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Almost Human - 1.04 "The Bends" - Review & Speculation

This week on Almost Human we explore a drug made from 2048 Algae dubbed as "The Bends".

Much like an Alias episode, we begin our episode with an event towards the end of the episode's story, where we see Rudy freak out listening to the words of others, as he sprints for a pipe valve, turns it on to admit steam, and makes a run for it, which results with him getting shot in the arm!!

Going back to an earlier time we start off with set up and murder of an a rogue cop named Trevor Cooper, who has been going undercover off duty to try and get to a dealer only known as "The Bishop". 

Captain Maldonado consults with Captain Alexio Barros over Cooper's murder and where he politically and emotionally stood prior to this drug deal. Kelly Cooper, Trevor's wife, also stops by the police station. John comforts her that he will get to the bottom of Trevor's murder and that he believes Trevor is innocent. Kelly also mentions that they sometimes spend time in their cabin, but she didn't like to go because it was cold and Trevor was working on fixing the fire place.

John and DRN venture to the cabin, as again John justifies Trevor to DRN. John, knowing Trevor not to be a good handy man or mechanic looks in the fire place chimney and finds a recorder device that was transmitting audio from Trevor's subcontanious wire!

Back at the station they listen to recorded conversations, including the night of the murder. There's enough evidence to clear him, but it wouldn't help them get The Bishop. John gets an idea to try and pose as 'the new cook', but Captain Maldonado insists that John is not right for the job, but soon they realize who might be...

Rudy Lom is prepped by Detectives Stahl and Paul, while DRN and Kennex head out to China Town to try and find a guy who would be able to set a meet. Both scenes are comedic, as Lom attempts to be stylish, make the drugs, and see what it's like first hand to be interrogated, while John thinks he handle 'this part of town' better than DRN, where he is sadly mistaken.

They are able to set the meet, which is to take place at Pier 4 at The Bishop's request. Lom remembering the words Richard Paul had told him clearly come to mind when he immediately gives up his alias to the group awaiting him at the pier. Additionally DRN also decides to show up, but Lom explains that he is a decommissioned off the black market that he refurbished (which I suspect is the truth and probably comes with consequences). The synthetic criminal scans Lom and he passes their tests. They take him to a lab so that he can meet "The Bishop" and begin making product.

At the 'Sweeney Todd' lab Rudy begins to make The Bends. They test it and it comes back as 95% pure. Suddenly a man walks into the lab. At the police department Captain Maldonado runs facial recognition on the man. It comes back as Gavin Maxwell. Rudy asks, "Are you The Bishop?" and Maxwell gives him a liquid substance that causes his own liquid-GPS-tracking concoction to stop working and the police loose the signal.

Immediately John Kennex and DRN along with other officers begin to raid the building killing a few of the men with Maxwell's gang. Maxwell is able to escape with Rudy, however, in which they end up in much cleaner lab. John is able to get a hold of one of the men known as Cruz. They interrogate him and learn that Maxwell is not The Bishop!

Soon by looking at the paper trail on Cooper, does Kennex and Maldonado realize that The Bishop has to be Captain Alexio Barros. Maldonado gets a clever idea to call him and falsely update him on the case. They are able to track him to an old Iron works building...

In the meantime Barros had revealed himself to Lom as The Bishop. Being a little high, Rudy tells Barrows about how the things one creates has a way of talking back to the creator. And how important it is for one to "pour their soul" into their works and how it begins to take on a life of it's own...Barros just laughs and says, "Are you making the drugs, or just taking them!" They shake hands.

We then come back to the opening scene, where Lom, a little paranoid, reacts to Barrows and his men's conversations. He goes to a valve, turns it the handle, steam is released, and he makes a run for it, but not without being shot. He hides somewhere in the building.

DRN and Kennex arrive at the building. DRN is confronted with the criminal synthetic, while Kennex finds Barros through some narrow passage ways. Both characters almost get seriously injured in their fights, but both also come out on top, killing both the other android and Barros.

Later at the prescient we see Rudy Lom justifying his self worth, but also Kelly Cooper comes to thank John for proving her husband's innocence and he explains that Trevor would of done the same for him.

In the final scene we get back into John's car with DRN making a little request. He tells John that he promised Rudy that they would all go to John's favorite cop bar, McQuades! John, more than skeptical, complies, but only if they follow a few basic rules, including that they don't know each other before tonight!

Although this episode is probably the most procedural feeling of the 4, I was glad that we had a Rudy Lom centric episode this early on. McKensie Crooke is just such a fantastic actor and it's just nice to see that Almost Human's writers do want to go outside of just exploring DRN and John Kennex.

We also got a little bit more Richard Paul in the episode too! He still comes off as a bit of a jerk, but he really had some good words of wisdom when it came to giving Lom some advice on keeping his lies as close to the truth as possible, but it might point out that Paul is a little too much of an expert on the subject.

I also really enjoyed the back and forth execution of John's and DRN's parallel fight scenes! It reminds us that they are equals in terms of where their characters stand, although the fighting of their opponents might also turn out to be reflective of negative aspects we have yet to see of either of them.

We also were treated to some pretty cool technology and/or the names of them. I was definitely found of the upgrade of the traditional wire now being embedded in the body and being called a subcutaneous  wire!  And instead of transmitting we get this niffty word transnetting! there was also the hand-phone-skype-like tech Trevor used to call his wife Kelly. The Bends was an interesting drug too, but I felt like we really didn't explore why it was the upcoming street drug. I wonder if we will learn more about it later?

One of my favorite scenes was probably Rudy working on his batch of bends in front of Stahl, Richard, and an MX! I loved how the MX just stood there injured and nearly unresponsive when Rudy's batch goes south due to forgetting an ingredient! I also loved how adamant Rudy was about his glasses and his fedora.

A reoccurring number I am noticing is 25. In "Are you Receiving?" the hostages were taken on the 25th floor and in "The Bends" Trevor belonged to the 25th Precinct.

So I have no real progress or evidence to help support any of the android/sleeper agent theories proposed in "The Pilot", but after having a week to think about last week's episode, I did think of another theory just to throw out there...

"Are You Receiving?" gave us a couple of things to think about. One was Elton John references (since David Bowie was so thematic to Fringe) and we heard John talk about his father and how his father saved his life when they were out ice fishing (which is another allusion to Fringe). I was told by friend that in the original Pilot that the android and/or android head found in the evidence room was going to be John's father's image, as opposed to this unknown women.

This got me thinking...

Sometimes I think Bad Robot takes ideas that might have been started in one work, and for whatever reason doesn't get fleshed out, and they then use it elsewhere in another work. One of Fringe's ideas that was started, but not followed through was the mystery centered around Robert Bishop, Walter's father, as the date of his death did not match Walter's birth date, --and episode "The Bishop Revival" (along with Fringe comic prequel series) left many to wonder about Robert and time travel and/or non-aging....Let alone that his name is Robert, a German scientist who came and worked for the US Government after WII and then we have the German-esque David ROBERT Jones...

So my theory is: John's father is a/thee villain of the series dubbed as "The Rocket Man". He's a technological genius, but like that of the Walter Bishops or William Bells, is he a bit criminal. Maybe he is also dubbed as "The Rocket Man" because he is mostly machine (Darth Vader-esque) and/or he lives on a private space station!

Some theoretical episode titles relating to Elton John:
Have Mercy On The Criminal
Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Your Song
I'm Still Standing

And a theoretical Fringe related title:
Be A Better Man Than Your Father

The Bad Robot Factor
Each week after my review I will bring this section relating to many things Bad Robot in relationship to the episode, as I feel certain Bad Robot often makes a point to reference themselves with similar characters, subject matter, riffs, easter eggs, aesthetics, contrasting situations, & occasionally shared pop cultural references. So this section is to explore the possibility of those things, which may provide some and insight speculation and at the very least food for thought and/or trivia. I also think it's just fun to be able to reminisce!

The Bishop Revival
I'm sure I'm not alone as Fringe fans couldn't help but to think of Walter Bishop through out the episode. Between Alexio Barros being called "The Bishop" and the pun we might also have with "cooking" for the Bishop, as Walter wasn't just good at experimenting in the lab with various substances, including his own cocktail drugs, but also he had a fantastic love of food! 

A Trip Down Memory Lane
Additionally there seem to be allusions to the 5th season episode "Black Blotter", where Walter gets a little high off off LSD and he sees a "green" fairy and a green city on a hill (allusion to Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz), with his important code word "Black Umbrella", to the confrontation he needs to have with himself via his dead assistant playing devil's advocate. In the episode the color of The Bends (and overdose affect) was green, when John and DRN go to find a man who can set up a meet with the Bishop in China Town people are walking around with electric rod black umbrellas, and DRN has to take on another synthetic and John takes on Alexio Barros, which might [later] reflect fighting with other aspects of the characters we have yet to see, which may then be showing us an internal struggle.

Other things Walter Bishop include another allusion to Reiden Lake and Walter's unique hiding places, as Kelly revealed that she and Trevor had a cabin and the recorder device (<---"Black Blotter" tracking signal to find Michael + theme with "The Recordist") was hidden there.

The slug-like creature DRN and Ernie have John eat was also reminiscent of something out of Fringe. It reminded me a little of a small scale version of the large scale single-cell slug-like mutation of "the common cold" in the episode "Bound". Additionally the Asian/Dinner atmosphere is also reminiscent to various scenes in Fringe and Alcatraz.

Have Mercy On The Criminal
Really Walter Bishop was also a character, or really multiple incarnations of characters, that reflected a man who was a criminal [in his youth], who was trying to make up for his hubris actions of playing God by righting his wrongs including his final season arc of fighting off the Observers with a plan that could either change the future yet again, or at least create more new futures by time traveling with the child Observer, Michael. Peter too also showed signs early on, and by occasionally going rogue, that he has some criminal traits as well.

But what's also curious is in Alias there is minor character, a one-shot-criminal named Martin Bishop in season 4 episode "The Awful Truth". Every time I rewatch Alias and get to that episode I am reminded of [a] Peter Bishop had he become British and gone really really wrong. But setting this coincidence aside, it's clear from episodes 3.09 "Conscience" and 3.10 "Remnants" that Fringe's Pilot, character Walter Bishop, and some other elements owe something to those Alias episodes and characters like Dr. Brezzel and his fo-bacon!

And speaking of both Alias and Fringe, if Rudy Lom is like anyone, he is like a cross between Marshall Flankman and Walter Bishop. In this episode Rudy (against everyone's but Valerie's wishes) sported a fedora, which Fringe fans know is shout out to the Observers attire as they often sported a fedora with their suits. Rudy also messes with a valve in lab to create steam/smoke so he could escape. This is similar to what Sydney Bristow did in the Alias pilot "The Truth Be Told", when she steals The miniature scaled Mueller device from a lab in Taipei. 

Other Criminal Minds (Trevor Cooper)
Cooper is the surname of a con man and father to John Locke on LOST. Anthony Cooper took on many alias' including' [Tom] Sawyer and is thus where character James "Sawyer" Ford get's his alias and corrupt lifestyle from as well, as Anthony Cooper had been partially responsible for James' parents' deaths.

Josh Holloway, who played James "Sawyer" Ford, also had a cameo as a IMF agent named Trevor Hanaway in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Trevor Bishop is also the name of Peter and Olivia's son featured in another time line as part of the "Beyond the Fringe" comic book series.  

Note in FRINGE  Bishop bloodline often have a name pattern with the letters T,R,E (and may explain why "Henry" should not of existed)


One last little thing, going back again to unused ideas may lie with the McQuade's cop bar. In Alcatraz character Ray Madsen had owned his own cop bar and it was thought to be a place where Ray could get important information that could help Rebecca.

So what did you think of "The Bends"? Any android theories out there? Do you think this drug will resurface in later episodes? Would of you eaten that living slug? Did you enjoy Rudy's undercover operation? Let us know in the comments below!

LAURA BECKER (DARTHLOCKE4) is a long time commentator, TV addict, and aspiring writer participating with other fans on SpoilerTV. She writes reviews and analytic type articles. Some of her other interests include philosophy, cultural anthropology, reading, drawing, and working with animals, as she grew up and continues to work on her family's horse farm.

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