Being a sensate in Sense8 means a lot of strange things. Without warning, you could feel unusually happy or see rain clouds where there were none. You could find yourself weeping or smiling or screaming for no reason at all. You could hop out of the shower and see someone else’s face the mirror – or one looking back at you. And the sex. Oh, the sex.
It’s a small world that our eight sensates live in and episodes 4-6 are all about it getting smaller. For the most part, act more as a continuation of what we’ve seen before. In Berlin, Wolfgang’s living the high life off of his heists. In India, Kala prepares for her wedding. In Mexico, Lito and Hernando adjust to their new living arrangements with Daniella. Meanwhile, Capheus gets in over his head with a Kenyan drug lord to get his mother’s medication and in Korea, Sun deals with the fallout a family business scandal. That all leaves Will, Riley, and Nomi experiencing some of the fuller effects of their increasingly intimate – and dangerous – mental connections.
After just three episodes, it should be hard to pick a “favorite” character out of the show’s sizable cast, but I’m beginning to feel like I already have. I can say that I liked Capheus and Nomi right out of the gate and I’ll admit that Sun’s story is beginning to grow on me in part thanks to Bae Doona’s quiet strength. As many story-arcs as Sense8‘s juggling, it’s a wonder how it manages to balance them all, but it balance them it does. The parallel shots and snappy cuts keeps each arc more like a highlight reel of intertwining conversations that all lead across the same thematic space.
Six episodes in, it’s predictable we finally start to see our characters begin to grow together, but it’s certainly entertaining watching it mix-and-match some of its oddest couples. Its male/female pairings no doubt get the most amusing moments out of the bunch, including but not limited to Sun and Lito’s inopportune connections that sees Lito reduced to a period-induced drama queen during a movie shoot. As show’s two arguably weakest links, Kala and Wolfgang’s nondescript roles never interested me up until their first connection alá Wolfgang’s baring it all as Kala’s stroll down the aisle.
Sense8 is clearly willing to have a little fun with the time it’s been given even as viewers probably wonder aloud, “What IS going on?” It’s the aptly titled What’s Going On? that provides nothing in the way of all that, but revels in toying with its audience in the wistful manner of 4 Non Blondes’ song of the same name. We get our glimpse at Not-Sayyid – I mean, Jonas – and our first real conversation between him and Will about just what a sensate is, if not how valuable they must be as far as Nomi and Amanita’s jailbreak from her hospital of horrors is concerned. For now, it’s clear what our sensates can feel, psychic sing-alongs notwithstanding in what must be the most ironic use of a long-distance musical montage ever.
Sense8 straddles a fine line between and Art is Like Religion has one of the best. I’ll hand it to the Wachowski Brothers for their self-referential jab at their off-the-wall Matrix stunts. If you complained about a distinct lack of off-the-wall, ultra-violence from a Wachowski production, then Lito’s gun-toting wirework that spawned so much ire from the show’s promos is what you’ve been asking for its well-timed hilarity.
And have we talked about the sex yet? Because Demon’s got plenty of it, oh ho, yes indeed. You know that pleasure and pain bit? Well, our characters finally get a piece of that actions thanks to some help from Lito and Nomi that sets off what can only be described as a chain-reaction of feels in a mess of human bodies only video-on-demand could get away with. In spite of how that might all sound, I’ll hand it to Sense8 for handling it humanly. Straight, gay, bi, trans, or sensate, everyone’s equal here. Regardless, Will must’ve gotten the best workout of his life.
All the while, Demons goes to some very dark places we learn a lot more about what everyone’s capable of. Riley and Will give us probably our best illustrations of parallel lives with a surreal phone conversation in one another’s voices. There’s a growing sense of menace in how close everyone’s growing and how far they might just lose themselves. Sometimes it’s about seeing faces in the mirror or hearing voices. Sometimes it’s about getting strangled with a plastic bag put over your head on the other side of the world. It’s a wonder just how these characters must perceive each other as something almost supernatural that they could lose themselves in.
Sense8 has been about tying up loose ends as much as sewing new ones. At times, Sense8 has the habit of slowing down merely for the sake of slowing down, but even the lulls possess something revealing. We know Sun and Capheus. We know how far Sun’s willing to go for family, including taking the fall for her family – even behind bars. It’s times when characters get to share a beautifully melancholy moment that Sense8 comes into its own. Riley and Sun sharing a smoke as sun sets is one of those moments.
Half-way into the series, I’m probably no closer to understanding just what Sense8‘s about. In its own strange ways, the show’s merely content to take the time to smell the roses and for all the questions it poses, the answer is simpler then I’d want to be believe. For now, the eight lives of Sense8 are still enough reason to watch the series stay lost in itself, though I fear their dilution as the season goes on. Against my better judgment, I’m content to sing along and chill in the psychic conga-line. But really, what’s going oooooonnn?
All twelve episodes of Sense8 are available for streaming through Netflix on TV, PC, tablet, mobile, and game consoles. Check back for our review of episodes 7-9 and more on all your favorite games, movies, comics, and TV here at BagoGames.