It takes a little bit to understand the pure genius behind Sense8, a Netflix Original released this June. Creator J. Michael Straczynski (Thor, World War Z) teamed up with the Wachowskis (The Matrix, 1999) to bring to the table a unique take on the capabilities of the human mind. On the surface, the plot isn’t too hard to understand: eight people with superhuman instincts who are pursued by the “bad guys.” But it goes much deeper than that.
The show follows the stories of eight characters all in different locations around the world. Though that must’ve been hard to shoot, it was well worth it, as it created much more believable situations for each character.
We meet police officer Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith) in Chicago, bus driver Capheus (Aml Ameen) in Nairobi, ninja extraordinaire Sun Bak (Doona Bae) in Seoul, hacker mastermind Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) in San Francisco, pharmacy whiz Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) in India, Icelandic DJ Riley (Tuppence Middleton) in London, Belgian boxman Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), and Mexican actor Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Ángel Silvestre).
Each character’s story lines were well-developed, their roles were clearly defined, and though the season has a slow start, things begin to pick up a few episodes in, when they each realize what they’re capable of. Jonas, a captured sensate, begins warning Will of impending dangers as their connections become stronger. Sooner or later, they figure out how to work together.
There were a few odd moments, such as the orgy we witnessed in “Demons” and the graphic birthing scene (scarred for life after that one), but I assume these were meant to show human nature at its finest. Just consider this a ‘Rated M’ kind of program.
Although slow to start, viewers are still somewhat intrigued by the different characters and their situations: Capheus is risking everything to save his mother dying from AIDS, Riley gets tied up in a drug deal gone wrong, and Wolfgang’s life is like something out of a Liam Neeson movie. Admittedly, Kala’s story pales a bit in comparison to everyone else’s, but the romance between her and Wolfgang makes her more likable. Sun and Capheus were my personal favorites (I mean really, how badass is Sun?).
Even secondary characters became memorable. Let’s not forget Riley’s father perfectly performing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto while on ecstasy, a scene that gave me goosebumps. And Amanita (Freema Agyeman), Nomi’s eccentric partner, holds a special place in my heart, along with Hernando (Alfonso Herrera), Lito’s secret boyfriend and lover of art.
In the filmography and merging between scenes, we see aspects of Cloud Atlas and The Matrix. Each character can communicate with the other (or in Will and Riley’s case, make out in public and look like weirdos to those around them) and even use another’s skills if they need to (this is when our martial arts superstar comes in more than once). One of my favorite moments was Lito feeling menstrual cramps when it’s Sun’s time of the month, and getting overly emotional on set.
Sense8 is complete with the eerily creepy villain, Mr. Whispers (Terrence Mann), whose objective is to hunt down each sensate with his organization, BPO. This is a man that can look into their eyes, see what they’re seeing and hear what they’re thinking. Level 10 creepy.
The season finale was a little lacking, in my opinion, but I suppose that’s to keep us watching. We have no idea how Riley got herself and Will out of the mountains after Will looked into Whispers’ eyes, and we don’t know if he’s going to have to take his life later on to protect the others. In the boat owned by her father’s friends, Riley and Will sail away into the sunset, accompanied by the other six sensates (in spirit, of course).
Bottom line, Sense8 is definitely worth a second season. It’s unclear whether producers will take on the financial burdens of shooting in so many different locations a second time around, but maybe they’ll devise a way of having the characters all come together somehow. Either way, Netflix needs more shows like this one.