Room 104 season 2, episode 10 recap: Artificial


Can artificial intelligence really exist? The tenth episode of Room 104 digs deep into the age-old science-fiction question with some killer direction and performances.

Natalie Morales, who starred in the exceptional eighth episode of Room 104, “A Nightmare”, makes her television directorial debut with a dramatic look at what makes us human in the tenth episode of the HBO series.

Charles (Sheaun McKinney) has come to meet Helen (Katie Aselton) in Room 104. We immediately figure out that she’s not quite like other women. Earlier we saw her practicing a variety of emotions and now, when Charles casually says he’ll drink whatever she’s having, Helen replies, ‘I won’t be having anything.’ The two of them giggle awkwardly before she gets him some water. This is not an average date on episode 10 of Room 104.

Charles wants to record their meeting, but Helen says that recorders can’t pick up her voice – the binary codes clash. He takes out a pen and pad, and Helen reveals that she has booked Room 104 for three days. Charles bursts out laughing; he usually interviews his subjects for 15-20 minutes. But he deftly handles the situation telling Helen that this meeting with her is a real treat.

More. Room 104 season 2, episode 8 recap: A Nightmare. light

More from HBO

Helen was assembled four months ago in Norway. When Charles asks after her friends or romantic partners, Helen begins flirting with him. He admits that it makes him extremely uncomfortable, so Helen apologizes. That wasn’t her intention; she wanted him to like her because she’s ‘only human’. Charles laughs at this joke saying he thinks she’s funny. But Helen takes umbrage to this comment. She granted Charles this exclusive interview, but if he is planning on writing a piece about a woman who thinks ‘she’s something she’s not’ or an insane human being, then Helen will report him to her creators and he will likely be dead with a day.

Charles is visibly startled by Helen’s claim. Before he can retort, she presents an alternative – if a part of Charles believes that Helen is what she claims to be, then he has 71 hours to understand her and what she will mean for the world once she is made public. Aselton’s performance is simply outstanding; the way she mimics robotic speech and mannerisms practically has me convinced that she really is an android!

Helen then yawns and walks away to recharge. Charles apologizes for offending her and Helen emerges from the bathroom with her recharge cable. She asks Charles to help her connect the cable, but just as he’s about to plug her in, she fakes having a seizure. Seeing that Charles didn’t care for yet another gag, Helen promises to stop joking and flirting with him and instead invites him to sit opposite her at the table for the rest of the interview.

Helen’s creators were working on creating artificial intelligence using hybrid models. Their first prototype turned out to be fully operational – Helen claims it was her. An Olympic athlete donated her body for research when she was dying of brain cancer; Helen was the recipient of that body.

Helen explains that she was created quite like the Terminator from the films, but Charles seems unconvinced. She shows him a chip stuck in the back of her neck – an identifier that she was a prototype – but Charles thinks it’s just glued on. ‘Not everything looks like in the movies, Charles’. She does though; she reminds me of Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

She begins to sound like every AI nightmare from film history when she tells Charles that one of the side effects of her creation was that she became a superior system to all others. Her power comes from human beings’ inability to accept that something that looks like them isn’t human. She accuses Charles of doing this all evening despite her repeated assertions that she is artificial intelligence.

‘It is this small error; this tiny little nuance that is enough to arm the hybrids with all the power they need to take over.’

Charles is perplexed. McKinney immaculately captures the conundrum of his character – should he feel terrified or amused by these proclamations? Helen persists in asking Charles how he feels, so he gives in and tells her that if what she is saying is true then hybrids would be seen as the biggest threat to humanity. His hope is that whoever is creating these hybrids has a good heart and that they want the best in the world. Helen looks impressed by his answer. But, Charles still doesn’t believe Helen’s story.

Helen brings a knife and asks Charles to stab her palm because hybrids feel no pain and that is the only way she can show him the inner processes of a hybrid. That’s the last straw for Charles. He gets up to leave, but Helen grabs him and stabs him in the hand. For a moment, he doesn’t react and then he cries out in pain. Helen insists he doesn’t feel pain but he says he does. She calmly removes the knife and Charles realizes that he is also a hybrid.

Helen looks delighted, but then Charles starts frothing at the mouth and collapses. The lights turn on in Room 104 and scientists enter, examining the prone body of Charles and shutting down Helen’s body. They complain in Norwegian that this is the 27th failed attempt to make the hybrids self-aware and believe that Helen may be part of the problem.

Next. Jodie Whittaker says she's staying for Doctor Who season 12. dark

They feel she continuously goes off-script by doing things like the knife attack and seems intent on making sure none of the new hybrids succeed. As the scientists debate whether they should get rid of her, the deactivated Helen’s eye twitches.