Last week’s episode of Humans left us all hanging, wondering what would happen to the synths now that Hobb had caught up with them. He had them all arrested, and the Hawkins family was clearly in collusion. What would happen to them?
It’s a cliffhanger that tonight’s season finale resolved rather quickly, as the Hawkins’ and the synths are reunited before too long. Before that happens though, the synths need to escape the lab where Hobb has them secured, prepared to run tests on them the same way that he did on Fred.
Hobb’s plan is to delete all the “dangerous” stuff from their source code and create conscious but obedient synths. As Fred later says, when he’s confronted with Hobb’s horrific plan, “you’ll give us consciousness, but take away our free will.” That sounds a lot like slavery, and Fred mentions that, too. The first season of Humans, and much science fiction about robots coming to life, draws a connection to contemporary issues like race and class relations, but this is the most explicit the show’s been in that thematic area so far.
While strapped to a number of tables in the lab, the synths, led by half-human Leo, attempt to link up and run the program that David Elster put in their code. They’re doing it in order to save Max, but it proves unsuccessful. They need Karen, and it’s clear she wants no part of it.
As Hobb’s larger plan comes into focus though, Karen begins to have a change of heart. She overhears Hobb telling Leo how he’s going to run experiments on him because he can’t very well destroy him like he will the other synths. After all, Leo is at least partially alive.
When Karen visits Leo in his holding cell he appeals to her humanity, hoping that something inside her can change. “Humanity is not a state. It’s a quality,” he says before telling Karen that Max, who’s a machine, has more humanity than anyone he’s ever met. He’s telling Karen that they are more than just a mistake and that living their own lives is possible.
Karen isn’t about to help them though, so it’s up to the Hawkins family. They turn into serious spies and hackers, and it’s so much fun to watch. Mattie realizes that if they can get Leo’s laptop out of the evidence truck then she can backup Leo’s memories that are stored on the device. The memories can then be used as a bargaining chip to get the synths back.
With the help of Pete, who shows up at the house in the hopes of getting some answers about Karen, Mattie and Toby make a break for it. They snatch the laptop and disappear with Pete while Laura tells the police chief that he should call Hobb. She’s got a few things to say to him.
NEXT: Blackmail and email
With the laptop stolen, Mattie successfully pulls all of Leo’s memories and emails them to her Mom and a few other backups. Pete’s hesitant because Hobb tracks everything online, but as Toby says, “You don’t know my sister.”
What’s remarkable, and not to be lost in all the plot, is how Humans has positioned its female characters as complex and heroic. That’s truly cemented in this finale, where Mattie and Laura, who have compassion, knowledge of the law, and killer hacking skills, are charged with saving the synths. Joe and Toby are by no means apathetic to the cause, but the synths don’t get saved if it isn’t for Laura and Mattie.
Laura shows how confident she truly is when Hobb shows up at the house and calls her bluff in regards to Leo’s memories. She shows him pictures as proof and that forces Hobb to let the synths go. Of course, he still has a plan, but the synths are safe for now.
They all meet up at a location that Laura has chosen, one that’s integral to her past. Before Laura can tell Joe about why this place means a lot to her, the police start to surround the area, having used some sort of tracking device Hobb installed in Fred to find them. The Hawkinses and the synths manage to escape by joining in on the We Are Human march, blending in before fleeing.
When they finally hole up again, Leo speaks with Karen and convinces her to leave Hobb and come find them. They need her to bring Max back to life and she agrees. Or so it seems. Once she’s with them and they all link up, she begins to corrupt the source code as the Hawkins family watches helplessly.
Before long though Mia convinces her to join them, to save them. With that, Max is brought back to life, Elster’s code to give consciousness to other synths clearly a success. Such a code can’t be trusted to just anyone, so Niska asks Laura to hang on to it until the group can decide what to do with it.
While everyone is happy that Max is back, the reunion is short-lived. Karen leaves the group, refusing to stay with them despite having helped them connect. Then Niska proclaims that she’s ready to start living her own life; that she can’t run off with Leo, Max, and Mia anymore.
With that, everyone says their tearful goodbyes. The goodbyes are a small, but impactful moment in the finale. Rather than ending with a big chase or escape, Humans ends this particular story with emotion and character development. The teary-eyed hug that Laura and Mia share has been a long time coming, and it’s a beautiful way to send these people back to their normal lives.
That “normal” might not last long though. With Leo, Max, and Mia headed to somewhere unknown, the Hawkinses are basically back to their old lives, with Mattie on her computer, Joe and Toby playing FIFA, and Sophie pretending to be Mia while dusting. For now everyone is content, including Laura, who seems at peace after telling Joe all about Tom.
What’s around the corner though? The episode ends with a shot of Niska on a train, headed toward an unspecified location. Is she starting her new life? Where’s she headed? Is she looking for someone? These are questions we don’t know the answer to, but one thing is clear: She has the hard drive with the source code on it.
With AMC renewing the show for a second season, the war between the synths and humans may have just begun.