Sense8: WWN Double-D?

The harvest of the seventh episode of The Wachowskis’ metflixum opus: one great, wild guest star, one kiss that almost happens, one lollipop, two hands, and finally one antagonist reporting for duty.

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Sun
Sun has taken the blame for her brother’s crime and ends up in prison. There she finds herself sharing a cell with three roomies in light blue jumpsuits. The Wachowski sense of style’s present even behind the walls of incarceration. So what kind of labour do women do in a women’s prison? Sew, obviously.

Riley
Riley’s trying to escape her life, friends and she doesn’t find pleasure in music anymore either. She travels to her father – judging by his accent he’s Scandinavian. On the flight over there, she gets company from Capheus, who can’t believe he’s on a plane. He isn’t, really, because it’s one of those typical Sensate tricks. When Riley steps off the plane, her father’s waiting there, singing a song on a little guitar for her. It’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other. When she’s having breakfast in his house, a woman appears behind her, saying she should’ve never come, and immediately vanishes again.

Capheus
Capheus doesn’t just occasionally pop up on aeroplanes, he’s also still the babysitter of the daughter of a powerful man. How powerful exactly, that’s what the man wants to show Capheus. On an empty floor of one of his buildings, a small army of bodyguards is standing around a chair. On that chair sits a guy, with a bag over his head. A traitor. The powerful man wants to make it abundantly clear to Capheus that he doesn’t like it when people take matters into their own hands.  If you do, say goodbye to those same hands.

Wolfgang and Kala
The love affair between Wolfgang and Kala seems to go to the next level, when they continuously switch from rainy Berlin to sunny Bombay, while having a conversation about science and religion. Not quite a sexy subject, if you ask me, but apparently it doesn’t matter what they talk about; they’re drowning in each other’s eyes. As their heads slowly turn into what should’ve been the kissing position, their bubble’s rudely bursted by Wolfgang’s friend Felix. He’s just heard their buyer wants the rest of the diamonds he and Wolfgang stole together. However, shortly after, the buyer’s gone and Felix gets gunned down by a mean looking guy with an even meaner looking gun.

Will
Will’s doing police work, walking the streets, and bumps into someone he’s got history with, but more importantly, he gets to see a picture taken of ‘Whispers’. When you least expect it, Sense8 suddenly drops the antagonist into the fold and puts the hammer down.

Lito
Lito’s got a different picture to freak out about. After a nice, romantic dinner with his boyfriend Hernando – who’s actually his undercover lover, acting like his bodyguard – and other lightning conductor Daniela, the three of them come home to find Daniela’s ex sitting on the couch, wearing a mask, no less. Still not over her, Joaquin wants to see her and Lito have sex. Something about making sure Lito’s indeed better than he ever was. A bit thin, and lame, from a writing standpoint, but he might not have been serious anyway; maybe the whole point of his visit was to nick Daniela’s phone, which he did. In there he finds a picture taken of Lito and Hernando, in a pretty compromising pose. Blackmail is only one click away.

Nomi
The most interesting storyline is Nomi’s. She’s convinced there’s a conspiracy and she’s determined to figure out who the famous ‘they’ are. She gets help from an old friend, called Bug. A brilliant character; this is what a guest role is all about. Michael X. Sommers makes the absolute most of his appearance as wild, quirky, funny, likeable hacker goofball. He provides Nomi with some highly advanced hardware thingie, which allows her to bug Dr. Metzger. While uploading software onto his computer in his apartment, she and Amanita (who like to take turns sucking on a lollipop, which is the most distracting thing happening in the entire episode) get caught. First by Dr. Metzger, who’s frozen by fear when Nomi mentions the name of a ‘Dr. Matheson’, then by a hitman – looking just like Nomi’s catatonic nephew. Is it ‘Whispers’, taking over somebody else’s body? Doing a shapeshifter trick? Whatever or whoever it is, he shoots Dr. Metzger first, then turns the gun on himself. It looks like the premise of the show, namely somebody’s hunting down the Sensates, has finally gone into effect.

Sense8: Demons

The sixth chapter of the intercontinental saga where 8 random people are living through, inside and alongside each other, is all about conversation. Conversation and sex.

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Madly
The Wachowskis have a thing for bombast. Whether it’s sweet or tough, their vision’s usually presented through a pair of hugely saturated glasses – they’re the Meat Loaf of movies, basically. That’s why it’s a remarkable choice to start off ‘Demons’ with a song by The Weepies. Bands don’t get any more lovely and low-key than that. Still, it’s one of their best songs – ‘The World Spins Madly On’ – and the title may have been reason enough to include it in an episode of Sense8; no other show’s spinning on more madly, all across the globe.

Love and Confusion
We’ve reached the turning point of the season and finally the different Sensates are talking to each other – really talking. Again, Jonas is nowhere to be found, so they’re doing it all by themselves. Do they confuse it with love? Feeling a strong connection with someone does tend to cause butterflies. Surely Wolfgang knows what I’m talking about. He seems to be very interested in Kala, but not quite on a spiritual level; more on a let’s get naked kind of level.

Advantage
I don’t know if it’s possible to be a couple within the Sensate Cell, maybe it is. Who knows where all of this is going. The show’s moving at such a slow pace, it’s hard to remember how it all started, let alone imagine what the Wachowski endgame is. They’re definitely not in a rush. Netflix has given them 12 hours to fill as they saw fit, which is very nice, in terms of confidence and from a writer’s standpoint, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an advantage. It could work against the show, because most of the scenes just go nowhere. They might be of some significance, in the bigger scheme of things, but the siblings Loaf and Meat Wachowski have to watch out not to strangle themselves with the details.

Cerebral Sex Scene
So Wolfgang’s putting on the charm for Kala, Will’s talking to Riley – very first date-ish, Riley’s talking to Sun, while Lito still doesn’t quite know what’s going on. In the end, though, they all come together – except for Capheus, who doesn’t have anyone to feel sexy with, so he has to resort to old Jean-Claude van Damme action movies – in a bath, where everyone’s doing it with everyone. Yes, ‘Demons’ has a sort of intercontinental and cerebral sex scene. Maybe the Sensate Cells aren’t just groups of connected consciousness; they’re also outlets for very down to earth, primal, basic human tempers.

Typewriter
That brings me to another point. Clearly, the show’s about the ethics and values that the Wachowskis hold dear. They constructed a science fiction concept, and then stuffed it with a lot of their own approach to life. Now, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The best works in film and television come from single, creative minds, with an artistic vision. It does however get into troublesome territory when your characters stop to talk and start to proclaim mottos. In the case of Sense8, when its characters take a second to say something profound, I can’t help thinking of one of the Wachowskis behind a typewriter – speaking through one of their creations.

Mushy
Characters need to be their own selves. It’s okay if they strongly believe in something, but when everyone on the show believes in the same things, there’s nothing to distinguish them anymore. That may be the goal; fusing 8 strangers together into one entity, but it doesn’t work on film. You’d better make sure the different ingredients you cook with are still recognisable when it’s become a dish. Don’t just boil them until there’s nothing left but a mushy mishmash.

Sense8: Art is like Religion

The fifth chapter of Sense8 is a slow – not including a totally unnecessary Matrix-like shoot out – examination of, well, art? Religion? Neither one, actually. It’s more like a wedding ceremony – including people talking about everyday things.

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The Weather
The lives of the Sensates are starting to merge more than ever. Everyone’s getting used to these realer than real hallucinations; there might be something wrong with my brain, but let’s just see what happens, is what they all seem to think. In ‘Art is like Religion’, a few of the Sensates are getting acquainted, properly, with a big dose of small talk – British DJ Riley and ‘Kenyan Van Damme’ Capheus exchange their thoughts about the weather.

Wires
It’s another Absent Jonas episode. He’s the only one who’s able to move the story along. Without him, everything’s kind of at a standstill. Sure, it’s nice to see Lito and Sun touch each other’s fingers in the mirror, but I’d guess we were past the whole mirror play by now. Speaking of Lito, he’s in the middle of shooting a movie – literately. I’m not sure what the purpose could be of showing a big movie shootout – think The Matrix including the wires – where nothing’s at stake, but action just for the sake of action isn’t really all that compelling. Not even when you intercut the scene with cop Will chasing a suspect.

Mother Tongues
Whenever a Sensate comes in contact with another Sensate, they tend to change languages. However, in everyday life, everyone speaks English. They only switch to German (Wolfgang) and Korean (Sun), for example, sporadically. I know, it’s an American show, initially made for the American market, but it might’ve been better if everyone just spoke their mother tongues. We’d have to deal with a lot of subtitles, but at least the characters would speak fluently. It’s a bit confusing to hear them speak (a type of) English, then switch to their own language and then switch again to the language of one of the other Sensates.

Peekaboo
‘Art is like Religion’ is the part of the story where the characters basically ‘go about their days’. Riley has a conversation about the weather, Will’s doing police work, Nomi shares her fear of having an actual tumor that’s going to be fatal, Capheus loses a bag and reclaims it later, only to discover it was a test, Sun’s in two minds about saving her brother and subsequently her father’s company, Lito can’t seem to stop crying, and then there’s Kala and Wolfgang.
What started out as a sort of peekaboo, it’s now upgraded to the next level. As Kala’s in the process of getting married – reading her vows, taking 7 steps – suddenly Wolfgang appears right before her eyes. Naked. I mean full frontal nakedness. She knows of the existence of ‘the internet’, but a naked German guy still has the power to make her faint, apparently.

Not in Love
But he’s her, and she’s him. They share each other’s thoughts – ‘I am also a we’ – and therefore Wolfgang knows what’s in her heart. She’s not in love with the man she’s about to marry, so what is she thinking? What the wienerschnitzel is she doing?
He’s right. She knows he’s right – but does he knows what he’s doing? Wolfgang may be ahead of the curve; because of his attraction to Kala, he might have a better grip on things, more so than the other Sensates.
No matter the final, exciting minutes – ‘is Kala going to go through with it?’ -, the show needs Jonas. Every episode with him absent, is like a nice dip into a bubblebath, but you have to remember to step out on time, otherwise you’ll find yourself asleep and the swimming pool closed.

Sense8: What’s Going On?

Sense8’s fourth episode returns to form; luring the viewer in, slowly presenting different pieces of the puzzle and then putting the hammer down until the high note of the episode is achieved – in this case ‘hey hey hey, what’s going on?’ by the 4 Non Blondes.

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Beds and Headphones
In each episode, there are always a few of the Sensates who’re left aside. They’re there in spirit more so than playing crucial roles. That might change in the future, though; we need to get through a lot of exposition first. Actor Lito and DJ Riley don’t take part in the story this week, the former’s lying in bed, the latter’s got her headphones on. Such a waste of potential, because I could use another shot of Tuppence Middleton by now; she’s been pretty absent since Limbic Resonance.

To the Curb
After last week’s fight between Capheus and a gang of thugs, in which he got help from Sun and Will, everybody’s going about their everyday lives again, like nothing happened. Don’t they think about it? Don’t they talk to anyone? Do they brush it off as just a dream? Whatever the case, Capheus’ business is booming; he’s the town’s hero for kicking some lowlife gangsters to the curb. Everybody wants to ride on his bus; who wouldn’t feel safe with a pseudo-Jean Claude Van Damme at the wheel?

Shiny Black Car
Then he’s pulled over by the cops, who take him away into the bushes next to the road. His passengers don’t think they’ll see him again. They’re thinking what we all were thinking; the thugs have connections in the police force and this is payback. However, Capheus is taken to a shiny black car, with a shiny black guy inside. A powerful man, it looks like, and probably not one of the good guys, but sophisticated. He’s got a proposition. A suitcase full of (expensive) medicine for Capheus’ sick mother, in exchange for a simple delivery.

Cluster
Will takes a chance and tries to arrange a sitdown with Jonas, who’s locked up in solitary, but even a personal connection with the guard doesn’t get him anywhere. He’s close enough for Jonas to find him, though. Jonas is where this show gets its fuel. He holds all the cards, and this time he even shares a little bit of inside information.
The Sensates are part of a so-called ‘cluster’, but it isn’t that special, apparently, because there are 7 other clusters out there (would the Wachowskis have plotted out all 7 seasons already?). Theirs is in immediate danger, since Nomi’s on the brink of getting a lobotomy. That means if one person inside a cluster goes through a procedure like that, the cluster falls apart again. Bye bye, connection. Will had better get his ass down at the hospital where Nomi’s held hostage and save her.

Escape
He doesn’t actually go there. It turns out he doesn’t have to; he can just do it while lying on the couch. He picks the locks of her handcuffs and escapes the operating room, from there on out Nomi’s on her own again. Luckily, she’s picked up in the hallway by her girlfriend and they exit the hospital successfully.

Deeper Connection
In Berlin, small time crook Wolfgang, while celebrating a big time sell at a karaoke bar, sings ‘What’s up?’ by the 4 Non Blondes. The song transcends all borders and physical impossibilities; every Sensate’s humming along. Wolfgang gets to sing it with Kala, who appears in the karaoke bar (only for him to see, but I figure you knew that, we’re 4 episodes in, after all). These two appear to have an even deeper connection with each other. Is that contractually permitted or something frowned upon if you’re both part of the same cluster?

Embezzlement
Sun has got other things on her mind, like her brother, who’s done some seriously illegal things within the family company. There’s only one way out of jail time: blame your sister. Sun could take the fall and save the company, because, well, she’s a woman, basically. The shame would be unbearable if the CEO’s son got convicted for embezzlement. If it’s his daughter, though, that would be a completely different matter.
Sun’s presented the option herself, to her dad, whom she doesn’t quite get along well with, but she probably won’t like to see her brother go to jail either, so is she actually going to sacrifice herself?

Sense8: Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch

The third episode of the extravachowskian spectacle series Sense8 offers a lot of exposition, buildup and a nice climax, but fails to deepen and accelerate.

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Snowflake
Sense8 is the ultimate summer series. The leader celebrates human life, culture, in many shots from all around the world, but there isn’t a snowflake in sight. It’s like it’s all about eating ice cream on a sunny day, never mind the beauty of the Arctic. Netflix, the web network – or ‘webwork’ – couldn’t have picked a better launch date (June 5) for the show.

Collision
But let’s see. What happens in ‘Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch’, after the collision between Jonas (Naveen Andrews) and Will (Brian J. Smith)? Well, that storyline’s on hold for now. There’s a little bit of time given to Will, our hero cop, trying to get some face time with the ghostlike Jonas, but he’s unsuccessful. Although Jonas seems to be able to come and go as he pleases, Homeland Security has him locked away somewhere.

Showdown
That means more time for the Sensates who haven’t been so lucky to get their stories out, like Sun (Doona Bae) and Capheus (Aml Ameen). The former appears to have a very interesting hobby: free-fighting. She’s the ‘skinny bitch’, kicking ass in a futuristic, Tron-like, boxing ring. The latter ends up in a dangerous place involuntarily, when he runs into an ambush. His bus gets attacked by street thugs and everybody on it is shaken down. They’ve taken one thing they shouldn’t have, though: Capheus’ expensive medicine for his mother. He decides to let everybody off and get it back.
During this showdown, he’s helped by Will and Sun, who, at certain points in time, take his place. Will knows how to handle a gun, Sun can strangle you with her thighs if she wants to.
The Sensates do not only change places, take over their bodies, but are also able to ask for help directly. Capheus appears inside the boxing ring and does exactly that. Sun then switches bodies and kicks all the good-for-nothings to the ground – now you know who to put your ‘smart money’ on.

Trading Places
They don’t really trade places, of course – no one can see it, except for us, lucky viewers – it’s just that their consciousnesses move over quickly from one to the other, or so it seems. It’s still unclear how it works, exactly. Sometimes, when they find themselves in a completely different place, they just stare and don’t know what to do, sometimes they don’t blink an eye and just shoot at an approaching car or take down a gang of grown men without hesitation.

The Bold
The first two episodes started off slow but at some point got into gear; despite the big shootout/knock down drag out fight at the end, this episode keeps things very much on the surface (except for the opening scene in which someone’s brain gets exposed). The show has to watch out for not crossing into soap opera territory, too, given the Lito’s female friend’s (ex-)boyfriend storyline. It looks like beating up Daniela’s ex could be something all Sensates will come together for, though – like a Matrix/Avengers crossbreed action scene – but all that came before, like wavering to tell Daniela she can’t stay in the apartment… It’s just because the show looks so good, otherwise people could’ve mistaken it for The Bold and the Beautiful.

Viewer Bullying
The show definitely takes its time to get everybody connected. Jonas plays a pivotal role in all of this; he’s the one who can speed things up a bit. Let’s assume it’s a temporary setback; they can’t all be winners, but there needs to be a driving force. Locking up Jonas and throwing away the key for 60 minutes, that’s not the way to get people to crave for another episode. It’s closer to viewer bullying – no matter if it’s made to be binged in one go or not.

Sense8: I Am Also a We

The second episode of Wachowski’s Netflix dissociative identity disorder series Sense8 inflicts a dash of humor into the proceedings, as well as reveals that, well, everyone on the show is gay.

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Dylan McKay
You’ve got the straight up good guy – the Brandon Walsh of the show, in this case cop Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith) – and you’ve got the bad boy with a heart of gold – the Dylan McKay – who gets all the girls. In a funny turn of events, actor/bad boy Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) turns out to be gay. He’s still in the closet though, unlike lesbian pair Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman).
Lito hides his sexuality, by taking beautiful women to premieres. His tactic eventually backfires. The woman in question, Daniela, shows up on his doorstep in the middle of the night, with a bottle of champagne, followed by paparazzi. He has to let her in. Upstairs, his boyfriend’s waiting for her to discover Lito’s true nature and for Lito to finally rip off the bandaid of shame; drama is on the rise, or so you’d think, because Sense8 is nothing if not unpredictable. Sure, there’s a moment of shock when she sees a naked man lying in Lito’s bed, but Daniela (Eréndira Ibarra) quickly compartmentalises and decides it’s the one thing she’s always dreamt of – leaving Lito regretting his decision to open the door even more.

Frontal Lobe
The storyline of Nomi and Amanita goes a more frightful route. It’s all fun and games, having a connected conscienceness with 7 other people, but it appears to have a physical effect, too. There’s something wrong with Nomi’s frontal lobe – which is why she’s been seeing hallucinations – and she ends up in the hospital. In some dark, twisted way, her mother – who never approved of her sexuality (and name change; she was born ‘Michael’) – makes a deal with the doctor. They’ve gone all Wayward Pines on her; she’s not allowed to leave; the tumor will be removed; she will probably need constant care for the rest of her life, ergo: Mom gets complete power over her. Fortunately, Amanita’s planning to break her out, Michael Scofield style.

Sayid
Sayid, I mean Jonas Maliki (Naveen Andrews), has a more dominant role this time. He throws himself into the action halfway through the episode and that’s when the show picks up the pace and moves back into wow territory. He visits Nomi and Will, and tries to convince the latter to go to the former. We’ll see how that goes; Will, who’s chasing after Jonas in a scene from The French Connection on acid, first has a car crash to deal with.
Supposedly, there are people out to get the ‘Sensates’, but it isn’t even mentioned. Also, Wolfgang, Capheus and Sun are still kept on the sidelines of things. I suppose it doesn’t matter too much, since the show’s meant to be binged.

A Celebration
The episode gives Riley (Tuppence Middleton) and Kala (Tina Desai) a little bit of screen time, and especially Kala’s scenes are a feast for one’s eyes. Apart from the obvious – a high concept, suspense and pitch perfect production value -, Sense8 wants to be a celebration of life, culture and tolerance. Despite the narrow minded people on the show – who are anything but one dimensional, thankfully – like Will’s father Michael Gorski (Joe Pantoliano), it’s a series with a big heart.

Sense8: Limbic Resonance

A Netflix and Wachowski teamup, that should result in an eye popping high concept TV show, stuffed with a lot of mythology. And it has. Sense8 premiered its full first season – 12 episodes – last Friday, and the first instalment ‘Limbic Resonance’ is a feast for the senses.

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Once Upon A Time
Once upon a time there was an angel figure in the shape of Daryl Hannah (Splash, Kill Bill). She’s caught between two other angel types, one on every shoulder. Naveen Andrews (LOST, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) plays Jonas, Terrence Mann (The Dresden Files, Law & Order) goes by the name of Mr. Whispers. It seems Hannah’s torn between them, so much so, she puts a gun to her head and pulls the trigger. However, not before connecting 8 random people and visiting each of them briefly.

The Eight
The lives of The Eight immediately start to merge. First the music and sounds from another place start to bleed into the lives of others, then it’s arousal, then it’s chickens.
They’ve chosen for pretty ordinary people, with ordinary jobs, from all over the world. A cop in Chicago (Brian J. Smith), a DJ in London (Tuppence Middleton), a woman in Seoul (Doona Bae), a student in Mumbai (Tina Desai), a bus driver in Nairobi (Aml Ameen), a small time criminal in Berlin (Max Riemelt) and because it’s the Wachowskis, there’s a lesbian woman in San Francisco (Jamie Clayton) and because it’s Hollywood, there’s an actor in Mexico City (Miguel Ángel Silvestre).
Of all the main characters, Doona Bae gets the least amount of screen time and most is given to Tuppence Middleton, who’s accidentally enhanced the connection of spirits by smoking a powerful drug.

Kaleidoscope
The first episode is a kaleidoscopic trip through everything the power of imagery and storytelling has to offer. Andy and Lana Wachowski have the tendency to prevail looks above substance, but Sense8 is perfectly balanced. Every shot is a beautiful painting, while the story remains intriguing enough to stay glued to the screen. It’s a celebration of film making, on every level, but it isn’t non-committal, on the contrary. It’s not just a showcase of Hollywood Greatness, there’s indeed a very powerful engine driving it forward.

The Perfect Choice
The science fiction siblings picked Netflix as their outlet and it’s proven the perfect choice. I wouldn’t dream of watching the series on any other network. First of all, the title would’ve been different, like The Connection, or something. Second, every episode would start with a dead body and the Chicago cop probably would’ve been the lead – the pretty boy star of the show. Third, there would’ve been dreadful flashback scenes, not involving magical landscapes, with girls walking into caves with little lanterns, but girls living in suburbia, having so-called traumatising suburban experiences. Fourth, there would’ve been way too many cliffhangers, because of the commercial breaks in between. Fifth, the pace would’ve been too fast. Networks are so scared of losing viewers, they’re usually rushing through the storyline like there’s no tomorrow – and there often isn’t, given a show can be cancelled even halfway its broadcast.
Sure, a lot of series fit perfectly on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. However, if it wasn’t for Netflix, the world would never have been given the chance to see Sense8, which would’ve been a crying shame.