Sense8: I Am Also a We

"I'm losing my mind."
"No, it's just expanding."

Whoever said it takes Sense8 four episodes to become good was wrong. And that was me, two years ago.

This episode was so good, I certainly didn't appreciate it as I should have the first time I watched it. Maybe I suffered from the problem I discussed in my previous review: wrong expectations.

After introductions that didn't make me care for them in "Limbic Resonance," Lito and Kala are under the spotlight in this episode and their stories gain shape and flavor.

Lito is -- and if you were paying attention to the signs, you called it -- gay. A closeted homosexual actor with a round of ladies posing as potential affairs, Lito has a loving boyfriend called Hernando, whom he completely sidelines from his public life. We also meet Daniela, a woman who believes she has a real shot with Lito until she discovers Hernando practically naked in his bed. Daniela's reaction is priceless and an early indication of the type of characters the Wachowskis and JMS like to write. You would expect Daniela to be opportunistic, to blackmail Lito, but instead she offers help, albeit an intrusive help. It's a not evil opportunism, let's put it that way.

I don't really like Lito as of now, though, and here is why: he has understandable fears, but I can't stand the way he values posing as a straight man. Calling Hernando his friend when Hernando is in the bed they share? How dare he? I'll be honest, I had a boyfriend whom I failed to acknowledge before my coworkers once and he was absolutely heartbroken. I also failed to integrate him with most of my family, and today I feel like in those occasions I was a coward just like Lito. But the way Lito hides Hernando is just too much, I have no idea how Hernando puts up with that. When you are secure in your sexuality and already living it freely, it's extremely difficult to drag yourself back into the closet for someone else, no matter how much you love them. Hernando does it for Lito, but Lito doesn't move one inch out of the closet. Again, I can understand Lito's fears, but I can't stand his attachment to the privilege of being perceived as straight, and that disconnects me from his story.

Kala's struggle, however, is one that doesn't resonate with me, but that I comprehend much better. It's still a story built upon a cliché, but what Sense8 gets right is making Rajan a good guy. He is respectful, caring and works his ass off to conquer Kala.

Terrific group dance.
I usually don't like people who try endlessly to conquer someone's love because (1) have some self respect and (2) leave that person be. But there is something pure about Rajan's approach: he notices Kala's resistance but doesn't lose faith that, one day, she might love him the way he loves her. Suddenly, Kala's indecisiveness makes sense. She hasn't fallen in love with Rajan, but how can she turn down someone that is so good for her?

In San Francisco, it's Pride time and Nomi gives a hell of a speech, beautifully delivered by Jamie Clayton. There are so many great lines in it that I decided to quote the whole thing down below. I had never paid attention to the fact that hate is not one of the seven deadly sins. Sure, wrath is among them, but it doesn't encompass the act of hating that Nomi is talking about, that she has suffered from. There is a true power in her words when she remembers that she is something that her parents taught her to be ashamed of, to avoid, and yet now she stands with pride. Just beautiful.


Nomi's celebration is cut short when she faints after seeing Jonas at the Parade. When she wakes up, she is stuck in a hospital bedroom with her awful mother. Amanita is gone (only official family is allowed. God, I hate that hospital) and Nomi has to endure the torture of being called by her birth name, Michael, because her obnoxious mother won't have it any other way. "I love you, it may be in my own terms, but I do," she says, and THAT IS EXACTLY THE PROBLEM, LADY. Nomi's mother does not love her, she loves the image of the son she had, that she can't let go of. In the process of loving that son, she hurts Nomi, she knows she hurts her, but she won't stop it because her unbelievable amount of prejudice overrides whatever empathy she could have.

It gets worse for Nomi. The news that she will have to undergo a complicated and expansive surgery hit her like a brick. It's the fear of many LGBTs: to find themselves dependent on their hateful family. I remember that it was Nomi's story that kept me watching Sense8 at first. The transition from the dream life she had conquered to the nightmare she found herself in was so jarring that I had to know what would happen next. I was also infuriated with the treatment the hospital staff were giving her, keeping her locked in her bedroom and all. That's illegal, for crying out loud! Poor Nomi is even more confused when Jonas visits her and tells her to run while she can. Anyone in that situation would most definitely think they were going crazy. Bless Amanita forever amen for being such a faithful girlfriend. I loved how she immediately tossed away the idea that Nomi was losing it and gave Nomi a much needed assurance that there was nothing wrong with her beautiful brain.

Will continues to carry the main plot -- now alongside Nomi -- but we get to see more of his personal life too. He has a nice chat with Deshawn, the kid he save last episode, and they find a common ground of respect, a rare intersection between their very different worlds. Later Will is criticized by his father Michael and his father's friends for saving that kid (what's wrong with these people?), but he is unfazed by it. Instead, he is more concerned about something from his past: a person named Sara Patrell, whose name is enough to concern Will's dad. Michael tells Will to let it go, but we know he won't, just like he doesn't let Jonas go. He needs answers and he will go all the way to get them. With Nomi held captive by the enemy and Will learning the first few things about being a sensate, the second episode moves the plot a few steps in the right direction.

Bits and Pieces

- Sun and Capheus only appeared in cameos.

- Riley and Wolfgang appeared briefly. Riley was on the run from the drug dealers, Wolfgang had sex.

- Nomi and Riley walking side by side was a great sensate moment. It capitalizes on the previous cliffhanger, signaling to the audience that Nomi's story has just shifted and is not rainbows and happiness anymore.

- Nomi's sister, Teagan, is a lovely human being, but not even her protests are enough to contain their mother from being obnoxious.

- So, a woman faints and the hospital already has her take a brain scan?

- This might be the best episode to present the two possible meanings of the name "Nomi," according to the fans: "Not Michael" and "no me."

- Kala was feeling hot while Wolfgang had sex. Afterwards, Wolfgang was craving Indian food.

- Kala's father is a Chef. Rajan's father is the worst.

- Will mentioned Sara Patrell to his father and he warned Will not to dig into what happened to her.

- How did Jonas find Nomi and Will? Is it ever explained?

- And why Jonas flew all the way to Chicago to have a two minute chat with Will, leave and expect him to be cool with it? Of course Will was going to go after him.

Quotes

Nomi: "It's not hacking if you get paid for it."

Amanita: "Honey, if I had your parents, I'd be more than a little crazy. I'd be homicidal."

Deshawn: "Cops get shot, hear about it on the news all day. We get shot all the time, but we don't mean nothin' to nobody."

Nomi: "I've been thinking about my life and all of the mistakes that I've made. The ones that stay with me, the ones that I regret, are the ones that I made because of fear. For a long time, I was afraid to be who I am because I was taught by my parents that there's something wrong with someone like me. Something offensive, something you would avoid, maybe even pity. Something that you could never love. My mom, she's a fan of Saint Thomas Aquinas, she calls pride a sin. And of all the venal and moral sins, St. Thomas saw pride as the queen of the seven deadlies. He saw it as the ultimate gateway sin that would turn you quickly into a sinaholic. But hating isn't a sin on that list. Neither is shame. I was afraid of this parade because I wanted so badly to be a part of it. So today, I'm marching for that part of me that was once too afraid to march. And for all the people who can't march, the people living lives like I did, today I march to remember that I'm not just a me. I'm also a we. And we march with pride. So go fuck yourself, Aquinas."

Lito: "We're just friends."
Daniela: "Good friends."

Lito: "Sometimes when we were shooting, I was a little bit confused. Am I this twin here? Am I that twin?"

Daniela: "She's horrible. Don't know what's more fake, her acting or her tits."

Hernando: "I just want to be your armpiece."
Lito: "Why be jealous of the arm when you already have my heart?"
Hernando: "What movie is that from?"

Hernando: "You know I never say no to bubbles."

Daniela: "What is the problem, Lito?"
Hernando: "The problem is, honey, that you don't have a cock."

Diego: "I'll have you know I've had a few psychic experiences myself."
Will: "Nocturnal emissions don't count as psychic phenomenon."

Jonas: "We all know when people are lying to us, we just don't want to listen."

Amanita: "I will burn this building down before I let anyone touch that beautiful brain."

This episode was Sense8 delivering the goods. Am I rating it too high if I give it four out of four bubbles?
--
Lamounier

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Lamounier, you are writing up a storm right now! :) I am really liking your personal additions to the review.

I connected a lot with Nomi this time. What mother would do that to her child? But they do do it, don't they?

I don't like Kala's fiance Rajan but wow, the music thing was great and almost made me like him, and I said almost. The back and forth with Jonas demonstrating visiting by jumping into and out of Will's car was really fun. I also liked Will and Riley connecting through the mirror, and Kala and Wolfgang through sex and Indian food. :) And there's a big WTF is going on with Daniela's reaction to discovering Hernando in Lito's bed. Completely unexpected. I like unexpected!

Lamounier said...

But they do do it, don't they?

Unfortunately, yes.

Re: Rajan. I said that he is a good guy, but, yeah, he never did much for me either. He certainly stayed longer than I anticipated he would.

magritte said...

You've inspired me to rewatch the first season. I too am finding I enjoy the early episodes more than I did at the time. I tend on the whole to like more focus in shows--fewer characters, tighter storylines--and so Sense8 wasn't really my thing until everything starts to connect. Though I always appreciated its aesthetics.

I'm not a huge fan of Kala's story either, but I think it eventually ties into the theme of trusting your heart versus your head. Kala's a scientist by training, so that's not the easiest thing for her and Rajan is a very good husband from a logical standpoint. I can relate to making a safe, logical life choice that everyone around you approves of, even if it doesn't excite you.