Humans Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Dawn of the Synths

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If you find yourself in Westworld withdrawal, then boy, do we have the show for you!

Yes, it's about sentient, self aware robots -- here they are called "synths," not hosts. The difference is about how robots fit into the REAL world, not just as pawns for the wealthy in a high tech amusement park.

Humans Season 2 Episode 1 starts with the rogue synth Niska, who killed a human last season, in possession of a code from the synth designer that gives her buds complete self awareness, making them essentially human.

Niska Has a Plan - Humans Season 2 Episode 1

Niska finds herself in Berlin, where the romance she has with a human named Astrid is the catalyst for her actions.

Astrid has no clue that Niska is a synth, so I feel really bad that she gave her heart to a machine. Love hurts.

For someone who supposedly wants all her synth brothers and sisters to be just like people, she is nothing but a stone cold bitch.

She reads books on philosophy to try and decide what to do, but it is her interactions with Astrid that really seal the deal.

If you had the power to create life, would you?

Niska

I do love the fact that she expected the upload of the code into the cloud to take effect instantly. Even robots screw the pooch sometimes.

Slowly but surely, there are synths who "wake up," and they do the first thing a human would do -- they freak out and run!

They are innocent and child-like (except for Niska, of course), so it's easy to sympathize with their plight. Reminded me of the "Planet of the Apes" movies, where they gradually go from slaves to slave masters.

Hester, Leo, and Max Hide Out - Humans Season 2 Episode 1

Whether that happens here is up in the air, but considering they have much more strength than humans, it is entirely possible down the road.

Sci fi, at it's best, takes on the big questions of life, death, intellect, free will and the like, and uses imaginative storytelling to give us insight into what it's like to be human. That is in full effect here.

Mia Hides in Plain Sight - Humans Season 2 Episode 1

Mia, another synth from the previous season, has extricated herself from the family drama with Joe and Laura, and is now hiding in plain sight.

Joe, being a typical guy, decided it would be a great idea to have some sexy time last season with Mia. Did he get caught by wifey? Duh, of course he did!

The marriage counseling session was totally hilarious, because the therapist was -- wait for it -- a synth! Comedy gold. The way he flipped the whole deal, blaming his WIFE for his bone(r) headed actions, was just wrong.

Joe: You were never there, emotionally or physically, so I supposed I wanted to do something that would make you notice me.
Synth Counselor: Laura, do you understand that? Does it feel truthful?
Laura: Mmm.

And Laura just takes it! Unbelievable. My guess is that she is guilty that they are growing apart, and she wants to make it like it used to be. But I suspect this will crop up again.

I don't know about you guys, but I have been impacted by automation in the workplace. Lots of my friends in the TV business have lost work because of it, so it stung me when Joe lost his regional manager job to a synth.

It sucks, and his argument that people should do jobs like his is certain to strike a chord out there.

Just because a synth may know the birthdays of a colleague's children doesn't mean that human interactions should become null and void.

Joe in Trouble - Humans Season 2 Episode 1

This plot development was done, I'm pretty sure, to make Joe more sympathetic to the audience, since he's a cheating bastard and all.

I guess it's OK, but I do like the larger issue it raises, about humans losing their relevance in the new normal.

Hester, one of the new, self aware synths, is being helped in the transition by Mia and her group, that includes Max and Leo.

But they have differing opinions on the matter. Mia wants to lay low, and Leo wants to get out there and save all he can.

Mia: I told you this was unsafe.
Leo: What about Niska?
Mia: We don't know if she released the code. It's not your job to save them.
Leo: Mia, they're waking up, more and more every day, becoming just like you. And they're being taken. Are we just supposed to let it happen?

I would take Mia's course and lay low, but what do I know? Radicals tend to do bold things. We'll see who ends up being right.

The other big plot-line introduced is Carrie Anne Moss as Dr. Athena Morrow, an A.I. expert brought in by a sleazy tech billionaire named Milo, to figure out how and why the synths are waking up and becoming human-like. 

I really like her performance here: she has the right amount of skepticism about Milo's true intentions.

You know how this goes: I'm pretty sure Milo is a weasel, and is up to no good. But she has lots of secrets, too. Should be juicy!

Athena Meets Milo - Humans Season 2 Episode 1

Niska pretty much blows the whole thing out of the water at the end. Asking Laura to defend her in a murder trial is a bold move, but her end-game is really to get the world to recognize synths as equals to humans, with all the same rights and privileges.

Laura: What do you want?
Niska: You told me I should face justice for killing that man. You're right. But I want to be tried as a human would be, recognized as a conscious being, with rights equal to yours. If you'll help me.

Is it a metaphor for the struggle for women's rights? Civil rights? LGBT rights? Yep. Big questions, remember? This should be fun.

This episode sets up what should be a very good season, with lots of issues on the table. Much better so far than the previous season IMO. 

So tell me what you think. Will Laura, the avowed synth hater, defend Niska? Will the synths be able to evade the bad guys? Will Joe backslide and get busy with ANOTHER synth? Hmmm. Fire away below!

And, of course, you can watch Humans online, and binge the episodes you may have missed, right here on TV Fanatic.

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Humans Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

Joe: You were never there, emotionally or physically, so I supposed I wanted to do something that would make you notice me.
Synth Counselor: Laura, do you understand that? Does it feel truthful?
Laura: Mmm.

  • Permalink: Mmm.
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If you had the power to create life, would you?

Niska