As for all TV shows, you have to start somewhere. We get an alternative present day London where the world still has a lot of what we have today, except a few jumps in technology (i.e. the Synths). Synths are created to be like humans, they effectively are made to help humans with tasks in everyday life and do things which would normally be dangerous or hazardous to us. We do get many Sci-Fi troupes that we are used to. We’ve all seen paranoia over machines taking over (The Terminator), synthetic people (Blade Runner) and countless more. But, I really enjoyed this episode. There was a lot to take in, but it was all good and gripping.
First, this show is centrally a human show. The introduction to this alternative world shows that we still have everyday life. Laura Hawkins (Katherine Parkinson) is an overworked woman, she feels very unhappy about the synths. When Laura first meets Anita (Gemma Chan, who gives the best performance in the episode), there is a very conflicting emotion in the air as she immediately hates the idea of sharing her home with this machine. Laura’s family immediately love Anita after they pick her up, but is Laura right to be nervous? We get to meet Dr. Millican (William Hurt), he has a synth called Odi who is far past his usefulness, but the memories they share makes Odi almost like a son. Will keeping a faulty Odi be dangerous for George?
We also get a flashback to five weeks before the Hawkins family adopt Anita, all I will say is that this will clear up why we have Colin Morgan’s Leo as a roughed up man and why he is doing what he is doing. With some teases over what is happening, I can only hope Leo gets more to do in future episodes. Also, we get police officer Peter Drummond (Neil Maskell, the fantastic actor who played Arby in Utopia) who tries to uphold the law with the synths, and may be uncomfortable around them too. Finally, we got to meet Hobb, but will he become significant in future episodes? I don’t want to give too many details away, but tease what has happened so far and get you to fill in the gaps.
This collaboration with Channel 4 and AMC has paid off in spades. We may still have seven episodes to go, but this world feels so close to ours already that we can already feel a connection to it. Katherine Parkinson really leads this episode; she is the one who can see what can go wrong with the synths and the last scene in this episode could see a possible nightmare scenario for her. William Hurt is very much a heart in this show, he deeply cares for his synth and his acting is superb. In fact, I can’t really see any fault in any of the performances. The highlight performance though is from Gemma Chan, she makes Anita a stunningly iconic character within that first hour. She is calm, robotic and seems perfect. Anita doesn’t twitch, hardly moves and doesn’t even seem to breathe. Her scene where she laughs, watches over the young daughter of Laura and just her overall performance is mesmerising and creepy. You will forget this is an actress. A great story, fantastic characters and a world that is uncomfortably familiar. I just wish we didn’t have so many characters in the first hour; it is a lot of people to get to know. It is sometimes tricky to keep up with everyone that appears on screen, but we do have another seven hours still to go, and I reckon this will just continue to impress.
Final rating: 9/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove