Although not the peak of the show, the premiere makes a good introduction to what promises to be a thrilling season.
In a time of division and prejudice, Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s Netflix sensation Sense8 has a peculiarly optimistic feel to it. A multinational story of eight people from across the globe shared their first breath, they remain united even when separated by oceans. Season 2 kicks off shortly after the 120-minute New Year’s special, and gently lowers us back into the complex plotlines to show the season will be carrying on in capable hands.
Will (Brian J. Smith) is at the centre, locked in a battle of wits with a man known only as Whispers (Terrence Mann) who is determined to betray the sensates to the mysterious company, BPO. Helping Will are Angelica (Daryl Hannah), the ‘mother’ of the sensates, and Riley (Tuppence Middleton) who injects him with heroin to protect him from Whispers (just go with it) after she was rescued her from Iceland in the finale of last season.
Around them, each of the other characters are dealing with their own situations. Kala (Tina Desai), Sun (Doona Bae), and Wolfgang (Max Reimelt) are only featured briefly, but their appearances are no less warmly felt. Fugitives Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and Anamita (Freema Agyeman) are finding out as much as they can about their telepathy, introducing the idea of ‘homo sensorium’, a species murdered by homo sapiens. Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and his boyfriend Hernando (Alfonso Herrara) are dealing with the recent ‘scandal’ of Lito’s homosexuality, and are seen interrogated by a reporter at a film premiere.
As unhappily rooted in reality situations like this are, Sense8‘s fantastical sense of community turns it to triumph. Across the globe, Capheus (Toby Onwumere) and his boyfriend, I mean van, the Van Damm, are also being interrogated by a reporter. Together, with the rest of the cluster by their side (in their heads), the two men explain who they are, and that ‘labels are the opposite of understanding’.
This is not the only inspirational speech this episode, as Capheus and the reporter share another conversation. She is cynical, tired of the hatred in the world, a feeling shared by many of us. But Capheus knows that in ‘courage’ is the ability to ‘see such terrible things happen and still get up every day and be able to see what is still beautiful’. In these trying times, it is refreshing to see a show that tackles today’s problems with optimism and strength.
The episode itself is a strong one, although it can sometimes feel like a ‘last time on’ than an episode in its own right. Most of the tension comes towards the end, as Will and Whispers’ battle to find each other comes to a head. I won’t spoil it for you, but the twists and turns at every step of the way mean the finale of the episode is deeply satisfying.
This introduction to the new series may have some pacing issues, with a few repetitive montage scenes, but it has a big heart at its centre. Its wide geographical variation makes for gorgeous cinematography and visuals, along with its wonderfully fluid editing between each of the eight characters. The joy of seeing the team back together for the first time since Christmas outweighs most of the flaws, and the episode does a good job of setting up what hopes to be an exciting season. ‘Who am I?’ the episode title begs. Why, I would reply, you’re a refreshing bundle of optimism in a world of gloom. And it’s not even like we have to wait at all for another hit. Or the one after that. Or the next eight.
All 23 episodes of Sense8 are available to stream now on Netflix. Watch the season trailer below: