A sense8 Binge-Watch and Blog-Along (Part One: Eps 1-3)

sense8 is a new show created by Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix Trilogy, Jupiter Ascending, and the film adaptations of V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, and Cloud Atlas) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, The Amazing Spider-Man comics, and various other comic titles).  All 12 episodes were released on Netflix today, so I thought I’d do a “binge-watch and blog-along.”  What does that mean exactly?  Well, I will watch the show and type up my reactions immediately after watching each episode.  So theoretically, we’ll see how my thoughts about the show change throughout this post.  This may be interesting, or it may be a total disaster.  Either way, there will obviously be spoilers ahead!  This first post will include reviews and reactions to the first three episodes.  So without any further ado, on to Wise the Simple’s first ever Binge-Watch and Blog-Along!!

Time sense8 review

Naveen Andrews and Daryl Hannah in sense8 (via Time)

Episode 1 – Limbic Dissonance
This first episode was mainly just about introducing the characters.  Other than that, there was not too much actual story going on.  Most of the characters didn’t really have an arc.  It just set up who they were and the main problem that they will presumably be dealing with the rest of the season.  Some characters were touched upon so briefly that I don’t even remember their names.  The main two in this episode seemed to be Will, the Chicago cop, and Riley, a London-based DJ. (Side note: Her accent seems to indicate that she isn’t British herself.  I either missed that explanation, or we will find out more in later episodes. *shrug*) They were the first to make full contact with one another in that they spoke “face-to-face” rather than just catching fleeting glimpses from another’s point of view.

Besides introducing the characters, the brunt of this episode was spent setting up the mystery of it all: Who are these people?  What is happening to them?  I had previously seen the trailer and character spots, and had read some general synopses when the show was first being advertised, so I was somewhat familiar with the main premise of the show.  But I’m sure that anyone going in to this show blind would be completely confused.  This first episode seemed to dangle all of this information just out of reach as a “hook” and attempt to be intriguing.  But an hour (67 minutes, to be precise.  Ah, the directorial freedoms of streaming services vs. commercial television!) of this evasiveness may be more frustrating to some viewers than compelling.  But luckily for us, we can simply binge watch to find out more!  So, let’s move on to episode two…

Episode 2 – I Am Also a We
This episode flowed a lot better than the first. The questions raised here are a lot more intriguing than those offered in the first because they were accompanied by new facts.  We now know that Naveen Andrews’ character, Jonas, is a wanted man, though we don’t know why.  It looks like he will be a mentor to the… sensates?  sens8s?  …to our eight connected protagonists.  Speaking of our main characters, let’s take a look at how they were portrayed in this episode:

  1. Will‘s storyline continues to be about the divide between cops and the gang members, the divide of class and race.  We met his father, played by Matrix alumnus Joe Pantoliano, and heard whisperings of past troubles involving a girl named Sara Patrell.  Connections with other sensates: He saw Riley in the mirror, and had a cool “jumping into one another’s cars while I teach you about your new powers” scene with Jonas.
  2. Riley was shown fairly briefly this episode.  She is now on the run from the drug dealers from whom her guy friends stole money & product.  Connections with other sensates:  Nomi, the trans woman from San Francisco, walked down the street and sang with her; she also saw Will in the mirror.
  3. Nomi is in a whole lot of trouble.  After fainting at the pride parade, she is told by a Dr. Metzger that she has a mass in her frontal lobe and needs to be operated on immediately.  While at first it seemed like the conflict at the hospital was being orchestrated by her disapproving mother, Jonas’ warning (plus the observations of heavy security on the floor by Nomi’s girlfriend) makes it seem as though Dr. Metzger may have a more malicious hand in it all.  Connections with other sensates:  Had a vision of and shared a song with Riley.  “Visted” by Jonas in the hospital.
  4. Wolfgang, the German thief, celebrates his successful heist by hooking up with a stranger.  Connections with other sensates:  Has a craving for Indian food, then later sees the newly-engaged Kala.
  5. I’ll be honest, even though I thoroughly enjoyed all of her scenes, I did not catch Kala‘s name during the episode and had to look it up.  From the trailers, I was expecting her storyline to be a stereotypical arranged marriage situation.  Thankfully, the Wachowskis and Straczynski sidestep this by making it a marriage of unrequited love, which Kala agrees to in order to make her parents happy.  While the other characters may have had more interesting storylines this episode, I really like Kala.  She just seems really sweet.  Also, I’m not sure if the shared look between her and Wolfgang was supposed to hint at an attraction between the two, but I hope not because I think her fiancé is adorable.  He’s just so absolutely smitten, and it kinda makes me sad to think she won’t fall in love with him.  (Though I’m not big on romance novels or chick flicks, deep down I am a hopeless romantic.)  Connections with other sensates:  Sees Wolfgang from the balcony.
  6. Lito, the Mexican actor, attends a movie premiere with a woman on his arm; but it is soon revealed that he is a closeted gay man.  His storyline in this episode revolves around his hesitation to either come out to or “dump” his female companion.  But all’s well that ends well, as his female friend is fine with, and even thrilled at, the truth of the situation.  Connections with other sensates:  None that I can recall… ?
  7. and 8.  To my recollection, neither Capheus, the Kenyan bus driver, nor Sun, the Korean businesswoman, showed up in this episode.  (Like Kala, I had to look up Capheus’ name.)  I really liked Capheus in the first episode (“Van Damn”, ha!).  He seems to be a sweetheart as well.  I’m interested in seeing these two fleshed out a lot more, as they were probably the two most underserved in the first episode and were non-existent in the second.

Doona Bae as Sun, Jamie Clayton as Nomi, Aml Ameen as Capheus, and Miguel Ángel Silvestre as Lito (via /Film)

Episode 3 – Smart Money is on the Skinny Bitch
It’s like the show can read my mind! (Maybe I’m a sensate!) The third episode did a nice job of highlighting the characters that were not featured as heavily in the previous episodes — mainly Sun and Capheus (but also some more exploration of Riley, including the fact that she’s from Iceland!)  The climax and highlight of this episode was probably my favorite part of the show thus far.  Capheus — sweet, ever-smiling Capheus who only wants to get his mother the AIDS medication she needs — is attacked and robbed.  In his attempts to fight back, he channels the abilities of two other sensates: policeman Will’s gun-firing skills and Sun’s martial arts training.  This scene was great in showing how the sensates can help each other.  Before this, the interconnectedness of the characters only allowed for fleeting moments in each other’s shoes, as it were (and the one scene in the first episode where Will and Riley speak to one another).  But we are now slowly discovering more about their capabilities.

Speculation time!: Nomi’s terrifyingly horrible situation along with Will’s file on Sarah Patrell (and possibly related dream at the beginning of the episode) make me wonder if the sensates were originally the result of some crazy experimentation on the human brain.  It has obviously since evolved in some way, allowing for Angelica (Daryl Hannah) to “birth” new sensates.  While we know that our eight main characters are connected, how does that connection compare to that with Jonas?  Can all sensates feel/interact with each other in some way?  Is Sarah Patrell a sensate, allowing her to contact Will?  Or was that merely a flashback?  This episode had a lot of flashback moments showing our main eight characters as children.  Maybe something in their past allowed them to become sensates now in the present?  I must say, while the lingering questions in the first episode did not do much to stir my curiosity, I have since become more invested in the show’s mystery.

Thanks for joining me in Part One of the sense8 Binge-Watch and Blog-Along!  Coming soon: reviews and reactions to episodes 4-6.

‘Til next time, you are Van Damme!

Disclaimer: All images and videos shown belong to Netflix, the use of which have not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This blog post is for non-commercial criticism and comment purposes only. I believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law.


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