This Friday the 5th, after two years of wait, humankind was finally graced with the second season of the Netflix worldly extravaganza, Sense8. As one does, I have binged on all ten episodes in a row because well, this is a series that is very hard to part with. Two years later (well, one and a half given the New Year’s special) and my interest in and care for it have not diminished in the slightest.
Season 2 is BIGGER. In every sense of the word. We get new characters, new places, and new information on the world of the sensates. I have not been able to decide which of the seasons I prefer, because they are SO different from each other. Season 1 is in a way more intimate, with them understanding what they are, getting to know each other, and just beginning to discover the dangers that lie ahead. Season 2 offers a lot more background explanation, and even though the personal relationship between the 8 sensates is still obviously important, the threats to their existence and their own personal journeys take front and center. This also has made me feel that the story felt a bit less neat and tidy as the first, not necessarily in a good way. But it remains to be seen if all that was opened will be closed by the time the series ends, some seasons from now (it is reported that they have planned for five seasons in total).
Keeping it spoiler-free, I can say it is still absolutely worth your time to watch Sense8 season 2. The acting, cinematography, story, locations, it is all still of the highest caliber, making this one of the best shows to have been launched in a LONG time. It remains different from anything one has ever seen.
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. Read at your own risk!
First, to the good points! I like it that there is a much more established dynamics between them, they have an understanding of each other and their qualities/defects that really brings this sense of friendship and connection to life. Some people get along more (Will/Riley, Wolfgang/Kala), others less (Sun/Lito – although this relationship evolves a lot) but they all love and care for each other like a family.
The expansion of their world. As I said, season one was very “intimate” in a way, it was a lot about them getting to know each other. Now, they already have this somewhat more established dynamics with each other, and so we get to see how they each live their lives on top of being a sensate. “Who am I?”, which is also the title of the first episode, is a question that will echo throughout the season. Capheus’ story brought some very political points across in terms of corruption and water security; Sun’s journey in and out of prison and in relation to her brother is a very emotional (in a very Sun-like manner) ride that led to one of the coolest scenes; Nomi and the complexity of her fugitive life with Amanita and Bug (who got a lot more screen time and has been a hilarious addition); Riley and Will’s life as a real-life couple on the run; Kala’s marital doubts; Wolfgang’s place in Berlin; and Lito’s homosexuality and career.
At the same time, the story is grander than ever. We meet many new sensates, some of which I loved (Sylvester McCoy as Mr.Hoy) and some of which I hated (Lila). It still has to become clear how they suddenly find and communicate themselves with members outside of their cluster, much like Will and Jonas do. I feel there has been some vague explanation but the academic in me was not satisfied. I thought it was great that we got to see these new people, some more developed some less, because they are building up to a good sensates vs bad sensates vs normal humans showdown at some point (sensates, they explain, are a different species altogether. Homo sensorium, they are called, while the normal humans are the good old Homo sapiens).
The series had some amazing sequences, such as the chase in Seul (even though it bordered on cheesy), the São Paulo Pride parade (although I expected more from it, but hey, I am from Brazil), the showdown between Lila and Wolfgang, and the ending (MAJOR SPOILER NOW) when they are (almost) ALL IN THE SAME PHYSICAL LOCATION and have just kidnapped Whispers and Jonas.
- Bug in general: he always provided some very funny and/or heartwarming moments, such as “fanboying” over Lito, or one liners like “totally clustered”, as he felt a part of the cluster too.
- Detective Mun: I just love they managed to write a character that is up to par with Sun. The detective brought a new side of Sun, in a way, and I hope we get to see more of him in the future.
- With all the hacking that Nomi, Amanita and Bug do, it raises a discussion on the dangers of our interconnectedness (I will complain about this later, though).
- Sun’s brother saying something along the lines of “Is my sister like the terminator?” during the chase scene was priceless.
- Nomi’s dad calling her daughter.
The not-so-good points are minor, as in they did not bother me that much, but no series can be perfect.
I think the biggest one for me is that it feels a bit too deus ex-machina at times. Even though yes, they are 8 people each with a different set of skills that work together, they just manage to get away with too much. Like Nomi, Amanita and Bug hacking their way to anything. Yes, our world is ridiculously virtualised and interconnected, but it felt too much. Also for example, Sun was supposed to have died in that prison. How did the elderly lady get out of her cell to go there as a last minute help? It was poorly explained. However, it does still manage to maintain my suspension of disbelief, so it is not too serious a fault.
Also, bringing up September 11, 2001 as an explanation for anything feels too been-there-done-that and I expected more of Sense8. It is not that it does not make sense, I just feel that at this point, it is a cheap cop-out, even though it was a divisive moment in contemporary history. It’s just that othering has been around since ever, they surely could have come up with something more original to make that point.
The group’s act of war against BPO and Whispers went by too quickly without much explanation at the end of the last episode, and we did not get a moment to enjoy the fact they are actually there in each other’s presence, minus Wolfgang. I suspect we will get a breakdown of what was happening and why Wolfie was not with them when next season premieres, but still. My poor heart! Again, DAMN YOU LILA.
I am now left with so many questions!
- Where is Wolfie? Was he not in the same location as Whispers? Because it sure looked like he was, but then he was not there with them in the final shot. I do not think he died after capture (DAMN YOU LILA!), but I certainly hope I do not have to wait two years to find out.
- How will the sensates deal with each other, in the grand scheme of things? There are people who want to co-exist peacefully, and there are others (DAMN YOU LILA!) that want a segregated living for sensates to be free, thinking the Homo sapiens inferior.
- Is Amanita evil? She and Nomi are now engaged and that was mostly a cute scene, but there was something just…off. From season one, I keep waiting for Amanita to turn on Nomi. There is just something there sometimes… I don’t know if it is down to acting choices, my paranoia, or hints they are dropping about it. Remains to be seen, and hopefully I am wrong. I love her relationship with Nomi.