A young girl, Evie Cooper, walks to a stream and waves her hand in the waters. A humanoid robot comes up behind her and the girl turns around as she hears it. When Evie screams and falls into the water as she jerks back, the robot helps her out of the water. Sheriff Barclay leads a posse along, and the robot quickly flees. Evie tells the posse that the "tin man" hurt her and they figure it tried to kill her just like Charles "Doc" Link.
The posse comes to a cabin and the men move in on it. Barclay kicks in the door and finds the robot standing in a corner. The sheriff tells the others that there isn't going to be any trouble and orders them to move in. They wonder how they'll get it back to town because it's too heavy to carry, and the robot says that it'll go under its own power. It walks with them and they head back to town.
Later at the courthouse, the robot--"Adam"--sits in a cell. Barclay tells a reporter, Judson Ellis, about how Adam killed its creator. The sheriff insists that Doc was alone in his lab and no one else could have killed him except Adam. Nina Link, Doc's niece, arrives and asks to speak to Adam alone. Judson introduces himself and asks for a statement, and she insists that Adam is her legacy. Barclay notes that Adam killed Doc, and Nina says that she doesn't believe it and insists that Adam is almost human. Judson sarcastically comments on the situation, and Barclay advises him to take pictures before he destroys Adam. Nina tells Barclay that he can't destroy her "property" and if he does, she'll sue.
Once a disgruntled Barclay leaves, Judson congratulates her on putting the sheriff on the spot. Adam thanks Judson, who figures that the sentient robot is a trick. The reporter goes to get a photographer, and Adam warns Nina that Barclay will destroy him once he gets a state order declaring the robot an unlawful weapon. Judson hears it and wonders how Adam knows, and Adam says that it read every book in Doc's library. The reporter figures that they need a defense counsellor and he dreams of the story he writes about a robot on trial for murder. Judson tells Nina to find Thurman and convince him to take the case, promising that his paper the Herald will pay the legal fee. Once Judson tells her not to say that Judson sent her, she leaves and the reporter promises Adam that he'll make him famous.
Thurman is out hunting when Nina finds him. He agrees to hear her out, and Nina explains how she's related to Doc. Thurman says that Doc is a dreamer and a bad cribbage player, and asks how he is. Nina explains that her uncle is dead and Adam is accused of his murder. Thurman tells her that he's retired from the human race and Doc was a fine man so he refuses to help his killer. Nina explains that Adam is a sentient robot that Doc built, and Thurman laughs at the concept. He then explains that he meant no disrespect to Doc, and figures that Barclay and DA Thomas Coyle are ambitious incompetents.
Later, Thurman goes to the courthouse and Judson greets him. Thurman recognizes Judson, a man of great and broken promises. The two verbally spar, and Judson says that they're going to be on the same team and Thurman needs him. The reporter explains that he sent Nina to summon Thurman so he could have one last crack at the "Philistines". Judson explains that Adam knows more about the law than Barclay, and Thurman figures Adam is entitled to his civil rights. When Judson says that Barclay hasn't charged Adam yet, Thurman figures that it's illegal detention and is not-so-shocked at Barclay's disregard at the law. Judson asks for a statement, but Thurman excuses himself to talk to his new client.
Thurman meets with Adam, who says that he has certain limitations. He has no smell or taste, and is color-blind. Adam insists that he has no feelings because his body doesn't need protection, and Thurman asks him how he feels about being in a cage. The robot asks Thurman if he would like being in a cage. Adam demonstrates that it can bend the cell bars apart with ease, and Thurman asks why Adam gave itself up. The robot says that it doesn't want to hurt anyone and Doc died by accident. It explains that its emotions are the same as Doc's, and it felt sorrow when Doc died.
Nina and Coyle come in, and Coyle says that they're going to dismantle Adam. Thurman points out that Nina hasn't legally been deprived of her legal property, and asks if Coyle is pressing a murder charge against Adam. When Coyle agrees, Thurman enters a plea of not guilty. The DA is shocked that they put a robot on trial for murder, and insists that it's a civil case. He wonders if Thurman is trying to make the town seem ridiculous, and figures that Thomas could appeal a civil case out as well. Thurman says that they can have a short hearing to ascertain Adam's destructive ability, and tells Coyle that he'd accept the judge's decision. Nina agrees, and Thurman suggests that Coyle draw up the papers.
Once Coyle leaves, Nina kisses Thurman on the check and leaves. Thurman asks Adam if it's okay with him, and Adam bends the bars back into position.
Later in the courtroom, the parties gather and Coyle makes his opening remarks, reminding the Judge that the judge insists that the hearing be held in strict accordance with procedure. Coyle says that the State will prove that Adam murdered Doc and "execution" is necessary to protect the people. Thurman makes a motion that the case be dismissed because Adam is clearly not guilty. He notes that Adam swore he didn't kill Doc in his disposition. Since Adam is a robot, he can only repeat information programmed into him. Since the robot cannot lie, he must be innocent. Coyle contends that a computer is capable of lying, and the Judge denies the motion.
Coyle calls Doc's housekeeper, Mrs. McCrae. She testifies that says that she cleaned out Doc's lab every week, and saw Adam before he was put together.
McCrae brings Doc his lunch at his lab outside his home, and Doc says that Adam will do all of the hard work of bringing the food. The housekeeper says that the robot is against nature.
Later, the housekeeper is cleaning up in the lab around the fully-assembled Adam. Adam moves his feet out of her way, and McCrae screams in horror. Doc comes in and she says that Adam is alive.
Nina testifies that she watched Doc teach Adam when she drove down from where she lived.
Doc turns on a switch that activates Adam, letting him walk. The robot takes a few steps and then falls on the floor, and then crawls. Doc calls it over, and Nina says that a baby has to crawl before it can walk. Adam is soon walking and Doc shows it around the lab. He has the robot grasp his hand, and advises it to lessen the pressure when it squeezes. Adam releases its grip, and later teaches it to read. Nina watches as well as Adam learns at higher levels. She asks Doc if Adam understands what he's reading, and Doc says that Adam remembers what he reads and makes cross-references. He concedes that Adam is human but figures it has acquired its emotional responses from him.
Coyle cross-exams Nina, who says that Adam is smarter than she is. The DA confirms that Adam read every book in Doc's library, including a copy of Frankenstein. Nina insists that the story, of a creation turning against its creator, isn't true.
The DA calls Doc's handyman, Fred, to the stand.
Fred builds a crate to ship Adam, and watches as Doc has Adam get into the crate to test it. Doc explains to Fred that he's taking Adam to Chicago to make his "debut", and says that in the future Adam will be the first of its kind. Adam refuses to get into the crate, saying that it doesn't like to be locked up.
The handyman says that Doc and Adam had arguments, and explains that Adam couldn't understand the ethics of using its strength. There were times that Doc thought about taking Adam apart and starting over.
One day Fred returns to the lab when Doc forgets to sign his check. He finds Adam standing over Doc's corpse, holding up a shelf with a generator on it, and asks Adam what he did to Doc. The robot says nothing, and Fred figures that it killed him. Adam says that it was an accident, and Fred goes to call the law.
Barclay says that they got the report and found Evie by the pond when they came. Coyle questions Evie, who describes her encounter with Adam. Evie says that Adam pushed her in the water, then grabbed her by the arm and broke her arm. She points at Adam, identifying it as her attacker.
Thurman calls Professor Hebbel to the stand. Hebbel knew Doc personally, and says that he was a wonderful man. Hebbel testifies that he's an expert in computers, and that Adam is a true robot. He says that Adam created an advanced computer brain. Thurman asks if Adam is capable of human emotion, and Hebbel says that Adam could learn about love but not hate. The professor says that Adam would get his emotions from Doc, and Doc wasn't a fiend or a murderer. On cross-examination, Coyle has Hebbel testify that Adam could short-circuit and be disrupted, going berserk. Hebbel says that he could simulate damage, and Coyle asks for the court's indulgence. Thurman objects, but the Judge overrides him. Coyle says that he's taken some precautions.
Coyle calls Adam forward, and Thurman tells Adam to let him do it. The robot warns that he will no longer be responsible for his actions, but Thurman tells it that the judge has ruled in favor of the demonstration. Hebbel performs the necessary adjustments and Coyle uses Doc's remote-control unit. An assistant activates Adam, and Adam goes on a rampage. It goes for the Judge, and the assistants finally manage to shut the robot down via the control. Coyle tells the Judge that Adam is safe now, and the Judge orders a recess to clean up the court room before they proceed.
Later, Thurman questions Adam and asks what its thoughts were. It admits that it wanted to destroy, but says that it never wanted to destroy before. Thurman has it testify to what happened on the afternoon of Doc's death.
After Fred left to get his check, Adam goes into his reading room. He hears a crash and returns to the lab, and finds Doc lying beneath a generator. The shelf holding the generator up collapses, dropping the generator on Doc. Adam moves the shelf off of Doc and asks Doc if he's hurt, and gets no response. Fred comes in and sees Adam standing over Doc's body, holding the shelf. Adam asks Fred how to help Doc, and says that the shelf falling was an accident. Fred doesn't believe him and goes to call the law. Adam goes to find someone to tell him what to do. The posse spots him and opens fire, and the robot runs.
Adam says that the posse chased him, and he figures he frightened Evie so she tripped. It then lifted her out, afraid that she would come to harm. Thurman points out that Adam broke her arm, and Adam admits that it never touched a child before and children are fragile. The defense attorney asks Adam why he didn't fight back against the posse, and Adam says that he didn't want to injure anyone. The robot says that its body is insulated against water.
Coyle cross-exams Adam and has it confirm that it feels emotions: worry, concern, and sorrow. Adam says that he's only an extension of Doc, and never knew that Doc suffered from claustrophobia. The robot testifies that it doesn't like to be caged up, and Coyle accuses it of losing control of its emotions and attacking Doc. Adam denies it and grabs Coyle's wrist when Coyle shakes his hand at him, and Coyle points out that Adam is close to breaking his arm.
During recess, Judson tells Thurman that he hasn't followed up on his case. Thurman says that he's worried Adam will be scrapped, but Judson figures that he wanted another shot at Coyle and Barclay. During his closing statement, Thurman says that he's not going to enter a plea because he refuses to admit guilt. He tells the Judge that Coyle is trying society on science and progress, and to control what it creates. Thurman says that if the Judge finds Adam guilty, he's convicting society of irresponsibility and telling it to stop it from reaching for the stars.
Coyle admits that society is on trial, and they're the ones who committed the murder. He figures they'd be better off if science hadn't exploded its technology in their faces. Coyle doesn't think society is ready for the responsibility of having a robot, and they shouldn't let such a force loose on the world.
Later, Thurman sits alone in the courtroom and dozes while he waits for the judge to return. Judson comes in, waking Thurman up, and says that he put on a good show. He asks Thurman why he retired from the human race if he cares about people, and Thurman asks him why he sent Nina to him. Thurman tells him to write his story, and Judson says that he doesn't have the finish yet.
When the Judge comes back, he says that the evidence is sufficient for him to bind the suspect over to a jury. Since he has to find a final verdict, the Judge rules that Adam is guilty as charged and orders the robot to be destroyed. Afterward, Adam notes that Thurman isn't surprised by the verdict. Thurman says that it will take a long time to change human nature, and he hoped a trial would help mortals to understand what Adam already understands.
Barclay and his men lead Adam out via the back to avoid the crowds, and the transport wagon arrives. Evie runs out on the street, pointing in horror at Adam. Adam runs out and tosses Evie aside, and the wagon slams into him. Evie's mother takes her away in her arms, and Thurman tells Barclay that Adam cheated the execution. Nina and Judson come over, and Judson tells Thurman that it's just the beginning of the story.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 5, 2019