Humans, Season 1, Episode 3: Mother’s Synthy Helper

Let’s get all the non-Hawkins Family stuff out of the way first, because while it was interesting stuff, it’s all filler compared to the showdown that you know is coming in that household . . .

First up, the tale of Fred and Hobb gets a bit deeper when the people working with Hobb start running a tapeworm on Fred, trying to get a better fix on his “dreams”. The moment Fred twigs to what’s going on he shuts down the signal, but we know you can’t stop the signal, so expect Hobb to go all intrusion software on him to find out who these other “aware” synths are—especially now that we know one has murdered a human.

Hobb shows up at the former doll house where Niska worked, and where Pete and Karen are hard at work trying to identify the synth who did the deed. They don’t get too far into their investigation when the Big Man in Charge shows up, and there’s never a good sign—usually means you’re about to get pulled off a job. Which is more or less what happens.

When Pete goes outside to chat with his superior, he sees Hobb, and there’s a discussion between them, which leads Pete to (1) get pissed off, (2) accuse people of a cover up, and (3) to snap on a reporter and toss his ass down some stairs. After the obligatory “Go home and cool off, you’re suspended” scene, Pete goes home and walks in on his wife getting Simonized in the kitchen, which doesn’t set well with Pete at all. He grabs a beer and stalks back into the living room, and we can start the over/under on how many more episodes we need to watch before he snaps and beats the hell out of someone or something.

RT: I LOVE the simmer going on in this story line 🙂 It is gonna get nasty 😉

CF:  Since we’ve seen in the teasers that Pete does go nuts, the question is now–Simon or the wife?

Speaking of Niska, she’s in a mall getting a quick recharge, and just like with her “sister” Anita, another synth asks why she doesn’t share data—

As she strolls through the mall she lifts a bag of clothing and changes out of the hooker outfit she’s been wearing since leaving the doll house, gets to lookin’ a lot more preppy, and scoots on out of the mall post haste.

Meanwhile Leo and Max are hiding out and not talking about that thing in Leo’s side. They hear about an “incident” and the place where Niska worked, and discover there was a death, leading Max to ask if Niska “hurt” someone again. Yeah, hurt: that must be what the kids are calling neck snapping these days, ‘cause nether Leo or Max seem all that surprised by this turn of events. They eventually catch up with Niska, but when Leo tries to bring her back into the protection of “their family”, she tells him to piss off, that he’s doing nothing for them. Max has a few kind words with her before she leaves, but it’s obvious that Niska is her own synth, and she’s going her own way. She eventually gets picked up by a dude, heads back to his place for sex, and it looks like she’s gonna kill him and squat at his place until she discovers he has a daughter, and she doesn’t want to kill someone with kids, so she splits.

RT: The old “hooker with a heart of gold”story gets me every time…

CF:  The old “hooker with a heart of titanium” is more like it…

Meanwhile, back at the happy home of Doctor Millican and Nurse Vera, it looks like they aren’t having the best of times—well, he isn’t. Vera looks almost as if she’d enjoying being a major robotic bitch to the good doctor. He starts on about how he really thinks he should bring his bed down from the first floor bedroom and put it in this room over here—yeah, the one with the window painted shut, can you see if you can open that, Vera? While she’s messing with the window he slips out and locks her in, then heads outside to check on Odi. Realizing his days with his old synth are limited, he pulls the dusty covers off his Mercedes, hands the keys to Odi, and they blow that pop stand just as Vera rips the knob off the door and comes outside. She is not a happy looking caregiver, let me tell you.

RT: Oh dear, that’s not going to end well is it? Can Synths eat each other? because I would buy a ticket to that mess 😉

CF:  It’s looking ugly.  I have a feeling Vera is really a spy at this point.  She smiles.  That worries me.

The Sunday drive with Odi doesn’t go as planed, though. After a little reminiscing, Doctor Millican remarks how he could really use some ice cream, so Odi decides to go get it—by stepping out of the car while he’s driving. Hilarity ensues, the car crashes into a tree, and Millican sends Odi off to hide while he awaits rescue. I’d say the chances of someone finding Odi are pretty good . . .

RT: I love that a robot can get senile!

CF:  Odi must be running XP.

But now to the main event, and I bring you the Hawkins Family Drama!

Joe and Toby come home from their bike right to discover Laura is taking Anita back. This causes Toby to charge off on his bike to find Mom, which really doesn’t make much sense, because he stayed home when Anita was bought, so does he know which way they went? Probably not—

But we know the real reason for this: it sets up the situation that’s been teased for months. Toby just happens to dart out onto the street where Mom is stuck in traffic, a van approaches, and Anita jumps out and puts up her hand in a “Stop now!” action, as if that will be enough to bring the van to a halt. We already have a good idea how Anita’s gonna get that van to stop—

“Hi, do you mind if I work on my Supergirl cosplay? Thanks.”

—and it does stop after its slammed into her and sent her flying. Toby isn’t hurt, though his wank material—I mean, the family synth has seen better days, as there’s a shot of Anita on the ground lookin’ kinda like a broken doll.

RT: Oh dear, that escalated quickly. What sort of porn is it when you have to whack off to a broken Synth?

CF:  Do we really want to go there?

Anita is in mostly good shape, and the rest of the family eventually catch up to Laura and Toby. Sophie is now all starry eyed over her new hero, and this can’t help Laura’s position any. After Joe confronts her on why she was returning Anita, Laura starts going on about being scared by what Anita said to her earlier. Joe is but a step away from rolling his eyes and is like, bullshit, just walked Toby’s bike home.

While Laura does just that the rest of the family consoles Anita. Anita tells Joe he needs to examine her for external damage—as she says, he needs to “check out her epidermis”—and one can see the wheels grinding the shit out of themselves as Toby gets all charged up thinking about that. Joe takes Anita to the garage to give her a look-see, but he can’t bring himself to undress her because, I don’t know, maybe erections interfere with manual dexterity? Anita undresses herself, and while Joe is uncomfortably looking her over, Toby’s by the garage entry listening to the exchange inside looking like he’s about to lose his shit. Joe’s having a hard time as well, ‘cause while he keeps reminding himself that she’s not real—and Anita also reminds him of that face—damned if she doesn’t look and feel real. Both these guys are gonna need some serious bunk time alone.

RT: I LOVE the weird sexual tension AMC have managed to work into this show. A real “where’s the line and how far can we push it”kind of thing. Makes you uncomfortable as well as make you question just how far we’ll all end up “loving our technology”.

CF:  We have Real Dolls coming that will be able to talk to you, but this does have some creepy connotations.  It’s going to be curious to see if after Joe unlocks Anita’s “adult functions”, if she’s gonna get back in touch with her old personality, and maybe start helping Toby through puberty.  Now that’s gonna be strange tension.

Later, while Anita is putting away clothing, she finds the book Laura hid in Episode 1 and gives a quick look. Sophie comes upon Anita at this point and she wants the synth to put her to bed, which then becomes an issue. Finally Joe tells Anita to put the child to bed, and Laura grow pissed once more—hell, she’s so upset can’t even make proper cakes. Anita manages to convince Sophie that Laura should put her to bed, and does so in a way that it looks as if Sophie now wants Laura, but the truth eventually comes out: Anita told Sophie that Mommy would be sad if she didn’t get to tuck her in, and we don’t want Sad Mommy, do we?

RT: Nothing like the smell of emotional manipulation…

CF:  It’s like Anita’s been around young kids at one time…

Laura’s not handing this well. Earlier she drilled Anita on the possibility of her lying, and Anita rattled off some Three Laws bullshit showing that if she was worried about hurting the feelings of her human she could BS them, and while this is happening one truly gets the feeling that Anita is totally gaslighting the woman—and Laura feels this, too.

She decides to give Anita her own version of a Voight-Kampff test, starting with the question of whether or not Anita feels pain. To make a point Anita jabs herself in the eye with a toothpick, getting a reaction from Laura and everyone watching. A bit more questioning brings Laura to the conclusion that Anita can pick up on human emotions—something that synths shouldn’t be able to do—and Anita finally drops the hammer on Laura and lets her know she’d make a better mother, because Laura’s pretty rubbish at the job. The only advantage Laura has over Anita is that the later can’t love the kids, and when Laura starts probing about whether Anita wishes she could, the synth brings up Tom, and it’s like Dracarys, bitch. Laura completely loses her shit once more, only this time Joe is eavesdropping in the next room and hears the exchange.

That night, while Anita is recharging, Mattie comes down and decides to check out Anita’s base code. Little Miss Synth Hacker is checking out things out when, all of a sudden, Anita is crying for help, saying she’s still in here—and that’s when we realize Mattie has actually uncovered Anita’s real personality, buried underneath a programming mod and struggling to get out. This only lasts a moment, but it’s enough for Mattie to freak, unplug, and get the hell back to her room—

RT: Oh hell YEAH, this is AWESOME!

CF:  It was a great scene, and you can see that (1) Anita is a real person, and (2) she’s locked in hell.  I want her free so bad.

—Where later she’s sitting all dejected because she can’t figure out the code. But, hey, let’s post this shit to the Internet, ‘cause what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe someone will figure out it. Maybe like, say, people who may be looking for her? Like Max, who recognizes the code and tells Leo, who is then able to generalize the area where Anita is located . . .

RT: Double AWESOME!

CF:  Though Mattie’s gotta work on her mad hackin’ skillz…

Interesting Trivia:

The conversation between Hobb and Pete concerning keeping quiet about Synths “killing” is reminiscent of the conversation with Lawrence Robertson, the CEO of USR, and Lt. John Bergin, Will Smith’s police boss, in I, Robot. Almost to where it sounded like they were recycling the dialog.

Anita’s interpretation of how she could lie if necessary because it fits with her “Asmovian Blocks” not to hurt people is pretty much a direct reference to the Asimov short storyLiar!, which deals with a mind reading robot that tells people exactly what they want to hear so they are not hurt, which is in keeping with the First Law. Of course, if any of the people in Humans ever read that story they’d know it’s all bollocks . . .

RT: Oh, I love this! I would never have picked it up if you hadn’t have mentioned it 😀

CF:  It’s a nice thing having gone through all the Asimov Robot stories and being able to pick out this stuff.  One has to assume that those stories exist in this world, but like today, most people have never heard of them, much less read them.  Which makes me wonder:  is I, Robot a movie in this world?  Does Will Smith look up at the robots attacking him and say, “Ah, hell no!”.  I would love to see Anita watching this on cable.

The Cast:

Laura Hawkins — Katherine Parkinson
Joe Hawkins — Tom Goodman-Hill
Mattie Hawkins — Lucy Carless
Toby Hawkins — Theo Stevenson
Sophie Hawkins — Pixie Davies
Synth Anita Hawkins — Gemma Chan

Dr. George Millican — William Hurt
Synth Odi — Will Tudor
Synth Vera — Rebecca Front

Detective Sergeant Pete Drummond — Neil Maskell
Detective Inspector Karen Voss — Ruth Bradley

Leo — Colin Morgan
Synth Max — Ivanno Jeremiah
Synth Niska — Emily Berrington

Professor Edwin Hobb — Danny Webb

Humans airs in the US on AMC at 9 PM EDT.

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