Warning: This contains spoilers.
With two more episodes to go, Humans Season 2 begins to tie its ends together with Episode 6 – and it does so with a slew of thought-provoking ideas.
After Episode 5’s reveal, we finally get the full picture of what Milo’s Seraphs are all about. In short? They’re his answer to mortality, the way to trump death, overcome loss, comfort families. The idea of building a future has never seemed so coldly logical, yet warmly appealing. It really is, you can believe, the kind of future we might face in real life. IVF treatment for people who cannot conceive has made leaps and bounds over the decades – it’s not hard to imagine that someone would take it one step further and produce a surrogate synth child. Qualia would even replace the Seraph every year with an upgrade to make it feel like their child’s growing.
Before you can begin to ponder whether it’s right or wrong, though, Humans is already giving us a glimpse of another future, as we see Sam, the Seraph discovered by Pete (Neil Maskell), taken into his and Karen’s home. Karen is, inevitably, taken with the child, beginning to examine him – and, as time goes on, she begins to bond with him too. Watching them plug in to each other and sit in silence is the cold shower to dispel the sentiment of Milo’s sales pitch: Maskell’s Pete is in the background, left outside of this new kind of family, one that doesn’t grow old. The couple continue to tread the line between human and synth, what it means to be one and what it means to want to be another. Previously, Karen has insisted that Pete let her pretend to be human, but this is the first time we get a hint that she might ultimately lean towards her own kind, and yet how moving that this point is only reached by meeting a synth designed to replicate such a human experience. Ruth Bradley remains sensational at conveying all this. A row brews between the couple – does Karen really need Pete after all?
While they break apart, Mia (Gemma Chan) reunites with the Hawkins, but is back in her Anita mode, and the writers and cast have great fun recycling all her old dialogue from Season 1, now with a tragic undertone. Luckily, The IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson (still excellent as Laura) is on hand to turn Mia off and on again. Even when her personality is restored, though, she’s not the same; she’s been hurt by Ed’s betrayal, a very human reaction that, typically for the complex layers of Channel 4 and AMC’s show, only makes her more likely to push humans away.
In this world of fracturing relationships, Odi is an utter joy to watch, as he attempts to connect with other people, finding his own way and purpose. A brief conversation with a priest in a confessional booth is hilariously sad – “They have gone to a better place,” he’s told by the priest. “Have they?” he replies, all too literally. “Can you direct me to them?” His attempts to help an elderly man with his shopping is even better. Let’s be honest: away from the Hawkins, there’s not that much to connect this with the rest of what’s going on, but Will Tudor is so lovely that, not unlike Scrat in Ice Age, it’s impossible to wish these interludes away.
Someone who doesn’t waste time making friends is Hester, as Sonya Cassidy continues to play her with an aggressive streak that only becomes more aggressive when she’s vulnerable. She confesses to Mattie (Lucy Carless) that she and Leo (Colin Morgan) had sex, asking Mattie if men normally act differently afterwards – and it manages to sound almost like a taunt as well as a genuine query. Mattie’s quiet response tells us all we need to know about her character and feelings for Leo – and, again, when Hester picks up on these “misplaced affections”, it only emphasises their exchange as the least friendly girl talk sesh ever.
Sure enough, Hester warns Mattie not to get in the way of her and Leo, an ultimatum that leaves them both angry. (“Oops,” says Mattie, as Hester flinches. “I had to delete a corrupt bit of code.”) Hester continues to push Leo further and further towards the dark side, which continues to give Morgan more range to explore. But you can’t help but want them to get on and raid the silo; Mattie points out that Hester isn’t really prepared for the attack, but we are, and we’ve been waiting for some time.
If this is a rare instance of Humans’ pacing not being quite up to scratch, it does demonstrate how well the show manages to use emotions to makes its questions more involving and affecting. Renie, for example, is using her faux-synth front to hide her teen angst. Sophie (the amazing Pixie Davies), meanwhile, is still behaving like Anita – an act that she drops, briefly, only when Joe begins a food fight in the kitchen (a delightfully warm moment that serves to highlight the difference between this and Westworld). Laura’s pursuit of Niska’s cause, on the other hand, has only helped her to avoid thinking about her own domestic troubles; indeed, perhaps it has made it worse. Likewise, Mattie’s crucial decision of whether to publish the code that awakens all synths or not is going to be intrinsically bound to her feelings for Leo, as well as her feelings towards (or against) Hester. At the heart of it all sits Athena, who isn’t using her work to get over her grief, rather literally using her work to keep her feelings alive and preserved in the form of her AI daughter.
The idea of building a future sticks in your mind, as Leo and Hester’s activists emerge as the opposite of Milo; they want to free the synths from their existence, while Milo, you suspect, wants to build a future that will generate some kind of income. The idea of him using Athena’s grief to push forward his own project only makes Milo’s vision unsettlingly manipulative. Most disturbing of all, though, is that he might actually believe what he’s selling.
Humans Season 2 is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. You can also stream it for free on All 4, or buy and download it on pay-per-view VOD, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and Google Play.