Humans S02E04 “Episode Four” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Channel Four, Sundays
Writer: Joe Barton
Director: Carl Tibbetts
Essential Plot Points:
- Hester has a flashback to life in her old factory, and how badly the synths were treated.
- Leo is scanning 999 calls and hears about a synth named Veronica who has just turned on her owners. He arranges to meet her.
- Hester thinks that rather than getting her to a safe place, they should actually wait for the bad guys to turn up and see where they take her.
- Max disagrees – he thinks the synth is scared, and doesn’t want to abandon her. Leo is on Hester’s side though (bad boy, Leo!) and Max leaves, disappointed.
- Pete sets up a deal with a Seraph-buyer after hearing about another synth that’s gone all wonky. Conscious synths are definitely a thing now, even though the rest of the police assume they’re an insurance scam.
- Ed and Mia have sex. He wants to know how she feels. “I feel happy,” she replies. Later, Ed takes her to meet his mum and Mia is wonderful with her (although has to let go of her hands when she realises she’s acting too much like a human).
- The manager of the care home takes Ed aside and says that unless he catches up with his payments, his mum will have to leave…
- A child psychiatrist has a look at Sophie, and diagnoses “juvenile synthetic over-identification disorder”. She needs to be around more humans.
- Naturally, the first thing Sophie does is get to know Odi some more.
- Joe and Laura row. “I’ve got to go,” she says. “Of course,” he replies. “Niska needs you.” Low blow, Joe, low blow…
- Laura is pretty kickass at her job, mind you. She brings Astrid in to see Niska, and Astrid is gobsmacked to learn that Niska is a synth. Talking of low blows – that’s rather cruel on Astrid, isn’t it?
- Karen interviews the woman whose synth revolted, and finds out who offered her money to buy it.
- The synth in question is taken away by the bad guys. Leo and Hester follow. And by God, can Leo scowl.
- Joe talks to Sophie, who’s having none of his shit. As far as she’s concerned, she’s full-on synth now.
- Pete meets up with the synth dealers. It does not go well for him.
- Joe has seen something odd in his work contract, so asks Mattie to hack into the work server. They discover that Joe wasn’t sacked by his boss: he was sacked by synths, who weren’t answering to any humans.
- This is pretty big, but when he confronts his boss about his, the guy seems unbothered. Don’t be complacent, human! This is how they take over the world!
- Dr Morrow goes to meet millionaire Milo Khoury in a fancy restaurant. After some excruciating small talk, and then Khoury’s life story, he reveals that he knows she’s trying to transfer human consciousness into machines. He blackmails her into teaming with him.
- Obi goes to George’s house to look around it, realising that it’s all different now he feels emotions: “I remember his death. I remember feeling nothing. I feel something now.”
- Renie, the pretend synth from school, turns up to see Toby. She helps him with his homework, then laughs as they watch TV afterwards. It freaks her out and she goes to leave. That girl is seriously Method.
- Downstairs, a synth arrives to read the electricity meter. Suddenly it marches into the lounge and threatens Laura to drop Niska’s case, or else there will be trouble. It won’t leave, and things turn even more threatening as it grapples with Joe.
- Odi arrives with Mattie and tackles the synth, knocking it over and turning it off.
- Guys, Odi is the freakin’ BATMAN here.
- Just as we’re recovering from that, at the cafe, Mia tells Ed she’d like to go on a romantic break with him, where they can be themselves. His response? He turns her off!
There are lots of delicious events to chew on in this episode, from those two big twists at the end to Morrow finally coming alive during that meeting with Khoury as she discusses teaming with him for some Very Big Plans (who knew all she needed to show some spark was a sidekick?).
The first huge bombshell was, of course, Astrid suddenly turning up to see Niska, and then being utterly banjaxed to discover that her former girlfriend was, in fact, a robot. Wow. We can’t even imagine how that must feel (maybe in 50 years we will), but we can only assume “embarrassment” would be our first emotion, closely followed by “anger”.
However, Astrid seems pretty philosophical about the whole thing, and it’s fascinating watching Emily Berrington’s performance as Niska while they talk together – stiff as a board, a synth all over, but there’s a devastation in her eyes that isn’t usually there. Bravo.
The same can be said for Will Tudor’s performance as Odi this week, too, as he talks about his old home with George with a kind of bafflement – particularly when he says he felt nothing when George died, but can feel something now (grief?). Welcome to human emotions, lad. They suck.
And then, the twists: the synth suddenly turning on a sixpence and threatening Laura is horrifying; given extra resonance by the fact they just let him into the house to read the meter and turn their backs on him, proving how ubiquitous synths are in this world (would you do that with a human meter-reader? Or are we just paranoid?).
Who sent this guy, then? Was it Qualia? Or someone else entirely? Other synths who want to stay underground, maybe?
In the cafe, poor Mia gets to find out just how deceitful humans can be as Ed suddenly shuts her off – no doubt at the urging of his friend, who must have cornered him with a few beers and given him a solid talking-to. Plus there’s the whole business with Ed’s mum and her care – clearly this is a man who needs money and he’s willing to sell out his new girlfriend to get it. Boo! Hiss! It’s a shame, as we rather liked Ed, but perhaps he’ll redeem himself and not actually hand her over to a horrible fate. We’ll see…
- Hester’s flashback to how cruelly synths were treated in her factory is rather chilling. Dartboards? Yikes.
- Max is essentially Leo’s conscience, his Jiminy Cricket. We’ll have to see how Leo acts now he’s not around to curb his anger.
- You have to laugh that Sophie’s psychiatrist says “keep her away from synths” and then by the final scene the poor kid’s got two synths and one fake-synth in the house and there’s drama everywhere. Not what the doctor ordered!
- Incidentally, the idea of children trying to be like synths is pretty damn convincing, especially when the psychiatrist spells it out: synths are kind, helpful, don’t argue, are non-threatening… everything humans should be but aren’t. (For evidence, see dartboard, above.)
- We’re still trying to figure out when Renie the fake-synth eats. If she doesn’t do it at school, and goes round to someone’s house straight afterwards, when does she get time? It won’t be very synth-like to faint, little madam.
- How the hell did Odi fold that shirt so precisely by turning it inside-out? What magic is this? We demand he teaches us this wizardry right now!
And The Random:
- When Morrow and Khoury are talking in the restaurant, synth waiters stand silently by their table, waiting to serve. If this were you, wouldn’t you be worried about having your conversation recorded? In fact, everywhere you go in this world, synths could film and record you and there’s nothing you can do about it. This is acknowledged subtly (or not-so-subtly) when Khoury admits that invading people’s privacy is how he made his fortune – we can’t just be talking about computers and phones here. Synths are a surveillance state nightmare!
- Best Quote: Khoury: “What shall we drink to?”
Morrow: “The sea bass.”
Khoury: “How about consciousness transference?” [What a smooth-talking bastard!]
Reviewed by Jayne Nelson