‘Episode 3’ deepens nearly all of the ongoing story lines, even if it lacks a big reveal like last week’s episode.
Let’s bitch it out…
The complicated family dynamic in the Hawkins household continues in ‘Episode 3.’ Last week Anita’s (Gemma Chan) unconventional responses prompted Laura (Katherine Parkinson) to return Anita to the store. We pick up right where we left off, as Toby (Theo Stevenson) rushes off on his bike to prevent his mother from returning his fantasy-bot and, in a startling moment, is nearly struck by a car. Or he would have been if it weren’t for Anita, who casually exits Laura’s car in order to get mowed down by a truck.
The incident rattles the entire family, but buys Anita a reprieve. In one of the most unsettling scenes of the episode, Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) is forced to inspect Anita’s damage by examining her naked body (meanwhile Toby stares on through the window). The first two episodes played up Laura’s feelings of insecurity about her role as a wife and mother and ‘Episode 3’ reveals that she has good reason to be anxious. While Joe is uncomfortable enough to avert his eyes when Anita initially removes her clothes, he still ends up taking in her naked figure and even goes so far as to trail his fingers over the wounds on her shoulder and low back. These are the first real acts of sexual infidelity he’s exhibited, although we’ve been expecting this since he pocketed the “Adults Only” instructions in ‘Episode 1’. Despite the betrayal on the marriage front, however, Laura eeks out a win on the parental front after Anita convinces Sophie (Pixie Davies) to let Laura read the bedtime story (Anita later confesses that she believed Laura was sad). Their talk – and Anita’s reassurance that her pain receivers have not been tampered with – is the first step in a reconciliation between the two adversaries. Laura apologies to Anita, even though her suspicions haven’t been entirely assuaged and will doubtlessly never be fully addressed.
The episode’s biggest development occurs when Mattie (Lucy Carless) tries to hack Anita’s program and accidentally releases Mia (the sentient Synth inside Anita repressed by illegal mods). It’s a quick, blink-and-you-miss-it moment but Chan’s desperate “I’m in here – help me!” is a genuine electric shock to both the audience and Mattie, who is sufficiently unnerved by the encounter. Her uncertainty about what she has uncovered prompts Mattie to plug Anita’s code into a hacker forum that catches the attention of Leo (Colin Morgan) and Max (Ivanno Jeremiah), who have been waiting – and hoping – for just such a development.
It’s a relatively quiet episode for Leo after last week’s big reveal. The pair are laying low trying to find Anita, especially when they hear that Niska (Emily Berrington) committed a murder. When they meet with her at the rendezvous point, she refuses to rejoin them, accusing Leo of imprisoning them and making a compelling claim that he would never have left a human woman in a brothel for her own protection. Still it’s hard to argue that Niska is in the right, especially when you see what she does with her new found freedom: she picks up a guy (Tom Brittney) at the bar and nearly kills him because she believes that he is cheating on his wife or girlfriend. Niska may be able to pass for human in her new clothes and contacts, but her understanding of humans needs some work. If she decides to start executing fatal verdicts on people for their moral flaws, Niska is destined to become a Terminator style serial killer. Needless to say Niska is apt to continue making waves and her ire won’t do anyone any good if word of a killer Synth gets out (as it surely will, despite the police’s efforts to keep it quiet).
- In spite of my hopes that Millican (William Hurt) would be tied into the other story lines, he remains stubbornly isolated. Outraged at Vera’s (Rebecca Front) totalitarian control, George and Odi (Will Tudor) escape for a nostalgic ride in the woods which (naturally) ends disastrously when Odi crashes the car. George is forced to abandon him in the woods where he remains at episode’s end, a mildly pathetic bot lost without his parents.
- Hobb’s (Danny Webb) arrival at the brothel crime scene stirs up DS Drummond (Neil Maskell) who takes out his aggravation on a nosy reporter. The incident costs him the investigation, which he will undoubtedly find a way to blame on Synths (as he seemingly already does on Jill’s therapy Synth).
- Hobbs’ attempt to interview Fred (Sope Dirisu) isn’t very successful. I enjoyed the use of the monitors behind Fred to represent what is going on in his head – it is a simple visual method of reminding us about the recurring image of Mia in the lake. When the image shifts to Hobbs, we know that the interview is over.
- Side bar: Leo’s dream involves being locked in a submerged car and the water imagery looks suspiciously the same as Mia and Fred’s. Are these experiences connected?
- Is it just me or is DI Voss (Ruth Bradley) acting more robotic than usual? In last week’s review, I wondered if there was more to her neck scar and several other reviewers have already wondered if she’s secretly a robot. As we know the sentient Synths can be fairly convincing when they want to be, so is it possible that Voss is working for the rebels on the inside?
- Anita’s test to reassure Laura she cannot feel pain is a toothpick in the eye. Oof, that is rough to watch. I have real trouble with occular trauma, even if the final result is very obviously CGI
- Finally: as predicted, not all is well in Laura and Joe’s relationship. Anita discovers a scrapbook/photobook with an inscription tying Laura to another man. At the mention of his name, Laura freaks out, grabbing Anita by the shoulders and demanding she never speak of it again. Naturally Joe is listening nearby, so this should raise some interesting conflict in their already fractured marriage.
Your turn: did you expect Anita to save Toby in such a drastic measure? Did Joe’s examination of Anita in the garage creep you out? Were you shocked when Mia emerged during Mattie’s hack? Is Voss a Synth? Are Leo’s dreams connected to Fred and Mia? And what will Niska do next? Sound off below.
Humans airs Sundays at 9pm EST on AMC