Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Microreview [tv show] Sense8: Season 2

Sense8, the Netflix show from The Wachowski Sisters, seems to be one of the more divisive series going: everyone I talk to either strongly hates it or strongly loves it. Having watched the first season, last year, I fell firmly into the second camp (while still being able to acknowledge the many flaws of the overly ambitious, sometimes unintentionally silly/ridiculous, show). So I was looking forward to the second season. A quick head’s up, since this is a review for the entire second season, there may be minor spoilers for both seasons one and two. If you haven’t watched and plan to, it might be best to come back here after viewing.

The second season picks up after the Christmas special (which technically counts as the first episode of the season) and follows are sensate cluster (a group of people tied together mentally/physically/emotionally, despite being thousands of miles apart) and the conspiracy/ shadowy company they have become involved with—including the sinister Whispers (who is hunting the sensates down). The show continues its story jumps between the sensates, often within the space of a single scene as they jump into and out of each other lives. These are Riley and Will, who are most closely connected to (and in some cases too hemmed in by) the over-arching show mythology, hacker Nomi and her girlfriend Amanita (played by Freema Agyeman, who is delightful, all you Doctor Who fans who are haters of her previous character—Maartha Jones—y’all still are wrong), action star Lito who’s coming to terms with being publicly outed, Wolfgang a criminal in Berlin, Kala who is still finding the footing in her new marriage, Capheus who is being courted by a group to run for office (in a far better storyline than he was given last season), and Sun (played by the phenomenal Doona Bae) who is still vowing revenge on her brother.

So what does the season do? Does it live up to expectations, falter, or exceed them? In some ways, it’s all three. It falters in its depiction of the overarching mythology, which is often explained in huge info-dumps and never quite lives up to its promise. Basically, I’m only invested in it, because I’m so invested in the characters it affects.  It lives up to expectations in its continued beautiful film-work and visual palette combined with some astoundingly well choreographed action sequences alongside excellent acting and a pitch-perfect soundtrack—which should be no surprise because of Tom Tykwer’s work on the show (the best example of this is a scene set in three places that utilizes Ben Howard’s “Small Things” to achingly beautiful effect). But, most, importantly, how does it exceed them? By opening its world of sensates (something I was interested in seeing if they would do) to allow more clusters to be seen and in continuing what I consider the most important element of its show—its absolute joy in humanity.

The thing about Sense8 is it can be boring, it can be silly and ridiculous in many aspects, it can be a little irritating. However, it’s one of the first shows I’ve watched that puts so much emphasis on the queer experience and in such a broad-ranging and optimistic way. It also celebrates moments of community and connection, finding that moments of kindness and beauty are where its protagonists find the most connection. I also find it deeply refreshing to be watching a show, especially right now, where the superpower that drives it is essentially empathy with a global view.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 for optimism, +1 for the Lito/Hernando/Dani story which is just wonderfully done and each actor is perfect, +1 for being visually stunning
Penalties: -1 for the mythology not often living up the show that surrounds it, -1 for sometimes making me roll my eyes

Nerd Coefficient: 9/10 “very high quality/standout in its category”


POSTED BY: Chloe, speculative fiction fan in all forms, monster theorist, and Nerds of a Feather blogger since 2016. Find her on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes.