AMC’s ‘Humans’ episode 1 review


By Josh Kaye

2015 has been a busy year for artificial intelligence. With Chappie, the surprise hit Ex Machina, and the blockbuster AvengersAge of Ultron, the topic is basically everywhere. Why is this all of a sudden so popular? We’ve seen films and shows cover the topic before but they were never within such a close timespan. But now? Now artificial intelligence is close to being a reality and with the advancements we’re seeing in technology we could very well live to see our robotic overlords take over the world.

Which brings us to Humans. Based off the Swedish show Real Humans, showrunners Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley show us a parallel present where the technology for artificial intelligence isn’t just in the works, but it’s existed for several years now. These machines are called Synths. They’re highly developed, they’ve been given artificial intelligence, and they’re primary use? Well, they’re basically servants. They do the jobs that may be too mundane, too graphic, or just the jobs that people don’t want to do anymore. But not every Synth is created equally…

Joe Hawkins (Tom Goodman-Hill) attempts to take care of his home and his three children while his wife, Laura (Katherine Parkinson) is working on a case. He reaches a point where he’s had enough and heads out shopping, bringing his youngest daughter Sophie along with him to pick up a special new household item: a Synth. Unwrapped from her bag cocoon comes out a gorgeous, slightly unsettling Synth (played remarkable by Gemma Chan). Joe takes a liking to her right from the start and trusts her enough to drive him home. Laura finally makes her way home to discover the house is cleaner than it’s ever been…and finds herself introduced to the new guest, who is now called Anita.

Laura and Joe get into it a bit, as Joe went on and impulsive bought the Synth since Laura was gone for five days due to work and he couldn’t handle the household work anymore. Laura isn’t crazy about the idea of having a Synth around the house, but right away things are beginning to look nicer around the house. Anita even cooked a hearty breakfast for the whole family, where she sits and joins the family. Joe, trying to be clever, says “If I’d known you’d be joining us for breakfast, I’d have ordered some microchips.” And Anita laughs…and laughs…and laughs…until she has to be told to stop. For all the good Synth’s may provide, they’re still very unsettling.

Flashback to five weeks earlier — Leo (Colin Morgan) and several other Synth’s are in the woods together: Anita, Niska, Fred, Max. All appear to be self-conscious and they all appear to be…special in comparison to other Synth’s. Like they have full control over their actions, they’re able to do as they please and they’re able to hide that they have free thoughts from the others. It also appears that Leo and Anita have a special, romantic relationship together. But while Leo and Max split up from Anita, Niska, and Fred, the three are knocked out and kidnapped. And now Leo finds himself attempting to bring the gang back together. Fred is working with plants and Niska is working in a Synth-brothel. Unfortunately, Fred is discovered to be special by a mysterious man who captures Fred and takes him away.

Dr. George Millican (William Hurt) looks at his Synth Odi (Will Tudor) like a surrogate son…he’s had him for six years which is very much longer than recommended. Odi doesn’t just help George around the house with certain activities, but Odi helps George remember things from his past. Odi helps George remember his deceased wife and the memories they share together. When George’s case worker tries to recycle Odi for a newer model of Synth, George is able to delay the process by hiding Odi away so the caseworker is unable to find him. Odi seems to be George’s last connection to his life…and it’s not something that he wants to let go of. Even after an incident at the grocery store where Odi malfunctions and accidentally hits an employee.

Laura tucks Sophie to sleep — only for Anita to walk into the room. Anita watches Sophie, sees the rain on the window and it appears something triggers her — a flashback of what looks to be a car underwater. Anita picks Sophie up out of bed and strolls outside along the street with Sophie in her arms.

There’s obviously something special about Anita, Max, Fred, and Niska. They can think and they seem to have free range of their emotions…but why is this? What makes them the special chosen few? As for Anita, what triggered her to go on and take Sophie out of bed? Why did the rain bring about these sort of flashbacks? Could the Synth program be something sort of similar to Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, where a person could volunteer so they can forget the things of their past? Was Anita once human and did she have her own daughter that she lost? As for George and Odi…could Odi have possibly actually been George’s son? There are a lot of questions that could be brought up in Humans, and I suspect there will be more questions before we get answers. For now, Humans is a thought-provoking, eerie show that could definitely one day be a reality…and that’s horrifying. Look out as this could be the surprise hit of the summer.

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