Review: Sense 8 (Netflix Original Series)

Sense 8 PosterCan we connect to someone across the world? The creators of Sense 8 (the Wachowski’s) seem to think so.

There is an ever expanding theory that we, as humans, can open our minds in a way that we can connect to the rest of the world. This includes connect with people on the other side of the world, witness events as if you were there – and explain it as a vision or dream you had one time. A fuzzy one, so that people won’t think you’re crazy or dabbling in the dark arts or something. But what if you could do more than that?

In the Netflix Original series, Sense 8, we see people doing just that; experiencing life as one when they’re eight. People who have never met each other and live in various countries/continents of the world (Korea, Nigeria, USA, London/Iceland, Germany, India & Mexico) – suddenly can see, speak, and experience one another’s emotions as their own. Even, fluently speaking another language – surprising not only themselves, but the people around them.

The Characters are already complex to begin with. As we’re introduced to each of them through the ‘birthing’ process of their sensate mother Angelica (brilliantly played by Darryl Hanna) these complete characters are thrust into each other’s lives, with this, they start thinking they’re going insane, a very natural thought. However, as the first episode of season one shows us, Nomi (Jamie Clayton), Will (Brian J. Smith), Riley (Tuppence Middleton), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), Sun (Doona Bae), Capheus (Season 1: Aml Ameen, Season 2: Toby Onwumere) Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) and Kala (Tina Desai) become what is immediately known as a ‘cluster’ as they try to go about their daily routines and living their already complex lives. The first experiences are incredibly funny and as a viewer we can immediately identify with the characters as “I’d react the same way” if that sort of thing happened to you/us.

However, not all is fun and games – there’s a danger with being different.  Not only are these characters navigating the difficulties and fears of being trans, gay, immigrants, religious, police officers in a hostile environment, women in an oppressive environments, fighting for the longevity of a family member with HIV in a hostile environment, and being considered a wild card in organized crime (more like the Russian Mafia), these characters have a new set of ‘bad guys’ who are doing everything possible to control the sensate (or homo-sensorium)after them. And these bad guys really do not play and they will go to any lengths possible and probable to get what they want.

Enter Jonas (Naveen Andrews), a shady character who we’re still not sure if he’s bad, or good, or just trying to survive and Whispers (Terrence Mann), this is the dude everyone is afraid of, and with good reason. Whispers, is, in one very understated word: psychotic – his ultimate goal is yet to be determined, but his intentions are clear: get all the sensates (and their respective clusters) he can get his hands on.  From the first episode Whispers is established as a force to be reckoned with – he’s the boss of the white coats and can make anyone and any timeline disappear – Jonas is known to collaborate with him, but he’s also helping our heroes figure out who and what they are – so that’s why we’re not sure if he’s bad or good, or what….then we have the haunting images of Angelica warning her last cluster and urging them to stay safe and keep their cluster safe at all costs. But one thing that Angelica didn’t foresee was the strength of this last group and how they are, not only strong as individuals but stronger as a group – even if they’re thousands of miles apart and this, gives Whispers a challenge he’s never faced before and the viewers riveting action sequences that will keep you at the edge of your seats while chewing your nails out, and quite possibly screaming at the screen…

The show is filled with mind bending and challenging realities that make sense but are also pure fantasy. The writers and directors do an amazing job at presenting possible realities for people who believe in spiritual and mind awakening and the concept of being connected to more than just your own life as well as how ‘normal’ people would react to discovering that they, or a person they love is a different type of human that can do much more with their brains than anyone can imagine. But it’s not all crazy serious, the dialogue, while often technical, is also chock-full-of quips that will make you laugh and fall in love with each character and something else that is worth noting; in Sense 8 there is a constant and consistent great representation of men, women and the LGBTQ community. It doesn’t only put one gender or race as the savior to all, but present the idea of how we are strong in certain areas and how we can use help in other areas. Where Will is lacking, Sun picks up, where Wolfgang, Will and Sun can’t figure out a solution Kala steps in – it’s all amazing, because they are all the solution, the saviors, the heroes, they are all strong and meaningful to the story and significant to the survival of each and every character.

It also has tons, and I mean tons of crazy sex/love scenes that are overwhelmingly intense and filled with love in an artistic form – I mean, they’re so jaw droppingly beautiful…I can’t help but feel that this is the Wachowski’s way of making love to our (the viewers) brains and senses and I love them for that. Also, there’s tons of intense action. Edge of your seat-type action, some action that has funny moments, others that make you go “take that you asshole!”.

Let me not close this post without mentioning the incredible supporting characters who are equally as important and have almost the same amount as screen time as the cluster, further showcasing how important a supportive network is to our survival as a species. Felix, Hernando, Daniela, Amanita, Bug, Jela, Rajan and Kala’s parents – mainly her father, Detective Mun are so important to the story as they further develop. There is no detail left to wonder, and there is no character that isn’t quite necessary or just “decorative” in this series. Everything has a purpose for their place, time and episode, so watch Sense 8 and expand your mind.

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