Sunday, 12 July 2015

Humans: Episode 4

"I'm an analogue man in a digital world..."

The usual excellence continues in terms of script, execution and performances, but this time the plot gathers pace. I haven't minded the slow pace of the plot so far- it's been fun exploring this fascinating world and characters- but now it's time for things to pick up pace. And that's what we get.

Our first bombshell is when Pete, our distinctly robophobic sacked detective, gets dumped, cuckolded (symbolically, at least) by a synth called Simon. But soon we turn back to our main family, as Anita seems to show affection towards Toby and Joe wrongly suspects Laura of having an affair. The point is, though, that their relationship is in such a state that he could think such a thing. Laura, meanwhile, gets ever more intrigued about Anita and her increasing signs of sentience ("Anita, do you ever get scared?" "I think everyone does").

A line gets crossed, though, when Joe activates Anita's sex drive and does the deed with her. I suppose there's a debate to be had about whether this was technically sex or masturbation, but there's no doubt that he's cheated on Laura. And it's implicit that he will eventually be found out, especially as Laura wants to take Anita for a diagnostic check and to delve into her past.

A linked ethical dilemma occurs at a party for the youngsters: Mattie behaves, quite rightly, as though having sex with an unconscious synth is rape. Because, if men behave like that to synths, even those without sentience, they will do the same to women. But, of course, the underlying thought (most blatantly shown by the case of the woman objecting to her synth being ejected from a theatrical performance on grounds of his "human" rights) is about the ethics of how we should behave to artificial intelligences. At what point does it stop being a household appliance and start being an enslaved person? The answer, I suppose, lies in the concept of the Singularity.

There's an intriguing meeting between Mattie and Leo, but it isn't long before she rather cleverly gives them the slip. Still, he and Max are clearly getting closer and closer to "Mia". Laura and Joe discover more about her at the diagnostic check, too: far from being new, she's at least fourteen years old. Still, at least Joe's infidelity remains a secret for now.

Things really hot up at the end with the respective plotlines of Leo and Niska. Firstly, Leo meets Geirge Mullican and reveals that he is Leo Elster, the apparently dead son of the mysterious David Elster, who apparently granted sentience to Mia, Max, Niska and Fred.  It seems, also, thT a mysterious program is written into all of them, with all needing to be together for the jigsaw to be complete.

Niska's storyline, though, gets disturbing. Discovering not only prejudice against synths but a secret club for humans to beat synths into a synthetic pulp, she responds by angrily beating up the humans, only to find that the synths she "rescued" are nothing but uncaring machines. Still, this means war between Niska and humanity; her storyline isn't going to end well. We end the episode with her capture by the police seemingly inevitable except that she receives an unexpected phone call. Leo drops his bombshell and, in rather thrilling scenes, she escapes. 

There's one final surprise, though; Katen has accepted Peter into her home for the time being and we're misdirected into thinking that there may be sexual tension between them until the final few seconds and the big reveal: Karen is a synth!!! This is all the more effective for the cleverness of the misdirection.

Humans, at this point, is by far the best thing that's been on telly this year. Utterly superb.

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