'Humans' postmortem: Writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley talk Niska's decision, plans for season 2
This article contains spoilers for Sunday’s episode of AMC’s Humans. Do not read further unless you want to know what happened in the season finale.
AMC’s Humans finished its eight-episode first season with a roller coaster of an hour, as the conscious synths banded together with the Hawkins family to escape Dr. Hobb’s (Danny Webb) grasp. On the way, Karen (Ruth Bradley) almost destroyed the entire synth family, only to save them in the end. And then there’s that final shot: Niska (Emily Berrington), off with the codes that could change regular synths into conscious ones, possibly leading to chaos for both humans and synths if she were to use them.
The series’ writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley spoke to EW about why they chose to end the finale with Niska, their thoughts on two key scenes in the episode, and what they’re planning for season 2.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with that cliffhanger. Was it always the plan to have Niska run off with the flash drive containing the codes needed to make all synths conscious?
SAM VINCENT: It was the very last shot that we wanted for quite a while. We had the idea fairly early on to realize that moment, to put the future literally in her hands.
JONATHAN BRACKLEY: We always wanted to get the code out there and have that threat. Niska’s the best person to be taking care of that.
Why was that? Was it because Niska’s been the most outspoken of the conscious synths?
VINCENT: I think it’s really tantalizing and dangerous to put the future in the hands of one of your characters who’s very unpredictable, volatile, and dangerous. You don’t know what she’s going to do with it. You’ve seen her do very bad and dangerous things and be very scary. Yet, you’ve also seen a different side to her, a vulnerable side, a damaged side. We don’t think Niska’s really evil or bad in any way, but she’s certainly dangerous and unpredictable, so we all thought that was an exciting place to end. It would make for an interesting journey in season 2.
Let’s talk about the climax, when Karen began corrupting all of the conscious synths while they’re linked. How did you come up with the idea to have them enter a world that looked like a forest?
VINCENT: We always had this idea that when they had this vision, the virtual space had to be the most natural space, to feel totally organic and rural. It can’t be a kind of techno space, because that’s not really the language of this show. Although we’re a show about robots, we’re not shiny in any way. When you couple the tree with the fact that these are androids, intelligent machines, we just thought that was quite interesting and a little bit counterintuitive, where possibly the more obvious choice would be to have them appear in a shiny white space or some kind of geometric grid like Tron.
BRACKLEY: It helps to blur the line between man and machine, I think. It’s one of the themes of the show: Can you call synths real people? When they go into this vision, they experience it in a very sort of human way. It’s like a memory, and it helps make them more human.
There’s a quiet moment in the finale, when Mia (Gemma Chan) talks to Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) about the time they had sex. Why did you decide to add this scene into the episode, to revisit what happened between them in a short conversation?
VINCENT: I think the impetus behind that moment is for Mia to say, “I was there, and I know that what you did was not an expression of your lack of love for Laura [played by Katherine Parkinson].” She could see in his face that he did feel guilty, that he made a terrible mistake, that he felt disgusted with himself. None of this absolves him from the awful thing he did. She’s just giving him a glimmer of hope, saying, “I know this is not over for you.”
BRACKLEY: It was designed as a generous moment on Mia’s part. She wants to help this family that had been largely so kind to her. A lot of it is directed at Laura, who’s become a friend of Mia’s by the very end of the season. So in that way, she’s attempting to help mend their marriage. It’s sort of an altruistic moment.
VINCENT: But certainly we don’t think that things are resolved between Joe and Laura. They’re not a happy family, there are unresolved issues here. When we come back, they will not have healed all the way.
Looking back, are there any characters, relationships, or story lines you wish you had more time for?
VINCENT: We’re interested in the mythology and the people who created the synths. There will be a lot of people furiously attempting and pouring resources into recreating Dr. Hobb’s work, and that’s what we’d like to explore. On a more emotional note, I always think that we could have maybe added a little more of the synth family, with Leo [Colin Morgan], Fred [Sope Dirisu], Niska, Max [Ivanno Jeremiah], and Mia, before they split up, just to get to know a little bit more about them and to see them bond. We obviously played it for mystery but I sometimes think it would have been nice to see how much they mean to each other. There are things on the cutting room floor for every single character, but if you put them all back in you have a four-hour show that nobody would watch. [Laughs]
BRACKLEY: This show takes such a broad look at a world in which these machines exist, so we can go anywhere and examine anything we like. We’re not restricted by a small set of characters. The ideas that we had to lose in the first season, we were able to repurpose and fit into season 2, which is great for us because there are so many ideas that we want to explore.
Speaking of which, what are some of the ideas you’re pursuing for season 2? Any villains in mind for next year?
VINCENT: The idea that there could be more conscious synths is very much teased at the end of the finale, so that’s no secret. I think what we have in mind is very much to just move the world on a bit. We’re not coming back to a radically changed world set years into the future where everything’s really different. The synths are just going to penetrate a little deeper into our lives, you know? We’re just going to push it on to the next level of what could happen in our world.
BRACKLEY: We’re going to be returning to the characters from season 1. That will include the Hawkins, they’ve always been the heart of the show. They’re the sort of domestic way into the story.
VINCENT: We just think the idea, the prospect of returning to a very changed world when the show returns, the prospect to tell a very different world that Niska has the power to bring about is one we feel is really compelling. I think we’re going to be learning a lot more about all of our characters, human and synth alike. We certainly don’t want to have any absolutely clear cut villains or heroes… We do have a new antagonistic force in mind for this show, which is going to come into play and be embodied by a couple of new characters, but I can’t say any more than that.
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