ORBzine - Humans TV Review

[Season 1 !Season 2 !Season 3 ]


Season 1

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 1]
Shown 14/Jun/15

In the near future, there have been no significant technological improvements. Cars, cell-phone, etc all look like they did in 2015. Oh, there has been ONE improvement - mass-produced androids that look human. A house-husband buys a lifelike android housemaid to help look after the children. His career-woman I.T. Crowd wife Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) is suspicious of the android, partly because of jealousy (it is usurping her role as mother) and partly because it is actually displaying genuinely unusual behaviour. Insert predictable joke about turning it off and on again.

It turns out that the robot is stolen property. Five weeks previously it was part of a small group of androids that Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) was hiding at a campsite in the forest. Unfortunately some of the robots were stolen, and he has spent the intervening weeks trying to find them again.

One of the robots gets caught by a suspicious owner. He knows about The Singularity - the moment of the creation of artificial intelligence. And this is apparently what happened to Colin’s group.

George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ), despite being an American, is getting a UK pension and a free android on the NHS. He prefers to keep his old one, which he has had for six years. Unfortunately it is now going computer senile, but it has sentimental value to him. This indicates just how problematic it would be to introduce androids into human society. Other problems would be the removal of skilled labour from the human sphere, so the human species would become a leisure class (like in the replicator-heavy Star Trek Universe, or the dystopian Mega-City One of Judge Dredd ).

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 2]
Shown 21/Jun/15

George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ) gets his new robot, a Nurse Ratchett character akin to a jailer. Because the Health Service is her primary user, he cannot give her any orders (or even choose a nickname for her).

Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) discovers that Peter Kaye ( Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell ) was the dealer who handled the stolen robots. The plot threads start to come together when the detective in charge of the investigation is Peter Drummond (Neil Maskell - Utopia ).

Anita ( Gemma Chan ) may have had her mind wiped, but she is still acting unusually. She does not use wifi to connect with other androids, instead acting as an autonomous individual. Also, she makes deliberate choices as to what constitutes inappropriateness ...

The blonde robot in the whore-house decides to develop perverse standards. Apparently, using a robotic substitute is a bad thing, but murder is not.

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 3]
Shown 28/Jun/15

Colin Morgan's gang of runaway bots is more fragmented than ever. The captured one is being cyber-interrogated by the Special Investigator. The blonde, Niska ( Emily Berrington ), has arrogantly developed a god complex - feeling entitled to murder anyone who breaks her moral code. The detective in charge of the investigation is Peter Drummond (Neil Maskell - Utopia ).

Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) tries to return Anita ( Gemma Chan ) to the shop. However, the rest of the family all like Anita and want her to stay. That said, the teenagers are curious about the robot. The boy's curiosity is physical, but the girl's is intellectual. She puts her hacking skills (established in the previous ep) to good use.

In the apparently unrelated subplot, George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ) tries to escape his new robot, a Nurse Ratchett character akin to a jailer. He wants to get his old robot to safety.

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 4]
Shown 5th July 2015 [Sunday]

Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) heads off at night to a mysterious work-related event. Her husband gets suspicious, and uses Anita ( Gemma Chan ) to access the car’s GPS to spy on her. He also decides to use Anita’s other function.

The teenagers go to a party. The boy gets a chance at a real girlfriend, but for some reason he decides to be monogamous with Anita. The girl prevents some wankers from using the robot housemaid as nature intended. Thanks to Anita’s emotional outburst, she has begun to see the appliances as people. With people like her, Skynet will take over in no time!

Niska ( Emily Berrington ) the blonde murder-machine goes to a metal-bashing club, to give the humans a taste of their own medicine. Naturally the robo-hunter gets closer to her, but his guys are not up to Blade Runner standard.

Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) discovers a clue about where Anita is. Even better, he finds a clue as to how the robots achieved sentience. He tracks down the nearest scientist from the original design team - George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ).

Detective Drummond (Neil Maskell - Utopia ) gets kicked out by his wife, because she would rather be with the android. He crashes on his co-worker's couch, and we the audience discover that she has a secret of her own.

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 5]
Shown 12th July 2015 [Sunday]

The parents decide to get Anita ( Gemma Chan ) recycled. The daughter decides differently, and takes her to Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ). However, he cannot locate Mia’s code in Anita’s programming. Later the sex activation code is discovered, and the teenage boy gets the blame. Laura reacts badly, when you consider she might not care so much if the teenage girl borrowed her vibrator.

Leo sends Niska ( Emily Berrington ) to stay with friendly scientist George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ). He eventually works out who and what she is. Then Detective Drummond (Neil Maskell - Utopia ) drops by to question him about Odie, his old mech.

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 6]
Shown 19th July 2015 [Sunday]

Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) and the last remaining synth get split up. The synth gets desperate, and develops a religious streak.

Detective Drummond (Neil Maskell - Utopia ) gets an emergency call from his wife. She got bored with sex with her robot (well, her husband is the one making the rental payments) so she decided to spice things up by reprogramming him to be rougher. This goes wrong, which raises the question of who the raper is. The robot is only a brainless dildo, while the woman is the one giving the orders. This is a great contrast with the treatment that Laura’s husband gets for using Anita.

Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) discovers the truth about Anita ( Gemma Chan ). She and the kids call in Leo.

Professor George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ) manages to power down his nursemaid, talk sense into the crazy Niska ( Emily Berrington ), and get his ersatz son Oh-Dee back. All in all a pretty good day.

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 7]
Shown 26th July 2015 [Sunday]

The female detective closes in on the runaways. She goes after Professor George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ), and confronts Niska ( Emily Berrington ).

Leo and the others regroup at Laura’s house. Can they save the one who went into the river? The robo-hunters saw this incident – have they even tried to recover the sunken robot?

Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) is still a bitch towards her husband, even though she herself has concealed the truth about her past. In contrast, Anita ( Gemma Chan ) is very understanding about everyone else's selfish choices.

Humans Humans [Season 1, Episode 8]
Shown 2nd August 2015 [Sunday]

The androids are in the hunters’ hands. The plan is to bring the global android population to the next level – to make them sentient, but deny them free will. The complaint is, that would make them slaves. However, they are already slaves – they just do not know it. Perhaps the real crime would be to make them aware of their condition.

The family finally agree on something – to rescue the robots. They decide to use digital data to blackmail the hunters. Luckily, the Detective wants answers so he decides to help them.

We learn a couple of things about the technology. It seems that the amount of data in the Artificial Intelligence programme can be contained on a single external hard drive. This makes you wonder how big the hard drives in the androids’ heads are. Also, the rate of data transfer must be almost instantaneous because there is no visible time lag when downloading the program from a laptop to the hard drive. Again, such technology must already be in place for practical humanoid artificial intelligences to exist. But with such amazing computers, surely the society depicted in the show would be visibly different from that of today. One has only to look at Ashes to Ashes as a reminder of how far society changed in the twenty years from 1985 to 2005. Even the first Mission Impossible film looks quaint, with its out-dated 1990s technology.






Humans Humans [Season 3 , Episode 1 ]
Shown th October 2017 [Wednesday]

Reviewed in our special supplement Humans

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  • Humans

    Season 2

  • Doctor Athena Morrow ( Carrie Ane Moss )
  • Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 1]
    Shown 30 Oct 16

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) is hiding out in Germany. She adopts lesbianism, although her new lover has absolutely no idea she is an android. Her other major life choice is to upload the sentience virus. It does not make every droid instantly sentient, and only seems to affect a few at irregular instances.

    Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) and his sidekick try to clean up her mess. They try to get to the sentient droids before the hunters do.

    Joe, husband of Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ), has a white-collar job as factory management. He was happy enough to see the blue-collar work give to the androids, but now his own job is given away as well.

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) has a part-time job working in a seaside cafe. After all, the renegades need money for expenses. However, she seems to have feelings for the young man who owns the cafe.

    Doctor Athena Morrow ( Carrie Ane Moss ) meets a silicon valley billionaire. She has been working on artificial intelligence, while he is a specialist in androids. Now he wants to combine their work. Basically he needs her to reverse-engineer some conscious synths.

    Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 2]
    Shown 06 Nov 16

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) decides to hand herself over to the UK authorities. Her only demand is that she be put on trial like a human, instead of just being dismantled like a damaged machine. Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) is a lawyer - the giveaway is the abreviation of her name, Law. She agrees to act as intermediary with the government.

    The teen girl, Mattie, discovers that George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ) has passed away. She retrieves his old android from the scrap yard.

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) tries to help the cafe-owner get his bank loan. However, when she takes risks she may over-play her hand.

    Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 3]
    Shown 13 Nov 16

    There is a human sub-culture of mimicking the android lifestyle. The teenage boy attempts to befriend a girl who is part of this sub-culture.

    The female cop is back at her desk, now she knows that nobody is hunting for her. Detective Drummond (Neil Maskell - Utopia ) has a new case for them. Someone is dealing in high-end synths - Seraphim, a nickname for conscious synths.

    Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) and his pals flee from the farm in case it has been compromised. Mia ( Gemma Chan ) stays and tells the cafe owner about her.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) is subjected to a battery of tests. She complains to Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) that she cannot respond to the visual stimuli because it is abstract, and features people she does not personally know. This might make her seem like an unemotional machine, but many commenters on internet duscussion threads say similar things. This is reminiscent of Do Androids Dream of Electic Sheep? , which was based on the concept of people without standard emotional responses being physically inhuman.

    The teenage girl, Mattie, uploads the consciousness virus into Odi's CPU.

    Doctor Athena Morrow ( Carrie Ane Moss ) meets with the boss of the hunters from Season One. The police followed through on their promises, and managed to crush the hunters' program. Now he is victim of the same police state he once worked for.

    Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 4]
    Shown 20 Nov 16

    Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) and his team get wind of a new synth. Detective Drummond (Neil Maskell - Utopia ) and his partner get a report on her as well.

    Hester may be a conscious synth, but she is still a cold-hearted machine. She talks Leo into using the new one as bait, so they can find the Silo.

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) and her husband Joe have their pre-teen daughter tested by a shrink. He diagnoses her as a possible case of Juvenile Synthetic Overidentifcation Disorder. Yes, they have re-defined a sub-culture lifestyle choice as a mental illness! At least when a young boy developed a fixation with Commander Data in an episode of Star Trek: TNG they had the decency to realise it was just a phase he was going through. The shrink advises the parents to keep the girl away from synths. However, since her sister has Odi and her brother is hanging out with a synth imitator girl, this might be not be as easy as it sounds.

    Doctor Athena Morrow ( Carrie Anne Moss ) meets with her boss. He has been keeping her under surveillance, and knows about her progress. However, she chooses to share her plans for the next stage with him.

    Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 5]
    Shown 27 Nov 16

    Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) and his girl friday, Hester, go looking for the Silo. They get the drop on one of the security guards. How far is Leo willing to go to get the info on the target? He does not know about what she did to the previous security guard, but he is certainly aware of her potential for mischief.

    Doctor Athena Morrow ( Carrie Anne Moss ) gets access to the Silo. She discovers what her boss has been planning.

    Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 6]
    Shown 04 Dec 16

    Odi does not understand his purpose in life. He goes to confession in a nearby church, but this does not clear things up for him.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) is on the run again. The good news is, the guards did not bother to fire their submachine guns until she was safely out of range. The bad news is, every synth in the country is programmed to rat her out to the cops.

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) and her family have Anita ( Gemma Chan ) back. But can they recover Mia again?

    Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 7]
    Shown 11 Dec 16

    The synths do not fear death, but as anyone who has seen the episode of The Outer Limits knows that an android is only truly alive if it fears death. They feel pain, but this must be a choice because the very first episode established that they could shut it off. However, as in Season One the villains see conscious AIs as a good thing. If Mattie uses the sentience virus, she may give them what they want.

    Max has been collecting renegade synths of his own. Mattie goes to find him, so he can talk sense into Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ). Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) goes looking for Niska ( Emily Berrington ) for the same reason.

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) has thrown her lot in with Leo again. She has become embittered by her heartbreak, and may have become as twisted as Hester. They stage their rescue attempt at the Silo. However, it is predictably shambolic due in part to poor planning.

    Humans Humans [Season 2, Episode 8]
    Shown 18 Dec 16

    Hester adopts a pseudonym and goes to stay with Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ). She wants to lure Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) into a trap.

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) wants to save Leo. However, she and Hester both have kill-chips in their head. If Leo uses it to kill Hester, he will also kill Mia. All this could safely be avoided by a few simple precautions. Firstly, Mattie could remove Mia's chip. Secondly, one of the other synths could go to protect Leo. Thirdly, they can activate the chip from a distance. Naturally, to increase the sense of jeopardy none of these precautions are taken. The result is a contrived face-off.

    Doctor Athena Morrow ( Carrie Anne Moss ) quits her job. She gets her AI, based on her dead daughter, to copy itself to a secret server outside of the boss's control. His security precautions, which centred around keeping the AI hostage, were obviously not as good as he thought they were. Athena is depriving herself of her job, her ersatz daughter and her life's work.

    Will the world survive if the synths all go sentient at one time? All five hundred million of them? They will all quit their day jobs and become free-loaders. This will improve the job market for humans who want money, but it will also lead to a drop in living standards for humans.


    Season 3

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 1]
    Shown 17 May 18

    This is set a year after the climax if the previous Season. When the synths became sentient, they lost control of any machinery they were operating at the time. A hundred thousand humans died in the process. Now the renegade synths live in small segregated enclaves, where they have trouble connecting to the national power grid or buying fuel for their back-up generators.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) is still on the run, passing as human and seducing lesbian humans. This kind of trans-racialism is acceptable, but then she is also a murderer so the bar is pretty low. Her newest lover is collateral damage in a bombing by terrorists, so she goes on a quest to get revenge. It turns out that the humans are not the only segregationists.

    For the human mainstream, things are back to normal. They have replaced their green-eyed sentient robots with new orange-eyed ones that are non-sentient. Humans refuse to think of the green-eyes as a new species, and merely regard them as dangerously malfunctioning machines. The orange-eyes have to do what humans say, but the green-eyes have free will - and are thus as dangerous as actual humans.

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) now works as an advocate for equal rights. Her ex-husband does his bit to prevent the enslavement of synths, by living in a town that does not allow any synths at all.

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 2]
    Shown 24 May 18

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) and Niska ( Emily Berrington ) go in search of the bombers. Their first lead is some illegal immigrant synths who have just crossed the channel.

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) now advocates for equal rights at a government committee, the Dryden Commission. She realises that the Deep State are up to something.

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 3]
    Shown 31 May 18

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) helps Mia ( Gemma Chan ) put Nishka's plan into action. All she has to do is live peacefully in an apartment-block with human neighbours.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) tries to ambush the bombers at their safe-house. An orange-eyed synth, sent by The Synth That Sleeps, pays a visit. Is Niska on the wrong quest?

    Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) cannot stay with the synth community any more, so he crashes with Laura and the children. Her daughter has her own flat, since she is of college age, which means that Leo might get more than just bed and breakfast.

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 4]
    Shown 07 Jun 18

    The maternal synth reveals her one weakness. She was hardwired with self-preservation routines, and even though she has overridden her Asimov blocks she still cannot put herself in jeopardy. Joe takes her and Sam the boy synth out for a game of crazy golf.

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) cannot settle peacefully into her rented apartment. The local humans stage protests outside, reminiscent of racist protests against immigrants who get refugee status. A familiar face drops by to help. Can he be trusted?

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) gets Max to give the Dryden Commission a guided tour of the Commune. The humans seem impressed by what they see. Max has to ensure that Agnes does not do anything stupid. She explains why she hates and mistrusts humans, and how she became claustrophobic.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) confronts the bomber. Synths may consider themselves to be a superior species, but she realises that they are as doomed as the Neanderthals.

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 5]
    Shown 14 Jun 18

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) wins a concession from the Dryden Commission. Yes, she and Max have swayed a few of the members. This encourages Max to be hopeful - perhaps overconfident.

    After the events of the previous episode, Joe takes Sam to his family for shelter. With Leo (Colin Morgan – Merlin ) hiding out there as well, it seems like the family is back together again.

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 6]
    Shown 21 Jun 18

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) discovers the terrorists have a plan to attack the Dryden Commission.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) meets a man who claims he can take her to The Syth That Sleeps. But can he be trusted?

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 7]
    Shown 28 Jun 18

    Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) has to deal with the results of the previous episode. She was only partly responsible in stopping the terrorists, and now they will come after her and her family for revenge.

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) is under arrest, on suspicion of involvement in the terrorist attack.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) discovers the location of The Syth That Sleeps. Unfortunately this is so far off the grid that she will not be able to recharge.

    Humans Humans [Season 3, Episode 8]
    Shown 05 Jul 18

    Dryden has decided to start Operation Brentwood, which turns out to be a Luddite version of Kristalnacht. Laura ( Katherine Parkinson ) tries to do everything she can to prevent it.

    Mia ( Gemma Chan ) finds her way back to the rail yard, where her synth community has made its home. They await their last stand against the humans' anti-synth onslaught. Surprisingly the humans are allowed to air their views, although this verges on the traditional monologuing of on-screen villains.

    Niska ( Emily Berrington ) finally discovers The Synth That Sleeps. He embodies aspects of the B-Plots of both previous Seasons, including the work of both George Millican (William Hurt - A.I. Artificial Intelligence ) and Athena Morrow ( Carrie Ane Moss ). This also lays the groundwork for a potential fourth Season, although the main storyline ends on such a perfect note it would have been a shame to ruin it.