Sense8: What Family Actually Means

“I’m a subject my parents prefer to avoid.”

This episode is the perfect example of how Sense8 doesn’t care about the more conventional episodic structure of a TV series. Sense8 is a show that fully embraces the Netflix idea of constructing a season as one big movie. That strategy has its advantages – it gives the story some room to breathe and the characters more time to be fleshed out – and downsides – the story can become a little stale –, and “What Family Actually Means” is a prime example of that.

It starts with a big family moment and ends with another big family moment, but the two scenes are completely different in tone and setting. Each of them are part of distinct stories that have been developing in a somewhat scattered way throughout the season. But they are both beautiful and ring the emotional bells they are going for.

First there is Teagan’s rehearsal dinner where Nomi gives an amazing speech. Let’s get it out of the way, Nomi’s mother is absolutely the worst. She cares too much about what society thinks of her to the point of being obnoxious and treating her daughter like an enemy. I loved that when she called Nomi by her former name, Nomi called her “Janet” instead of “mom”. And I loved Nomi’s speech too. It can be tactless to talk too much about yourself when you are toasting to someone else, but Nomi grounded her speech on her relationship with her sister, both addressing the issues she had to face as a transgender and how Teagan was there to support her. Very well written, and wonderfully delivered by Jamie Clayton, of course.


Most weddings I went to were a drag, but, boy, would I want to go to a wedding with all the emotion and twists Teagan’s had. It’s so soapy that Bendix would interrupt the ceremony to arrest Nomi, but soapy at its best. Poor Nomi, she was devastated. Thank god super Amanita came to the rescue, what a triumph! The lady can command a room, can’t she? I got all teary when Nomi told Amanita that it was the first time her dad referred to her as a daughter. Awn. And Teagan, oh, Teagan, I know you so little but love you so much. She didn’t even care that her wedding could be ruined, she stood by Nomi’s side all the time. Bless your heart, sis.

Nomi had the time of her life, but Will’s time with his father came to an end, and that was the closing scene I talked about before. We hadn’t seen Will’s dad in a while, which made their goodbye all the more impactful. It’s awful that Will couldn’t physically be with his father, but there was a silver lining that at least he recognized Will through Riley. Still, though, what an awful thing to go through all alone, to be there but not really. It’s another layer of pain on a season that has been harsh on Will. The goodbye was shot and edited beautifully, the flashbacks to a classic “dad needs to go to work” moment were the icing on the cake. Sense8 has the ability to take basic concepts like that and turn them into something special through gorgeous cinematography and editing. It’s impossible not to feel for Will when both grown-up and infant Will cry out for their dad not to go, but this time he goes and doesn’t come back.


Moving on to the other individual stories, I thought Ajay would become an unexpected love interest for Kala, but I was wrong. Whatever shady business he and Rajan are into, it looks like they are going to part ways, right? Ajay specifically asked for the gift to be opened in Rajan’s presence, so either the gift itself is a threat or a way for Ajay to intimidate Rajan. His visit had fake friendship vibes all over it.

But there is no fake friendship in Lito’s family, and his situation changed for the better when Daniela showed her negotiation skills. That was Daniela’s best moment so far, I liked that she not only gave Lito emotional support, but she also took action. But I think I would have preferred if it hadn’t been so easy, if they had given more time for Lito to recover and face his latest defeats with a better attitude. We don’t put up a fight only when things get better, we put up a fight because that’s what life demands from us. It’s a missed opportunity.

While the episode pushed most of the individual stories into new directions, the main arc remained mostly stale. I mean, we learned a few things here and there, but they are all pieces of a picture we can already see. And this is the downside of the “one season as a movie” approach I mentioned earlier. But, you know, when I take everything into account, that’s a small detail. I can’t fault a show that delivers amazing scenes like Nomi’s powerful speech and Will’s heartbreaking final moments with his dad.

Bits and Pieces

- I was a little confused about the situation with Riley’s informant. She was missing, but she was also at the address registered in the Police’s system? And why did she kill herself?

- Silas told Capheus that there is a bounty on his head and that he wants to marry Shiro. Although it seems that Silas has become a better person, I think Capheus should worry about his mom marrying a crime lord.

- Felix told Wolfgang that everyone is after him.

- Sun is getting ready to attack her brother at a major party he will throw.

- Knowing how considerate Teagan is, would she really pair Nomi with such a transphobic douchebag? Anyway, I loved that Sun hurt him... just a little.

- Did Whispers have something to do with the death of Will’s father?

Quotes

Janet: “I don’t want to make a scene here.”
Nomi: “Why not? I have some great ideas?”

Kala: “Let us remember that cancer is also natural, so naturalness in itself should not be considered a virtue.”
Preach, Kala, preach.

Four stars for Nomi’s speech and Will’s final moments with his dad. As a whole, three out of four stars.
--
Lamounier

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Lovely review, Lamounier, and I totally agree. The FBI at the wedding thing was a bit much, but Nomi's speech to her sister at the reception made me cry, it was so beautiful. And the death of Will's father was so wrenching. It was so touching that Riley's presence allowed Will to be there.

magritte said...

With respect to Capheus, I also thought being the son-in-law of a crimelord, even a popular one, seems a significant political liability.

Billie Doux said...

That's a good point, magritte, But I was also thinking that if Capheus' mother marries a crime lord, she'll always have access to medication.

Juan Alberto Roche Rodríguez said...

She could still have acces to de medication througth Kala. I dont know why that possibility was never discussed. Once crime lord, always a crime lord. This can not be good for Capheus. It would put a mark on his back and anyone he loves.