Humans, Season 1, Episode 1: The Souls of the New Machines

AMC's Humans Season 1 promo pic

Rachel (RT): Just before Cassidy starts her awesome recap, I would like to thank her once more for stepping up and taking on these recaps 🙂 Also, I will be popping in my own five cents worth every now and again just for the heck of it 😉

Before one can talk about a show dealing with concepts of human-like androids living, working, and interacting with humans, there are so laws that need covering. Three of them to be precise:

First Law of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law of Robotics: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law of Robotics: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Those are the Three Laws of Robotics, developed by science fiction writer Issac Asimov, and laid out for the first time in his 1942 short story Runaround. He developed them because, as he explained much later, he’d grown tired of the old science fiction trope of rampaging robots destroying everything in their paths, requiring law enforcement, the military, or even Superman to put their asses down. The good Doctor Asimov (besides being a writer he had also taught at the Boston University School of Medicine, and had a PhD in Biochemistry from Columbia University. He also invented the light saber, so there) felt that any intelligent society wouldn’t allow their tools—and he did consider robots tools—to just go around killing people for the hell of it, so he laid down The Laws. And if you’re writing any kind of fiction that involve androids, you better include the Three Laws in your writing—or be able to come up with a damn good reason why they don’t exist.

Which brings us to Humans, the new science fiction show filmed in England and broadcast in the US on AMC, who are a joint producer of this series. As I stated in an earlier teaser Humans is a remake of the Swedish show Äkta människor, or Real Humans, and it takes place in a “Parallel Present” where androids are ever present and, as stated in the first episode which aired tonight, 28 June, slightly cheaper to pay off over the course of five than the family car. Which means there’s no reason why you can’t get a Synth, and you can’t get a Synth, everyone gets a Synth. Just come on down!

We first meet the Hawkins Family—father Joe, daughters Mattie an Sophie, and son Toby—and Joe is feeling a singular inability to take care of family business while wife Laura is off on business in Leeds. What does Joe need? Why, a lovely Synth, which he and daughter Sophie find down at the local Synth Store. Picking her up is apparently easier than buying a car, and a lot easier to program than your cable box, and before you can say “Domo Arigato”, the soon-to-be-named Anita is meeting the family.

RT: Now if only the people who made Synths could make cable boxes and shopping trolleys that run straight, the world would be a better place 😉

Toby has played Horrible Harry far too long, and it’s painfully obviously he develops the hots for Anita the moment he lays eyes upon her—


No, that sprong came from the robot . . . Um, I’ll be in my room.

Mattie doesn’t care about Anita because she’s stuck in “Zero Fucks Given” mode and likely plotting out the next thing for which she won’t give a shit. Sophie fell deeply in Synthlove the moment she laid eyes upon Anita, and Joe . . . Well, he’s wondering what he’s gonna do the moment his wife Laura comes home. There’s good reason for that: Laura is pissed that Little Miss Roboto is in the house taking over domestic duties, and she’s instantly suspicious, thinking there’s something wrong with Anita . . .

RT: Because introducing a Synth to your family when your wife is away isn’t awkward enough. *hands Toby some tissues*

This leads to a flashback where “Five weeks earlier” is written across the bottom of our screen. Leo is on the road with four synths, who we find out in time, are Max, Fred, Niska, and Anita. While setting up camp Fred, Niska, and Anita are captured by people and, as it appears through the course of the episode, are returned to the main company before being sold to other users. We don’t yet his reasoning , but it seems Leo—who is left with Max—is eager to recover these Synths, since his story seems to revolve around finding his missing friends. It’s unfortunate that Leo didn’t retain any of the wizarding skills he had when he played the eponymous character on Merlin, ‘cause those would probably come in handy.

RT: Oh, now THIS is interesting! Love me a good robot gone bad/reprogrammed then ends up as a happy family unit story line.

Dr. Millican gets to meet Snyth Ratched—better known as Vera. UK NHS ordered a half million of these things because . . . Why? Old people like to be terrorized? I can’t wait to see her bedside manner.

RT: See this would be my robot of choice, hence why I do not live in this parallel present 😉

Super Suspicious Laura is super suspicious and catches Anita checking in on a sleeping Sophie. This is all she needs to switch over to Alpha Woman Mode and read the RoboGirl the riot act. Anita can keep that blank look on her face as much as she likes, but Laura knows there’s some shit going on in that—is it a positronic brain? Yeah, we’ll call it that—positronic brain, and it just makes her watch Anita all that much closer. Tensions remain high, and it doesn’t help that Laura discovers Anita reading to Sophie, something that Laura does to bond with her young daughter. This is not going to end well. Not at all.

RT: If Rick brought Lori a robot, this is how it would go down.

CF:  If Lori had a robot, would it have as much trouble keeping Carl in the house?

Fred is discovered by Professor Hobb working in a greenhouse, and when Fred decides to take it on the lam, Hobb’s backup pumps an electrical dart into the synth’s back, knocking him out. We don’t know why as of yet, but that moment is coming, you can bet on it.

We have the obligatory “Parents speak with Troubled Teen Girl” scene, where they ask Mattie about the slide in her grades. Mattie knows the score, though: why bother with learning anything when everything will eventually be take over by synths. Wanna be a doctor? Snyths will do it better. An accountant? Snyths love numbers. Construction? Snyths never get tired. Burger flipper? Bitch, please. Anything humans can do, Synths will do it better, and Mattie knows this. Ergo, Zero Fucks Given mode continues.

Odi is obviously slipping his gears like a defective transmission. While out shopping with Dr. Millican he starts losing his robotic shit and he hits a woman, probably by accident, but that doesn’t matter because Robots Don’t Hit. This brings about a visit by the Special Technologies Task Force, and they’re ready to bin ‘ol Odi, but the good doctor convinces them to let him take Odi home. He’s warned, though, that there’ll be no more shopping with Odi, and that’s likely the last he’ll be seen in public. The doc gets Odi homes, finds out he’s suffering disk and memories errors, and is ready to treat him the way all of us wish we could treat our computers: with a sledgehammer. This doesn’t happen, however, but one can assume that Odi is going to suffer a serious error at some point.

Speaking of the STTF, Sergeant Pete goes home and finds his wife finishing up a massage with her physical therapist synth, who is in the home helping her recover from a serious accident—one that leaves her unable to walk and require her to be carried about like she’s once more eight years old and in need of her daddy. She’s carried to take a long, hot soak, and the smile on her face tells you all you need to know about how much she’s looking forward to that. As for Sergeant Pete—let’s just say he is not a happy Blade Runner.

Leo finds Synth Niska working in a brothel. She thinks he’s come to get her out; he hasn’t, because it’s not safe out on the street, and she’ll be hunted once more. And it’s right after this we discover why, during a discussion Professor Hobb has with someone while Fred is examined, that we find Fred was developed to feel and develop emotional responses, and if it’s figured out how it was done to him, it could be done to others, and at that point it’s good night, Human species, because The Singularity is here and everyone is rightly fucked. If by now you haven’t figured out that Anita and Niska are two of those other synths who can feel and are developing emotional responses, you are obviously watching another show. Maybe one with zombies?

RT: *Fist pumps the air* I am seriously loving the Sinister Synths. *evil cackles*

Speaking of feelings, we discover Joe’s checking out a card that indicates Anita has Adult Options—yeah, no one saw that coming. Within a couple of episodes we can expect Joe to go from Anita’s Primary Owner to her Primary Boner, ‘cause while she may not have emotions, she certainly has a vagina, and wouldn’t it be a shame to let that go to waste?

RT: Do they have swapable vaginas? After all, would you really want to be sharing the one with your son? Wonder if you could order that over the internet?

Speaking of those emotions . . . Laura catches Anita standing out in the back yard looking at the moon, and remarking on how beautiful it looks, which semi-freaks Laura right the hell out. Is Anita feeling something? Is she pretending to love staring up at yonder golden orb? Is she gas lighting the shit out of Laura because she knows how to read Joe like a book and maybe wants to be Mrs. Hawkins? Whatever it is, Anita is seen going through some heavy robot suffering, and while once more watching Sophie sleeping, she starts having flashback about something happening underwater—and the next time we see her she’s got Sophie in her arms and she’s heading down the block on a midnight stroll. Well, isn’t that sweet? It looks just like Mummy and Daughter out for a stroll—if you’re comfortable with the idea of recharging Mummy every night alongside your iPhone.

Don’t look now, but I think we’ll see a bit more of that in the episodes to come . . .

RT: Thanks again Cassidy for this recap – seriously awesome job 😀 I can now live vicariously through you until I get a chance to watch the show in earnest 😉

Interesting Trivia:

Joe’s primary bonding to Anita is performed in much the same way emotions were turned on in David in the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence.

Anita has a truly fucked up laugh, probably due to channeling Agent Smith from The Matrix. She should work on that—or maybe she has.

We hear during an interview that the Synths have Asimov Blocks, and that means the Three Laws, Bitches! At least they did their homework.

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.


About Cassidy Frazee

There's a lot about me you'd probably like to know; if so, ask. You'll be surprised at some of the things I might tell you . . .
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One Response to Humans, Season 1, Episode 1: The Souls of the New Machines

  1. Reblogged this on Wide Awake But Dreaming and commented:

    Here’s my first episode review of Humans. Enjoy.

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