Humans series 1 and 2 recap

Humans returns next month for series 3. Here’s a reminder of what happened in Humans series 1 and 2. Spoilers ahead…

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

Warning: contains major Humans series 1 and 2 spoilers.

Human recall is far from total or instantaneous. Unlike Synths, people aren’t blessed with searchable hard drives for brains. We take information in, then leak it right out again.

To help with that in the run-up to Humans series three, arriving next month on Channel 4, here’s a recap of all the major action until now.   

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Series 1

In a parallel present Britain, the Hawkins family (parents Laura and Joe, teenagers Mattie and Toby, and child Sophie) buy a discount domestic robot known as a Synth, which they name Anita. Dormant inside Anita is the persona of Mia, one of six conscious Synths created by AI genius Dr David Elster. Elster’s wife Beatrice suffered from mental illness, so he created Mia to help raise their son Leo. Elster turned Leo into a human-Synth hybrid at age twelve to save his life after Beatrice almost killed him when she committed suicide by driving into a lake. Elster also created two brothers and a sister for Mia – Fred, Max and Niska. Years later, Elster made another conscious Synth in his wife’s image but Leo and the others rejected her. Instead of decommissioning the Beatrice clone as he promised, Elster let her go, then killed himself.

The remaining five sentient Synths split up and went on the run. Fred disguised himself as an agricultural Synth worker, Max and Leo lived rough, Niska hid in a Synth brothel, where she suffered sexual abuse and eventually murdered a paedophilic client, and Mia was kidnapped by ‘junkers’, restored to factory settings and sold to the Hawkins family. The Beatrice clone, unbeknownst to the others, stole a dead woman’s identity and became police officer Karen Voss, who worked alongside her unwitting human partner Pete Drummond.

In the Hawkins family, husband Joe (who had purchased the Synth against Laura’s wishes) enabled Anita’s over-18 function and had sex with her. Laura discovered this and the two separated briefly. Their tech genius daughter Mattie made a connection with Leo, and used her coding skills to help the conscious Synths, while little Sophie bonded with them.

Police officers Pete and ‘Karen’ tracked Niska after she murdered the brothel client and violently turned on the humans in a ‘Smash Club’ where Synths were savagely beaten for entertainment. Also tracking the conscious Synths was Dr Hobb, who, alongside David Elster and George Millican, collaborated in the original creation of Synths. Millican and Hobb broke ties with Elster after he became obsessed with making Synths sentient. Backed by the government, Hobb captured Fred, programmed him to be docile, and discovered the existence of sections of code hidden in each conscious Synth’s brain that, when combined, would be able to make any Synth conscious. Meanwhile, Dr Millican refused to retire his domestic Synth Odi, who connected him to memories of his dead wife. Niska spent time with Dr Millican, where she learned that not all humans want to harm Synths. Karen tracked Niska there and asks Niska to kill her as she no longer wanted to live as a non-human, but Karen accidentally shot and killed Dr Millican, leaving Odi on his own.

Dr Hobb captured the five conscious Synths and tried to extract the code, but Fred overrode his programming and electrocuted Hobb. Karen revealed herself to the others and they all combine, completing Elster’s consciousness code. While in a digital plane, Karen attempted to shut down all of their brains and end their lives but was convinced not to. Back in the real world, the Synths decided not to unleash the sentience code on the world yet but instead to give it to Laura Hawkins, a solicitor with an interest in Synth rights, for safekeeping. Secretly, Niska made a copy of the code and took it with her when she split from the group and went on the run to Europe.

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Series 2 recap

Disguised with blue contact lenses, Niska is living in Berlin. She falls in love with a young woman called Astrid, who is unaware that Niska is a Synth, and they have a six-week relationship. Niska runs her copy of the sentience code, and all over the world, Synths gradually start awakening at random,. Dr Elster’s code was designed for the consciousness-spread to be slow so that the world wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the chaos of suddenly conscious Synths.

Max, Leo and Mia are laying low in an abandoned Kent farmhouse. To earn money for supplies, Mia, in the guise of domestic Synth Anita, has taken a job working in a seaside café with human owner Ed. Max and Leo start to contact the newly conscious Synths and bring them into the fold.

While collecting an awakened industrial Synth named Hester, Max and Leo encounter another group who are rounding up the ‘malfunctioning’ Synths. The other group works for Qualia, Milo Khoury’s billion-dollar tech firm, which takes the Synths to ‘the Silo’ for experimentation. Khoury employs AI scientist Dr Athena Morrow. Morrow’s daughter Virginia is in a coma following an accident and Morrow has built a replica of her consciousness, which she calls V, and installs on Qualia’s servers. Wishing to give V a body, Morrow secretly experiments with transferring V’s digital consciousness to one of the newly sentient Synths but her experiments all fail and destroy the Synths in the process. Morrow tracks down Dr Hobb and blackmails him into giving her information on David Elster’s conscious Synths, which she theorises will be able to sustain the consciousness transfer better than ordinary sentient Synths.

Leo, Max and Hester capture one of Qualia’s guards and hold him captive for information on the location of ‘the Silo’. Pacifist Max releases the guard after Hester tortures him, but Hester tracks him down and, unbeknown to Leo and Max, kills him.

Meanwhile, café-owner Ed, who is in dire financial straits because of his mother’s care home costs, discovers that Anita is actually Mia. She helps him to fraudulently borrow money from the bank and befriends his dementia-suffering mother. Ed and Mia start a sexual relationship, which Ed’s friend is against because of his anti-Synth prejudice. Ed is persuaded by his friend to sell Mia on the black market to cover his debts. He attempts to do so, but Mia restores herself to her Anita setting, so appears just like an ordinary Synth when Qualia comes to collect her, and the deal doesn’t happen. Now Anita, she returns to her previous primary users, the Hawkins family, until Mattie restores Mia’s consciousness.

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Leo and Max disagree about Hester’s approach. Refusing to use a newly conscious Synth as bait to track Qualia, Max leaves Leo to go it alone and continue to help the awakened Synths. He rescues a domestic Synth named Flash and they create a home together in a disused railway carriage, which they plan to turn into a refuge for conscious Synths.

Leo and Hester track down the location of The Silo and take an ID from a Qualia worker who Hester drowns, unbeknownst to Leo. Hester and Leo hide out in a brothel, where they have sex.

Meanwhile, after six weeks in Berlin, Niska leaves her lover Astrid after deciding that she wants to stand trial for the murder of the man she killed in series one. Niska wishes to be tried as a conscious Synth with the same rights as a human. She returns to England and engages solicitor Laura Hawkins to act on her behalf. The authorities agree that if Laura can prove Niska is conscious, they will grant her a trial. Laura struggles to prove Niska’s emotions, until she brings Astrid over from Germany and reveals Niska’s Synth nature to Astrid. Niska realises that the government had no intention of ever granting her a trial, so escapes from containment and seeks refuge with Astrid in Folkestone. Laura tracks her down to convince her to return to help Leo and Mia, who are in danger because of their plan to infiltrate Qualia. Inadvertently, Laura brings the authorities to Niska, so she is once again forced to go on the run.

While Laura is busy with Niska’s consciousness test, Mattie steals her copy of the sentience code and adapts it so that unlike Elster’s original code, if run, it would make all Synths conscious at the same time. Mattie practises it on a broken Synth she takes from a junkyard – Odi, George Millican’s domestic Synth from series one. Odi struggles with his new consciousness and fails to understand his purpose or to come to terms with his place in the world. Not being able to cope, he chooses to restore himself to factory settings.

At school, Mattie’s younger brother Toby befriends Renie, a human girl choosing to live life as a Synth (known as a ‘Synthie’). Since the departure of Mia and the others in series one, little Sophie Hawkins has been behaving more and more Synth-like, too. When Sophie meets Renie, she expresses her desire to be a Synthie too, explaining that the attraction lies in the fact that Synths don’t have to experience loneliness or abandonment, or have any feelings at all. Renie, who has been largely abandoned by her father since her parents’ divorce, realises the horror of what Sophie is saying, so returns to her human persona.

Joe Hawkins meanwhile, has been replaced by a Synth at work and forced to reapply for a much lower status position at the same company. With Mattie’s hacking help, he discovers that his redundancy was orchestrated not by humans, but by Synths. He harbours dreams of moving the family to Waltringham, a Synth-free town, but Laura is shocked at his retrograde idea.

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Karen and Pete have been tracking the existence of ‘Seraphim’, which are being sold on the black market for £100k. They assume Seraphim are conscious Synths, but discover that they are in fact Synth-children, created by Qualia’s Milo Khoury. Khoury employed Dr Morrow (whose comatose daughter has since died in hospital) because he knew she was secretly experimenting with digital consciousness transfer, and wanted her to use it on the Seraphim, which would be sold to bereaved parents. A small number of Seraphim were released into the world and Pete discovers one, a little boy he takes home to Karen.

Still not wanting to live as a Synth, Karen had planned to leave Pete, but bonded with the Seraph, naming him Sam. Realising what Dr Morrow and Khoury were working on, Karen goes to Qualia and reveals her Synth identity to Dr Morrow. She asks Morrow to upload her mind to Qualia’s servers so it can be transferred into a human body and she can live with Pete as a human. Pete, thinking Karen intended once again to die, tracks her to Qualia and while Morrow is uploading her mind to the servers. There, he encounters Hester, who has infiltrated the facility and is holding a scientist hostage.

While speaking to Karen, Dr Morrow realises that experimenting on conscious Synths is cruel and unjust, as they deserve the same rights as humans. She asks ‘V’, now aware that it is a copy of Morrow’s dead daughter’s mind, to transfer itself off Qualia’s servers to a location not even Morrow knows. V does so, and Morrow leaves Qualia for good.

After her betrayal by Ed, Mia’s attitude to humanity had hardened. She learns through Odi that Mattie had completed Elster’s sentience code, so returned to Leo and Hester with a plan to infiltrate Qualia and free the Silo Synths. Mia and Hester posed as newly awakened Synths and were taken in to the facility, where they overpowered the guards and led the conscious Synths out. Qualia though, had inserted chips in the Synth brains (including in Mia and Hester’s) that would destroy their minds if they passed a forcefield around the facility. Unwittingly, Mia led the Synths to their deaths. Mia later disabled the forcefield, but most of the newly conscious Synths died in the escape attempt.

Before leaving Qualia, Hester went to kill Dr Morrow, but discovers her with Karen and Pete. She kills the scientist she was holding hostage, then kills Pete. As Pete dies, Karen cries tears, something other Synths don’t do. Back home, she tries to kill herself twice, first by powering down (but Seraph Sam recharges her), then by following Beatrice’s suicide plan and driving herself and Sam into the sea.

Having sought Max’s help in stopping Leo and Mia from enacting their dangerous plan, Mattie and Max arrive at Qualia and leave with Leo and Mia. Hester sees it as a betrayal, so goes to the Hawkins house and holds Laura hostage for the consciousness code. Realising that Laura is in danger, Leo, Mia and Mattie concoct a plan for Leo to trigger the chip in Hester’s brain to save Laura, but Hester stabs Leo in the brainstem, destroying his Synth brain and leaving him in a coma. Mia triggers both of their chips, and she and Hester seem to die. Niska arrives and forces Mattie to run her sentience code to save Mia’s life. Mattie runs the code and every Synth in the world becomes conscious all at once.

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When Seraph Sam becomes conscious, he screams in fear of Karen’s suicide plan, which she aborts and promises to protect him. All over the world, the mass awakening of conscious Synths causes mayhem.