The following contains spoilers for Netflix’s Sense8.
Daring, Unbelievable, Heartwarming, Unusual, Incredible.
The new Netflix series, Sense8, might not be an outright hit with the critics, but it’s definitely a hit with the fans. It premiered on June 5 and already has quite a fan following. I bet everyone knows at least one person who’s already seen it and loved it. I first heard about it when I saw that Freema Agyeman, Naveen Andrews and Alfonso Herrera were going to be in a show together. I’ve been a fan of Poncho since my pre-teen days of Rebelde and RBD, of Agyeman because of Martha Jones, and of Andrews thanks to LOST and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I was excited about it, and then it kind of left my mind until it premiered. Suddenly, all of my Twitter feed was talking about was this new show.
Being as curious as I am, I decided to watch it. I thought it would be good but I don’t think any of us could have expected what it truly was. It’s a show that has character, that isn’t afraid to push the limits, no character falls short and they all bring something special to the table. A show like this doesn’t come around very often, so we should cherish it because it’s something truly magnificent. Not only does it have representation in spades, but it’s representation done right. I can’t speak for the other cultures but at least in terms of my city and my culture they did things right.
Sense8 is a play on the word sensate which is the term that describes what the characters become. Every character is as important at the next, and it’s practically impossible to pick a favorite out of all of them.
Capheus (Nairobi) : He’s the eternal optimist, drives a van and has a deep love of Van Damme movies. Even when things looked the darkest in his storyline he never gave up hope and he always did the right thing. He values family above all else, considering everything he does, he does for his sick mother.
Sun (Seoul): Arguably the most badass character in the series. She is a woman living in a man’s world and has been ignored by her father and brother throughout most of her life. She’s an expert fighter who helps out the other sensates in her cluster get out of tough situations either by her words or her actions.
Will (Chicago): A good cop trying to do the best he can and get away from his father’s reputation. He’s got a bit of a hero complex but instead of making him annoying it’s endearing. He’s the one through which we learn about what sensates are and what they can do.
Riley (London): Icelandic DJ, who is as talented as she is haunted. Escaped from Iceland after she lost her husband and child in an accident and had a failed suicide attempt. She witnesses a drug deal gone wrong and manages to escape but is forever looking over her shoulder. She’s probably the strongest of them all even if she doesn’t believe it.
Lito (Mexico City): Mexican Telenovela Actor who is eternally afraid of coming out of the closet. His beard, Daniela stumbles upon his relationship with Hernando and ends up living with them to protect her from her ex, who’s a narcotraficante. Almost looses everything when he is afraid of giving up his career by saving his friend. It’s through the help of the cluster that he realizes that his career is nothing without the people who we considers his family.
Side note: I have to mention I was extremely happy that the main mexican person was not a narcotraficante. Sure it’s implied that Joaquin is one (and the mysoginistic tendencies of the macho mexican man are portrayed perfectly,) but Lito is just a guy who loves his work and his boyfriend. It’s refreshing to be honest.
Kala (Mumbai): Works at a pharmaceutical company and has a deep faith in Ganesha, the Hindu god. She is torn between marrying the perfect man, who she doesn’t love, to please her family or following her heart and breaking it off. Her character brings the concept that religion and science do not have to be as opposite as one might think
Wolfgang (Berlin): Master thief who has just pulled off the heist of a lifetime with his best friend Felix. Everything seems to be working out until it all falls apart. The heist they pulled off was going to pulled of by his cousin and who takes revenge by hurting Felix. Creating a battle between Wolfgang and his family.
Nomi (San Francisco): A transgender hacktivist who is out and proud. She’s got transphobic parents and a wonderful and supportive girlfriend in Amanita. While Will is the way we find out about Sensates, Nomi is the way we found out about those who are hunting them. We find out what Whispers and the rest want to do to Sensates. She’s the mastermind of the cluster and a brilliant character who helps the others learn to live themselves.
Other notable characters are Nomi’s faithful girlfriend Amanita, Lito’s loving boyfriend Hernando, Wolfgang’s best friend Felix, sensate Jonas and Kala’s fiancé Rajan.
These 8 characters could not be more different, and I bet in normal circumstances they wouldn’t look at each other twice and yet something connects them. They know everything about each other and share everything, and yet they are still strangers. The different ways they work together throughout the course of the season makes us root for them. All the different relationships that are formed are wonderful. Not just the romantic ones, but the bonds of friendship; the sibling-like bond between Will and Nomi, the easy camaraderie between Kala and Capheus, the meaningful conversations between Sun and Riley, the respect between Lito and Wolfgang.
It’s a show that doesn’t shy away from the big issues but instead includes them in ways that make sense. It shows both the beautiful and the ugly sides of the cultures and is extremely refreshing. Normally when a show has good writing it sometimes lacks in other things and yet here the characters are fully fleshed and the cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful. There are a few scenes that stand above the rest in my opinion.
All of them singing: The best rendition of What’s Up? by 4 Non Blondes. It’s the first time we see them all connected. Riley is sitting on a ledge, Lito is in bed with Hernando and Daniela, Sun is taking a shower, Wolfgang is in Karaoke, Nomi is on the operation table, Will is looking up Nomi on the computer, Capheus is driving and Kala is on a roof. Riley starts it by playing the song on her iPod, and it’s the song Wolfgang gets to sing in Karaoke. It’s a very cheerful scene and the transitions are beautiful. For that moment they are all enjoying themselves, even though some aren’t in the best of circumstances.
Kala and Wolfgang talk science and faith: In terms of cinematography, it’s beautiful because she’s in the sun while he’s in the rain. It says a lot about their different storylines, her life is mostly sunny while his isn’t. He is confused about her faith and the fact that she’s a scientist. She tells him are non-exclusive, you can believe in both at the same time. She calls them two separate languages and when he retorts that one doesn’t make sense, she reminds him of their situation. The fact that they can be in two places at once shouldn’t make sense and yet it does. Just like faith.
Using their skills to escape Whispers: If we get a season 2 I really want to see more of this. All of them use their particular skillsets to help save one of their own. Will is the physical person saving Riley. He got in thanks to Nomi’s hacking. He found the room thanks to Lito’s acting, and fought the guards with Sun’s skills. They woke up Riley thanks to Kala’s medical knowledge and got the getaway car thanks to Capheus’ car jacking. They manage to loose Whispers thanks to Wolfgang’s driving and they are all safe thanks to Will’s sacrifice. Riley gets him away from Iceland and for the moment all of them are safe, and there’s hope.
Nomi and Lito talk in the Diego Rivera Museum: Both parts of this scene take my breath away. As both an art history student and a Mexican I truly love this look into our culture and into Art. Like Hernando says, love like art must always be free. Not only do we get to see Hernando passionately talking about Diego Rivera but also we see the love Lito has for Hernando. The second part is heartbreaking and shows how cruel kids can be. As Nomi tells Lito of what they did to her when she was a child and how that moment helped her become the woman that she is. She says one of the best lines in the series “The real violence, the violence that I realized was unforgivable, is the violence that we do to ourselves when we’re too afraid to be who we really are.” This ultimately helps Lito take a stand for his relationship.
Here is a show that tackles issues not normally seen in Sci-fi shows, Sexuality, Science, Faith, Compassion and Love. Sense8 loves Love. It gives us all kinds of love in it’s purest forms, and that’s a breath of fresh air.
Is the show perfect? No, it’s not; it starts out pretty slow and lags at certain points but it has an untapped potential to be one of the greats. I sincerely hope we get a season 2 because it would be a pity to see a show like this end up in the waste pile. Everyone wanted a show that was smart and had good representation. Well, here it is, and it’s up to us to make sure it stays around.
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