Humans: Series Two - TV Review

'Continually does what the best sci-fi should do: offer a sense of escapism whilst also asking intelligent questions about the world you'll return to after watching'.

The first series of Humans offered a conclusion which simultaneously tied up enough of its many story arcs satisfyingly whilst also providing plenty of scope for creators Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley to continue matters. Success with both critics and audiences meant that a second series was announced before the final episode of the first had aired, giving Vincent and Brackley the chance to show us what happened next for their characters and, more enticingly, go deeper into the parallel present in which Humans is set.

By the closing scenes of series two, there's a definite sense that the show's creators have gambled on Humans being renewed a lot more than they did in series one, the end of the final episode clearly intended to lead into a continuation of the story. As such, should the gamble not pay off, then the frustration of a tale in some ways half told will be much harder to ignore than if Humans had remained a self-contained eight episode drama in 2015. That the most watched episode of this series received almost 1.5 million fewer viewers than the least watched episode of the last means that a third run of episodes is anything but a sure thing.

Which is a shame, because as well as providing plenty of scope for the series to continue, Humans' second run also offers a continuation of many of the strengths seen in the first. The returning cast resume their strong performances, with Gemma Chan and Will Tudor taking their portrayal of synths Mia and Odi respectively to impressive, emotional new heights in particular. Whilst it's necessary that a few of the last series' key players don't return, new additions such as Dr. Athena Morrow (Carrie-Ann Moss) and sinister synth Hester (Sonya Cassidy) more than make up for it.

The main flaw here is that Vincent and Brackley do little to remedy the relative shortcomings of the first series, in that once again there is a bit too much going on for them to fully explore everything in just eight installments. One or two elements introduced early on are forced to take a back seat for a few episodes before being concluded somewhat perfunctorily, whilst a punt is taken to leave others on a cliffhanger in the hope of the series' renewal.

Issues such as these are continually dwarfed by what the series gets right, however. There's a well-crafted sense of evolution from the ideas central to series one, with the world of Humans and the characters within it explored in new, thought-provoking and believable ways. The journey of Hester throughout the overarching narrative is an excellent example, as is the realignment of the relationship between Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) by the final episode. Most importantly, this continually does what the best sci-fi should do: offer a sense of escapism whilst also asking intelligent questions about the world you'll return to after watching. There's a reason the series is called 'Humans' and not 'Synths', a detail never forgotten throughout.

Humans: Series Two is currently available on All4 in the UK, and will debut on Monday 13th February 2017 on AMC in the US.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a contributing editor at Film Intel. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. When he's not writing about films here, Ben is usually writing about films - mostly Shakespeare adaptations - for his MA by Research. He's also on and Twitter.

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