to see his partner’s family for the first time since the Syndicate ambush and talks to his partner’s son about his father.

The Analysis

SkinIt’s amazing how much smoother and less encumbered the second episode is without having to have a page of exposition about everything that happens or every character that is introduced. The plot moved along swiftly, the mystery was engaging and delightfully futuristic, and the character interactions are fun and compelling.

The crime of the week involved what the sex trade of the future has become. While human sex workers are by no means extinct, a good part of business has been taken over by androids designed to make empathetic attachments. These sexbots are just a little creepy – overtly sexual while being unnervingly innocent – and reminds me just a little too much of that Japanese robot that was designed to fall in love and did its job just a little too well. For all that, the plot opens up a quick, inconclusive discussion about the merits of the robot sex trade versus the human sex trade. A broad range of opinions were aired, no doubt designed to touch upon the multitude of arguments for or against the current and ongoing issues related to sex work. With forty-five minutes in which to solve a mystery, there obviously isn’t time to do any real soul searching on the subject, but it is nice to see it touched upon enough to leave the viewer thinking about it.

As with the premiere, Dorian and Kennex continue to be a joy to watch. The writing for these characters is exceptionally well done, as is the interaction between the actors and their individual performances. It is rare to see characters spring so fully formed from the very beginning – we get such an impressive sense of who Kennex and Dorian are as people from the moment we meet them – and yet still have so much to offer from episode to episode in terms of discovery and information. These are characters we already have a real sense for, but who will be a joy to come to know as the show continues. And I have to say again how wonderfully the contrast in character between Kennex and Dorian continues to work. Both the writers and actors are to be commended on presenting some of the most interesting and compelling dialogue between two people. In these first two episodes I have been impressed with the attention to detail, the production design, the environment, the imaginative mysteries – but when it comes down to it, the scenes that really catch my attention, that I enjoy the most, are the scenes between Kennex and Dorian. They have so much to teach each other, and yet they have a real, basic understanding of each other too.

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About the Author

Bethany Lewis
My cinema education started when, at three years old, Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" became my earliest memory of cinema. Since then, I've been obsessed with film and television, learning more about it, analyzing it, researching it, and experiencing different kinds of it. After getting my BA in Theater, I went on to get my MFA in Film Studies. I now spend my free time watching and writing about movies.
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