Anita proves her worth by saving Toby while Leo continues to look for his conscious synths.

By Kyle Fowle
July 13, 2015 at 12:17 AM EDT
Credit: Colin Hutton/Kudos/AMC/C4
S1 E3
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While I’ve praised the slow-burning narrative of Humans in my recaps of the first two episodes, that patient pace is much more troublesome in “Episode 3.” Although the slower pace worked early on to establish the show’s mood and tone and allowed for solid character development, here the lack of narrative momentum makes for an episode that’s not nearly as fun or intriguing as the first two. That’s cause for concern when there are only eight episodes in your first season.

For the most part, tonight’s episode focuses on the Hawkins family and their continuing struggle with Anita. After finding out that Anita doesn’t share data like the other synths, Laura decides to take her back to the store. She doesn’t trust her and thinks she’s dangerous, that something weird is going on with her.

While driving to the store, Toby runs from the house and hops on his bike, hoping to catch up with his mom’s car and save Anita, who is apparently his one true robot love. Toby is harmlessly horny more than anything, but it’s starting to get borderline creepy. He tried to touch Anita’s breast in the previous episode, and now he’s executing bicycle rescue missions? Get your hormones in check, Toby.

With Laura and Anita stuck in traffic, Toby flies across the street on his bike, a truck using the outside lane barreling toward him. Anita senses it and hops out of the car and in front of the truck, taking the hit and saving Toby’s life. Relieved that Toby is alive and well, Laura does what any mother would do after their son has a near-death experience: She calls him stupid and yells at him for being reckless. She’s right, but a little compassion couldn’t hurt.

Anita’s lifesaving abilities are enough to get her back in the house, though Laura is still hesitant around her. She’s catching on to the weird consciousness the synth has, having opinions and feelings that she shouldn’t. Still, Joe is getting the final say, and his sad eyes and disappointment with his wife signal that Anita will be sticking around.

Meanwhile, Peter is investigating the murder committed by Niska, an investigation that the police chief wants to label a tragic accident. Peter is livid that such an injustice could be done, but the chief is being strong-armed by Hobb, who obviously doesn’t want word of conscious, rebellious synths getting out into the public.

Peter’s frustration boils over when he pushes an eager journalist down the stairs outside of the crime scene, and then later when he snaps at Simon, who’s using bread dough to reenact that pottery scene from Ghost with Peter’s wife.

Peter’s story line this week is rather inconsequential, as is George’s. He locks Vera in a room in his house so that he and Odi can go for a drive. Vera’s not so easily deterred though; she rips the handle right off the door and shouts at George as he drives away.

We don’t learn much more about George and Odi, but their scenes together continue to be some of the most heartfelt on the show. The two share a connection that’s truly touching, anchored by William Hurt’s wonderful, tender performance. Humans can be cold at times, from its clinical tone to its electronic score, but the continuing story of George and Odi, and really Odi’s demise, is a source of warmth, a nice change of pace in every episode.

NEXT: Pass the toothpicks, please

Odi’s demise is perhaps much closer now. He attempts to leave the car (while driving it!) after George offhandedly mentions that he wants an ice cream. Odi is loyal to a fault, ready to hop out of a moving vehicle to get George his dairy treat fix. That loyalty has left him alone in the woods though, as George has to leave him there or else risk him being recycled.

Anita is in better shape than Odi, but after getting hit by that truck earlier in the day she needs a diagnostics test. She can diagnose her own injuries but needs Joe to confirm them. That means that Joe needs to strip her naked and look for any wounds that Anita might not have detected during her own internal inspection.

The following scene is uncomfortable for Joe, but now we know where Toby gets his raging hormones from. Joe says out loud that he can’t undress Anita, that it’s too weird, but we’ve seen him pocket the instruction manual for Anita’s “Adult Options.” Joe’s just as gross as his son, but for now he keeps everything on the level. He points out Anita’s wounds without really laying a hand on her.

Hormones aren’t just running rampant with the Hawkins boys. There’s also Greg, a random guy who sees Niska at a bar and brings her back to his place. The night is going well enough, especially as Niska wants to skip all the small talk and just get to sex. “Don’t you want to?” she says to Greg.

It’s a scene that emphasizes the show’s focus on sexuality and power, which I mentioned in the previous recap. Niska just assumes that Greg wants to have sex with her and nothing else, a poignant indictment of pickup culture and the way our culture conditions women to expect to be sex objects. For Niska, sex is violence; it’s all she experienced in the synth brothel, so she grabs a knife before heading to Greg’s living room.

It’s there that she sees Greg’s true nature. He’s tidying up his place, trying to clean up all the toys left over from his weekend with his daughter. It’s a solid bait and switch, an extended scene that works as a criticism of rape culture that avoids using sex or rape in an exploitative way. Here, the implied violence of their possible sexual encounter tells us about Niska, about her experiences. She’s been treated like a sex object and therefore has to remain on guard at all times.

Niska feels pain, but it’s Anita who must prove that she can’t. Laura, still suspicious, runs some tests on Anita to see if she’s been modified, which would explain her strange behavior. She takes a toothpick and tries to stab Anita’s hand with it to see if she feels pain. When the toothpick breaks, Anita says she can do it herself, taking the toothpick and sticking it in her eye!

That’s all the proof Laura needs for now, but her suspicions aren’t going away, especially after Anita mentions Tom, a mysterious someone from a photo Anita finds tucked away under some clothing in Laura’s bedroom. Does Tom have something to do with Leeds and what may have happened there? It’s certainly seems like it.

If Laura can’t find a way to confirm her suspicions, Mattie is going to try. She downloads code from Anita—when she does so, Anita screams “I’m here, help me,” a startling moment of consciousness that rocks Mattie­—and uploads it to a forum hoping that someone will know what it all means. The uploading of Anita’s data is all Max needs to trace her. Now that Leo and Max know she’s in London, all they have to do is find her.

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