This review contains spoilers.
As a whole, Humans takes an ambivalent position on faith. Faith in ones own ideals—tolerance, courage—as shown by the Hawkins family, is celebrated. Religious zealotry though—the shrine-building, new-world-proclaiming destruction of Anatole’s faith—is unveiled as desperate fiction. When faith drives us to act with compassion towards others, it’s a resource. When it drives us to violent intolerance, it’s a dangerous weapon.
Ambivalence was a theme of this episode, in which Laura bemoaned the traumatic choice she made last week to save a human life at the expense of a Synth’s. She had to admit the unflattering truth that despite her pro-Synth rights arguments, when it came to it, she didn’t quite see Synths as equals. Laura’s words to Neil about fear in their final scene echoed those of Lord Dryden to Mia earlier in the episode – Synths may be our greatest scientific achievemnt, but they’re also terrifying. They’re not either/or, they’re both.
That’s the kind of complex thinking that led Niska to go from cynically mocking signs and omens in one breath to experiencing a sign-based epiphany in the next. Mia was right when she said that Synths no longer think in binary – they can be just as contradictory as humans now.
Contradicting perspectives on the same thing are the theme of this series, not just this episode. The placard-bearing crowds gathered outside the Dryden Commission headquarters—one group protesting Mia’s incarceration, the other protesting her existence—are an image of the last seven hours. Scene after scene this week, characters expressed opposing interpretations of the same thing. Day Zero was an accident to Max, and a foretold certainty to Anatole. David Elster was a god to Anatole, and a failure of a man to Leo.
All these discussions made for a quiet, intense episode. Largely made up of two-person scenes—Max and Anatole, Laura and Mattie, Mia and Lord Dryden, Niska and the barman, Anatole and Leo, Laura and Neil—it was a cerebral hour.
To vary the mood, we were given some action in Max and Anatole’s fight. As with Stanley’s defensive moves against last week’s mob, plenty of work had clearly gone into creating realistic Synth combat movment. Max and Anatole fought in efficient, precise moves, with none of the chaos or messy expressiveness of a fight between humans.
The cliffhangers too, ended this quiet, reflective episode on a note of tension. Mattie has twenty-four hours until Audrey goes public with her story. Basswood phase one is already in action. And Niska has finally found the Synth Who Sleeps.
On that, “big no comment” was Tom Goodman-Hill’s response when asked during this interview whether Odi was due to return in Humans series three. Now we know why. Fan favourite Odi (Will Tudor) is indeed back (though “not exactly” he warns Niska), as a new Blue-Eyed Synth. What his existence means for Synthkind is a question for the finale, one among many. Will Mattie be arrested? Will she choose to have Leo’s baby? Is Leo more than human now? Can Max be Leader again, after killing Anatole? And most pressing of all: can Basswood be stopped?
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.