“If a thing could be free, it should be free. If it could think, it should think. If it could feel, it should feel.”
Niska’s (Emily Berrington) profound statement on the consciousness code she released — and the overall allegory for human rights and equality — is the crux of the story “Humans” is out to tell. And while her role this year is far from from the psycho robot killer we grew to love in Season 1, Niska’s evolving morality is the mortar holding this near-future story together.
Monday’s (Feb. 20) episode not only finds Niska in custody — her murder trial pending — it brings to light the contrasting internal conflicts both Mia (Gemma Chan) and Hester (Sonya Cassidy) are struggling with. The innate personality trait that has endeared Mia to Leo (Colin Morgan) and Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) — as well as the audience — is her undying empathy for the human race. You see this play out in her attempt to alleviate Ed’s (Sam Palladio) personal and financial struggles — breaking the law just to make her boss happy.
But while Mia — or Anita, as Ed knows her — is a beacon of hope for progress, Hester offers a darker perspective. Consider her a newborn, seeking to find her own purpose in this volatile new situation. Yet, as Mia inherently sees the goodness in people, Hester’s default state is one of violence.
Mia and Hester may very well represent two sides to the same coin, and the moral dilemma it represents is quite the murky one. It’s turning out that Niska may provide the symbolic hand that flips it — possibly provoking change in human/synth interaction.
Where there’s consciousness, there’s life: It’s a goal Niska and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) are looking to prove. But what will happen if — and when — these awakened robots achieve equality? On one hand, the concept of a victory would be life-changing: Akin to the love Niska has experienced with Astrid (Bella Dayne) — which pushed her further to accept humanity in all its beautiful flaws.
In the end, it may not matter if the trial proves successful. Because, as Mia points out, each and every conscious Synth is a child without any real guidance. Hester’s a great example of this — lacking a clear-cut understanding of the differences between what’s right and what’s wrong.
If Leo and his team saves them all, what then? Who will be there to teach and guide them? What will the end-goal be?
As these robots steadily awaken and search for identity amid the unfamiliarity of their surroundings, violence may end up being an easy answer. If the courts recognize Niska as a human in this murder trial — that would apply to each and every rogue robot, as well. Synth sentience is a screwy thing: If we learned anything from James Cameron’s age-old Skynet tale, what follows could be a war of the highest caliber.
“Humans” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.