Channel 4’s Humans: Freedom Is Slavery

With both seasons, I think this science fiction drama has succeeded in showing the world as realistically as possible, in addition to their accurate representation of human nature. It’s never said whether the world built is a utopia or a dystopia. I believe the creatives have left that up to the audience, and our views on the matter all depend on our perspective. Are we on the side of humanity or the synthetics? Only then will you know whether you believe this show to be representative of a utopian or dystopian state.

Set in an alternate present and exploring the lives of man and machine, season two continues several months after the events of its predecessor. Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones) joins the cast as Dr. Athena Morrow, a leading authority in Artificial Intelligence who is driven by her own ideologies to make a new kind of machine, conscious synthetics. As uncorroborated reports of rogue synths begin to surface, important decisions made in season one begin to take root.

Carrie Anne Moss has joined the cast of Humans
(Humans, Channel 4)

It’s annoying be a human because we must respect our own mortality. One of the best things about the second season is the human children who want to be synthetics, an interesting storyline indeed. Sophie (Pixie Davis)  is now asking for everyday things in her emotionless voice, with the octaves of a synth. This isn’t exclusive to Sophie. Toby’s girlfriend wears a robo-wig with green contact lenses and speaks like a synth, in an effort to become what she dreams of.

While some humans wish to become synths, Humans ends with a big transformation. All synths, in what I see as a dystopian drama, gain consciousness after Mattie (Lucy Carless) punches a few keys on her laptop, like it was something straight out of Mr Robot. By the end of the season, Mia (Gemma Chan), Hester (Sonya Cassidy) and Niska (Emily Berrington) had been killed and reanimated again. Mattie had activated a microchip in their heads, much akin to what Argus do to Task Force X in Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Is it really that easy? Yes it is!

Emily Berrington continues to deliver as Niska
(Humans, Channel 4)

The ending moments of season two set up what I hope to be a potent season three. As the streets fill up wit conscious synthetics quitting their jobs and becoming ‘woke as fuck, the sociopolitical plot thickens. The best thing about this show is how it joins philosophy and morality with politics and law in our looming transhuman future. To me, Humans is more than just another science fiction programme. Like HBO’s Westworld, it’s more social realism/criticism than science fiction. It’s very spooky indeed.

Emily Berrington as Niska continues to impress, as she effortlessly fights like Michael Fassbender’s Callum Lynch/Aguilar from Assassin’s Creed. She’s great fun to watch as this synthetic badass. She’s always angry about the denial of human rights to her and her kindred. Storylines like this really hit home in our world, whether we look back to America’s Civil Rights Movement and South Africa’s Apartheid Regime or if we look at more current things with Europe’s divide and conquer state with the Refugee Crisis. With the inauguration of president-elect Trump on the horizon, season two of Humans really has a place in our society.

Gemma Chan plays Anita/Mia in Channel 4’s Humans
(Humans, Channel 4)

Dr Athena’s arc is one of the most heart wrenching things I’ve ever seen, as she works for Qualia corporation, a company that sells bereaved parents synthetic upgrades of their dead children…what the fricking frick?! Her story ends in turmoil with the synthetic consciousness of her dead daughter talking to the through her computer. By the end, Moss sees that the voice is not her daughter anymore. It has her memories but not her spirit. It’s become a different entity entirely. No parent should have to bury their child but it was time for Moss to let go and come to terms with her grief.

And then we have Karen (Ruth Bradley), who is now lonely after the death of her homosapien boyfriend Pete (Neil Maskell). As she grieves with the emotional range of a thin-lipped, medieval duchess, she comes into contact with an obscure conscious synthetic, a child. This child stops her from committing suicide which would have ended his own loss off life as well. Now she must live her life the best she can as she now has something to live for, a child. Perhaps becoming a parent will change her. Parenthood may become another one of those things that adds more philosophical layers to this series.

Sonya Cassidy plays radical, conscious synthetic Hester in Humans
(Humans, Channel 4)

Yet again, Humans continues to take me by surprise, with its synthetic protagonists showing more humanity than the humans themselves. With excellent performances and stimulating storylines, Humans really keeps the old mental cogs turning in a world where freethinking is considered a thoughtcrime.

Nineteen Eighty-Four meets Westworld