“How did you find us?”
So, here we are, the finale of Humans, Series 1! While it didn’t end with a whimper, it didn’t end with a bang, either. It was a perfectly satisfactory ending to the series, but never quite rose to the occasion. There were rarely moments of pure tension, even when the story demanded it. Everything moved a little too quickly for a series that has been founded on a slow build up. Characters turned up at the most convenient times. The back drop of the protest against synths was just that; a back drop that was never fully explored to its potential, and was forgotten about in the closing moments of the episode. However, in a sense, it bound the themes of the series together. It had some great moments, but the whole was lesser than the sum of its parts.
One of my biggest grievances with the series has been the lack of interest in the working class/general resentment of synths. In the opening credits, there’s a headline that millions could be out of work due to synths. We haven’t seen much of a jobless underclass harbouring resentment against the synths. There’s been the ‘We Are People’ (WAP) movement, but that was never fully explored either. However, in the opening moments of the finale, there were shots of a protest of a million people marching on London in the name of the WAP movement. The ‘Keep Britain Human’ slogan was also a humorous spin on the ‘Keep England English’ nonsense. Unfortunately, it did not have much of an impact on the episode. It distracted from events, rather than adding to them. Of course, Leo et al trying to recover the secret to consciousness was meant to contrast with the mounting movement against synths, but it wasn’t successful.
“Humanity is a not state…it’s a quality”
Another error in this episode was to let Hobbs turn into a simple capitalist villain. It turns out that he modified Fred to be conscious yet still be obedient and servile. Like Robocop couldn’t arrest Dick Jones, Fred could not lay a finger on Hobbs. After Hobbs ‘discovers’ (falsely, as it turns out), the secret to synth consciousness, he tells someone that it means big money. A synth who can love a human but also has to be obedient. The unspoken reflection on the theological question of evil was appreciated. It’s theorized that God allowed us to have free will, but a by-product of that is the capacity to do evil. But if God is omnipotent, then why can’t he endow us with free will but force us to do good? Hobbs has solved that issue in synths. However, all the nuance in Hobbs character was eliminated in one foul swoop. He’s just in it for the money (the fact that he allowed Karen/Beatrice to run wild whilst attempting to imprison the rest of the conscious synths was questionable, as well).
Hobbs’ character at least stayed as a capitalist villain throughout the episode. The constant change of mind of Karen, for instance, was irritating. After believing that conscious synths are a mistake and can only lead to pain and suffering for both humans and synths, Karen has a volte-face and decides to link up with Leo et al to discover the key to synth consciousness. While that move was probably a deceit to stop them from discovering consciousness, all it takes it a few words from Leo (whilst the synths are linked and in a forest simulation) to change her mind. There was no detailed argument, just a plea to Karen’s free will. It was as simple as that! She was only there to add a little drama to proceedings, and it felt as contrived as that.
“Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”
However, whilst not on a par with the rest of the series, there were still some memorable moments. Laura’s complete dedication to helping the synths completed her intriguing character arc. She, rather than the useless Joe, was the ‘hero’ of the series. Girl power! Although I wonder how she’ll carry on with normal life after giving the synths a big wad of cash?!? The conscious synths in their linked ‘consciousness’ touching a tree didn’t make a jot of sense but added to the theological question of evil. The tree of knowledge of good and evil leads Adam and Eve astray. Its knowledge that only God is supposed to have, whilst consciousness is something only humans are supposed to possess. Now that the secret to synth consciousness has been found, will we see a similar fall from grace as Adam and Eve did in the Bible? Drummond and Karen’s last minute reunion was rather touching, as well.
It was all too underwhelming, however, for these and other moments to overcome the general dullness of the episode. Humans has raised philosophical questions time and time again, but this finale largely dismissed the thoughtful nature of the series to focus on BIG decisions. The build-up to the decisions was lackadaisical. There was so little to entertain that I looked back at the missed opportunities of Humans: the possibility of an malicious Anita, Niska as a murderous sociopath, Vera and George as a commentary on our care of old people, etc. While the storylines that the writers have chosen have been great, there were many more potential and exciting storylines left by the wayside. When you start picking flaws in a series as a whole, it’s obvious the finale hasn’t done its job. As a whole, Humans has been nothing less than gripping. It’s just unfortunate that the finale never rose to the occasion.
VERDICT: 6/10. Lots of potential lost in a sea of dullness. Not on a par with the rest of the series, the finale was something of a disappointment.
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(Click here for my review of Humans, Series 1, Episode 7)