The second series of the family drama that just happens to contain self-aware robots has begun on Channel 4 and we’re now two episodes into it. The initial episode begins in Berlin where Emily Berrington’s Niska is trying to learn about herself as she is flirted with in a nightclub by a German woman, Astrid.

After conversations the next morning, Niska decides to update all of the synths, the humanoid robots in this world, with a program to make them have a conscious like herself. By activating the code the titles start and the series begins. The show then jumps six weeks as a few synths around the world begin to awaken and have to either flee or be destroyed.
After all of this it makes the drama of the Hawkins’ family life, with a home move, the children growing up and marriage counselling very dull, although maybe it’s necessary to ground them for future episodes. Either way it made for rather tedious viewing, even if it did allow Josie Lawrence to show off her talents as the synth marriage councillor.

Meanwhile, the half human, half synth Leo Elster and another of the conscious synths, Max, are travelling around collecting the newly awakening. This is by far the most action-packed section as they are being chased by an unknown group who are collecting these now ‘defective’ synths. One of the new synths in their care is struggling to come to terms with the new morals that she’s interpreting in a more brutal way than others would maybe like – which makes her one of the creepier and therefore more interesting aspects of this series.
There are also other mundane stories about synths and humans trying to work out how to develop a relationship with one another, which feel like they’re there simply to prove a point and bulk out the show, rather than being necessary or engaging.

Finally, this year’s famous actor to please the American market, the show is co-produced with AMC, is the talented Carrie-Anne Moss, best known for her role in the Matrix trilogy. She’s an AI scientist working in an under-funded lab in America, trying to make a conscious machine herself. This corporate world feels forced into the otherwise very British and family orientated show.
Overall the premise for this series is very strong with a few extremely engrossing stories. However, there’s also a lot of what feels a bit like filler. Narratives simply there to show all the possible sides in human synth relationships but with no apparent reason to the overall ark, at least at this moment.

Dan West


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