Netflix’s SENSE8 Season 1 Review
I am going to start off this review by saying that I cried during every single episode of SENSE8. Yup. Also, if you did not like this show because you couldn’t understand what was going on… You should probably see yourself out. Great. Shall we begin?
I should probably say that I have no idea what’s going on in this show (Kidding). SENSE8 in a science fiction sensory mind explosion from the brilliantly creative brains of The Wachowski Siblings and J. Michael Stracyznski. How about we dive right in? The show starts off with a uncommonly diverse cast of men and woman scattered across the world. We have the Mexican action star, Lito, who is hiding a secret (He’s gay). An Indian pharmaceutical engineer, Kala, who seems trapped in an unwanted marital engagement. A Korean woman, Sun, who might as well be a ghost in her ‘all business’ father’s eyes. The German safe cracker, Wolfgang, who is haunted by the memories of his abusive father. The Chicago cop, Will, who cares more than people wishes he would. An on the run lesbian activist/hacker, Nomi, living in San Francisco. A renowned Icelandic DJ, Riley, who is in the process of making some bad relationship choices. Then, there’s the bus driver, Capheus, trying to take care of his family in Nairobi. The idea is that, at first glance, these people would have no apparent connection to one another. Actually, they don’t have any connection to one another other than the fact that they are the next step in human evolution. Or, a race of humans that have existed parallel to regular humans for a very long time. Either way, they are extraordinary. As with all extraordinary beings on our planet, they are being hunted simply because they were born differently.
At first, our SENSE8 crew (later referred to as ‘sensates’) have no idea that they are different. It’s not until they all begin to experience identical visions of a woman in a white dress, played by Daryl Hannah, that they start to suspect that something is happening to them. Upon the death of the woman in the white, all eight of them are transformed into a shared entity that is separated by eight different bodies. Every individual group of sensates are referred to as ‘clusters’ or ‘nodes.’ At first, our main sensates start to experience shared visions with other members existing in their cluster. Then, they begin to share their sensory experiences. The final stage involves each of them being able to tap each other out from their bodies and take over for them, if the situation arises. Capheus can take over Nomi’s body and drive for her. Sun can take over Will’s body to help him fight off a bunch of security guards. Their guide on their journey is Jonas, a sensate from another cluster who helps guide them on the road of self discovery. The concept of their shared existence is simple enough to understand, the complexity of the show deals with each one of them having to navigate their own plot lines, while also defending themselves against those who would do them harm.
Analysis of all the different plot lines occurring in SENSE8 would take way too long to discuss. Lets just say that shit is super intense for all of them and having to share their minds with 7 other people only further complicates their situations. What really sold me on SENSE8 was the way it seamlessly jumped from one perspective to the next. A turn of the head in Mexico completed in Korea. A kiss in Germany could be felt in Chicago. A character would be having lunch with their partner and would suddenly be replaced with someone else. (The Wackowski’s decided to not use CGI for these moments, but, rather the use of clever camera angles and strategic pan shots.) Another element of this show that really blew my pants off was the swapping in and out of characters whose skills were required in the moment. Someone was handcuffed to a gurney, the one who knows how to pick a lock would step in. You need to sweet talk a lap technician, send in the professional actor. You start to discover that it’s the unique skills and differences in all of the characters that make them a powerful single entity.
The Wachowski’s talented cinematic eyes pair beautifully with the strong plot outline and character development of J. Michael Stracyznski. The cinematography is slick and transitions smoothly from one environment to the next. The handling of race, gender and orientation are enough to make you cheer out. Seriously, when Will defends Nomi’s gender identity to her mother is enough to make me tear up even now. The care that went into the creation of this show is apparent. The filmmakers and performers actually traveled the world to film their scenes. Imaging the attention to detail that was required to successfully sync up every scene and map out each location’s shooting schedule is enough to make my brain melt. The Wachowksi’s even elected to use crews from each location so that they could better capture the feel of that world. I can’t say enough about how much I loved this series. The action is well designed. The sex scenes are intense. The emotions are real. SENSE8 is definitely a television series that you need to experience. The story is tight and the visuals are amazing. I can only imagine what lies ahead in the second season.
Final Score: 9 out of 10