aryas_zehral: alt-Astrid thumbs up (fringe: altrid thumbs up)
[personal profile] aryas_zehral
I've been rewatching Almost Human, but in the order that Wikipedia states is the production order. I've watched the first four eps which were Pilot (1x01), You Are Here(1x08), Arrythmia(1x06) and Perception(1x10)

What I've found is that these four episodes feel very tightly scripted. In all four episodes John is suffering from flashes and the characters around him are highlighted. John and Sandra's friendship, for example, is highlighted. We see them fighting - esp after he shoots Richard's MX in the second episode for insulting Dorian (incidentally this could explain why the MXs don't criticise Dorian after this point which makes more sense that Richard's MX being unusually talkative and bitchy) - but we also see them joking with each other ("Thanks for not shooting any more MX's today" "We'll night's still young"- paraphrased) and we see Sandra and John meeting in a bar so that she can ask him about his well being in a situation where they are friends rather than colleagues. She also follows up about his anger management course, which, by this point in the organisation, we have recently seen and not months earlier in the run.

InSyndicate and Anna are dealt with explicitly in this organisation of the episodes as well. These are the episodes in which Sandra tries to get the baddie they arrested at the end of the Pilot to give more information (and we see Danica in the storage warehouse which perhaps ties InSyndicate to Dorian's creator, something which I did not pick up on at all the first run through), in which John discovers the russian doll trojan horse, and in which his flashes get progressively worse until he has the car accident that costs Dorian an ear for a while. It also gives an indication why InSyndiacate and Anna are dropped from the main narrative and pushed to one side. In "Perception" John's increasingly obsessive notes in his house are contrasted with the woman who could not get over the death of her daughter, who states that it consumed her, that she could not have a life, and who has her own room of charts and images and post-its. And obsession which culminates in her killing two girls her daughters age because she is certain they did something to her daughter, except they didn't and her daughter killed herself. After seeing this, and after removing the russian doll listening device from his house, we see him starting to take down all his post-its and questions and pictures, shelving this obsession just as he finally was able to delete Anna's final message. This allows him, and the narrative, to move on from its focus on John's quest for Anna. (I'll admit, once I've watched more this might not be quite as neat, but the first four episodes felt like an arc and one that, instead, was screened out of order and over ten episodes).

The relationship between Dorian and John also has a more gradual arc. At the end of the Pilot John calls Dorian "man" after spending much of the rest of the episode complaining about the reverse (Dorian calling John "man"). In the second episode John shoots the MX for insulting Dorian and Dorian takes this as John implying that he "likes" Dorian, which of course John denies and which he probably doesn't really believe himself. In the third episode Dorian and John meet another DRN who is working as a maintenance man in a hospital. Through Dorian getting him to tag along we, and John, learn more about Dorian. We learn that Dorian's line was shelved for "unexpected emotional responses" and that, even though there was a test, the PTB got scared and just shelved the whole line. We learn that Dorian, who remembers this time, never quite believed that the test worked and that Dorian, when he was turned off, hoped that someone was there to bring him back, and that John did that for him and he wants to do this for the other DRN. We learn that Dorian wants to be a cop but we also learn that the DRN was "terrified" of taking on that mantle again. John, as a snarky passenger in the car for much of these conversations, starts to look at Dorian in places with a more contemplative eye. In the forth episode, when Dorian loses his ear, he looks faintly guilty about this. In this ep Dorian also tells him that he is scanning John and giving updates on his health and well-being, which I think sets up that whole weird scanning his balls thing in a way that should make it less jarring when that episode comes up in the rewatch. If Dorian is constantly scanning him, and if John is aware of this, then something which is intimate information and a bit creepy becomes the explicit outcome of something John knows about. At no point does it say John consents to this invasive spying however so its still creepy.

One thing that did surprise me in this organisation of episodes was that there is a lot more of Valerie Stahl in them than there seemed to be in the actual show as a whole. In the original run in the first five episodes all we really learn about Valerie is that Dorian can fake her voice to tease John about liking her, that she is a bit of a Penelope (a whizz at getting information who largely stays in the office) and that she makes a really effective hostage in that her kidnapping really gets John annoyed. However in the production order we have Richard teasing Valerie about her Dad being able to pay to make her taller which makes her seem really interesting and then we see her out in the field with the Chromes, investigating the murder of the two girls. We learn about her as a person rather than her as a love interest. We do see a few instances of Valerie and John starting to flirt- she gives him some gum, he writes her a note after he misinterprets her having something for him as a present instead of as information on a case. This makes her seem more rounded as a character and more of an active influence in that world.

Another thing is that struck me is the world building and the narrative foreshadowing which these episodes do really well. On of the things that annoyed me in the original run was how DULL (omg dull) some of the early cases were. Oh look there's a new drug- drugs are bad. Oh look there's bent cops- that's bad too. Oh look there's a bank robbery and a hostage situation which is super clich├ęd. Oh look there are prostitutes/sex bots who are treated as less than nothing and disposable and man can we say ham-fisted metaphor for the evils of slavery?? It was all so dull. Instead in these episodes we have drugs designed for the genetic code of the user who could not get addicted or have bad side effects from taking the drugs (when not massively overdosed) because they too have been genetically modified to remove those bad genes. We have biomechanical hearts stolen from the corpses of their original recipients and then programmed to stop working after thirty days unless reset by the Evil Blackmarket People. We have weapons which use loopholes in tracking software (used primarily it looks like for advertising and identification/locating) to track down a single person to ensure that they die without the shooter being anywhere nearby. We have a bioweapon designed to trigger the mass vaccination given to cops in order to kill them a la something from fringe. These stories give an indication of how utterly endemic surveillance and tracking is, how much technology has involved to ensure that products are individualised, but that this is done constantly, evasively, without any specific permission given.

The Wall is also mentioned in every episode which makes me wonder if they are the ones who are behind the wall or outside of the wall. Is this a walled city? Is all this surveillance because these people live in lovely houses and clean streets etc because all the bad things are kept out, kept beyond the wall or is the wall some form of ghetto where the undesirables are kept. Are the people on the other side of the wall free? Or are they trapped? Why are people told not to go over the wall and why are the police force specifically mentioning that someone came over the wall as if this is something they are investigating? Where IS the wall?

I think I'll leave that there for tonight. The next episode in the production run is Skin (1x02) which I did not like in the first run but perhaps it will stand up better when it doesn't come across as a blatant excuse to get some tits and ass front and center as soon as possible in the show. Because nothing sells a show like some blatant objectification and women programmes to do what they are told. Gross. But maybe, when it comes later in the run, it won't be as... galling.
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