After an initial two seasons that showed glimpses of promise along with multiple missteps, the Season-Two cliffhanger initiated an exciting new direction that is fully capitalized on in this fantastic third season. Instead of continuing to explore a near future England where green-eyed “synths” are little more than mindless robotic maids and butlers for their human owners, the cliffhanger found a human launching a software patch that instantly made all synths sentient and fully aware of their virtual slavery.
Season Three picks up a year after that cataclysmic event, revealing that 110,000 humans (and 100 million synths) died in the confusion, mostly due to human-caused accidents and hate crimes against the sentient synths. This sets up a new world order where the remaining synths are hunted second-class citizens, withdrawn to fortified camps where they fear for their lives while seeking some way to gain rights equal to humans. Meanwhile, the lazy humans aren’t about to perform menial tasks themselves, so they’ve quickly replaced their departed green-eyed synths with new “totally safe” non-sentient orange-eyed synths. Sure, because that worked out so well the first time around.
The new premise gives the show some real power due to its striking similarity to the actual immigration turmoil occurring in the UK, as well as here in the U.S. The synths are in effect illegal immigrants, desperate to find their place and building their own communities while constantly at risk of being kicked out or just plain eliminated. That shift in focus greatly reduces previous season fodder like inevitable human/synth forbidden romances, making this a season that actually has some substance instead of just playing out a cool sci-fi concept. The dangerous environment also means that the season rises to a Game of Thrones level of character deaths, so be prepared for a rocky road.
With breakout lead actress Gemma Chan poised to continue increasing her worldwide profile next month in Captain Marvel, it’s telling that the show introduces multiple new characters and passes a leadership baton to returning actor Ivanno Jeremiah as Max, the head of the synth resistance. The best new addition is Holly Earl as Agnes, a fiery dissident in Max’s camp who takes command of the screen. She’s closely followed by Dino Fetscher as an imposing but hunky synth who might have the best arc of the season.
Acorn’s U.S. Blu-ray release contains the complete “uncut UK edition”, but that’s somewhat misleading since there’s seemingly nothing objectionable that would have been cut for U.S. broadcast, so any previous trims here must have just been for time considerations. The image quality is technically flawless throughout, matched with a robust 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Bonus features include nearly a half hour of behind the scenes footage featuring interviews with the cast and creators, as well as in-depth looks at the synths and new characters.