Sense8 (Flavor of the Week)

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Sense8

“Without the past there’d be nothing to think about…and no one to think it”

Sense8 is a story about eight individuals from across the globe psychically linked after being born into the same Cluster. This means they possess the ability to share experiences, knowledge and emotions from afar but enjoy them as if to have been friends/lovers who have known each other for years. This experience is akin to the downloading of knowledge into the mind of humans in The Matrix movies but less software centered and more intimate. The Wachowskis, creators of both The Matrix and Sense8, are no strangers to experiential/metaphysical concepts but with this particular story they add a deeper humanistic layer found absent in The Matrix series.

“It is we who make the choice then the choice makes us”

With the description of a show about humans able to utilize each other’s abilities, I thought Sense8 would lean toward being another superhero/graphic novel style movie in the tradition of the Matrix but instead, the Wachowskis intimately introduce you to unique characters dealing with intriguing but no less, real life situations. Though the characters must deal with an ‘evil doer’ scientific organization hunting humans with their abilities, the charm and attraction of this story is in the character’s handling of everyday life and the interpersonal relationships they have with friends, family and eventually, with the others in their Cluster. The gem of this show is in the revealing and frank conversations these “just the other day” strangers have with one another.

“The real violence is the one we do to ourselves when we are too afraid to be who we are”

The first couple of episodes drug a bit too much for my taste. Understanding that most shows begin slowly while establishing the world, character and story lines, I began to fear that the series would follow the path of the Matrix sequels or Jupiter Ascending. Though those films were based off incredible concepts I felt they fell off when it came to execution and storytelling. But halfway through the Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch the series finds its bearings and hits its stride. I felt myself relating a bit too much to the characters’ sense of cluelessness in the first couple of episodes because just like them, I was completely lost and had very little idea of what was going on, where the story was heading and most importantly, what was the point of any of it. But once you reach episodes seven and eight, you begin to understand that because the story is more focused on character emotions and interpersonal experiences (rather than action) that the early episodes were painfully crucial to building your connection with characters and their situations. This could be said for any story but it was particularly crucial to Sense8 and that is because of its daunting amount of eight, each heavily featured, protagonist.

“Do you think other animals waste as much time as us wishing for things we know we’ll never get”

Even though it is a story with eight protagonists you find yourself caring and understanding each one of them to a point in which you sympathize with their thoughts, views and actions they take in their individual lives. More so than you would think possible in a story with this many lead characters. Being a storyteller myself, understand that this is a remarkable achievement when it comes to telling a visual story through film, television or the internet. It is easy to develop a multitude of characters within literature because the audience can read what each character thinks and feels and through this experience they gain a deeper emotional connection to the characters that cannot be easily conveyed through movies or television. Also, with a book you can move at your own pace, readily revisiting previous pages to refresh your thoughts and re-digest information. But this is extremely difficult in a story based on visuals and script.

“The bed keeps you in the slum; the flat screen takes you out”

Game of Thrones has led the way when it comes to introducing and developing a multitude of characters to the point in which the audience gains a personal attachment to many of them but I feel Sense8 is able to pull off the exact same trick but with far more fluidity and better visual storytelling. With Sense8, the narrative does not rely purely on character dialogue exposition as is the case in Game of Thrones. But the seamless editing of past/meanwhile events with present time dialogue/activities is so beautifully choreographed that I often caught myself wanting to re-watch certain scenes just to experience the introspective prose voiced over the action once again.

“Killing is easy when you feel nothing”

Taking the entire first season into account, this is easily the best storytelling I’ve experienced from the Wachowskis and to be honest, I didn’t know they had this in them. But of course mad props should be given to J. Michael Straczynski as the co-creator to the series as I, unfortunately, do not know the depths of his contribution to the writing/scripting though I’m sure it was more than just consequential. I just feel like this story has been bubbling up inside of the Siblings for some time and they finally found an outlet with the sensate concept to just let it ride. You can feel a great deal of their personal thoughts on religiosity, culture, philosophy and humanistic, infused in the characters and dialogue. Though these thoughts are never overbearing or oppressively moralistic they’re just presented without judgment but rather, offered as life views inherited from the varying experiences of the diverse range and background of each character. Though I will concede there are certain scenes you may want to visually/personally prepare yourself for though you kinda sorta get use to them by the end of season…kinda.

“It’s not the drugs that make a drug addict; it is the need to escape”

There are a few directions the story can take going forward based on the end of the first season but a large part of me is afraid of which road the Wachowskis take and how they proceed. By the end of the first season I felt as if this would have been a perfect miniseries of possibly twenty some odd episodes but I’ve read that the Wachowskis plan on making this a five season affair. This immediately brought my thoughts back to the Matrix series and how the sequels lost the steam and determined, purposeful storytelling of the initial movie. But if the Wachowskis feel as though they have enough to say with these characters in this world then by all means, let the ideas fly and we will readily join you along for the ride.

“What if something terrible happens?” “What if something wonderful happens?”

Thanks for reading my review of Sense8 first season. If you enjoyed this review please checkout some of my other Flavor of the Week post or you can read some of the books I’ve written that involve reflections on life in the form of prose, short stories, essays and quotes. My Soul of Suw series is a mythology based on African American/world culture with a pantheon of gods inspired by music…especially hip hop.

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