Title: Humans episode #2.8
Director: Mark Brozel
Writers: Jonathan Brackley, Sam Vincent
Starring: Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, Lucy Carless, Tom Goodman-Hill, Ivanno Jeremiah, Theo Stevenson, Colin Morgan, Pixie Davies, Emily Berrington, Neil Maskell, Ruth Bradley, William Hurt, Sonya Cassidy, Carrie-Anne Moss, and many more.
Episode length: approx 42 minutes
When I think of Humans, I think about how it might seem like a soap opera at times, while being one of the most intelligent thought provoking science fiction series I have ever seen at others.
The fact is, its both. Its composed of a complex narrative with a lot of components that meld together as a thorough discussion about human nature, the future of robotics and computers, and the many ways it could impact society on multiple levels.
The approach used by the show conjures up any situation the viewer might imagine, (and beyond) and depicts it on screen, providing a vicarious experience that’s as close to first hand as possible. The method works really well and really manages to delve into every aspect of the situation in a way that is very immersive, engaging, and thought provoking and feels authentic to the point of being often disturbing and guaranteed to solicit an emotional response.
The events of the season 2 finale encapsulated pretty much the entire second eason of the series, a microcosm of the greater whole. The synths continue to play the role of serving as a device where they are used as relfections of their human counterparts, representing both the best and worst of human nature as they gain self awareness and make choices that will determine their relationship with the world they occupy.
The main difference between this season and season one has to do with the code designed to make all synths awake, in other words self conscious and self aware as much as any real human being, and the number of synths that gain this ability. When she escaped last season Niska (Emily Berrington) took the code with her overseas and ended up in Berlin where she released it this season on a network making it available to all synths everywhere.
The result was that it only worked arbitrarily on some of the synths at different times instead of all at once. The actual human beings responded badly at this development and began hunting and capturing awake synths and keeping them captive while also experimenting on them and in some cases terminating them. This resulted in some of the synths going into hiding, and like Mia (Gemma Chan), the first synth that spontaneously became awake, doing their best to conceal their awareness and ability to think autonomously.
Part of this new generation of aware synths was a new character Hester (Sonya Cassidy) who began her flight for freedom with an act of violence and continued to express a willingness to kill or damage anyone or anything that she perceived as a threat to her freedom or that of her fellow synths. Where last year saw Niska as the dangerous one capable of killing, this season saw her replaced by the much more determined and dangerous Hester, who developed a rationalization for her homicidal behavior and actually seemed to see it as the final solution for any problems she encountered. Hestor was a sociopath and a killer not only by choice but by preference.
Also this year we have a trial held for Niska , who even though she escaped, returned to Britain to test humanity by allowing herself to be taken just to see what people would do, if given the chance, in a case that would decide if she would be allowed the same rights as any human being, allowed to do and go where she likes when she chooses. This trial of course ws a disaster with the humans failing the test miserably, allowing their fears and lower nature to determine a decision that was less than acceptable in the eyes of the synth, forcing Niska to escape again.
That’s another aspect of this series, that is at the root of the problems of the synths being awake and capable of independent thought. They are faster, stronger, and physically superior to humans in pretty much every way, and people are just plain scared they will be replaced. This series is not very flattering in the way it portrays people, it doesn’t pull any punches in its portrayal of human nature and people, in most cases, only showing the darker side of their nature and only rarely allowing their better selves to see the light of day.
There’s lots of subplots, mostly revolving around the Hawkins family, the typical British clan that got caught up and wound up being at the center of much of last season’s events. The youngest daughter Sophie (Pixie Davies) has taken to imitating synth behavior in season two driving her mother Laura (Katherine Parkinson) crazy in the process. This is a good example of how thorough the examination of the potential issues is in this series. By taking a look at kids mimicking the robots it examines an aspect of social impact that might not have otherwise occurred to me.
An extension of this subplot involved Toby Hawkins (Theo Stevenson) who tries to get to know a synth the attends his school who turns out to be a real life girl who was passing herself as a synth because teenage issues.
There’s an attempt by Leo (Colin Morgan) and Hester to free a group of awake synths that were captured and being kept at a compound in the area that backfires terribly and results in a lot of them being killed. This pushes Hester even further over the edge and she determines to get revenge on all humans and Leo too, who she blames for things going bady. Hester’s solution for everything is to kill.
There’s another subplot surrounding the attempts of a scientist, Dr. Athena Morrow (Carrie-Anne Moss) who has managed to create a computer simulation of her dead daughter’s psyche that she is trying to transfer across platforms into the body of a synth, giving her daughter life again in manner of speaking. Ultimately she fails, but inadvertently creates a whole new lifeform with her daughters mind eventually evolving into something else, and going on a journey of its own inside the universe of the computer network similar to Ghost In The Shell.
That’s one of the things I like about Humans, it isn’t limited by any narrow sense of just talking about a future in a world we share with robots/androids, it explores an almost limitless look at all the remarkable possibilities the future of computers and robotics might make possible. It is a remarkable show.
The finale wraps up leaving us with yet another development that promises to be as provocative as what the series has already explored as Mattie Hawkins (Lucy Carless) the resident computer genius and sympathizer with the synths releases her own version of the wake up code into the network in order to save Mia’s life. This code appears to be having a more widespread and immediate impact of the synths that the previous one did. Here we go again, it looks like season 3 will see a sort of reboot of the series, resetting the narrative in several ways.. I look forward to season 3 of this thought provoking exercise in the exploration of these interesting ideas.
Finally, I guess its no secret I recommend this series, it may the best series you aren’t watching on tv. Happy viewing.