On June 5th, Netflix released what I think is a VERY original new series, Sense8, created and written by Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix). In a word, I'd say the show is intriguing. Eight strangers from all walks of life, race, religion and all over the globe are suddenly able to telepathically connect with one another. It’s not just hearing thoughts, it’s seeing, smelling, feeling and knowing whatever the person they are connected with does.
They can speak with one another face to face, or take control of the other person’s actions. Imagine being connected to someone who can hear your every thought, feel everything you’re feeling as if it were happening to them. No barriers, including language, just naked honesty and sensation. How many of us would be up for such an invasion? Or, such an adventure?
Jumping right in, things do get off to a slow start. At first it was a little frustrating because I wanted things to just click with all of them. You know, one minute they’re hearing voices and seeing things and then boom!, they’re all acting as one amazing telepathic unit. Thank you every superhero origin film ever made! I blame you for this un-natural expectation. Though season 1 is all about origin for each character, it isn’t until the final few episodes that things really start to come together. Every episode is an introduction, a building block of the characters and who they are. Having received this new gift simultaneously each of them are at a crossroads in their lives, major decisions have to be made and consequences for their actions must be dealt with. As they first try and understand what has happened to them and then accept their new abilities, their minds begin to gravitate to each other. The connection for some is much deeper than it is for others, the results are funny, badass, romantic, ssssteamy (VERY STEAMY) and heart-achingly earnest. There's this hilarious sequence of scenes where Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre) experiences the physical and emotional hell that is a woman's period when one of the eight gets hers.
There is a balance to this intriguing new world where the “bad guys” live. The eight are being hunted by a similarly gifted telepath seeking to destroy them. With unlimited resources, it is only a matter of time before he captures and destroys them one by one unless they figure out how to stop him. Not to worry, the eight are being guided by another telepath named Jonas (Naveen Andrews). He was part of another telepathic “cluster” that only he and one other survived. He is their only connection to understanding what they are and how this happened to them.
Critically speaking some of the storylines do plod along and could definitely use more layers. In particular the characters of Sun Bak (Bae Doona), Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) and Capheus (Aml Eysan Ameen). While it’s super fun that Sun, who appears to be the least lethal person, kicks some serious ass, her actual storyline is filled with long drawn out scenes where nothing at all happens. It isn’t until she is put in the position of protecting people that everything under the surface comes out. That in itself is interesting but not enough to justify the many stagnating scenes throughout season 1. In this regard, Kala is even worse. Preparing to wed a man she isn’t in love with isn’t a full season’s worth of character development. Outside of her amusing/unwanted attraction to Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) there really wasn’t much to hold my interest with her storyline. Capheus plays a matau driver in Nairobi with a passion for all things Jean-Claude Van Damme. The driving force of his ambition is to be able to care for his AIDS afflicated mother. That's all well and good but it really would have been more interesting if his character was in a rebel army of some kind. You could still keep the storyline that he's caring for his mother (or not), but how much more interesting for this group of relatively good people to have this rebel solidier in their heads and they in his.
Love is a major theme throughout, whether it's romantic, familial or in friendship, it's the glue that pulls and ultimately holds this group together against the odds. The last episode was certainly gratifying but it also left me with so many more questions and hopes for what’s to come in Season 2, should Netflix grant them a Season 2. If you’re looking for a sci-fi drama that’s willing to explore some of the more uncomfortable aspects of the human experience, this is the show for you. Consider this my vote in favor of another season. ***UPDATE*** S2 is coming!