Picking up a year after “Day Zero” where the synthetics gained consciousness during the shocking conclusion to Season 2, Humans begins in a changed world and with it, a growing tension within the synthetic ranks. For the most part the third season follows a pretty familiar format to last year, with each of the key characters in the show involved in their own subplots before entwining together for the climax that once again ends on an intriguing note, ready for a fourth season which, at the time of writing this, still hasn’t been confirmed.
The third season sees the majority of synths in hiding; vilified and shunned by the humans for their newfound humanity. Max (Ivanno Jeremiah) struggles to control the segregated community of synths he’s taken under his wing as a few rebels begin undermining his role as leader. All of this is exacerbated by the government launching a new line of synthetics dubbed “Orange Eyes” in a bid to return to normality before the green-eyed synths became conscious. It’s an interesting concept for sure and certainly makes things more difficult for the now-conscious synthetics although as the season progresses, questions around whether these Orange Eyed androids truly are synthetic or not raises some pretty interesting questions throughout.
Laura (Katherine Parkinson) continues her crusade for synthetic rights in the wake of increasingly violent acts that threaten to break the fragile peace between synths and humans. All of this culminates in her granted a place on the council and begrudgingly accepting a mandatory orange eyed synthetic called Stanley (Dino Fetscher) for protection. As she joins forces with Mia (Gemma Chan) in a bid to change people’s perceptions on the synths, some pretty crazy plot developments late on see Britain on the verge of civil war as the synths and humans make their respective moves in a bid to get what they want.
While these story lines are the main focus this year, we catch up with Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) in the synth-free community he discovered in season 2, running his own greengrocers only to find familiar face Karen (Ruth Bradley) trying to blend in with Sam (Billy Jenkins), hiding from those who would kill them both. Still reeling over her choice last year, Mattie (Lucy Carless) becomes involved with Leo (Colin Morgan) and although her presence is never really felt until late on, she plays a crucial and slightly clichéd role here, with the tease of becoming a central character going forward if the show is to have a future. All of this is made clearer through Niska (Emily Berrington) who goes on quite the journey in these 8 episodes, searching for those responsible for hurting those closest to her early in the season.
There’s some really good characterisation this year and in many ways, Season 3 ups the stakes again, proving it’s a show willing to take risks with its big players. Without giving too much away, there’s more than one casualty and the finale in particular features one of the biggest shocks Humans has conjured since beginning way back in 2015.
We mentioned it in our review for Season 2 but what’s really impressive with Humans is just how this show manages to continue improving and impressing despite its relatively small budget and size. Most of the big, world-changing developments occur through news stories on TVs with the opening 5 minutes doing an excellent job getting us up to scratch on how different the world is now compared to how we left it during last year’s finale. That’s not to say the season is devoid of action, there’s a fair amount of chaos in the form of explosions, fights and brawls but most of this feels very condensed and on a much smaller scale than some may be accustomed to, which is understandable given the budget of the show.
What the show lacks in budget it more than makes up for with compelling characters and a well written story and those familiar with the show’s set up by now will love the intense focus on the human/synth rivalry with the tension rising to suffocating levels at points before the shocking climax. If there’s one blemish on this otherwise decent season, Humans falls into clichéd territory late on with its plot twist that could prove the answer to unifying the synthetic and human races but we’ll reserve judgement here before seeing where Humans goes with this plot if it is to be renewed.
Throughout the 8 episodes, Humans manages to deliver a tense, believable rivalry between synthetics and humans much more effectively than it ever has before. Last year suffered a little from a few plot inconsistencies and a storyline that felt largely unfinished and although this season finishes on another cliffhanger, the storyline feels tighter, more cohesive and a lot more tense as the body count begins to stack up. Some of this is thanks to the focus which is kept squarely on the synth VS human storyline which spills over into every other character’s individual story. A slightly clichéd development late on and the way the season ends does detract a little from the overall appeal of the show but if you’re looking for a straight forward robot VS human storyline, you really can’t go wrong with Humans that continues to improve and impress as the seasons go by.