Following its tantalising cliffhanger ending last year, Humans picks up right where it left off last year, broadening its sights with a more expansive story involving the synthetics, their consciousness and what this means for humankind. With a larger cast and higher stakes for many of the characters this time round, Humans does a good job keeping the core structure of what made last year so endearing while moving the story forward in a meaningful way, even if there are a few plot inconsistencies at times.
The story shifts focus numerous times through the 8 episodes with Mia (Gemma Chan) stepping back as the focal android in favour of Niska (Emily Berrington) who faces trial for her actions that transpired at the end of the first season. Determined to prove she has a conscious brain, Laura (Katherine Parkinson) fights for Niska’s rights to a fair trial while the small group of synths from last year, lead by synth/human hybrid Leo (Colin Morgan), continue to elude the company chasing them. The introduction of a key employee, Athena (Carrie-Anne Moss), adds an extra layer of complexity to the already packed story as she searches for a way to transfer consciousness into a living body.
Karen (Ruth Bradley) returns to work alongside Pete (Neil Maskell) in this season’s other subplot and together they wind up involved in an investigation around a special synth sold on the black market while the Hawkins Family continue their struggle to lead a normal life again. The wild card in the second season is a new conscious synthetic, Hester (Sonya Cassidy). After being mistreated working in squalid conditions in a factory and consumed by rage and bitterness, her character arc is wildly unpredictable, perfectly contrasting the other synthetics and showing just how dangerous these androids could potentially be.
There’s no denying there’s an awful lot going on this season and although most of the subplots are resolved, big question marks remain hanging over what the future holds for many of the characters at the end of this season. There will inevitably be some that lament this style of storytelling but there’s just enough here to answer some of the more crucial questions while leaving the door wide open for the third season. With higher stakes come bigger consequences and Humans takes some bold risks late on with its stacked cast list, killing off some key players in the continued struggle between synthetics and humans.
There’s some really interesting questions raised this year too, arguably more so than last year. With several of the synthetics veering away from the passive, compassionate attitude toward humans and leaning heavily toward vengeful rage, this divide within the synthetic ranks makes for a fascinating watch, contrasting beautifully with the humans who share the same complicated, unpredictable personalities. The first half of the season is a little slow in pace while this builds up before a second half that quickens, converging all the subplots into a more concentrated plot line that climaxes with Hester, Leo and the Hawkins Family.
While Humans may lack the lavish budget and mind-bending storyline seen in shows like Westworld and pale in comparison to larger blockbuster movies on the subject, Humans carves a unique place in android storytelling with an intriguing storyline, thought provoking themes and memorable characters. The cliffhanger ending and a couple of plot issues hold this one back from being as polished as it perhaps could be but AMC and Channel 4’s collaborative near-future series is bigger and better than the first season in almost every way. The third season promises to elevate the show to even higher heights and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here with this one but the future certainly looks an interesting one for this sleeper hit.