As Humans moved into the back end of series two this week, it was important that the positive momentum of last week was maintained. With only three episodes remaining after this one (I say only, despite how much tends to change across one single episode of the show…), the series couldn’t really afford to slip up. And, for the most part, it didn’t.
We’ll start though, with the one place where it did: Mia’s storyline with Ed. Again. With last week’s ending taking them in a totally new, and irritating direction, this week showed just how much of a waste that direction was. Not only that, but it was the exact same type of wrong that was predicted in last week’s review. Ed trying to sell Mia? Check. Doing so because he values his mother’s care over Mia? Check. The buyer being Qualia? Check. The only deviation was in Qualia rejecting her, because she reverted to being Anita.
The issue isn’t in the plot being predictable, or at least that’s not the whole issue. The problem is that, as predicted, this plot trades the development of a main character, for that of a character who is last seen running off with no obvious way back onto the show, bar a characterisation retcon where he comes back and rescues Mia. And it did so in an even worse manner than I predicted, because instead of all of this leading her to Athena and the Silo, where Athena would finally have one of Elster’s ‘children’, it’s just apparently brought Mia back to being plain old Anita. So now either that’s how she spends the rest of the series, slowly working back to her status quo, or the show dabbles in a spot of deus ex machina and suddenly it’s as if it never happened. There is no obvious positive development now.Once more, though, the rest of the show was good enough to cover. The episode benefitted from a slightly narrower focus than in previous weeks, giving one or two extra scenes to a couple of characters.
The chief beneficiary of this was Toby. Or perhaps, more accurately, Renie. Though their scenes are entirely shared, and he’s part of the main cast, it did feel more this week like the focus was on her, showcasing the continued length of his ineptitude. She alluded to the reasoning behind her being a Synthie – to shut out her family issues as best she can – before moving in for a kiss (after he ‘activated her 18+ settings’), only for Toby to be Toby and totally misread the situation.
Luckily, this kind of worked in parallel with the flourishing relationship between Hester and Leo. Where one didn’t get the memo, the other did, and in doing so added yet another facet to Hester’s intriguing characterisation.
Her shift to being slightly more nuanced and emotive this week did seem a tad abrupt, but perhaps that makes perfect sense for a character still finding their way in the world. And it’s good to see that her malicious side hasn’t been thrown out, given the ‘non-permanent’ drowning that befell the Qualia tail. Her and Leo seem to make a worryingly good team (worrying because they both have curious views on morality and justice), with little thought spared for Max, who for his part seems to be settling into his lone wolf routine well.Finally, returning to what has been the central plotline of the series, Niska finally got her trial. Or at least, she finally got her pre-trial to determine whether she can go to trial, after previous trials to establish a basis for this pre-trial. Following me? It wasn’t that convoluted on screen, but you just wish they had set some of this out in the first place, rather than seemingly making it up on the go.
In any case, the pre-trial was cut rather short, as Niska, perhaps wisely, absconded before things went really wrong for her. Her sentiment that this wasn’t her opportunity, ‘but theirs’ was true; it’s not like she was ever going to win her rights against an opposition with a blatant agenda to deny her such rights, but then, as I said, was it ever going to have been different? She surely knew that when she turned up on the Hawkins’ doorstep, setting these events in motion, yet she got herself in the mess anyway. You could argue she was ‘hoping for the best’, but come on, this is Niska. She’s probably the most rationally motivated character on the show. Still, now she’s on the run properly, her world is about to get rather dangerous once more.