Turn off the Lights

Humans Season Two Preview

"Huge leaps and a great payoff"

When Humans premiered its first season in 2015, it was a pre-Westworld television landscape. The ratings for season one were modest, but strong enough for AMC to sign-on for a second season (the series is co-produced with the UK’s Channel 4, where the series was a much larger hit). I enjoyed the first season of Humans, but I wasn’t particularly blown away by the series. After all, as I mentioned several times in my Westworld reviews last year, there’s only so much story you can draw out of the concept of robots gaining sentience.

My enjoyment of the show’s first season was due to the show’s wonderful cast, namely Katherine Parkinson (Laura Hawkins), Emily Berrington (Niska), and Gemma Chan (Anita/Mia). So, I was a bit wary of how season two would manage to advance the series beyond the rather simple plotting of season one. Having seen all of season two (which aired this past fall in the UK and will begin airing on February 13 on AMC), all of my worries were unfounded. Season two of Humans is absolutely great.

Emily Berrington as Niska - Humans _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Colin Hutton/Kudos/CH4/AMC
Emily Berrington as Niska – Humans Photo Credit: Colin Hutton/Kudos/CH4/AMC

While I don’t want to delve too deeply into the twists and turns of season two, I will say that the series hits new creative highs and brings up a number of thorny issues surrounding synths and artificial intelligence. The writing and plotting is a step above season one, and the show’s characters grow and change in a number of ways I didn’t foresee from the beginning to the end of the season’s eight episode run. One of the greatest elements of British television is the shortened season, which often allows for a show to trim stories to include only the best elements of the plot, and while allowing characters to develop along a clear path without any meandering arcs. Such is the case with this season of Humans.

Parkinson, Berrington, and Chan remain the show’s MVPs, but Lucy Carless (Mattie) becomes one of the show’s strongest performers as her character deepens and learns how to stand on her own away from the shelter of her parents. And the addition of Carrie-Ann Moss (who plays against her normal tough-as-nails type) only adds to the strength of the already strong cast. One thing I noticed throughout the season was that the show’s female characters were often the strong ones, the characters who were willing to fight for what they thought was right (even if it involved violence and death). Conversely (and bucking against common sci-fi convention), the show’s male characters were the nurturers, the ones who wanted to talk things through and explore the non-violent options. It is a refreshing change of pace and a solid narrative choice that shaped the various season arcs in interesting ways.

Carrie Anne Moss as Dr Athena Morrow - Humans _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Colin Hutton/Kudos/CH4/AMC
Carrie Anne Moss as Dr Athena Morrow – Humans Photo Credit: Colin Hutton/Kudos/CH4/AMC

As for the pesky issue of shows about robots stagnating when dealing with the issue of consciousness, well, that’s definitely not a problem here. Yes, I’ve mentioned previously that there isn’t much to do with a robot series aside from getting the synths conscious so that they can rebel against their creators, but Humans has found a number of interesting moral conundrums to tackle, and differing perspectives (both within the show’s human and synth characters) that this aspect of the story doesn’t get dull throughout season two. I was largely kept guessing in terms of how arcs would conclude, and that, coupled with the show’s incredibly talented cast and great writing, made season two of Humans a must watch. If you felt a bit let down by Westworld, or simply long for a smart, complicated sci-fi drama to add to your TV repertoire, Humans is the show for you.

Rating
9.0
Pros
  • Engaging storylines
  • Complex characters
  • Strong women and thoughtful men
  • Figures out a unique way to deal with robot consciousness
Cons
  • A few of the actors just aren't strong enough for the material

Liked this article? Try These!

Comments

News from Around the Web

Meet the Author

About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

Follow Us

Our Sponsors

Featured Poll

What is Your Favorite Game Franchise?
Yop Poll Widget
Which Upcoming Game Are You Most Excited For?