Created by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, and based on the Swedish sci-fi drama Real Humans, the first series of Humans kept its narrative tightly around the secretive nature of a growing consciousness within its ‘synths’, a human-built android system that designed to look like us but is, in truth, a technologic slave to our whims and needs. Think Siri or Amazon Echo but ones that look like attractive men and women who are physically part of our everyday lives to either do the jobs we don’t want to, or help those who need extra care in their day-to-day life.
Humans 2.0 picks up shortly after the Hawkins family have discovered the truth regarding the Synths self-awareness and has helped them escape from investigators, with the belief they’ll head off and find a life of their own. While this idea is a positive, hopeful one, things obviously won’t go exactly as anyone had planned and consequentially the second outing becomes even better than the first with mingling, merging edges of reality and artificial intelligence throughout.
While the slower paced elements of series 1 worked perfectly and taught us so much more about how they felt and if there was something hidden beneath, Humans 2.0 raises questions, and very interesting ones, that reflect modern society in terms of how we treat each other and what it means to be human. There’s also more at stake right across the spectrums because while more synths become conscious, the Hawkins are also still struggling with various family elements and knock-on affects from what happened beforehand.
Initially in Humans 2.0, Niska has discovered she can put a ‘virus’ out into the Synth world which might just give all of them human-like consciousness and therefore the ability to make choices. The only problem with this, perfectly understandable, desire is that the synths are young in mind, so they may have the idea of what’s right and wrong but do they really know what it all means or, worse, do they comprehend the consequences of their new-found actions? Over an amazing eight episodes the story builds twists and turns but also keeps you focused and intrigued by what’s coming next.
There is one thing that doesn’t change though and it’s the exemplary performances from everyone involved but especially the actors playing the synthetics. One of the stand-out stars is Gemma Chan, who plays Mia, who is coming to realise she can find her own life but is struggling to find her place in the divide between telling the truth and hiding behind the ‘robotic’ synth persona. The other superstar is Emily Berrington’s Niska who previously became more self-aware and independent than any of them. She’s now off in Berlin, trying to find out who she is and finds more than she planned for on her travels. Will Tudor’s Odi moves on from being the helpful, friendly synth he wanted to be in the first place and gives a moving, honest performance as he humbly misses the simple choices he used to make, it asks the audience whether more complicated feelings are really what everyone wants and brings an interesting twist in thoughts on religion.
In fact, a rollcall of brilliance is due because it’s be unfair not to mention as many as possible which includes Colin Morgan’s vital Leo in a lead role, Carrie-Anne Moss giving a sterling performance as Scientist Athena Morrow, Neil Maskell as Pete and Ruth Bradley as Karen changing their relationship in a wonderful way, new and brutal Hester (Sonya Cassidy) plus the Hawkins family of Toby (Theo Stevenson), Sophie (Pixie Davies), Mattie (Lucy Carless) with Tom Goodman-Hill’s Joe being prominent alongside Katherine Parkinson’s exceptional performance as Laura, it’s an amazing ensemble cast.
All in all the questions presented to us in Humans 2.0 are perfect for the era and bring about a really fascinating and exciting second season. The thoughts of what’s real and even how we treat machinery and A.I. possibilities seem just around the corner, especially when we consider the way we’re teaching things like Amazon Echo to learn our every want or need. Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley have excelled with a whole new narrative that builds to an intense, revealing finale that moves on enormously from the early stages and takes it to another level of cleverness, queries and relatability. Quite superb.
Humans 2.0 will be released on DVD on 16 January 2017, courtesy of Spirit Entertainment. Win a copy here!