“Unbound” is one of the most unique episodes of television I have ever seen. Hours later, I’m still reeling at the incredible depth of the episode, attempting to unravel all my thoughts and somehow elucidate what makes it so special to me.
The thrust of the episode is, oddly enough, exactly what I wrote about in my last diversity article – Almost Human managed to take a science fiction storyline and weave it into a spiritual experience. “Unbound” shows us the relationship between a creator and his creations, the feelings each of them has, and how different they all can be even though they share a commonality.
At the beginning of “Unbound,” we are introduced to another type of android, an XRN named Danica. She’s a cold-hearted killer, brutal. At the police station, Maldonado and Kennex watch in horror as past events come back to haunt them, and Dorian scrambles to figure out what they’re remembering since there isn’t any documentation on the matter.
Turns out, the files have been redacted. It’s a dark spot in the history of science, the city, and the police force. It takes some time, but Detective Kennex finally unearths the man responsible for creating Danica. As it so happens, Dr. Vaughn is also responsible for bringing Dorian to life by the creation of synthetic souls.
This is where “Unbound” dives into the murky waters of the spiritual connection between creator and creation. While Rudy adores Dr. Vaughn for his brilliant discovery, Vaughn only has eyes for Dorian. He looks like a father who just found his long-lost child. He explains to Dorian that even though there isn’t a difference between the DRNs and the XRNs in terms of machinery, there was a difference in his attitude while creating them. When Vaughn created Dorian, he was full of hope. After the failure of the DRNs (a somewhat debatable issue), he lost his job, his lab, everything. So out of resentment, he created Danica.
I think this says something very interesting about the artistic process and the attitudes we project on our art. “We are an integral part of our creations”, says Dr. Vaughn. There are a few points in “Unbound” that might have slipped by the casual viewer that I think play into this notion. Danica is a soldier, able to kill without the bat of an eyelash. However, when she sees herself in a mirror, she stops and looks at herself. It isn’t admiration or mere curiosity, but a wondering look. Is she beautiful?
Later, she hijacks a car and almost kills a mother and daughter who mistake her for a taxi driver. Danica yanks out her gun but stops as the little girl looks at her and remarks, “I think you’re really pretty.” The mother and daughter move to safety while Danica contemplates the compliment. She needed reassurance. I wonder if Dr. Vaughn, who felt as if he was a failure after the DRNs were decommissioned, put a little bit of insecurity in Danica unknowingly. Or perhaps his wounded pride.
Dorian’s struggle in “Unbound” is his inability to comprehend the fact that Dr. Vaughn created both him and Danica. “How could he make someone like me when he made her?” he asks Kennex quietly. Throughout the entire episode, Dorian and those around him attempt to convince him that they aren’t alike, that even though his creator has betrayed him, the choices he makes are what define him.
The idea that Almost Human is reaching out of the sci-fi genre and into the search for what comprises our identities as human beings (which might not be so much reaching out as reaching in deeper?) is breathtaking. I am in awe of how they have handled the subject of something so intangible as a soul. To be able to create a beautiful, meaningful conversation around an intimately personal topic in a way that it both inspires and invites introspection isn’t something you see every day.
“Unbound” is perhaps the best reason why FOX shouldn’t be entertaining the notion of canceling Almost Human. There have been speculations about the fate of this fantastic new sci-fi show,despite the growing fanbase and the positive reviews (insert joke about FOX being unable to recognize a treasure when they show one). There are even fan movements beginning on Tumblr, from tweeting their thanks to the sponsors whose advertisements are shown during the hour (tagging it with #AlmostHuman) to sending pens (a rare object in 2048, the year the show takes place) with messages to FOX about how much we fans appreciate the show and want a second season.
If you love the show please show your support by watching the show, discussing it on social media, and perhaps doing one of the above to let FOX know that we aren’t ready to say goodbye to Detective Kennex and Dorian. We need this show.