The game of lost and found continues in episode 3, as Leo and the conscious synths continue their complicated lives together and apart, the Hawkins family searches for answers to the mysteries surrounding Anita, and George and Odi become separated on an outing. The death at the brothel is officially ruled an accident, sending Pete into an anti-synth tirade.
Hobb wakes Fred up. Fred refuses to speak during the entire scene, but he does subtly try to break the straps binding his wrists to the lab chair he’s in. Hobb says that he’ll do all of the talking for now, and spills everything he’s figured out about the conscious synths.
He believes there are five synths. One of them is the female the lab isolated from Fred’s memory of swimming (holds up a picture of Anita/Mia). Hobb thinks they were made by David Elster, who kept them a secret. When Elster died, they ran away and hid, but then they got separated, allowing him to capture Fred. Fred turns his head all the way to the right. The lab tech says that he’s hiding his thoughts from them. The screens that have been showing his memories go dark, then show only Hobb.
Hobb says he doesn’t want to hurt the other synths, but he does need to find them. That would be more believable if Fred were being treated with respect. Most of the time he doesn’t even have clothes and is shut off.
Hobb turns Fred off. He asks about what was in the backpacks they found in the junkyard. The tech tells him they found survival gear, food and water. She wonders why synths would need that stuff. Hobb gets a look on his face. He’s probably internally pounding his head against a wall in frustration.
Joe and Toby come home from a bike ride to find Mattie holding a crying Sophie. They explain that Laura has taken Anita back to the store. Toby jumps back on his bike and rides off to try to stop them. When he gets close to the family car, he forgets to watch for traffic and rides in front of a van. Anita notices what’s about to happen and jumps out of the car and in front of the van. She gets hit instead of Toby, probably saving his life.
Laura gets out of the car to make sure Toby’s okay, crying and yelling at him for almost getting killed. After a minute, they check on Anita, who lying on the sidewalk all askew, with her usual placid facial expression.
Leo and Max break into an abandoned bar to use as a squat. Leo finds a bottle of vodka and drinks to dull the pain until Max takes the bottle away. Is there some kind of history there?
Leo says that they need to lie low for a while, since they were almost caught at the junkyard. Max thinks they should be out there, still looking for Mia and Fred. Leo says they’ll look online, setting up searches for Mia’s root code. Max notes that it’s unlikely that someone will break into Mia’s head and upload her code. Max has forgotten that they’re on a TV show.
The radio they’re listening to plays a news report about the road in front of Niska’s brothel closing because of a crime. Worried that she’s involved, they go to check it out.
Karen and Pete have been assigned to the case. The madam shows them a photo of Niska. Karen finds some gray hairs on the door frame from the victim’s head.
Niska recharges in a mall then buys colored contacts and a new outfit. Once she changes and puts in the contacts, she passes for human.
By the time Joe and the girls get to the scene of the car accident, Anita is sitting up and looks better. She tells Sophie that she hasn’t suffered any major damage. Everyone is upset with Laura for yelling at Toby, but that was a fairly normal reaction, in my experience (not admirable, but normal). They’re also all weird about her trying to return Anita, who does exhibit some unusual behavior. Laura tries to explain her reasoning to Joe, but he cuts her off, saying they’ll talk about it at home. He gives Anita and the kids a ride home while Laura walks Toby’s bike.
Vera gives George his meds and suggests swimming for his daily exercise. He counters with a suggestion that they move his bedroom from the upstairs to the ground floor. He shows her the room he’s considering, then locks her in while she’s looking at the window.
George rushes out to the shed to get Odi. They get in the car, with Odi driving. Vera has realized what’s happening and torn the doorknob off the bedroom door to get out of the room. She comes outside and tells George that his actions are highly unsafe, just as he and Odi are driving away. I have to agree with her there. Those two have too many memory issues to be alone in a car. If they could tweak Vera’s programming a bit, she could make an excellent getaway driver. Nerves of steel and creative in a crisis, that one. Totally ready to be a mob goon.
Anita tells Joe that she can repair her damaged exterior herself using the promotional Magic Skin Repair and Graft Pack they received with her purchase. However, for insurance purposes, her primary user needs to do a full exterior examination of her. Joe takes her out into the garage, to make it seem as much like a sordid porn video as possible.
Once there, Anita removes her clothes and Joe visually inspects her. He chants “It’s not real, it’s not real.,” while he looks. Anita looks at him and says, “I’m not real.” Joe is clearly worked up from looking at a facsimile of a naked woman. Toby listens outside the door. When Joe is done with his inspection, Anita repairs the damage to the skin on her shoulder and hip.
The chief of police visits the murder scene. Hobb is waiting outside. Karen reports what they know so far: The brothel bought Niska from some junkers a few weeks ago. Niska crushed the victim’s throat, then held a knife to the madam, while acting angry, just like a human. She cut the anti-theft chip out of her neck and left. The chief asks if a mod could explain this crime. Karen says no mod they’ve seen before would cause this. The Asimov blocks would have to be bypassed for it to kill.
Pete says murder by a synth has been coming, they all know that. The chief ignores him and says it was an accident involving an illegally modded synth. A sex game gone wrong. That’s not too far from the truth, actually. He wants them to find the “dolly” and handle it with the discretion appropriate to such a tragic accident. Karen asks where this is coming from. The chief tells her that Hobb is a synth expert with top government connections. They need to cooperate with him.
Pete storms out of the brothel to confront Hobb, accusing him of working for the manufacturers and creating a cover up. Hobb replies that it’s an isolated incident and they wouldn’t want to create a panic when people depend on their synths. Makes you wonder how many isolated incidents he’s kept quiet.
As Drummond moves away, a reporter badgers him about the case. Pete takes out his anger on the journalist, throwing him down a flight of stairs. The chief suspends Pete, and tells Karen to quietly work the case alone. Hobb examines the crime scene when the police are done. His assistant questions the madam, and finds out about Silas Capek, the modder that worked on Mia.
Leo and Max are nearby watching. They’ve figured out that someone’s been murdered, and know it had to be Niska. They go to their emergency rendezvous spot to meet her.
Joe and Laura argue about Anita again. Joe asks Anita if she can lie. She tells him no, unless the human’s life is in grave or immediate danger, and a deception or misrepresentation is more likely than the truth to keep them from harm. That’ll come up again.
The kids prefer Anita’s company to Laura’s at this point, and Joe dismisses Laura’s worries that Anita is lying and/or trying to replace her.
Niska meets Leo and Max at the rendezvous spot, but she refuses to go with them. She’s angry that Leo left her in the brothel, and doesn’t think he would have left a human woman there. Max and Leo both tell her that they’re family and have to stick together. Plus, she’s wanted for murder now. She needs Leo to protect her, like he always has. Niska asks if he’s their protector or their jailer? Leo tells her to be real- he practically is one of them. Niska dismisses the threat humans pose to her, and dismisses the idea of family, saying it’s a human concept that has nothing to do with her. She takes the phone Max offers her and leaves by herself.
Jill kneads bread dough as part of her physical therapy. Simon stands behind her and helps. She starts getting turned on from him standing so close. Pete storms in, still angry from his suspension. Simon tries to help him, which only makes Pete angrier. He tells Jill to keep “it” away from him.
George and Odi go for a drive in the country. George talks about the good old days. He tells Odi he wants an ice cream. Odi misunderstands, thinking he should get it right then. Odi tries to get out of the car without stopping. They end up crashing into a tree. George gets Odi out of the car and makes him go hide in the woods. Odi’s been damaged in the accident. A passing jogger arrives to help George.
Anita finds Laura’s secret photo album while putting away laundry. She looks inside and finds a photo of two young children labeled Laura & Tom. Sophie enters the room, so Anita puts the album away. Sophie asks if Anita can put her to bed.
They go ask Laura, since it’s normally her special time with Sophie. Before Laura can answer, Joe says it’s fine. Laura asks why he did that, and he says it was to avoid a meltdown. He’s turning out to be a pretty lousy husband. All he did was shift the meltdown to the next night.
Joe asks what difference one night makes. Laura starts to explain, but then, the cakes she was making for Toby burn in the oven. She’d been baking his favorite to make up for yelling at him, so now she feels like even more of a failure as a mother.
Anita has sensed that Laura is troubled. Once she and Sophie are alone in Sophie’s room, she convinces Sophie to make Laura happy by letting Laura do the bedtime routine. Anita goes to the kitchen to tell Laura that Sophie has changed her mind. Laura leaves the room without speaking to Anita.
Niska goes to a bar and meets a guy. She ends up going back to his apartment with him, where he attempts to get to know her better. All Niska is interested in is sex. She’s surprised that a man would want more. I get the feeling that the four conscious synths were very sheltered before Elster died.
Niska asks to use the bathroom. She sees ponytail holders next to the sink, and concludes that he’s using her to cheat on another woman. Niska goes to the kitchen and chooses a giant cooking knife. She finds Greg in the den cleaning up stuffed animals. The girls’ things are his daughter’s. He’s a good guy after all, so Niska backs off from her “revenge for all women and synths” killing, or whatever she was going to do. She quietly leaves while he’s distracted. That’s a scary turn of events, and exactly what humans have been afraid of.
Mattie sneaks downstairs late at night, while Anita’s charging. She unplugs the charger from the wall, and plugs it into her computer instead. Anita protests that she could be damaged by Mattie messing with her code, but Mattie ignores her, telling Anita that she’s a weirdo and Mattie’s going to find out why. Anita goes silent for a moment, then Mia breaks through, grabbing Mattie’s hand and urgently saying, “I’m here. Help me! Help me!” Mattie unplugs everything and goes back to her room, leaving Anita sitting dormant again.
When George returns home after the accident and getting checked by his doctor, he looks for Odi, then realizes Odi is still alone in the woods. Odi is still hiding behind a tree waiting for George to find him. The two weakly call for each other. Everyone who has a soul is heartbroken. Next this show will drown puppies and kittens.
Laura researches unusual synth behavior, then tests Anita to see if she’s been illegally modded. The most popular mod is to make it seem as if the synth can feel pain. Laura pokes Anita in the hand with a toothpick. Anita takes over, saying that the eye is the best place to check for an illegal pain mod. She sticks the toothpick into her eye, and shows no sign of feeling pain. This is a mixed blessing, since Mia probably could feel pain. Anita assures Laura that having a stick in her eye is no big deal, but Laura’s not so sure. Despite her suspicions, Laura is one of the most compassionate people we’ve seen so far.
Laura asks Anita why she thinks Laura is doing this. Anita says that anthropomorphizing synths is common, similar to the way people treat their pets. Except anyone who has pets knows that they do have feelings, intelligence and personalities. The only people who think animals are like inanimate objects are the ones who keep themselves emotionally distant, so they don’t have to face the truth. Based on circumstantial evidence and fears, it’s beginning to look like even the traditional synths are the same way, slowly evolving and adapting to their situations and becoming more than their programming, especially if they are close to a human.
Laura is more concerned with her paranoia that Anita wants to steal her kids. She questions the way Anita said she’d always keep Sophie safe, again. Anita points out that she is theoretically a better caretaker, because of her infallible physical and rote mental skills. But she can’t love the children the way a mother would. Laura is also confused by the way Anita is perceptive about their feelings.
Joe is listening to their conversation unseen in the hall. When the subject gets too uncomfortable for Anita, she asks Laura who Tom is. Laura is taken off guard when Anita says she found a photograph, and makes Anita promise never to bring up that name again.
Mattie posts the giant root code file that she got from Anita’s head on her head cracker’s discussion board, asking if anyone knows what it is. Max’s internet search flags it. Leo is able to determine that Anita is still in London, though not exactly where she is. His hopes for finding Mia are renewed.
Gemma Chan is completely fascinating as Mia/Anita. Everything about her motions, large and small, say that she’s a synth, but they also subtly belie her conscious motives. Her facial expressions are particularly compelling and complex. I don’t think Mia’s torturing Laura on purpose, but her unique features bubbling through to the surface are making it look that way.
She’s fascinated with family, children, and the caretaker role, which is why she’s also fascinated with Laura. She was sworn to protect Leo when he was a child, but she can’t remember it, so she’s transferring those emotions and directives to Sophie. But she also has the factory settings to be a good, cooperative, helpful servant to the whole family, and she’s trying to ignore any weirdness she feels that contradicts her settings.
Both Mattie and George abuse their synths in this episode, though we don’t want to think of it that way with either of them. Mattie doesn’t break into Anita’s head for Anita’s benefit, and she does so expressly against Anita’s will, just as she did with the school synth. The school synth was so badly damaged by Mattie’s unauthorized code that it had to be decommissioned. Yet she takes that chance again with the expensive, beloved family synth, voiding its warranty and risking permanent damage, just to satisfy her curiosity.
George is like a pet owner who’s gotten too old to properly care for his aging pet any more. He doesn’t want to put Odi down, but he doesn’t have the mental capacity to try to find Odi a better home with someone who could handle his quirks, either. So Odi ends up stored in the shed, driving when he shouldn’t be and almost killing them both, then wandering the woods alone and lonely. Possibly scared.
What was he planning to do with Odi, anyway? Where was he planning to go? Was his plan to dump Odi in the woods the way people dump pets they don’t want?
I hate to say anything to defend Vera, but she is just doing the job she’s programmed to do. It’s not like she got to choose. George himself helped create synths with the capacity to unfeelingly control and contain humans, so there’s some karma happening on that end. He could have waited to leave with Odi until she walked to the store, or until she was recharging. He didn’t have to lock her in a room against her will.
If this show is going to eventually start talking about synth rights, then all three of these synths were violated in this episode. Not to mention the way that Fred has been held hostage, tortured, and had his mind invaded by Hobb for 3 episodes now.