Almost Human ‘Beholder’ Recap – Episode 01.12

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A man builds himself the perfect face by killing attractive people and stealing his ideal features from their DNA. Stahl visits a Chrome club as part of the investigation and meets someone special. Kennex resists the perfection of technology.

The Breakdown

A man relaxes at home by playing virtual golf. He is attacked by a man with a bandaged face and injected with some kind of syringe that contorts his face and then extracts some fluid.

Kennex tells Dorian about his bad date and how it was ruined by the woman continually taking holo-calls. Dorian says that maybe the technology isn’t to blame and that maybe Kennex is just boring. Stahl asks for help with a possible homicide. The man who was attacked was found in his home but considered to have died from natural causes. Stahl doubts the cause of death because the man was a Chrome and designed to be perfectly healthy. When they go to investigate, Dorian finds a small puncture in the victim’s neck and seven different people’s DNA in the wound. This indicates that seven different people were killed with the same device. The one thing that seems to link the different victims is that they were all very attractive.

The killer visits an underground lab of some kind and demands of the doctor that he performs yet another procedure. The doctor resists, saying that he needs to stop, but the man is insistent and threatens to turn him in to the police for practicing without a license. The procedure uses the liquid taken from the Chrome earlier and morphs the killers face.

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Stahl thinks that the victim might have been followed home from an exclusive Chrome club and goes to check it out. Dorian and Kennex go to talk to Rudy. Stahl has a hard time reasoning with the director of the Chrome club to give her the security footage. A man overhears their conversation and introduces himself as the owner of the club, Jake, and brings Stahl into the club to talk. He’s fascinated by her decision to become a cop – apparently an unambitious and disappointing career choice for a Chrome – and tells her about his sculptor brother. He gives her the security footage.

Kennex and Dorian have a conversation about flaws and how they make you human and how Kennex would like to embrace a simpler, less technological life. Dorian counters by saying maybe they should replace his synthetic leg with something more useful, like a shovel. Rudy is worried about being targeted by the killer and Kennex and Dorian have a hard time taking his concerns seriously. Rudy identifies the same cause of death in the seven other victims and discovers that nanobots were what was injected into them. Stahl arrives back from the Chrome club and has a good feeling about talking with one of her own for once. Stahl identifies the killer following the victim from the club, but facial recognition identifies him as the other victims depending on from what angle the camera catches him. Rudy theorizes that the killer is using the nanobots to collect DNA from his victims and using them to build himself the perfect face – plastic surgery by nanobots.

Dorian and Kennex go to see a plastic surgeon who was in charge of a nanobot trial gone wrong. The nanobots were stopping the donors hearts and then deforming the test subjects. Meanwhile, Stahl discovers another victim. Kennex and Dorian go to talk to a contact about who has blackmarket access to nanobot technology. The contact points them in the direction of the underground lab. When Kennex and Dorian go to check it out, the doctor sees them on his security camera and injects himself with synthetic adrenaline in the hopes of being able to fight his way out. Instead, it eventually stops his heart and kills him after nearly strangling Kennex.

They identify the next victim and put him in protective custody. The killer recognizes a plain clothes policeman outside the next victim’s house and reluctantly leaves.

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Kennex identifies the pattern connecting the victims – that they’re all in the same DMV district – and thinks the killer works for the DMV. They discover his true identity and find out that he’s had multiple plastic surgeries even before he volunteered for the nanobot trials that disfigured him. Maldonado is perplexed because he looks perfectly normal, but Stahl thinks he probably has body dismorphia and sees himself as hideous. Meanwhile, the killer gazes longingly at a woman in an apartment building across from him and chats with her online – both saying that they’re looking forward to meeting each other.

The police swarm the killer’s house, but he sees them coming from outside his window and leaves before they reach his apartment. They find logs of his lengthy correspondence with the woman and Kennex notices that she lives in the opposite apartment building when he sees her through the window. The killer surprises the woman. She is happy to finally meet him but says that she’s been keeping a secret from him – that she’s blind. He seems to hardly be able to handle the irony of all the people he’s killed to build the perfect face for her when she can’t even see him. They share a tender moment before the police swarm the building.

Kennex pursues him to the roof where the killer threatens to jump off. Kennex says that he understands how the killer must be feeling. The killer asks Kennex if he’s ever been loved. Kennex says he has. The killer tells him that Kennex can’t possibly understand and then jumps to his death.

Later, Dorian asks Kennex if he believes that there’s someone for everyone out there in the world, and Kennex says he does. Dorian notes how old fashioned his belief is. Kennex agrees and says he’s so old fashioned that even his robot is discontinued. Kennex decides to ask Stahl out for a drink but is foiled when Jake arrives to pick up Stahl for their own date.

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The Analysis

It’s nice to see the relationship between humans and technology come back into focus in such a playful way. One of the things that makes this show so fascinating is the literal and metaphorical relationship between these things being portrayed by the relationship between Dorian and Kennex. Kennex is undoubtedly an old-fashioned man – as Dorian and others make note of – who has big conflicted emotions about the technologically advanced world in which he lives. There’s a lot he’s come to accept and even appreciate – Dorian perhaps most of all – but there’s still a lot that separates him from the majority of the population that live and breath technology. Kennex’s date is ruined for him by his date’s holo-phone and her apparent inability not to take calls. The fact that this is apparently called “holo-blocked” I find particularly funny. Maybe it’s the norm in Kennex’s world and he can’t deal with it – or as Dorian posits, that Kennex is boring aka old-fashioned. Is Kennex right to feel so irritated by his date’s behavior, or is Dorian right and it’s Kennex’s attitude that makes it not work? Or is it maybe both?

This human disconnect and the attachment to everyday technology is certainly a hot topic these days, what with our growing addiction to smartphones and the time it takes away from people and things of real importance. Having the internet at home on our computers was bad enough, but now we have the internet everywhere, whenever we want it, in the very palm of our hand. Holo-blocked dates are a real thing, but without the holographic part (and I’m sure that’s coming soon enough). But bemoan the state of human existence as much as I might, I’m still writing this on a computer and posting it on the internet. While I may be aware of a disconnect, I’m hardly doing much about it myself. I mean, I spent fifteen minutes of my time today making a stupid picture of a dog with Simon Pegg’s face pasted on – and then promptly posted it on the internet. You see what I mean?

At the same, Dorian is the embodiment of everything good and amazing and useful that technology can bring us. He’s automatically pro-tech because that’s what he is, and we can’t forget that. As difficult and conflicted of a relationship we might have with advancing technology and the increasing number of useless, time wasting, brain numbing games, apps, and gadgets – for every thousand or million of those, there’s probably something like a Dorian out there. Someone out there is making a real, groundbreaking, miraculous thing, and that thing will inspire someone else to make a better, newer, braver thing. One day we may start to believe in real achievements again – like men on the Moon and rovers on Mars – and maybe one day we’ll be able to put aside our flappy bird games and join together to celebrate those wondrous achievements.

Or I guess we could just keep playing flappy bird. That game is pretty hard to beat.

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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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