Humans doesn’t let last week’s mild cliffhanger stand for very long. “Episode 6” opens on Fred, who isn’t a charred bit of metal and plastic, to the surprise of nobody really. Hobb has faked Fred’s death and is now keeping him under surveillance at his house in the country.
He tells Fred about how there’s a secret message from David Elster inside his head and that he needs all the conscious synths to unlock it. He pleads with Fred to understand that he’s merely trying to help him and his conscious buddies; that despite being a prisoner of sorts right now, Hobb has his best interests in mind.
Fred isn’t buying that though. He doesn’t trust the man who kidnapped him and has been running tests on him for weeks now. He tells Hobb that he’s underestimating him, then punches through a door and chokes out one of the guards. From there, Fred makes a daring escape, using a gun that shoots electromagnetic bullets to deal with Hobb and his henchmen.
Back in the Hawkins household, Sophie is under the impression that her dad is on a “work holiday” while everyone else is trying to deal with the fallout of Joe admitting that he had sex with Anita. That fallout includes a lot of tension between Mattie and Laura, as Mattie believes her mom isn’t being truthful about the whole situation, especially in regards to the mysterious Tom.
That leads Mattie to seek solace at her boyfriend’s house, but it isn’t long before Laura shows up to bring her back home. Mattie won’t come unless Laura tells her the truth, so the two head to a public park bench, where all deep, meaningful conversations happen.
I’m being snarky, but the moment the two share is genuinely touching and complex. Laura tells her daughter that Tom was her brother and that he died when he was 5-years-old. Laura was 11 and was meant to be watching him, but was talking to a neighbor when Tom got hit by a car.
Laura’s secrets go even deeper, as she reveals that she was visiting her mother (who Mattie and the whole family believe had died before Laura went off to college) in Leeds. She didn’t want to visit her mother, who never forgave her for Tom’s death and who told her that she wished Laura was the one who died, but felt it was necessary considering that Mattie was pulling away from her.
Despite these bombshells, the two reconcile. On the drive back home Mia breaks through Anita again, gasping in the backseat of the car and forcing Laura to pull over. Laura’s frightened but Mattie knows what’s going on. Mia says it won’t be long before Anita takes over again, but that Leo was right. She’s still alive, but Leo needs to look outside of her head for her.
After telling her mom all about Leo, Mattie sets out to find him and report her Mia sighting. She finds Max and joins up with him to go looking for Leo, who they find under a bridge, nearly dead. Max brings him fully back to life with a charge and from there the two explain to a hesitant Mattie just what’s going on.
NEXT: Digital witnesses…[pagebreak]
Leo shows Mattie his memories, which are digital because he’s part synth. He reveals that Mia wasn’t a wife or lover, but rather his caregiver. Leo’s mother was mentally ill and couldn’t take care of him, so David Elster created Mia for that purpose. Leo drowned after being kidnapped by his mother but Mia pulled him to safety, with David spending days putting synth parts in his son’s body so that he might live.
That’s why Mia is so important to Leo. She raised him, and his synth parts mean that he feels more connected to her and the rest of his conscious synth family than anybody else in his life. Mattie sympathizes with the story and brings Leo and Max back to her house to see if they can find Mia inside Anita again.
With a little help from Mattie, Leo succeeds this time, and the reunion of Mia, Leo, and Max is genuinely touching. It’s an emotional moment that’s been five episodes in the making and the payoff is wonderful.
It’s not just that we get to see Mia gain consciousness again, but that we’re doing it through the eyes of the Hawkins family. The viewer has always shared their perspective in some way; we’ve found out about Mia/Anita at relatively the same pace they have. Seeing the Hawkins family embrace the human-ness of these synths is moving stuff.
That understanding and empathy extends to the growing friendship between Niska and George. They continue their philosophical discussion from last week, touching on what it means to feel pain, regret, and loss. George, after shrugging off halfhearted threats from Niska, details how he lost his wife and then had a stroke, his memories affected forever.
He tells her this because he’s relating his own pain and asking Niska to share hers, and she does. In a roundabout way, she tells George that David used her for his own sexual needs, which explains the way she took control of her life after the brothel and how scared she felt when she had to hide there.
She’s been traumatized by the man who created her, but George is different. He’s gaining her trust and offering to help her find the other conscious synths, especially after she helps him heal Odi, who’s back from his woodland misadventures.
Finding the other synths might not be so easy though. Leo gets a call from Fred and they agree to meet at a location that they both know. Joe, who’s come to the house to tell his family that they’re crazy for thinking that Anita has feelings, doesn’t trust Leo, or is maybe just angry at his wife for booting him out of the house.
When he sees Leo and Max leave (Mia stays with the Hawkins family, where she’ll be safest), he calls the cops and reports Leo’s car. The cops pull them over and then Hobb shows up, ready to take the two into his “care.” Leo guns it and escapes, but Max only has so much power left.
As Hobb catches up to them on a bridge Max sacrifices himself, throwing himself into the river, saying that if he dies that means he’s truly lived. It’s a beautiful moment (we’ll ignore that him throwing himself in the river doesn’t actually do much to distract Hobb and the cops), one that speaks to the show’s focus on the human experience, and how that extends to these synths.
Karen tries to reach out and be accepted as well. Back at her apartment, she puts the moves on Pete, eventually having sex with him. After, feeling closer to him than ever, she shows him her charging port and plugs herself into the wall.
She’s looking for acceptance from a man that she feels something for, but he runs off, unable to accept (for now) who she is. Much of “Episode 6” is about acceptance, about the possibility and struggles of humans and synths living together. Considering that the show has been renewed by AMC for a second season, it’s safe to assume things aren’t going to go smoothly.