Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sense8, Season One, Episode One: Limbic Resonance

Angel is covered in sweat and clearly in pain, as she lies on a filthy mattress in an alley in Chicago.  She searches desperately for drugs but has clearly run out. Jonas appears as a specter and embraces Angel, telling her that it's all over and it has to be now. Jonas encourages Angel to end it to give the others a fighting chance.  Angel then gets flashes of 8 different people across the globe. One at a time, each of the eight individuals becomes aware of Angel before she returns to her reality and collapses on the filthy mattress.

Angel is then joined by Mr. Whispers, who is also a specter.  Mr. Whispers hold up the empty drug wrappers, saying that this is how Angel has been hiding from him.  Mr. Whispers then questions whether Angel is giving birth.  Angel and Jonas profess their love for each other, as Mr. Whispers continues to taunt Angel. Angel picks up a gun with shaking hands but Mr. Whispers is not impressed, saying that Angel has made this false threat before.  Mr. Whispers in corporeal form enters the alleyway, just in time to see Angel to kill herself.

A boy chases after a girl who frequently turns and says, "help me."

Will Gorski lies in bed and dreams of Angel sitting on the filthy mattress and blowing her brains out.  This naturally wakes Will up and he grabs his gun from his bedside table quickly. Later, Will is trying to freshen up but the loud music keeps aggravating his headache.We get a flash to Wolfgang dancing topless in a club.  Finally, Will knocks on his neighbour's door and when the music continues, and he gets no answer, Will announces that he is a cop. When Will still gets no response, he forces the door open only to find an empty apartment.

Riley is at a club and she is the one playing the music that Will is hearing.  With her set is finished, Riley heads outside to hang with some of her friends and receive accolades. Riley is invited to go out and she turns them down initially because of a headache. Riley gets a flashback to Angel killing herself.

Lito is acting in a scene in a telenovela and he flubs his line, causing the frustrated director to call cut. The director suggests that Lito get his head straight because yesterday, he was seeing visions.

In Seoul, Sun gets a message that her brother has not arrived at the office and that a client of theirs has just arrived. Sun decides to take the meeting on her brother's behalf; however, the client is not interested in meeting with Sun, saying that "women don't close things, they open them." Sun discretely makes a fist but before she can react, her brother arrives. Sun gets a vision of herself in the alley with Angel.  When Sun refocuses on Seoul, she is ordered by her brother to bring coffees.

Back in London, Riley is listening to a story about an incident where two young girls knew that their mother needed help though they weren't with her.  They talk about a chemical that causes people to see their birth, their death, world's beyond this one and tell the truth because it creates a connection - it's limbic resonance.

In India, Kala gets ready to leave for work and asks her father Sanyam, for an umbrella because she hears rain.  Sanyam asks why Kala needs an umbrella because it's not raining out and the sun is in fact shining.  Sanyam suggests that Kala skip work, pointing out that it's getting close to the wedding.  Kala however will not hear of it and reminds her father that she was sent to university to get an education and a career, not a man. Sanyam suggests that the rain Kala heard were the sounds of her father's tears, thinking of giving his baby daughter away.

People are gathered for an Orthodox funeral and it is lightly raining.  Afterwards, Wolfgang walks in the streets following the casket with Felix by his side and Steiner taunting him about how smart he is and his next big heist.  It's an odd conversation to have in a procession to a graveyard.

In Nigeria, Capheus helps his sick mother take a drink before leaving for work.  He walks through the poor village he lives in until he gets to his bus, which has Jean Claude Van Dam painted on the side.

In San Fransisco, Nomi and Amanita are making love.  As soon as Nomi orgasms, Amanita toss aside the rainbow decorated strap on still slick from their activities.  They kiss and wish each other happy Pride.

Back in Mexico City, Lito talks to himself in the mirror trying to get into character for the role he must play.  Lito alternates between saying lines and humping the walls.  His practice is interrupted by his fellow actor dressed as a nun.  They do a bit of small talk until she notices Lito's erection and offers to help him with it.  Lito is quick to move away, claiming that his heart belongs to another.  The actress excuses herself and leaves.

In Berlin, the funeral has now reached the grave site.  Wolfgang offers his condolences to his aunt and uncle. Wolfgang is then encouraged to pay his respects to his father and does so by pissing on his father's grave. Netflix has a thing it seems for having characters piss on the their father's grave. Frank did it in  House of Cards and now Wolfgang

Back in Nigeria, Capheus sits frustrated on his bus because he has only managed to get enough customers to barely pay for the trip into town.  Capheus wonders if Van Damm's time is over but his friend Jela however encourages him not to give up because Jean Claude is watching over them. A man enters the bus and offers to pay for the trip with a chicken, claiming that the chicken is worth more than the fare.

In Seoul, a chicken squawks and lands on Sun's desk causing her to scream. Sun's receptionist then notifies her that the bank is interested in speaking with her and so she instructs her receptionist to say that she is in a meeting.

Riley finally leaves the club and is stopped by her friends because Nyx has invited the lot of them up to his place. Riley tries to beg off but is told that this is important.  Riley again says that her head is killing her and that she might be available tomorrow.

Riley disappears again and this time it's to a Pride gathering and she sees Nomi talking to Amanita.  Nomi and Amanita reminisce about their first Pride, getting high on brownies and making out. Two men in full costume, approach and hand Nomi and Amanita hash brownies. Nomi reveals that what she remembers most about that day is being introduced to Amanita's friends, who immediately attacked San because she believes that the LGBT should community should  drop the trans community. It's capped off by Nomi being called a "tranny".  Nomi explains that she felt the distinctions were separating the community, only to be told that she's "just another colonizing male trying to take up any space left to women." Amanita however steps up quickly, calling Nomi her girlfriend and threatening Sam with violence.  Nomi pulls Amanita away in tears and explains to Amanita that no one has ever defended her before.  Nomi declares that this is the moment she knew she would always love Amanita.

In India, Kala goes to pray at a Ganesha temple. Kala lays down an offering saying that she is trying to become a better person.  Kala says that she has no one else to talk to about her impending marriage.  Her family was ecstatic when she got engaged but the problem is that she doesn't love Raja.

Wolfgang sits with his BFF Felix, who explains that the reason why Wolgang's father got caught was because he was obsessed with trying to crack a specific safe. It seems that the big plan is to attempt to crack the same kind of safe his father could not the next day.

Nomi and Amanita are at an art installation.  The artist is worried about the piece because it is not celebratory in view of the current vision of Pride. Someone else points out that during the 80's, Pride was a funeral march. Later, we see the dance created by the artist in question, as in the audience, Nomi and Amanita sit together holding hands.  They watch with tears in their eyes.  The performance itself is beautiful and so incredibly sad. During the performance, Nomi gets a vision of Angel on her knees and is brought back to the present by the applause of the audience.

In Chicago, Will tells his partner Diego about his dream and gets teased for his trouble.  Later on patrol, Diego and Will drive through a gang infested area.  Diego calls the gang members the enemy, adding that Will has a reason to hate the gang members, given what they did to Will's father.  The cops then answer a call regarding gunfire.

In Germany, Felix and Wolfgang enter the apartment which contains the safe they plan on breaking into.  Wolfgang sits in front of the safe and gets to work, as Felix encourages him to just drill the safe if he cannot crack it.

Riley looks out the window after hearing sirens but sees nothing in the streets.

In Chicago, Will and Diego pull up to a scene. They pull their guns and start investigating, only to find a young boy who has been shot in the stomach.  Deshawn initially points his gun at the cops but decides to lower it and asks for help.  Will tells his partner to call an ambulance but is told that no ambulance will come there for a gunshot, especially not fast enough to make a difference.  Will picks up DeShawn, much to Diego's dismay.

Wolfgang is working on the safe and Felix is concerned that they will run out of time.  A frustrated Wolfgang decides that he just needs a break, and sits down to watch a singing competition on television.

Diego drives the car while Will sits in the back with DeShawn, who admits that he never met his father because he was shot before he was born.

Wolfgang talks about the woman singing but Felix is absolutely certain that the woman won't win the singing competition because her eyes are too close together and she looks like a camel. We get a flashback to a young Wolfgang on stage getting prompted to sing a song.  He stares nervously into the crowd and then looks at his father, who stands at the back of the room laughing at him.  In the present, the woman Wolfgang was rooting for in the singing competition does not win and so he resigns himself to going back to work on the safe.

Diego and Will pull up to a hospital and Will carries DeShawn.  They are greeted by a nurse who informs Will that they cannot treat a gunshot wound there.  She instructs Will to get an ambulance and take DeShawn to a different hospital.  The nurse explains that they have lost too many resources to gunshots and have been a better hospital since they have stopped taking kids like DeShawn.  A desperate Will implores the nurse again, this time saying please.

Felix's alarm goes off and he declares the mission over but Wolfgang continues to work on the safe.  Outside, Wolfgang's cousin Steiner arrives for his own crack at the safe.  Felix begs Wolfgang to pack up saying that he doesn't want to die but Wolfie continues to work on the safe until he manages to crack it.  Felix and Wolfie take a minute to celebrate before grabbing the diamonds from the safe.  The two rush down the stairs, set the alarm and take off, just as Steiner and his henchmen enter the building.

In the hospital, the nurse reports to Will and Diego that Deshawn is going to make it.  The nurse then asks how Will is going to feel if DeShawn survives and ends up killing a cop.

Riley sits in a room with her headphones on watching as others do drugs.  Once the high takes over, only Riley and Nyx are still sober.  Nyx removes Riley's headphones and examines the scratches on her wrist, commenting that Riley looks scared.  Nyx tells Riley that she doesn't belong with the men who accompanied her and that he used to be like her - warm on the inside.  Nyx then offers Riley some of the drugs and she accepts.  Riley's pupils dilate and she finds herself in Chicago with Will and Diego, as they get into their squad car.  Will looks out the window as though he can see Riley watching him.

Later, Will tells Diego to stop the car and in the back seat, Riley says, "this is where it happened," but to Diego it sounds like Will talking.  Will gets out of the car, gun drawn and goes to investigate the place where Angel died.  Will realises that he didn't just dream Angel killing herself and Diego snarks about having a "Mulder for a partner."  Will pulls out Angels drug kit as proof that a suicide happened there but it still does not impress Diego, who leaves to sit in the car.  Will places his hands on the filthy mattress as Riley watches.  When Will stands, he talks to Riley who says, "this is where she died."  Wills starts asking questions about where Riley lives and how she knows that Angel died there.  Riley admits that she doesn't know where she is and is happy to learn that she is in America, never having been there before.

Riley is brought back to her present where he friends are robbing Nyx.  The men have guns pointed at Nyx and Angel begs for Nyx's life.  Riley grabs her things saying that she has to leave but the men stop her saying that this is the break they have been waiting for.  Nyx manages to get his hand on a knife and a shoot out begins, leaving Riley splattered with blood.

The purpose of any series opener is to establish the world setting and introduce us to the main characters.  The issue with this episode is that there where so many character who all had such separate plot lines, it was difficult to tell who was who and exactly what was going on.  I was particularly confused with the children who kept popping up.  Obviously, these kids are flashbacks of the Sense8s but who is who and why is this important?

Sense8 is remarkably diverse as the above cast photo shows. I like that the POC of colour are not simply White characters painted brown or black for inclusion cookies.  Take Kala for instance, we know that she is from India, her father owns a restaurant and she is a Hindu.  It was all so very vivid.  Then there's Lito the telenovella actor - such a huge part of Mexican culture.  There were no short cuts taken here whatsoever, even though I do have a problem with Capheus seemingly worshiping JCVD.  It irks me that in Capheus's world, JCVD represents heroism and masculinity.  I may like that he is a faithful son but I cannot stand him continually holding JCVD up as someone to be admired.

I also take issue with DeShawn's shooting.  Given the nature of the Black men who have been slaughtered largely by White cops in recent years, watching a portrayal in which the two Black adults who interact with DeShawn see no value in his existence while the Will, the White cop does everything he can to save him is a problem.  I get that the writer's are trying to establish Will as the good guy but this scene looked at through the lens of race is a huge problem. 

In terms of sexuality thus far we have Nomi and Amanita.  Nomi is a transwoman and political activist.  The relationship between Nomi and Amanita is not only sexual and passionate, it's sweet and loving.  I love that Amanita immediately goes into defense mode when Nomi is attacked.  I would also be remiss in pointing out that trans character don't show up very often in this genre. There's also Lito and his partner.  In terms of GLBT representation, thus far Sense8 has done a wonderful job.

As I mentioned earlier, there's so much going on in this first episode that it's hard to get a bead on where Sense8 is going besides the fact that for some reason, 8 people across the globe are connected to each other.  I don't even know if there is some significance to the number 8, given that is the number Jele was holding up when he was trying to get customers for the bus.  In the episodes that follow, I hope that we will get a better idea of why these people are connected to each other and where this series is going.