Humans s1 ep 3

After trying to grope Anita last week, idiot Toby is overcome with idiot hormones at the thought of Mum taking her away, so he gets on his bike, rides really fast and…. nearly gets knocked down, the only thing saving his life being the object of his affections stepping out of the car and in front of the truck, and taking the hit for him. Of course this means that Anita’s now a literal lifesaver as well as a figurative one, so there’ll be no more talk of taking her back, thank you very much, much to Laura’s chagrin.

Idiot Toby’s near-miss might save Anita from a return to Debenhams or wherever it is you buy synths from, but she’s not entirely unscathed and her “injuries” mean an excruciatingly awkward moment for Dad Joe and the entire audience as Anita points out that, while she can probably repair herself, “for insurance purposes, (Joe) should carry out a full inspection of (her) epidermis.”


The inspection is shot with commendable restraint and sensitivity, however, so we know exactly what’s happening without any gratuitous nudity; a shoulder here, a hip there and the mortified Joe repeating “It’s not real” are more than enough to get the point across. I was sure Laura was going to stumble into the middle of it and combust with jealousy, but, imoressively, the show sidestepped cliche and focussed instead on contrasting Anita’s beloved status within the family (even Mattie seems to have warmed to her, albeit she still wants to hack into her system) with their mum’s relegation to interloper status. Which may be a little cruel but it’s also entirely realistic – after all, Anita does everything Laura would like to do for the kids and more, but can’t give anyone a row or tell them to make their beds.

There do seem to be signs of a thaw, though: Anita trying to smooth things between Sophie and her mum, Laura’s heartfelt “thank you” afterwards. But the suspicion is still there and it’s clear that any domestic harmony is likely to be short-lived, especially now Maxie and Leo know Mia is still “alive”, albeit buried under Anita’s programming. I assume they’ll be banging down doors to get her back pretty soon.

Since they didn’t exactly hurry themselves as far as Niska was concerned, however, she’s now “rescued” herself and gone frighteningly, murderously rogue. It’s interesting that while Anita was initially the creepy one (and the brilliant Gemma Chan can still terrify with just her eyes), this week showcases her humanity more – she’s not just self-aware, she has empathy and compassion too. Niska, however, is currently displaying all the harder, crueller aspects of being human without the softer, more humane ones; she is undeniably intelligent, justifiably angry and ready to kill anyone she thinks deserves it, as borne out by the terrifically scary scene where she decides to “punish” a guy she’s picked up with a knife….

But the way things ultimately work out suggests there are finer feelings under all Niska’s anger and defiance too, and whether they come to the fore or are snuffed out completely will depend entirely, I think, on how the next few “real” humans she encounters treat her.

On that “real” human front, meanwhile, more hints this week that Leo is part-synth with Maxie pointing out “your memory’s like mine, you can’t forget.” Their scenes are still the least engaging though, so I’m not sure I care too much. Ditto re Dr Millican: his adventure with Odi starts with fun but is bound to end in disaster and I’m a little bit fed up with him now. I understand his story is about how humans tend to “anthropomorphise” their synths (my thanks to Anita for the official term) and can’t let go etc, but I think the Anita storyline – or even the Jill/Simon/Peter one with a bit of work – could easily cover that ground in more entertaining fashion. These are small quibbles, though, about an episode which was unnerving, intriguing and thought-provoking. For the most part, Humans continues to impress – I like it a lot.


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