Really, really, really slow week this week thanks to the Olympics. With only four episodes to review, there will be no best of/worst of, but read on for one of the shorter versions of TV Thursday – 2/20/14. At least next week will be better.
Almost Human #1×11 – “Disrupt” – I keep saying that the world of Almost Human isn’t nearly as advanced as it ought to be, but here’s something I think they did right, something that I hadn’t even thought of, although I should have. Advanced home security in the future is made up of smart homes with holographic AI butlers that see to the needs of the occupants when they’re home and see to the security of the house when they’re not. Great idea! A year prior, a boy, Aaron, was shot and killed at the home of Michael and Linda Bennett when their smart home identified him as an intruder after he jumped over their fence and killed him. There was an uproar, Aaron’s mother sued to try to force smart homes off the market but she was unsuccessful and now that the first anniversary of Aaron’s death approaches, the Bennett’s are being forced to relive the outrage of the public. However, something has gone wrong. Linda Bennett goes for a swim, but their holographic butler Sam has been hacked and the pool cover closes and Linda drowns in her own pool. Michael runs out to try to save her but as he beats on the cover, the security system identifies him as an intruder and shoots him. Kennex and Dorian end up on the scene and it’s clear that someone hacked the system, something that’s supposed to be virtually impossible. They go to the company that built the system and are told to keep it quiet, they’re about to release their own real butler bots and they don’t need the bad publicity. Later that night, Kennex and Dorian are headed back to the station when there’s a massive blackout and pictures of Aaron appear on the huge monitors throughout the city, the power grid has been hacked on the anniversary of Aaron’s death. They’re able to track the hacker, a famous and skilled hacker-for-hire named Crispin X. Rudy, who used to run in that crowd, said that for any epic hacks like the blackout, the community would get together and have a huge party, all Kennex and Valerie need to do is find the party and they have Rudy poke around. He finds the party and dresses Valerie and John to play the part of hackers, even loaning them his hacking pad, very reluctantly, and they go in to find Crispin X at the party but it’s not what they expect, it’s a virtual reality party. They find Crispin X, named Nico, and arrest him but he denies having anything to do with the Bennett’s death. He was just hired to hack the power grid and while he’s being questioned, the security chief for the security company is murdered when his smart house evacuates all the air from his house, thinking there’s a fire. Obviously, Nico is innocent of the murder but they still have him on a three-strikes violation. They offer him a deal if he helps them discover the meaning of a picture of Aaron that was e-mailed to both victims. Dorian realizes that the picture wasn’t a stock shot, it must have been taken by someone who actually knew Aaron and when Nico recreates the photo, it includes a girl named Emily, someone that Aaron knew, but who had fled town right after Aaron’s death and was not missing. Emily is trying to kill everyone who was responsible for harming Aaron and her final target is the president of the security company, Kay Stenson. As Kennex and Dorian race to their office building, they call Kay and tell her to lock herself in the building, but Emily is already there and has hacked into the building controls. She sends all the prototype Sam robots after Kay, but luckily, Nico hacks into the building and is able to help Kennex and Dorian remotely. They take out the robots and finally Dorian confronts Emily, who threatens to shoot herself as the building’s fire suppression equipment counts down to extinguishing everyone in the building. He convinces her not to kill herself and Nico shuts off the suppression system in the nick of time. Emily is arrested and Valerie shows Aaron’s mother that he was loved around the world, she thought he was just a geek with no friends. For the entire episode, Kennex had been making up stories about a co-worker named Paul who had taken the day off, leaving Kennex and Dorian to cover his shift. As the stories got worse, from hemorrhoids to STDs and the cops on the force are collecting donations to help him recover from an ever worsening litany of diseases, Captain Maldonado finally steps in and says Paul just took his mother to Mexico City for the day. That bit was funny but what is potentially worrying, Rudy finds that someone has incorporated code into Dorian’s memory and now he’s seeing memories that he interprets as his childhood. Clearly, Dorian had no childhood and Rudy is worried that the police may want to deactivate Dorian, thinking he’s going to go crazy like the other DRNs did. Now they have to find out who hacked Dorian’s memories and why, but that’s something for a future episode. I liked a lot about this episode, especially Nico. I want him to stick around! I was really hoping that as part of his deal, he would join the force. After all, he kept saying how much he enjoyed hacking for the cops, how it was much better than virtual reality, I really would love to see him come back at some point in the future!
Castle #6×15 – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Two girls are riding in a cab, supposedly to meet another friend with a history of being late. They get her on the phone on a video call and suddenly, weird things start to happen, things start to fly around the room, the friend, Madison, levitates and then falls to the ground and the signal is broken. What happened? Castle and Beckett arrive at the scene of the crime to find Madison dead and a bloody patch on the ceiling where her head had been smashed. Castle immediately leaps to the conclusion that this was a scene out of Carrie and he has to tell his good friend Stephen King about it. Esposito interviews Madison’s parents and they say they don’t know who would want to hurt her, everyone loved her, but maybe they should talk to her ex-boyfriend Riley. Riley says that he broke it off with her because she was sneaking around at all hours of the night and he assumed she was cheating on him. He has an alibi and couldn’t have done it. All of these kids go to a high school that Castle once attended where he was a bit of a hellion and got expelled just before the prom. The stunt that had broken the camel’s back involved putting a cow on the roof. The same principal that had expelled Castle is still there and remembers him well. He shows them a video of an incident in the cafeteria where apparently an outcast girl named Jordan had telepathically thrown tables at Madison and her “bitch squad”, encouraging Castle’s telepathic dreams about the case. The principal goes to get Jordan, but she’s fled the school when she heard that the poilce were there about Madison. They go to her house and her mother is helpful and tells them that Jordan got into telepathy a couple of weeks earlier. She says that Jordan only has one real friend, a boy named Lucas. They find him painting props for the prom and he says that he wasn’t in the cafeteria when the incident happened but he had chased her out of class when she ran away but lost her near a subway entrance. They pull Jordan’s phone records and find that she had placed a single call to a place downtown. When they investigate, they find it’s a lab, maintained by a doctor of biophysics who can apparently float in mid-air. He says that Jordan came to be evaluated but denies knowing where she is until Beckett threatens to arrest him, then Jordan comes out and turns herself over to them. Jordan thinks she’s guilty, she wished that Madison would die and then she did, but Jordan was studying at the time of the murder and couldn’t have done it. Esposito looks into Madison’s financial background and finds that she has a ton of credit cards and secret bank accounts in her name that her parents don’t know about. Jordan says she once ran into Madison in the school library in the Russian section and Madison told her never to let anyone know she saw her there. Visiting the library, they find a copy of War and Peace with the center hollowed out and 2 million dollars in bearer bonds inside. Madison’s parents are clueless but her father, a high powered lawyer, seems nervous. They find some stolen merchandise behind the books and track it down to a robbery of a Chinese mobster who had suddenly sold his house at a loss and run back to China. He didn’t like ghosts and his neighbors said they saw his patio furniture floating, which sent him packing. Castle thinks that Jordan might have been working with Madison and her cronies to steal from the mobster’s house but then they look at the video from the cafeteria and see Lucas there. He told them he wasn’t present and when they talk to him about it, he admits to being a special effects wizard who set up the stunt so that Madison would leave Jordan alone. However, Madison didn’t fall for it and blackmailed Lucas into flying the furniture at the mobster’s house so she could get in and steal the bearer bonds. He also helped her stage the video of her death as a prank, the video call wasn’t live, it was all recorded. This made Castle realize what was going on. Kris and Hillary, the other two friends, were in on the robbery ring, they had stolen merchandise in their lockers. Kris wanted out and Madison threatened to expose her so, knowing that the video call was fake, she murdered Madison, smeared blood on the ceiling and used it as an alibi for the supposed time of the killing. Castle and Beckett go to the school prom and dance and come up with their song for the wedding and Jordan and Lucas finally admit that they care for each other. It was a murder-of-the-week to be sure but some of it was kind of cute. I’ve said in the past that I like the cases where Castle is convinced something supernatural is going on, only to find out in the end that it’s all natural and this was no exception. I even liked the bit at the end where Beckett said forensics found no evidence of string and magnets to explain how Lucas did it. It was cute.
Helix #1×07 – “Survivor Zero” – The Interwebs have been atwitter about Jeri Ryan showing up on Helix and even though I don’t see the value, I never cared about her on Star Trek, at least something new is happening, right? We saw last week that the helicopters were landing and troops were storming the base, it turns out that it’s Hatake’s financial backers, the Ilaria Corporation and they’re not that happy. Oh sure, Ryan’s character Constance Sutton seems nice enough to start, she wants to do anything she can for Alan so he can make the cure, but when he wants to bring Julia up from Level R, she’s not so happy about getting an infectee up in her nice clean labs. Of course, things are not as they seem, when Sutton and Hatake get together, she beats him up, all she wanted was the disease and the cure and he’s failed to provide it for her. She reminds him that absolutely no one (outside of her and him, I guess) are going to survive this and while he’s not happy about it, he agrees to go along. Of course, Sutton isn’t what she seems, she’s got the same creepy silver eyes that we saw Julia with last episode and she brushes her teeth with a grinder. Yeah, that’s normal. Downstairs, Julia is having problems of her own. Since going all silver-eyed, light hurts her and she bandages her eyes to keep from having a constant migraine. She’s still seeing the hallucination of Peter, who was otherwise oddly absent this week, but he tells her she ought to be asking herself why she’s not hallucinating Alan. Still, the shot that Hatake gave her seems to have cleared up her disease, silver eyes not withstanding. Sutton and her troops go down to Level R and get attacked by Vectors, even though she said she knew they were fast and strong, clearly she didn’t realize they were that fast or that strong. She says screw it, Julia’s got to be dead and that’s the end of that. Luckily, Hatake has already gone down to get her through his secret staircase and isn’t at all phased that her silver eyes are a natural deterrent to the Vectors. Anana and Sergio flirt a little on a snowmobile on the way to the base and once they get inside, Anana identifies Daniel as her long lost brother who was lost many years ago. Daniel doesn’t buy it at first, but after seeing the picture of Anana and his twin, he believes. Of course, he’s not happy with Sergio still being alive, after all, he put an axe into his gut and left him to die, but apparently Sutton is happier about it since she and Sergio get it on. It seems Sutton is telling everyone a different story. Hatake and her are going to make an escape together, Daniel (or whatever his Eskimo name is) can replace his father as head of the facility and Sergio… well, Sergio just wants to get laid. Sutton finds Hatake with Julia and demands that she be taken away. He slips her a pair of contacts so nobody knows she has freaky eyes. Apparently Alan notices right away because he’s just staring oddly at her eyes, but they get to hug and he doesn’t feel too weird at having slept with Sarah just an hour or so before. Oh, and we get to see more Vectors dropping out of the ceiling so next week, we should get a decent fight. I know all of this has to be going somewhere, I just have no clue where. What’s up with the silver eyes and the grinder teeth? I thought Hatake created this virus, he even talks to Sutton about it, but where did Sutton get the disease then? And what does Julia have to do with it? If she’s the titular Survivor Zero, what does that mean to the story? There’s a lot that gets thrown at the wall in this show and it has the potential to be interesting but I don’t know that we know enough about any of it to really tell if it’s good or if it’s just sticky. I’m just hoping that when we get to the end of the series, whenever that is, it’ll just be a decent storyline.
Intelligence #1×07 – “Size Matters” – In the last episode, we dealt with a biological plague, this time we get to handle a technological one. When a professor drops dead while having an innocuous chat with a student, CyberCom takes an interest, especially when they discover the cause for the death are tiny killer nanobots. Nobody is supposed to have the technological know-how to build them, yet there they are. Dr. Cassidy says they can’t exist but Gabriel reminds him that, technically, he can’t exist either. However, when other scientists start dropping dead, all of them having received small yellow packages in the mail, Cassidy gets concerned because they all belong to a small community of experts in artificial intelligence and all of them are close friends and colleagues of his. Cassidy finds that he had received one of the packages as well, since he never goes home, and it turns out to be a delivery system for an aerosolized nanite swarm. They track other similar packages through the mail and find one that was delivered to Bruce Tyler, but he hasn’t opened it yet. They try to call his office but his secretary is too busy listening to music to answer the phone. Tyler is still on the way to his office but they reach him via cell phone and he desperately tries to call his secretary to stop her from opening the package but it’s too late and she’s dead. They bring Tyler back to CyberCom for safe keeping and while there, he sees Gabriel do his thing and is mostly correct in his assessment of what he’s seen, although he think Gabriel is mostly a robot. Why they let him sit in the room and watch, I don’t know, does he have the security clearance? Inside the box that Tyler’s secretary opened, they find a binary code and hidden inside the code is a terrorist manifesto. Searching for similarities with other terrorist writings, Gabriel identifies him as Gordon Greyson and they know where he is. Gabriel and Riley go to pick up Greyson but he gets the drop on them and escapes Bond-style, but after a chase through the streets, they manage to capture him. Greyson says he’s not responsible, he doesn’t perform terrorist attacks, he just writes letters. Of course, Greyson isn’t too stable, he keeps saying the government is trying to put chips in people’s heads. Yes Gabriel, we’re looking at you. While he’s being interrogated, Riley’s cell phone goes off and Greyson drops dead of accute nanite-poisoning. Meanwhile, Cassidy and Nelson are studying the nanites and discover they can be activated manually, but it should be impossible for anyone to get a cell phone call into the heavily secured CyberCom. Now wait a second, how are they keeping cell phone signals out? A cell jammer wouldn’t allow any calls to be placed or received within the range of the jammer, not just going through the walls, so the whole premise wouldn’t work. What would be the point of stopping cell phone traffic into or out of the building, but allowing it within the building? Anyhow, of course, Tyler called Riley’s phone and transmitted the code that blew Greyson’s mind, but how did he get her phone number? Tyler is back at his office when Cassidy’s cell phone goes off (how, exactly?) and he starts bleeding from the nose. He’s been infected and will die quickly unless they pack him in ice to slow the nanites. They realize that they have to simulate his death so the nanites will evacuate his body and die in the outside world, which seems rather absurd when you think about it, why would the nanites be programmed to leave, just so they can stop functioning when the only reason they found out about the nanites in the first place is because they remained in the blood of the first victim? Anyhow, his heart stops, the nanites die and they bring him back, as expected. A recovered Cassidy confronts Tyler with a fake container of nanites and gets him to admit how he did the whole thing. Afterwards, Gabriel calls up Riley and asks her out for a late night/early morning snack. Please, please, please do not get those two in a relationship! Arrrrggghhh! One thing about Intelligence that I like is that we get to see things that are just outside the cusp of what’s currently possible but not so far out that they are unrelatable. Nanobots are science fiction, but not such extreme science fiction that we can’t imagine them existing. I think that’s a definite positive for this series, most exist either on the modern, mundane side or on the extreme fantasy side of technology, I like having a show that walks the line between the two.
Other Stuff I Watched: S&M (Slattery & McShane) #1×01-1×07, Shinzanmono Special, Tanked #5×09-5×12