Humans, TV review: The robots are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore

What's causing the synths to think for themselves, to be aware of themselves, to protect themselves? The answer may well lay inside Fred's head (spoiler alert)

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The Independent Culture

"He’s the Mona Lisa. He’s penicillin. He’s the atom bomb." So said Hobb (Danny Webb) of Fred the synth (Sope Dirisu). No pressure there, Fred, but it seems like you hold the key to one of the most important keystones in human development. Hobb – so far painted as The Bad Guy, but he may well just be trying to save humanity from the Terminator et al – ran all the tests on Fred, in the manner of someone doing one of those mysterious "full virus scans" on their laptop in the vain hope of discovering something. Nothing was discovered. "We’ll just have to try talking to him" said Hobbs.

The changing nature of people’s relationships with the synths (and vice versa) formed the crux of the second episode of Channel 4’s entertaining-but-don’t-think-about-it-too-hard Humans. From overly bolshie synth nurses and sneaky synth au pairs, to outright synth rebellion in a synth brothel, it’s clear that the humans that created them can no longer control them.

The Hawkins household continues to be divided on the issue of their synth Anita (Gemma Chan, possessor of television’s most disconcerting stare). Mum Laura (Katherine Parkinson) and daughter Mattie (Lucy Carless) have their suspicions but dad Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) thinks his wife is being paranoid, little Sophie (Pixie Davis) gets more hugs from the robot than her actual parents and teenager Toby (Theo Stevenson) is appreciating the technology, er, a little too much. Toby learned the hard way that Anita is more than just an object. Tsk tsk.

Even more troubling than Anita’s oddly human behaviour is Rebecca Front’s frankly terrifying NHS synth Vera. "You’re not a carer, you’re a jailer" she was told by Dr George Millican (William Hurt), who is continuing to keep his old, wonky synth Odi (Will Tudor) in the shed. Just wait until Vera finds out, there’ll be no living with her. Vera’s inhuman adherence to her programming is a neat little glimpse of a very believable "what if" of the future. What happens when robots think they know what’s best for us?

At least the worst that George got was being strong-armed back to bed in the middle of the night. Over at the robot brothel one unpleasant punter picked the wrong synth to mess with when he demanded that she act "scared and young". "No" said Niska (Emily Berrington) before crushing the chap’s throat. The robots are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. "Everything your men do to us, they want to do to you" she told her very human Madam. Humans, it seems, are reaping what was sown.

What is it then that’s causing the synths to think for themselves, to be aware of themselves, to protect themselves? The answer may well lay inside Fred’s head, or perhaps inside the curiously half-human, half-robot Leo (Colin Morgan). Whatever the case, I sincerely hope the answer is inside Humans. Get talking, Fred.

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