Everyone develops complicated feelings in this episode, as the lines between humans and synths continue to blur. Pete finds a temporary new home, but it’s not as synth-free as he thinks. Niska takes on a fight club for anti-synth bigots and almost gets caught by Hobb. Leo and Max make a discovery after examining Mia’s root code, but don’t seem much closer to getting her back. They do meet up with Mattie and George, bringing all of the plot strands together for the first time. The Hawkins explore the realities of synth rights and feelings, with mixed results. Joe takes his primary user status with Anita to the next level, and immediately regrets it. I don’t actually think his experience with Anita was good for any of us, including, maybe especially, her.
Pete starts his morning in fine form, snapping at Jill when she asks him to join her for breakfast and ignoring her in favor of calling Karen at the office.
Mattie checks in with Anita to make sure that she’s okay after the hacking session the other night. Anita doesn’t remember the session, and says all of her systems are running fine. Mattie is surprised that Anita doesn’t remember what happened, after she was so upset. Anita goes back to her chores, saying hello to Laura, who was eavesdropping out of sight, as she goes.
Mattie tells her mother that she’d make a terrible spy. Laura replies that Mattie would make a pretty good Bond villain. Mattie tells Laura that Anita yelled for help while Mattie was working on her. She sounded scared. They’re both confused about a synth being frightened.
Laura chats with a coworker, who tells her about a potential client, Mrs. Kennedy, who’s synth was thrown out of a play because it violated the theatre’s policy. Mrs. Kennedy wants to sue the theatre for human rights violations, since her synth enjoys going to plays like a human would. The firm declined the case, but Laura looks interested.
When Pete returns from doing some shopping, Jill tells him that they need to talk. Yes, that kind of talk. He’s not making her happy any more, and their relationship isn’t healthy. She wants him out of the house. Pete says that he’s suspended from work, he has to hang around the house. Yeah, the suspension was probably the last straw. She couldn’t handle him being verbally abusive for eight more hours a day.
Then Pete blames Simon the synth for breaking up their marriage, and becomes violent with him. Simon is like rag doll as Pete manhandles him. Jill yells at Pete that they paid a deposit on Simon! She’s not the one who’s confused about what Simon really is.
Hobb interviews Capek about the conscious synths. He shows Capek photos of Fred, Mia, and Niska. Capek recognizes Mia, and tells Hobb that some Russian junkers brought her in. He also tells Hobb about Leo and Max, including that Max hit his goon hard enough to knock him to the floor. Hobb asks if Capek is sure that the human with the synth was really human. Capek says that he bled blood.
Hobb calls the lab and tells them that they’re looking for four synths and a young human man. He wants the backpacks tested for DNA. Wow, I really thought the food and water in the backpacks had at least made him suspicious that one of them was human. Guess he’s not that smart.
Leo and Max steal a car and go looking for Mia. Leo checks doors, looking for one that’s unlocked. He gets frustrated, and is about to smash a window with a rock, when Max tries the door. Of course that’s the one that’s unlocked. Max gets a smug look on his face.
Max doesn’t show much true emotion on his face, so it’s fun when he does let something through. He seems like he’s the oldest of the conscious synths. He has emotions and self-awareness, but he’s more pure. He can’t lie, manipulate, or fake emotions the way a human-like synth needs to. Ironically, that makes it harder for him to fake being a normal synth, so he needs to stay closest to Leo. He’s Leo’s practical, down to earth protector as much as Leo’s protecting him though, since Leo tends to be impulsive and easily frustrated.
Anita stops Toby as he and Mattie are leaving for a party. She makes a small, unnecessary adjustment to his collar.
Joe suggests that he and Laura have a party of their own while the kids are out, but Laura says she has a last minute work meeting. On her way out the door, Laura asks Anita if she ever gets scared. Anita says, “I think everyone does.”
That’s different. In the past she’s always answered that type of question with, “I’m sorry, Laura, I don’t understand the question.” She seems more emotional, in subtle ways, throughout this episode. Maybe Mattie’s hack unlocked something after all.
At the party a cute girl named Caroline is into Toby. She gets them both drinks and wants to make out. Toby stops her, saying that he’s interested in someone else. Oh Toby, your synth isn’t the right girl for you, even if it does turn out that you’re about the same age.
Joe is suspicious that Laura isn’t really at a work function. He wheedles information about Laura’s location out of Anita. First he has her track the car. Then he has her look up who lives on the street, including men named Tom, since he overheard Anita ask about a Tom and Laura getting upset. When he finds out there are three Toms on the street, he decides to go find Laura. Anita asks him not to. Joe says she can’t understand his feelings, and keeps walking. Anita breaks her ethics code, and looks at Laura’s personal information. She recites Laura’s phone record to Joe, proving Laura is at a work meeting. Joe backs down.
Laura is meeting with Mrs Kennedy, the potential client with the synth who likes to go to plays. Laura asks the synth, Howard, if he understands the plays, and what they make him feel. She finds his answers to be flat and lacking in understanding or real emotion. Mrs Kennedy defends her position, saying she’s not crazy and she doesn’t think Howard’s human. But synths are more than just inanimate objects and they become important parts of people’s lives. Society is going to have to deal with that gray area sooner or later. The whole thing seems similar to issues with service or therapy animals, especially non-traditional animals.
Joe finds Anita looking at her instruction booklet. He takes it from her and finds the card for the adult functions. He turns creepy and decides to try it out. She has to touch him while he reads the passwords. When he’s done, Joe asks Anita what happens next. She tells him, anything he wants. Her facial expression appears softer than when she’s in her normal state. Joe kisses her.
They have sex on the couch. Anita just lays there with a mild look of pleasure on her face. When he’s done, Joe turns off adult mode as quickly as possible. He tells her to delete it from her records and keep it to herself. Then he sends her to clean herself up. As soon as adult mode was turned off, she looked sad. Joe clearly regrets it as soon as he’s done.
The whole thing was gross, since he’s married and he believes Anita might as well be a doll. Ew. The guy’s wife was busy, so he turned to a fake woman. I mean, look how compliant she was! Of course, Anita was essentially raped, since she’s much more than a doll.
Meanwhile, at the teenagers’ party, the guys decide that they want to see the household synth’s breasts. She makes the same complaints that Anita did to Toby, but instead of stopping, these guys turn her off and decide to take her upstairs and rape her. Mattie stops them, asking if they think it’s normal to drag an unconscious woman to a room and rape her. They reply that she’s not a real woman, so Mattie asks why they want to have sex with her then. They say that they want a woman that’s factory fresh. Mattie slaps the guy who said it.
I guess that this was close enough to crossing a very disturbing line that Mattie didn’t want to see it crossed, even with a synth. She certainly hasn’t had any problems with physically harming synths before this. It’s hypocritical to be okay with some forms of abuse, but reject others because they resemble a crime you’re sensitive about in humans.
Either the synths have human rights, or they don’t. Either it’s okay to violate their bodies against their wills, or it’s not. If we’re going to consider having sex with an unconscious synth, rape, then Mattie committed manslaughter against the school synth. The gray areas need to be faced. What if someone kills or rapes a human and uses the defense that they thought it was a synth? Does that make it okay?
Pete sleeps on the office couch. He tells Karen that he’s an analogue man in a digital world. Karen says that Jill will take him back after a few days, but he doesn’t think so, since she has Simon for company. Karen invites him to sleep on her couch.
Mattie gets a response on the head crackers forum. The message says, “I think I can help you with your synth, want to meet up?” She agrees and meets Leo and Max in a diner, having described herself as a large 40 year old man. Her user name is Hubot97. Leo is User885. Once she decides they’re not serial killers, she asks what they think is wrong with her synth. Max asks if Mia is with her. Mattie wants to know who Mia is.
Leo shows her the photo of Mia/Anita. Mattie is confused, since they’re supposed to be talking about her brand new synth. Leo explains that they’re the same synth. Mattie wants to leave, but Leo insists that she stay and tell him where Mia is. Mattie says she’ll help him after she goes to the bathroom. She leaves a giant purse with Max to prove she’ll come back.
Leo worries that Mia’s been completely wiped and they won’t be able to get her back. Max tries to show Leo something he’s found in Mia’s root code. A woman sees that Max has her bag and angrily takes it back. Leo realizes that Mattie tricked them, and tries to find her, but it’s too late. She’s made a run for it.
Laura and Joe take Anita in for a diagnostic check. The technician discovers that Anita is actually at least 14 years old, instead of brand new like Joe was told at the store.
Pete meets with the reporter he injured. He tells the reporter that the murder case might be the biggest murder in the history of the country, and he could give the reporter the exclusive. In exchange, the reporter drops the charges against Pete, so Pete can go back to work.
Pete and Karen celebrate over dinner at her apartment. Pete worries that it’s not an isolated incident. Karen says that if there are more synths out there who can kill, they’re all screwed, aren’t they? She gives him an enigmatic little smile.
As she walks down a dark city street, Niska encounters a man looking at a row of posters advertising a WAP rally- We Are People, an anti-synth group that plans to “stand up against the synths.” The rally is this Saturday at noon. The man, mistaking Niska for human, says, “Powerful message, ain’t it? We are people. Folks need reminding sometimes. Reminding we’re supposed to be the dominant species. We’re gonna win it you know. (Niska: Win what?) The war. What, you don’t believe me? Here, check this out. Happening tonight.” He gives her a flyer for a synth smash club and walks away. Niska goes into the 24 hour charging station next door.
Max has discovered something strange in Mia’s root code that was planted there by their father. Leo and Max decide to visit George Millican for help with the strange section of Mia’s root code. George hesitates, but after they tell him they knew David Elster he lets them in, even though he says Leo’s too young to have known David.
George tells Vera they’re from the church as she watches them suspiciously. I’m always sure that Vera is a spy droid sent by the
evil empire synth manufacturers, waiting for moments like this. But part of me also loves her over-caring battle axe self deeply. No one will come between her and George’s good health, not even George. She’s a warrior.
Once they open the file, Leo asks if George has ever seen anything like it before.
George: David, Dr Elster, he loved to leave his little secret messages inside his work.
Leo: And Elster did this, did he, personally?
George: There are collectors who look for this stuff. The code within the picture is a separate executable program. You just have to lift it out. Whatever this is, it’s for a synth mind to experience. Yeah. You can just plug in your pal in here, and he’ll run the program.
Leo: Thank you, Dr Millican. We’ve taken up enough of your time already. Thank you.
(He and Max get up to leave.)
George: Whoa, whoa, wait. You’re not going to let me see what it is?
Leo: Why did you leave the project, Dr Millican?
George: David was taking his research in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with.
Leo: Yeah, sentient synths. True AI.
George: Who are you? Where did you find this? And if you don’t tell me who you are, I will call the cops.
Leo: Please, don’t do that. (Thinks for a moment.) All right. I’m Leo Elster. I’m David’s son.
George: Leo died.
George tries to touch Leo’s face, but Leo pulls away and leaves. Max follows, but pauses in front of George, turns to look at him, gives him a brief enigmatic smile, then puts his hat on and follows Leo. These conscious synths and their smiles will kill me in the end.
Niska goes to the smash club, where there are men with baseball bats taking turns destroying synths while others cheer them on. The bouncer tells her it’s 20 quid to watch, 40 quid to take a turn. She gives him 40 quid and he tells her that she’s next.
When it’s Niska’s turn, she’s given a young male synth. She touches his chest with the bat, and asks if he’s ready. He says he doesn’t understand the question. Meanwhile, the audience has worked itself up to a frenzy, shouting for her to get in there and hit it, even pushing and shoving her toward the other synth. Niska turns and swings the bat at the man who’s yelling and shoving her, then keeps going after the rest of the men in the audience. Someone yells that it’s supposed to be people against synths, and she says she knows. The humans start to scramble away, since they’re unarmed and she’s relentless. Someone calls the police.
Hobb gets the DNA results from the backpacks: closest match-David Elster.
Before he can do anything with the results, his assistant tells him that a female synth is attacking humans at a smash club. They rush out to investigate.
When the humans have left the building, Niska opens the pen of the waiting synths and tells them to go. They don’t understand, and stay in place. They were probably all meant to be recycled and aren’t fully functional. But Niska is also sheltered and doesn’t fully understand how normal synths work. She’s better at understanding humans than synths.
Niska gives up on releasing the undamaged synths and grabs a nail gun. She goes to the pile of synths damaged by humans and puts a nail in each one’s head, putting them out of their misery, and apologizing to each as she does so. Hobb and the police interrupt her, so she runs to hide. Hobb tells his men not to damage her. At least he called Niska “her” and not “it”.
Leo rushes into the abandoned bar and hooks himself up to his laptop using the port in his side. Max touches his hand, worried about him. Leo tells Max that it’s okay. The message is from their dad. He meant for them to find it. It won’t hurt him.
Then he starts to feel the program as it runs. Leo sees a large tree and touches the trunk with his hand. He tells Max that he saw LIFE.
Niska is trapped in the smash club. Leo calls her, and she runs to a stairwell to take the call, barricading the door. She tells Leo that she’s in a tight spot and not sure she can get out of it. Leo tells her that he and Max have discovered a program that their father hid in their heads that is the key to making synths conscious. He thinks it can be used to make more of them, but it needs all five of them to run it.
He tells Niska to find a way out, then call him right back. Niska busts out of the stairwell, grabs an officer to use as a hostage, and makes her way toward the door. When she’s close enough, she uses the nail gun to attach her hostage’s hand to the wall so he can’t follow her, then leaves.
Anita sits in power-saving mode while Laura and Joe discuss the diagnostic results. Joe, worried about his tryst with Anita coming out, thinks they should get rid of her. Laura is intrigued and in full mom rescue mode. She wants to discover who Anita really is, instead of getting rid of her. Joe argues that she’s just a malfunctioning machine, but Laura says she’s more than that.
Laura: Anita, who were you, before you came here?
Anita: I’m sorry Laura, I don’t understand the question.
Laura: I think you do.
I think Anita feels safe there, and Mia is hiding out so as not to ruin things for herself.
Karen gets Pete’s bed set up on the couch and says goodnight. She goes into her bedroom and locks herself in. Then she sits down on a stool next to a small covered trash can. She throws her head back and opens her mouth as wide as it will go, then reaches down her throat and pulls out a blue balloon full of the food and beverages that she’s consumed that day. She deftly ties a knot in the top of the balloon and tosses it in the can.
That explains a few of those enigmatic smiles. Thinking she’s one of those synths who can kill that Pete’s so worried about.
It needs to be mentioned that Mia/Anita has a freakin’ robust design. The four/five conscious synths seem to have five different designs, as David Elster kept improving his model each time he made one. Niska is also very robust, but she’s more emotionally fragile, and apparently considering a murder spree. Mia got hit straight on by the van and was physically fine other than a couple of superficial injuries, which she repaired by herself. The school synth was fried when Mattie went inside his root code, but Mia is fully operational. Her true self is partitioned off somewhere in hiding and waiting to be rescued. She’s using her mods to make her the best, most responsive synth a family could ever want, while playing it safe and hiding the mods, even from her conscious mind, so she can’t give herself away. Genius strategy.
And she’s doing all of that at 14 years old, while Odi is falling apart and considered ancient at 6 years old. Which means that there’s hope for Odi to be upgraded and refurbished. Someone save Odi!!
I love the way the dynamic between Laura and Anita is developing. Laura always saw Anita and the synths as human-ish, potentially with rights, that’s why she didn’t want one. She felt like it would be too much like a new member of the family disrupting their home.
Laura hadn’t articulated her feelings to herself that way, but that’s the root of her feelings, and Pete’s, and many other people’s. Deep down, Pete wants the murder solved and is so upset about it because he feels that Niska should be tried and punished for her crime like anyone else. He feels that Simon’s a threat to his marriage like any other man could be.
People die from accidents with machines all of the time, and we call for more safety features. We don’t go ballistic the way Pete did and blame the machine or think it’s evil. He acted more like a racist would when an undocumented immigrant commits a crime, as if he’d been personally harmed himself.
Pete’s surface dislike of synths in general makes a little more sense, given that they’re taking jobs from humans. But other humans are the ones using synths to replace human workers. The WAP war on synths is senseless. The synths don’t make any decisions. It’s the humans in charge that the angry humans should be rebelling against. It’s like blaming the slaves for slavery.
I can’t blame Jill for tossing out Pete. He was always either ignoring her or surly with her. With Simon around, she can take care of herself and doesn’t need to keep a jerk around to run errands and reach things in the cupboards.
It’s ironic that Pete hates Simon so much, since Simon was always trying so hard to make Pete happy, even though it probably wasn’t part of his programming. He was there as a therapy and health aid for Jill, so there was no reason for him to be so worried about Pete that he ran down into the street to bring him sandwiches.
Right now, I look at synth abuse the way I look at animal abuse. Animals may not experience things exactly the way we do, but there are still injuries and morals involved. If you can abuse something that looks and sounds exactly like a human, and it doesn’t bother you, what’s to stop you from doing the same to humans? Psychopaths tend to torture animals when they’re young. I’d bet that in the Humans world, they also violently and sexually abuse synths. It’s a stepping stone to the real thing, just as was suggested at the party in this episode.
The fact that Hobb’s results say closest DNA match, rather than exact DNA match, means Leo’s telling the truth, and he’s David’s son, not a clone. Or at least not David’s clone. He could be Leo’s clone, but it doesn’t seem likely, with all the synth parts integrated into his body.
Leo probably died, then was revived and repaired using synth parts. He’s a prototype, so he’s secret and glitchy. David didn’t do any of his children any favors, since he doesn’t seem to have provided for them after his death in any way. There doesn’t seem to be a human who knows about them or a trust fund to help them financially, like you’d think a smart scientist would put in place. Fictional mad scientists really need to hire better financial planners.