The Breakdown

An old police friend of Kennex’s is found dead at the scene of a drug deal, putting him in suspicion of being a dirty cop. Kennex thinks there’s more to circumstances than appears at first glance and digs further. Rudy goes undercover as a “cook” as part of the investigation to uncover the true identity of drug kingpin “The Bishop”.

Rudy Lom is standing in a high tech lab while someone in the background tries to reach a third party by phone. The person they are calling isn’t answering and Rudy looks nervous. Suddenly, Rudy opens a valve that sprays steam into the room and he runs in the other direction while the others pursue him. He gets shot in the arm and looks around frantically for safety.

The Bends

24 hours earlier, Kennex and Dorian are at a Japanese restaurant. Dorian is concerned that they are taking too long while Kennex finishes his dinner. Kennex explains that in Japan its rude to leave the table before having finished the food, so he intends to stay until he’s finished. Dorian orders him a live slug-like dish, which by Kennex’s own philosophy he has to eat – which, after much hesitation and some effort, he does.

Meanwhile, a man in a car talks to his wife on the phone, telling her he’ll be home soon. After he hangs up, he meets up with a guy and they meet up with another group of men in an empty warehouse. It seems that this man is selling the group a drug “cook. The man asks to see “The Bishop”, the drug lord that runs the operation. A bald man – who we assume is The Bishop – enters from an adjoining room and begins leading negotiations. The cook gives their android a sample of the drug to test, which comes out 84% pure. Just as the deal is about to go down, the bald man receives some information from his ear piece and immediately shoots the cook. He then stabs the man and finds a subcutaneous wire embedded in his stomach, recording the entire transaction. He’s a cop. The bald man shoots him in the head.

The Bends

Kennex and Dorian get called to the scene the next morning. Massive amounts of the drug is found in the dead policeman’s car. Its a popular new drug called “The Bends” which is derived from a strain of algae, discovered three years earlier. The dead cop turns out to be a guy named Cooper who was a friend of Kennex’s. Cooper wasn’t registered on any undercover operation, and with the drugs in his trunk the implication is that Cooper was a corrupt cop. Kennex doesn’t buy it. They discover where the subcutaneous wire was removed from Cooper’s body.

Cooper’s Captain from the 25th, Alexio Barros, visits Captain Maldonado to talk about the investigation. Cooper was passionate about stopping the spread of The Bends and finding out the identity of The Bishop. Cooper couldn’t get an official undercover operation greenlighted, so the theory is that he started his own operation. Barros asks to be kept in the loop regarding the murder investigation. Detective Paul harasses Kennex about being friends with a suspected dirty cop. Cooper’s wife Kelly comes to talk to Kennex. They discover that Cooper had been spending a lot of time at a cabin just out of town. Kennex and Dorian check out the cabin and find that its been ransacked. Kennex had the advantage of knowing Cooper and finds what the ransackers were looking for – the receiver for the subcutaneous wire.

The Bends

When they listen to the recording they find out that Cooper was tracking The Bishop and got found out. They decide to take over the investigation and take down The Bishop. At first Kennex wants to pose as a cook, but Maldonado points out that he can’t even cook ramen. They decide to turn to Rudy, who is a skilled chemist and engineer. Rudy is at first stunned by the proposition, but comes to see it as a possibility to reinvent himself as a sort of suave secret agent.

Kennex and Dorian go to a rough and seedy bar to set up a meeting with The Bishop. Kennex tells Dorian to stay outside because they don’t take too kindly to androids. Moments after Kennex goes inside, he comes flying through the front window. He goes back into the bar, asking Dorian to come with him this time. Meanwhile, Stahl and Paul set up a criminal record for Rudy while he chooses a disguise for his character. He comes out wearing a three piece suit and a fedora. Stahl is pleased, but Paul is having no nonsense and orders them back to work. Back at the bar, a guy comes flying out the front window. Kennex and Dorian lightly threaten him with jail time and he turns over pretty quickly. They tell him to broker a meeting between The Bishop and a new cook. The guy wants them to clear a friend of criminal charges in return, and they do.

The Bends

Stahl and Paul coach Rudy on his cover story. Rudy practices his cooking technique and makes a small, explosive mistake. Meanwhile, the meet with The Bishop is arranged and Kennex gives Rudy a pep talk. Rudy swallows an experimental compound that turns him into a walking GPS beacon. Once Rudy meets with the gang, he accidentally introduces himself as Rudy instead of his cover name.

Dorian is sent in to salvage the operation and cover for the mistake. They buy it and they take them both into the lab where they test Rudy’s cooking. Meanwhile, the surveillance team is running video through facial recognition and identifying the gang members. When they test Rudy’s final product, it tests as 95% pure. The bald man comes in from the other room, very impressed with Rudy’s skills. The bald man takes him out of the lab and makes him drink a serum that counteracts the GPS compound, making Rudy’s location untraceable. The surveillance team rushes in, but not in time to catch Rudy before the bald man takes him to “the real lab” underground.

The real lab is fabulously high tech and Rudy is very impressed. Meanwhile, Kennex and Dorian interrogate a suspect captured at the scene. The suspect tells them that the bald man isn’t The Bishop and Dorian says he’s telling the truth. Based on the fact that the gang had a counteragent for a serum that was only developed weeks earlier, they determine that someone from the inside must be working with the gang. Combined with the fact that the bald man was released from major weapons charges by Captain Barros, they realize that Captain Barros is the real Bishop.

The Bends

Maldonado calls Barros under the pretense of keeping him in the loop of the investigation in order to track his location. Meanwhile, Rudy talks about the importance of passion, science, and art in the creation of great things. Barros calls his henchman who was meant to be waiting for his call, but who was shot and killed during the raid to save Rudy. As Barros gets nervous, so does Rudy, and eventually he decides to make a break for it by opening the steam valve on a tank and running away. He’s shot in the arm, but eventually climbs up into some piping to hide.

Meanwhile, the police storm the location. Dorian finds Rudy while Kennex goes after Barros. Dorian destroys the other android and saves Rudy. Kennex shoots and kills Barros. There is a celebration at headquarters and everyone tells Rudy what a great job he did. He says he’ll be ready for his next assignment in a couple weeks, but everyone looks at each other awkwardly. Rudy realizes that everyone thinks he’s too fragile and protests by saying he has a friend who can help him bulk up. Kelly comes to see Kennex to thank him for believing in her husband. Dorian and Rudy persuade Kennex to take them to McQuaid’s Bar to celebrate.

The Analysis

This was a particularly strong episode, both narrative wise and in the sense that previously sidelined characters got a chance to come into the foreground. While the reveal of Captain Barros as “The Bishop” was unfortunately somewhat predictable – or at the very least his shady involvement in some capacity of goings-on seemed like a given – it didn’t necessarily detract from the fun of the investigation or the compelling storyline regarding Rudy as an unlikely undercover agent.

The continuing introduction of future-tech and criminal elements is obviously a major component of the show, and as interesting as it is to discover all this new technology from week to week, one wonders how this tech might be tied in at a later time of significance. Will some key devices we’ve already seen perhaps be used again to further the main storyline regarding The Syndicate? Certainly in Fringe – a J.J. Abrams show for which J.H. Wyman was one of the main writers – the recurrence of significant technology played a huge role in the unfolding mythos of the show. It will be interesting to see if the same is true with Almost Human. Is the introduction of these new technologies merely incidental to their individual episodes, or are they a set up for something greater?

It was also nice to finally see Rudy Lom get some significant screen time and a proper part in the unfolding of a story. He’s such a distinct character and Mackenzie Crook plays him so wonderfully that one gets a very strong sense about the kind of person he is simply from his limited screen time thus far. We know that he’s a brilliant, passionate scientist who loves his work, but that he is also an awkward and lonely man who finds solace in his interactions with the synthetic machines with which he works. Here he gets a chance to choose who he is to be, how he wants to be seen, and for those he knows to see him as more than just the weirdo from the basement. And while he proves himself fantastically and wants to contribute similarly in the future, everyone feels that he is somehow not up to the task and tries their best to hedge around the subject. I think we will see more of his struggle to become one of the team, to gain acceptance from his co-workers and not just their kind indulgence.

While the show is fun and flashy, and its themes of technology and progress tempered with an understanding of the past are more than relevant to an age of unbelievable technological growth and accompanying dependence, it is ultimately the people that matter. The relationship between Dorian and Kennex is an ever fascinating dynamic, one full of die hard prejudices and growing acceptance. Rudy Lom’s struggle to fit in and find his place is one common to us all to one degree or another, including his fellows Kennex and Dorian. They really aren’t that far from understanding each other, if only they could look past themselves enough to see it.