Humans, Season 1, “Episode Four”
Written by Joe Barton
Directed by Daniel Nettheim
Airs Sundays at 9 pm (ET) on AMC
Laura’s suspicions that Anita wasn’t like other synths has grown over the course of the series, giving the audience a deeper look into her psyche and aversion to synths, and what drives it. Her reluctance has gradually given way to interest, and this week’s episode delves further into Laura’s exploration of the possibility of synth emotions. The result is an entertaining, if somewhat disproportionately focused episode, that manages to introduce ambiguity to both Laura and Mattie with regards to how they’ll handle the idea of sentient synths, while fleshing out Pete Drummond and his storyline.
Laura’s examination of synths continues to be a fascinating storyline, and may be the first positive hope of acceptance for synths who gain consciousness. It’s apparent now that Laura’s aversion to synths was not rooted in any firm prejudice, and it’ll be intriguing to see how far her examination into Anita goes. Her refusal to take Anita back to the shop, despite now having Joe’s approval, means she’s not only interested in determining what makes Anita tick, but is no longer afraid of Anita, or concerned that the synth might be a threat to her family or her place in it. This puts her in a complex position in upcoming events. As someone who appears aware that synths are evolving, in a way, and not only isn’t put off by this knowledge, but actually re-evaluates her stance on them in that light, Laura could be a key figure of mediation when news of synth consciousness starts reaching the public at large. Her career as a lawyer only adds to this, and the key point to observe with Laura now is whether she has a line, and if she does, where it lies. Her relative ease with Anita clearly comes from an assurance now that Anita would not willingly hurt Sophie. The case of Niska, however, is a different one altogether, and how Laura reacts to news of synths like Niska will say a lot about her. If she is able to treat synths as individual entities, rather than as a single unit, then she could prove to be a valuable ally to Leo and the synths in his team, but if not, she could end up on the side of Drummond and his associates.
Speaking of Drummond, his storyline takes a massive leap forward this week, becoming much more compelling in the process. The resentment he feels towards Simon and the synths for being “perfect”, in his words, mirrors much of the concern Mattie felt about synths replacing humans in difficult jobs down the line. Drummond’s motivations, however, are a bit muddled. While he declares that his hate for synths stems from his resentment over them being able to do human tasks better than humans, his actions seem to suggest a dislike for the way they are treated by others. After all, for someone who resents synths for taking the place of humans, the idea of a synth killing someone should be encouraging, as it would suggest that they are as fallible as humans in some circumstances. The reveal of Karen as a conscious synth, however, nonetheless moves the entire storyline into a fascinating direction. Karen clearly has her own interests in keeping Niska’s murder under wraps, but with Drummond exposing the events at the brothel, as well as spending time in close proximity to Karen, it’ll be worth watching to see how Karen handles things moving forward. She’ll have to work harder to hide her synth nature, both with Drummond living with her and the news of a synth murderer being exposed to the public, which is bound to put stress on her. At the same time, she may be inclined to try and convince Drummond that not all synths are bad, something he may react negatively to, to Karen’s detriment. Karen also represents hope for Niska, Max, Mia/Anita, and the other synths who gain consciousness. As someone who has had to navigate the world as a conscious synth on her own, even managing to get a job investigating synth crimes alongside an anti-synth partner who hasn’t suspected her, Karen is clearly adept at navigating the world around her without arousing suspicion, a skill that she can teach others like Niska.
Overall, while an entertaining episode, this week’s installment does suffer from an unequal balance of its main storylines. The emphasis is heavily on the Hawkins family, and while the other focus being on Drummond does help flesh out the character and make that storyline more interesting, the near-absence of Dr. Millican and the concentration of Niska’s storyline into the last quarter of the episode is to the show’s detriment. Seeing Leo and Dr. Millican interact, however, does shed some intriguing light on both their pasts, and seeing Dr. Millican’s interactions with both Odi and Vera mean that his viewpoint on giving synths consciousness still remains ambiguous. This week’s episode also provides definitive proof that Leo is an android, an avenue the show has yet to explore. Leo having both human and synth qualities opens up a new road for the series, and could allow for a bridge between humans and synths. Joe’s storyline, while informing his later hesitation at taking Anita for a checkup and his willingness to return her, nonetheless continues to be a misstep. Joe and Toby’s attraction to Anita doesn’t appear to be rooted in anything specific to her synth nature, and the idea of humans taking advantage of synths due to their inability to feel has already been previously explored with Niska, making these plotlines somewhat redundant. Mattie’s willingness to defend the synth at the party, however, indicates that, like her mother, she’s open to the idea of coming around on her opinion of synths. Her discovery of Mia underneath Anita’s code, as well as her interaction with Leo and Max, put her closer to the mystery than anyone else in her family, and how she deals with the revelation of Anita being the subject of a search, as well as how Niska, Leo, and Max work together will be worth tuning in for as the season continues.