Humans, Season One, “Episode Six”
Written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley
Directed by Lewis Arnold
Airs Sundays at 9 pm (ET) on AMC
After a lacklustre outing, last week’s episode of Humans bounced back by intersecting a number of character trajectories. This week’s episode continues the upturn in quality by delving into the history of a number of characters, shedding further light on their present-day actions and what drives them. The result is a solid episode that moves a number of storylines forward, setting up new character dynamics along the way before the departure of a notable character.
The look into the creation of Leo Elster and the synths that form his group go a long way towards explaining their story and adding a layer of empathy to their situation. Knowing not only that David gave consciousness to synths to provide a family for Leo, but that he did so in isolation and only created a select few, takes away much of the mystery behind the group’s motivations, a mystery that was not very compelling on its own. Mattie’s reaction to Leo’s android status also solidifies why others like him have not been spotted in the Humans universe. The fact that Karen doesn’t appear to be part of the group created by David Elster, however, is greatly intriguing. It’s unclear if Leo’s claim that all the synths need to be together to activate consciousness among other synths is a way for him to bring his family back together, or his genuine lack of understanding of the subject. The consciousness of Karen, however, proves that this isn’t the case, and with Max now seemingly dead, it’ll be interesting to see how things proceed. While Max’s death may stop Leo the way he gave up hope after the apparent disappearance of Mia, the idea of consciousness among synths is now out in the open. Dr. Millican has a personal investment in the idea, as giving Odi consciousness might make him easier to hide, as well as more receptive to Dr. Millican’s attempts to preserve his memory. Hobb and Mattie, on the other hand, both seem intrigued by the idea, and together possess the skills and resources necessary to facilitate consciousness. Even if Leo takes himself out of the picture, the ball has begun rolling on the idea.
Getting a look at what makes Laura tick this week also helps shed some light on the motivation behind her actions. Her history with her late brother, as well as her mother, goes a long way towards clarifying her initial antagonism towards Anita’s presence in her house, as well as her protective nature towards Sophie. It also makes her willingness to help Mia, Leo, and the rest of the conscious synths a more understandable decision. While Laura has had some doubts about herself, especially in the effectiveness of her mothering skills when it comes to Mattie, her story this week indicates that the doubts have come from external sources, rather than her own thoughts and actions, as the pilot seemed to indicate. Her role in forthcoming events will thus be worth keeping an eye on. Her insistence on helping Leo and Mia at this stage, despite the danger and no obvious upside for her, proves that she can be a valuable ally for conscious synths going forward, especially given her relative anonymity. Whether or not she chooses to continue doing so will be worth keeping an eye on. Laura may feel a kinship towards Mia given that the latter, as Anita, has helped keep her children safe, a kinship Laura may not want to extend to other conscious synths. Even if she does, the dangers posed by Persona, We Are People, or other organisations and individuals who see synths or conscious synths as a threat may make Laura reconsider her stance, and whether or not she does will be the true test of her character.
The revelation of character motivations that this episode delves into allows for another solid outing for the series. Gemma Chan’s excellent performance is on display once again this week in how she plays Anita and Mia as distinctly different characters. Niska opening up about her relationship to David adds another layer of understanding to why she hated being at the brothel, and both her budding friendship with Dr. Millican and her growing conscience are promising aspects of the character. While both Fred and Max have an attachment to Leo, Niska has not displayed that same level of unwavering loyalty above all else, and her poor relationship with David explains why. With Karen now apparently on her way to see Dr. Millican, Niska may soon see that her way of living independent of Leo is a viable option, which is sure to affect her decisions from here on out. Fred’s escape from Hobb’s house makes for a thrilling sequence, and he’s now at the same crossroads that Niska was in not too long ago. While his first instinct was to get in touch with Leo, Max’s death is likely to send the latter spiralling again, which may mean Fred will have to fend for himself. The combination of desperation and his already-displayed willingness to go to whatever lengths are necessary for survival may make Fred the subject of an even bigger manhunt than Niska. The storyline of Jill Drummond is a bit of a misstep this week in how it validates Pete’s concern that Jill was looking to replace him with Simon. This makes Pete look prescient and capable of reading people well, rather than just paranoid and reacting disproportionately to his fear of synths. How Mia, Niska, and Leo deal with both Max’s death and Fred becoming a target, if the latter occurs, as well as how Pete deals with the revelation of Karen being a conscious synth, will be worth tuning in for as the season moves to a conclusion.