‘Humans’ Season 2 Episode 3 review: There’s not one weak link in this cast

Here’s a cool new word I learned this week – so cool in fact that my spell-check refuses to acknowledge it exists: apophenia.

It’s the tendency to see patterns in seemingly random data.

And maybe I’m suffering from apophenia, but it feels like every week Humans is examining consciousness from different angles.

Season 2’s opener was about the burden of choice that free will brings. Last week it was about intelligence. This week it’s emotion, and the ability (or inability) to express it.

Niska’s not so good at it. ‘Show them how you feel. That you can feel. Everything depends on that’, Laura tells her, as the Synth fails to respond to what looks like a Voight-Kampff test put together by the producers of The One Show.

You can’t tell me that that’s not Gyles Brandreth’s finger poking into the mouth of that snake. You have no proof. And barring a brief audio-inspired flashback that reminds her of Astrid and heady nights of electronic disco in Berlin, Niska is as unmoved by it as you or I would be watching an episode of The One Show. Or a snake eating Gyles Brandreth.

If they wanted to get an emotional reaction from her then they should’ve made her watch Nadiya winning the Bake Off finale last year, or that episode of Poldark that got everyone in a tizz.

Humans 2 3 Niska (Emily Berrington)

It’s only when Laura begins to ask her about why she killed that pervert customer way back in Season 1 Episode 1 that she begins to demonstrate the slightest emotion, and even then it’s expressed through a vice. Emily Berrington is at her finest as she delivers the line ‘My whole life was being scared, being hurt, being angry. Sometimes things become too much for anyone, don’t they?’

Niska may be having trouble articulating how she feels but Mia is overflowing with emotion. She fancies Ed (Sam Palladio), the handsome owner of the ‘Ever-Empty Cafe’ (the last customer was a tumbleweed that blew in and knocked over a cup of coffee), presumably because he’s hot and not because of his paltry business acumen.

‘I like you more than anything I’ve ever heard or seen or touched,’ she tells him, in the best romantic beach scene since the Tenth Doctor said farewell to Rose Tyler. And blimey it’s beautifully shot.

Well, all of Humans is. And it’s made beautiful because it’s clever, with both a subtle use of colour palette (particularly the use of blue throughout), and symmetry (take a look at how carefully that pylon is placed in the background when Karen and Pete visit Martin). It’s a show with a machine’s attention to detail and a human’s eye for beauty. Which, alright, makes it sound like director Carl Tibbetts is a cyborg, but the point stands.

Humans 2 Leo (Colin Morgan)

Speaking of cyborgs, Leo’s not best pleased that Mia wants to go live her own life, which means that Colin Morgan gets to do more of that brilliant thing where he puts a tremble in the back of his voice, so that even when Leo’s absolutely certain about what the right thing to do is he sounds so vulnerable and huggable. Leo’s not had a great deal of screen time so far this season, but Morgan makes every second of it count.

Not much Leo then, but a great deal on Dr. Morrow this week, as the show elegantly lets us access some of the backstory database and get clued in on why she is the way she is, what she’s doing, and why Carrie-Anne Moss is doing it so wonderfully. Her daughter’s been in a coma for three years after – I’m guessing – falling off a waterfall. Here’s where I may reveal myself as an idiot: is V her daughter’s brain patterns saved on a hard drive, or merely a computational simulacrum of it?

Whichever it is, it’s fascinating. But she’s incomplete and Morrow needs help. Off to Blighty it is then to see Hobb (Danny Webb) and gain information in exchange for a vineyard. With Hobb’s reintroduction and Morrow going to work at the UK branch of Qualia (right next to the dreaded ‘Silo’) you can start to see the individual plot strands beginning to knit together, like all those metal bits over Annie Ross’s face when she gets turned into a robot in Superman III, except a lot less horrifying.

Humans 2 3 Hobb (Danny Webb) and Dr Athena Morrow (Carrie-Anne Moss)

Banishing any thoughts I just put into your head of terrifying robot women who look like Borg-Cher, what greater joy can there be at seeing Odi up and working and staring at Joe’s naked ass in the shower?

Well, maybe not that last part, but it’s great to see him up and running (or staggering) on the Elster code. Will Tudor absolutely nails the physicality and wonder of the broken old robot.

It’s an excellent performance in a show full of them. There’s not one weak link in this cast, which given its size is impressive. It’s another excellent episode of Humans, and another five stars this week, just like it was five stars last week, and five stars the week before.

Maybe it’s the apophenia kicking in again, but I’m starting to see a pattern for this whole season emerging. Keep it up, Humans.

5star

Aired at 9pm on Sunday 13 November 2016 on Channel 4.

Buy Season 1 on DVD on Amazon here.

Pre-order Season 2 on DVD on Amazon here.

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