Sense8 season 2 continues with brilliant writing, lots of danger and excitement, touching love stories, and stirring acts of courage. This is a review of season 2 with some spoilers.
The 8 sensate characters in the “cluster” of sensates we follow and love are Sun (Doona Bae), Nomi (Jamie Clayton), Kala (Tina Desai), Riley (Tuppence Middleton), Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), Will (Brian J. Smith), and Capheus (Toby Onwumere). Eight diverse individuals from all over the globe work together to create a better world. That in itself is enough reason to love Sense8.
Capheus has some of the most quotable lines in season 2. That’s because he becomes a leader in his community after beating up a cadre of criminals (with Sun’s help). He’s interviewed by a newswoman named Zakie (Mumbi Maina) who makes him even more famous. The two of them have a romance which is depicted in a lovely way. I appreciated with matter-of-fact way Zakie’s bisexuality was presented. Add that to the treatment of homosexual and transgender characters as an inclusiveness plus for Sense8.
Capheus’ courage and wise words get him asked to run against the corrupt politician currently making life miserable in his community. He does, but the decision is fraught with danger. He talks about leaders vs. politicians in a speech that could have been written about our current President.
When the other sensates in the cluster need help, Capheus usually contributes with expert driving – buses, cars, motorcycles. No car chase is too much for Capheus. There was a fantastic car chase in the episode where Sun finally tries to get revenge on her brother, a nice treat for those of you who love that kind of excitement.
Amanita (Freema Agyeman) and Nomi are hiding out in San Francisco on Bug’s (Michael Sommers) boat. They do all the hacking needed by the others. They can hack anything – city traffic systems, prison systems, multinational corporations. Bug comes up with the idea of an E-death for Nomi. That means they hack into every law enforcement system in the country and eliminate any files, warrants, and records related to Nomi.
Nomi’s nonexistence in the records of the legal eagles has a funny effect when an FBI guy bursts in to Nomi’s sister’s wedding and tries to arrest Nomi. When he looks through his phone for his warrant and can’t find it, it’s pretty hilarious. During the FBI confrontation, Nomi’s father refers to her as “his daughter” for the first time. That makes Nomi cry. Her mother steadfastly refers to her as Michael, which breaks Nomi’s heart (and mine).
Riley and Will hide out physically while trying to solve the mystery of who Whispers (Terrence Mann) is in the real world. Will uses heroin to keep Whispers out of his head. Later they discover very welcome pills called blockers. These they get from sensates outside their cluster. Kala is able to duplicate the formula for the blockers in her pharmacy lab. Kala frequently helps Will with his medical needs as the battle against Whispers is physically and mentally damaging.
Will gets inside Whispers head, even as Whispers is inside Will’s. The two of them play a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Finally, at the end of the season, they locate Whispers. The whole cluster goes after him, ready to start a war.
When fighting is necessary, Wolfgang, Will, or Sun all show up to help. These make up the action scenes and bloody battles that are scattered though season 2 of Sense8.
A new sensate Lila (Valeria Bilello) meets Wolfgang as he is being recruited to help take over the gang wars in Berlin. He’s not interested in being a gang lord, but his buddy Felix (Max Mauff) does take an offer from a gang boss to run a night club.
Lila is very sexy and very dangerous. Yikes! She drags Wolfgang further into the battle for Berlin and into a battle with a whole other group of sensates.
Kala is married to Rajan (Purab Kohli) now, but pines for Wolfgang. She’s not a happily married lady despite all her privileges. Plus, Rajan may be a criminal. Very disappointing news to Kala.
Wolfgang pines for Kala. It’s a sensuous long-distance relationship with mind sex. They think they will get together for in-person sex in Paris, but the plan gets blown up in the season finale. The season finale leaves everything up in the air.
Sun escapes from prison with a lot of help from her friends, friends in real life and the sensates. The detective chasing her down, Detective Mun (Sukku Son) has a thing for her. She has a thing for him. They fought in a tournament as teenagers and then had sex in the locker room. Detective Mun wants a rematch of both. If anyone deserves a break from loneliness, it’s Sun.
But. Sun wants revenge against her brother first. The whole cluster schemes with her on how to accomplish this. Detective Mun throws a wrench in their elaborate plan when he shows up with an arrest warrant for Sun’s brother. (At least the cops are on to him now.)
At the beginning of season 2, Lito was forced into coming out. Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) and Dani (Eréndira Ibarra) baby him through many emotional scenes as he mourns the loss of his career as an action hero. Throughout season 2, Lito refers to Hernando and Dani as his family. Lito’s acting skills are put to good use by all the sensates in his cluster when they need to get themselves out of a pickle.
Hernando and Dani finally talk him into accepting an offer to be the Grand Marshall of a Pride Parade in São Paulo. He comes out big time there and the video of his courageous speech to the huge crowd goes viral on YouTube. This gets him an offer for a good part in a Hollywood film acting opposite an Oscar-winning asshole.
Lito’s decision is one of several threads involving courage and truth that run through Sense8.
Riley’s decision to come out of hiding and do a rave is another courageous act that results in lots of new information in the search for Whispers. Riley goes to Chicago looking for information on Whispers, and puts herself in danger again.
Another theme running through Sense8 is parent/child relationships. Especially fathers. We peer into Riley and her father, Lito and his mother, Nomi and her parents, Amanita and her multitude of parents (3 fathers and 1 mother), Kala with her parents, Will and his father, and the dead fathers of Capheus and Sun. All these relationships are important to the story. Most immediately important is Will and his father because Whispers uses Will’s father’s illness against Will.
Angelica (Daryl Hannah) and Jonas (Naveen Andrews) are both around. We learn much about the history of how the particular program the BPO pursues got started. We learn about how Angelica gave birth to our favorite sensate cluster and what her early work on the science was about. We find out whether Jonas is a good guy or a bad guy. We learn about networks of sensates all over the world.
There’s much I haven’t mentioned in season 2 of Sense8 in terms of plot. A lot can happen in 12 hours.
Once again, I’m impressed by the lighting, the use of color, the direction, and the sharp dialog in this series. The music is perfection. The visual impact of every episode is superlative. I love the way the camera showed one person – the person physically in the location – and other characters from the cluster appeared behind them as if they sprouted from the person’s body. A beautiful technique I don’t remember from season 1. I don’t remember season 1 having the humor that season 2 has. I grinned like a fool after several scenes.
The ending leaves the story wide open for a third season in the battle to defeat BPO. I hope Netflix announces very soon that it’s going to happen.
J. Michael Straczynski and Lana Wachowski created season 2 of Sense8, with Lana Wachowski doing most of the directing. If there was a directing award for extremely slow-moving kisses with fantastic lighting, Lana Wachowski would win it. Slowly, slowly, slowly. Wait for it. Ahh.
Look at This
I can’t stop admiring this photograph from an interview at The Verge. The light and shadow, the colors, the positions of the two women – everything about this photograph exemplifies the perfect visual experience of Sense8.
You can see it in the screen shots above with the reds, the yellows, the blues, the greys. The saturated scenes and the desaturated scenes. But something about this portrait of Nomi and Amanita sums it up perfectly.