TV Review: Humans Series 2 Episode 1

“I don’t deem your remark pertinent”

I came late to Series 1 of Channel 4 drama Humans but I’m making no such mistake this time round. And perhaps conscious of the show’s enormous critical and commercial success, creators Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley have considerably upped the ante on this second series, spreading the reach of the story from the UK to the US, Berlin to Bolivia. And though its scale may be becoming increasingly epic, the writing has thankfully maintained its startling intimacy in its explorations of what it means to be human.

To catch you up, the show centres on the invention, and subsequent evolution, of anthropomorphic robots called synths, designed to serve humans but a certain number of whom have become ‘conscious’. This second series sees that group on the run from the authorities, dealing with the ramifications of Niska’s decision – made early on here – to grant that same life to other synths, uploading code that is gradually deactivating their conditioning worldwide.

Thus much of this episode is taken up with feelings, and how to process them, whether same-sex attraction in Berlin, the prospect of naming oneself “I’m oddly attracted to the word ‘radiator’, although I understand this is not considered a name”, being lonely, being horny, or being subject to society’s justice system. Emily Berrington’s Niska and Gemma Chan’s Mia both deliver exceptional performances once again and as they’re the ones pushing at the interspecies boundaries, I suspect there’s more great work to come from them both.

It’s a delight to see Katherine Parkinson and Tom Goodman-Hill on our screens again (less so their children…) and their scene with Josie Lawrence’s synth therapist was a comic delight. And over in San Francisco, the introduction of Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix’s Trinity no less) as a scientist of an intriguing bent and Marshall Allman (Prison Break’s LJ) as an investor of murkier motivation look set to move on the story in their own fascinating manner – how and if all these strands come together over the next seven episodes will, on this evidence, be thrilling to discover.

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