“Episode 7,” the second to last episode of the first season of the newly-renewed Humans, is essentially one long meditation on the implications of synth consciousness. It’s an episode that’s less about moving the plot along than it is about cementing the show’s ideas; taking a brief pause before the episode’s climax brings everything crashing down.
The episode’s cold open focuses on Karen, who’s having a flashback to her time with David Elster. Unlike the other synths, she doesn’t seemed thrilled to be conscious, to be able to feel.
Karen’s existential angst extends beyond just being a synth in a human world. It turns out that she was created to replace Beatrice, David’s wife and the “mother” of the rest of the synths. Karen looks just like her, even if she isn’t her in the same way that Leo isn’t still the Leo who died.
In some way then, Karen doesn’t get her own identity. She’s consistently tied to the memory of a dead woman. No wonder she doesn’t want to fight the same battle for equal rights as the other synths.
Karen tracks Niska to George’s house and it’s there that we see her true sadness. She talks about wanting to kill herself, but she can’t because David put a suicide block in her system, hoping to prevent this (replacement) wife from killing herself.
In that way too Karen is not truly conscious. If the synths are to be understood as akin to humans, then that means they can make their own choices. Karen doesn’t have that ability in terms of ending her own life, which contributes to her understanding that the synths are an experiment gone wrong and that they should be destroyed.
When Niska disagrees, Karen pulls a gun on her and threatens to shoot her. She chases her around the house before George intervenes, telling Karen that her life can still change. It’s not enough for Karen though, and when she goes to shoot Niska, George gets in the way. While Karen flees the scene, Niska tells George she doesn’t have the proper tools to do surgery on him and remove the bullet.
“That’s okay,” he says, having accepted his fate quite some time ago. He tells Niska to run before the police get there, and the two share one last tender moment as Niska tells him that she wishes she could save him. Niska has been rightfully jaded with humans up until this point in her life, but George has planted a seed of hope that maybe synths and humans can live without conflict.
Odi gets one last moment with him too, and it’s heartbreaking. “Mary’s in the next room,” he tells George, giving him that final moment of comfort before he passes on. The camera pulls away from the two, and it’s likely the last time we’ll see Odi and George together.
Leaving George’s house, Niska calls Leo and tells him she’s not safe. He sends her to the Hawkins house where he’ll meet her later, once he and Fred find Max’s body. It’s a long shot but they do manage to find him washed up down river. They carry him back to the Hawkins’ house, hoping that he can be brought back to life.
NEXT: I’ve got a secret I’ve been hiding under my skin