Sense8: Who Am I?

“You think you are hunting us? We are coming for you.”

YES! Sense8 is back and it’s sensational. Sorry for that terrible pun.

First, I want to address one thing that bothered me, the “what does courage have to do with the color of a man’s skin?” message. I’m white and I’m not blind to the social benefits my skin color grants me. I have a black cousin. One day he told me that when he was little he used to think he would become a doorman or a security guard. Those were the jobs his older cousins had, that was his referential. There is nothing degrading with those jobs, but it says a lot about social opportunities and representativeness that he didn’t think he could go to college, for instance. Representativeness matters.

I totally understand where Zakia was coming from when she questioned Capheus about his white hero. Mind me, I’m not saying Capheus can’t have a white hero. Van Damme clearly matters a lot to him, it’s personal, therefore it transcends race, gender or any other potential barrier. The problem is how the writers use that transcendence to erase a problem that does exist. Times are changing and there is progress today and ahead, but white people are still placed at the center. It’s pretty tactless for a series with the amount of racial diversity Sense8 has to gloss over that problem.

Rant over, that scene became something special as Capheus and Lito confronted the reporters, interweaving their different situations into one unifying message. The show has gotten pretty good with scenes like that, especially since the sensates have grown accustomed to finding themselves in multiple places and sharing multiple experiences at the same time. It’s that multitude of feelings and backgrounds that allow Capheus and Lito to rise higher than the questions they were given allowed them to.


It’s disrespectful of a journalist to ask an actor about their sexuality. Then again, I’m annoyed at public figures who run away from that question asking back if it really matters, because it does matter (not in the gossip kind of way, though). But Mariana was so obnoxious I just wanted her to disappear and leave Lito alone. What a terrible person. Are things that dire in Mexico? I can see the movie producers being homophobic or fearing money loss (or both) and therefore diminishing Lito’s presence on the movie poster. But that reporter with those intrusive, disrespectful questions, and that reaction from the movie audience when Lito’s character kissed a woman surprised me. Poor Lito, no wonder he is having so much trouble getting out of the closet. At least he accepted the heart balloon his LGBT fans gave him. Lito, they need you to represent them.

Capheus is luckier than Lito when it comes to the person who interviewed him. Zakia is adorable, she ends up enchanted by Capheus and they go out on a date. I like this. Of all the personal developments outside of the main conspiracy thread, this is already my favorite. Capheus is so joyful on his own, he certainly deserves to get some joy in his life. I should also note that I liked what Toby Onwumere brought to this episode, a charm and charisma I didn’t see in the Christmas Special.

While Capheus and Lito had some of the spotlight, the best part of "Who Am I?" was the sensates chasing down Whispers. Like it was wildly suspected after last episode, Will and Riley were in Amsterdam. The reveal was pretty cool, though. When Will and Whispers visit one another, Whispers believes he has the upper hand. He is the professional, Will is the amateur. So he says. But, with the help of her father, Riley has been planting fake elements at their setting to mislead Whispers, and Will is a better detective than he appears.

Nomi and Amanita are also hunting down information, going after people who might know Whispers. It’s another cool bit, to see them proactively hunting Whispers down instead of running away from him. The writers use their quest to introduce a new bit of mythology, a human ancestor called Homo Sensorium, and reintroduce the thread of Sarah Patrell’s death. That, in particular, is very affecting, as Nomi and Amanita visit Sarah’s mom, who believed Will could see her deceased daughter. The visit gives Will a much-needed emotional impulse, but doesn’t offer much in the way of intel.

The cluster’s secret weapon, though, is Kala and her knowledge on biochemistry. The cocktail of drugs she has been using on Will doesn’t sedate him completely, so that when he sees Whispers at an activity that could give them valuable information, he is conscious enough to signal Riley that something is up. That’s how it all comes together in the form of the sensates’ first triumph and it produces an awesome closing scene. I had a huge grim on my face when Will cornered Whispers and set the new rules. Game on, Whispers, the sensates are coming for you.

Bits and Pieces

- There wasn’t much of Sun, but we did get a lovely moment where her girl friends were planning what to do at their first night out.

- There wasn’t much of Wolfgang either, except for nightclub owner and “King of the North” Sebastian Fuchs giving Felix his nightclub. As a gift. We shall see what he’ll want in return.

- The opening scene took place in a lab. Whispers demonstrated to a bunch of suits his capability of controlling a lobotomized sensate by making him slit the throat of a man. Will watched it all, while Angelica told him it was her fault. Will also accessed a memory that showed Angelica and Whispers working together and Whispers kissing her.

- Nice symbolism: when Will wakes up from the visit, Angelica puts down one candle.

- Whispers’ name is Milton Gibbons. His latest name, anyway.

- Whispers takes some black pills to block sensates’ visits. They are not enough to overcame the cluster’s strategy. They would be very useful to Will, though. Better than the drugs he has been taking.

- Hernando probably knew Lito wasn’t ready to confront the homophobes and that’s why he didn’t want to go to the movie premiere. I’m glad Daniela insisted they all go. Lito needs all the emotional help he can get, even if it’s hard for Hernando to watch Lito take baby steps when it comes to standing up for their relationship.

- Kala’s father-in-law, Manendra, is going to run for Prime Minister. Do I care? No.

- Riley’s father is the best. He is not a sensate but he can see his daughter is not okay just by looking at her, a moment that fits very well into the episode’s theme of “there are other forms of communication than language.”

- The insula of the frontal cortices, responsible for our capacity of empathy, comes from the Homo sensorium, as defended by professor Kolovi.

- Technically, this is the second episode of season two. From a storytelling perspective, though, it works as a premiere, as it kicks the story in a new direction and lays the groundwork for the season.

Quotes

Nomi: “Thank you for taking the time to help us.”
Professor: “No problem. Happy to talk with folks who don’t keep asking me if this is going to be on the test.”

Sensates: “Who am I? Do you mean where I’m from? What I one day might become? What I do? What I’ve done? What I dream? What you see? What I’ve seen? What I fear? Do you mean who I love? What I’ve lost? Who am I?”

Capheus: “It takes courage to see such terrible things happen and still get up every day and be able to see what is still beautiful.”

Very good return. Three out of four clay dogs.

[Note: I’ll be reviewing every episode of season two. I plan to post one review a week. Maybe two if I have the time. :) After I’m done, I’ll do retro reviews of season one episodes as well.]
--
Lamounier

3 comments:

magritte said...

Yay! A good review of a good episode and I am looking forward to seeing Sense8 get full coverage. It had a narrower focus than a typical Sense8 episode, being dominated by Will and Noni but maybe that works better. Though I must say it was satisfying to have Will confront Whispers like that, I couldn't help wondering if it might have been better strategically to let him think he was still only playing defense.

Billie Doux said...

I liked this episode, too -- terrific review, Lamounier. I liked the details of the location deception and the way all seven of them were focused on helping Will through this ordeal. The "homo sensorium" thing felt a little silly, but it's okay, I'm on board.

That reporter who attacked Lito seemed to have a hate problem. That was way too vicious. Maybe she was a fan of his who is taking it all too personally.

Lamounier said...

magritte and Billie, thanks.

magritte, I like that they narrowed the focus on a couple of characters. Most season one episodes suffered from not having a story dominating the hour.

I couldn't help wondering if it might have been better strategically to let him think he was still only playing defense.

Good point, that probably would’ve been better. Then again, do we know how those visits work? Maybe once Will is fully awake, Whispers can “detect” his presence, so he would have known Will was there anyway. I have no idea.

The "homo sensorium" thing felt a little silly

It did. It’s the kind of mythology bit that would make more sense if inserted on the early stages of the series rather than now, but I’m okay with it too. Maybe it’s relevant to what this season has in store.