RECAP: Humans – Season 1 Episode 1

Do synths dream of electric sheep?

It all starts with a nice suburban family: The Hawkins. Mom, dad, cute little girl and two teens. However, The Hawkins are far from perfect. LAURA, the mom, is going through some sort of existential crisis and has turned into an absent mom. This leaves her husband, Joe, in charge of the household, which isn’t easy when you have three kids and a job. JOE comes up with a solution: getting a “Synth”, a humanoid robot that can perform any task humans want to avoid [so, basically, everything from driving to brain surgery].

While Laura is still away on “business”, Joe goes shopping for a “synth”, which apparently isn’t any more complicated than buying a blender. The new synthetic is a beautiful “girl” they name ANITA. Laura isn’t too thrilled because she thinks Joe is trying to replace her, but that’s not the only issue with Synth Anita [and no, I am not talking about the teenage son having the hots for her]. Synths are not supposed to be sentient. They don’t have thoughts, emotions or awareness. Yet, Anita seems… different. She makes questions and likes to stare at the moon [that will be significant, I am sure]. Laura starts noticing that Anita doesn’t act like a hollow machine. Is she broken? Or is she something ‘else’?

So we have a sympathetic family and a beautiful machine that may be more “human” than we think; but we haven’t gotten to the interesting part, yet. Let’s rewind FIVE WEEKS when Merlin… Er… I mean Leo… oh who am I kidding? I am going to call him MERLIN.

So… five weeks ago, Merlin was on a [forced] camping trip with his plastic synth band. Four friendly looking synths, among them Anita… whose real name is MIA… who also happens to be Merlin’s girlfriend. It’s clear from this flashback that these four synths have free will and a conscience.

Any cell phone user could instantly tell you the big drawback of modern devices: BATTERY LIFE. So taking your synths out camping may not be such a good idea. Anita, Niska and Fred retreat to charge with a portable generator, while Merlin and fully-charged-Max go find wood or something. That’s when all hell breaks loose and the battery-dead synths get kidnapped. Merlin tries to stop the kidnappers; but, unfortunately, realizes that he has no magic powers on this show and fails to rescue his friends.

LEO (or Merlin, as I like to call him)
Later we find out that FRED was bought by some sort of food conglomerate and forced to spend his days peach picking. That sounds really bad, but you know what’s worse than being a farmer slave? Getting turned into a sex slave! Which is what happened to poor Niska. At least those two were able to make contact with their friends. Anita, on the other hand, is unaccounted for, so Merlin is running around the city trying to figure out what happened to her. He is convinced that he will find her because “he loves her and she loves him”. Aw… and yes, I am totally shipping MERLIN and the ROBOT after they had a two second scene together.  

We also learn that Merlin and the special synths are being hunted and they live in fear of others discovering what they “really are”: machines who were “meant to feel” as Niska explains. This special batch of synths was created by someone called DAVID ELSTER. We don’t know what happened to him, but there are people who want to find and eliminate any machine who dares to be “human”. The first casualty, might be FRED who gets re-kidnapped and taken to a lab for experimentation.

Somewhere else in town, we have another human/synth heart-breaking story. WILLIAM HURT is a senior citizen with a “service synth”. The government keeps pushing him to discard his old synth and get a new and improved model [a Gestapo Nanny]. William Hurt refuses and soon we find out why. His old synth is broken, old and dysfunctional, but William Hurt thinks of him as a “son”. Having lost his wife a while ago, ODI-THE-SYNTH is everything William Hurt has. So instead of the robot serving the old man, the old man takes care of the disabled synth. And yes, it is incredibly SAD and touching.

Also in the mix, a D.S. PETE DRUMMOND [AKA Neil Maskell from Utopia!] specializing in “synth related crimes”. I am guessing he is going to become the “unexpected ally”. He seems like a nice fellow. Or maybe he’ll end up being a serial killer. We know he has it inhim.

I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot of Humans. There wasn’t a lot of plot development per se, but they did an amazing job introducing the characters and setting up this fascinating world. There were a lot of interesting themes and I feel this show goes beyond the “robots against humans” concept and tries to answer the fundamental posthuman fiction question: “What does it really mean to be human”?

Looking forward to the next ep! 
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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1. The name is LEO not Merlin, that is another show. -___-

    1. I can't tell if the person above is being serious and didn't get the joke... I am pretty sure the recapper KNOWS this is another show haha... And yes, Leo is a new character, we love him he is great... but I think everybody will fondly think of Colin as Merlin forever... It's not meant to diminish what he is doing on this show... Anyway... we might be taking this too seriously

    2. Just to clarify, I am indeed aware that this show is not Merlin... I thought I should mention it... but thanks for the concern. hehe

      Giving characters nicknames and making references to other TV shows is just a thing I do... not meant to imply that the character played on this show is not important...

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