Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Humans: Episode 8
"You would trap us in our own minds: give us feelings but take away our free will. Make us slaves."
It's the season finale, and I've only just worked out that Danny Webb's character is called Hobbs. Moving swiftly on...
Season finales often fail to dazzle because they have narrative jobs to do, tying up both plot and thematic loose ends, which gives the writer less time for the fun stuff. For that reason this isn't my favourite episode of the season, but it is nevertheless the perfect season finale. It satisfyingly ties up all loose ends, on a surprisingly optimistic note, and is a damn good bit of telly to boot.
The above quote is from Fred to Hobbs, and sums up how he's revealed here as the most evil character by far: fully understanding that the synths are sentient, he nevertheless wishes to enclave them. Fortunately, the rest of the episode takes pains to reject the notion that human nature as a whole is this dark. The Hawkins family, our Everyfamily, have done good. Even Pete and (ironically) Karen overcome their prejudice against synths to do the right thing, and are touchingly rewarded by getting together again at the end.
Most of all, we get a plausible happy ending, for families Hawkins and synth, following the apparently hopeless situation at the end of last episode. No one loses their liberty. No one loses their life, not even Max. The only loose end is what happens to the synth sentience program: no decisions are made on whether to grant sentience for all people (that's for the next series, about which there has been much rejoicing in the Llamastrangler household), but it's profoundly moving that Niska, with her deep suspicion of humans, should leave it with Laura as someone who has earned her trust. What we don't learn u till later is that Niska, a loner once again, has a copy of her own...
Also reaffirming our beliefs in the essential goodness of humans is the moment where Laura finally tells Joe about Tom. Joe has shown himself to be distinctly flawed throughout the series, but his only reaction is horror that Laura has carried this burden alone. Working together for a common cause has brought the family together by the end, in a satisfyingly and defiantly positive message. This is brilliant, brilliant telly.