Tuesday, June 9, 2015

SENSE8 Review

I'd seen the preview for Netflix's 12-part Sense8 and, intrigued, began watching it June 5, 2015, when all 12 episodes dropped at once.

Created and written by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix franchise) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), it stars Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Jamie Clayton, Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Brian J. Smith and Tina Desai, as 8 people in different parts of the world whose lives are transformed when they begin to share their consciousness with one another.

Sense8 is a paranormal, erotic thriller. As noted by critics, the story begins slowly, mysteriously and isn't quick to reveal itself. But when the 12th episode ended, I was absolutely stunned. Sense8 has a huge cast spanning the globe. It is beautifully shot. It is the most glorious television show I've ever seen.

4 of the 8 people who together become "a cluster" are male, the other 4 female. They are straight, gay, transsexual and, maybe even, bisexual. The women are equally strong and important as the men. There are even wonderful shout-outs to Diana Prince and Nancy Drew. (One thrilling episode is titled "W.W.N. Double D?" or "What Would Nancy Drew Do?") The 8 main characters are connected on a profoundly emotional level–Imagine if you and someone else suddenly knew and felt everything the other had experienced and was experiencing during your entire lives. Yes, I mean everything.

A Nancy Drew moment occurs at Atlas Cafe, near where I work.

There are stereotypes–a Mexican film action hero living a soap-operatic double life; a righteous South Korean martial-arts champion; a world-class computer hacker living in San Francisco–but these stereotypes are adroitly upended, as the emotional lives of the characters are explored in rich detail to reveal each individual as wholly unique.

When the sinister consequences of the cluster become clear, it is also evident that each of the 8 is important for being uniquely themselves, for it is the strengths and knowledge each has accumulated over their individual life journey that now protect and enhance the lives of the others in the cluster.

I won't reveal plot points–It's a thriller, after all, so the action sequences are enthralling!–but I will note a moment that beautifully sums up Sense8: One of the 8 becomes lost in the annual, massive festival celebrating a god. A child takes their hand and says, "Come. This way. Come," leading the way through the jubilant crowd to a statue of the god. The child then shows the way inside and up into the statue's papier-mâché head so that the main character can peer through its eyeholes to see the revelry as the god's statue sees: unfolding forever is the interconnected, unstoppable, glorious magnificence of life.

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