Review: Humans, Series 1, Episode 6 (Sex and the Synths)

humans“Humans and machine; the lines are blurring”

After Episode’s 5 slower paced dose of Humans, Episode 6 puts the pedal to the metal (well, as fast as a show like Humans can go!) and delivers entertainment and food for thought in generous doses. The definition of ‘family’ was explored and deconstructed throughout the episode. Not one, but two sexual encounters between humans and synths added more depth to Joe’s ‘infidelity’ with Anita. And the ending left us close to tears and on the edge of our seats at the same time!

The Hawkins family is falling apart before our eyes. Joe has been kicked out of the house after his infidelity with Anita. Joe even let his son take the blame for the incident, for a while. Toby’s shattered faith in his father is obvious. “How could you do it to Anita?” Toby asks, close to tears. Later on, after Anita’s sudden and short reversal to Mia, Toby simply says to his father that “Anita has feelings…she’s a person.” Joe still can’t comprehend the damage he has done to his family. Among Laura, Mattie and Toby, there seems to be no attempt to reconcile the hole that the absence of Joe has left.

The juxtaposition between the crumbling Hawkins family and the reuniting conscious synths is telling. Leo’s failure to find Mia within Anita caused him to abandon his quest to reunite Mia, Fred, Max and Niska. But when Mattie contacts him about the swift appearance and disappearance of Mia, he’s determined to continue his quest. We learn that Mia was almost a mother to young Leo. Leo drowned and died due to his real mother, but his father used synth technology to revive Leo. Mia and the other conscious synths gave Leo a sense of family. There’s obvious joy in Leo’s and Max’s eyes when the real Mia usurps Anita. It’s a fantastic parallel to the rare laughs and smiles between the Hawkins’ family. Whether or not the joy is simulated, the synths are a more convincing family than then Hawkins.

“You’re just a child”

Family wasn’t the only thing that was paralleled. Drummond’s partner Jill took her relationship to the next level with synth Simon and modified him to have sexual intercourse. “Very efficient” was her response! However, the modification goes awry, and Jill has to call Drummond to rescue her from the “out of control” Simon. Drummond, knight in shining armour, comes to the rescue, but Drummond’s partner was not grateful in the least. Almost too similar is Drummond’s sexual intercourse with Karen. It’s she who seduces Drummond, but Drummond’s compliments and reactions are as synthetic as Simon’s. It leads to Karen revealing that she’s a synth…how will Drummond cope with being tricked by a synth? He’s worked with her for a time, and lived with her for a few weeks. Will he have a mental breakdown? Go on a synth destruction spree?!?!?humans episode 6

Again, the dialogue between Millican and Niska gave us plenty of food for thought. The return of Odi caused Niska to question why Millican has so much affection for Odi. “Why care so much for something that cannot care for you?” she asks. In Millican’s eyes, it’s not what Odi is, but what he represents: the past and the memory of marriage that Millican cannot recall. It suggests that, like Millican says, the conscious synths are still childlike in their mental state. They can mimic and perhaps understand human emotion, but cannot replicate the complexities of the human mind.

“I needed to know who I am”

The conscious synths still have a long way to go to reach a truly adult state of mind. Max’s and Mia’s joy at being reunited was childlike; a pure joy untainted by the shadows that cover an adult mind. However, at the climax of the episode, Max does the most unselfish thing I’ve seen in Humans and sacrifices himself so Leo can escape. Again, the comparison between the humanity of the synths and the humanity of the synths is very, very blurry.

The episode left us begging for the next one to come. Again, we have plenty of questions to think about until next Sunday arrives. How was Karen created? Is she part of Leo’s synth family? With the apparent sacrifice of Max, how will the conscious synths link up and crack the code of David Elster? Episode 6 came with very, very few apparent flaws. Mattie and Max found Leo a little too quickly, for the sake of plot progression. And my minor niggle of not enough working class resentment of the synths is growing bigger and bigger. But apart from that, another thrilling episode of Humans!

VERDICT: 8/10. Just great TV! Philosophical and thrilling all in one package!

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