Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sense8, Season One, Episode Seven: WWN Double-D

Sun has arrived at prison and placed into a cell with several women.  Though she has a determined look on her face, it's clear that she intimidated by these new surroundings.  The women look hard as they call Sun the embezzler who stole the money from investors and brought shame to her father and brother.  Though they sound harsh at first, it seems that the women don't think that Sun's actions were bad because they see it as rebelling against men.  All of the women who Sun is housed with have in some way rebelled against the men in their lives. Some women are even murderers.  It's worth noting however that Sun didn't actually rebel the way these women did against harsh treatment. It particularly stands out when one comments that the only place to find a strong honest woman is in Korea. In fact, agreeing to take the fall thus allowing her brother to avoid prison and her father to save face is absolutely submissive.

Nomi has decided to contact Bug - a man who got caught hacking the pentagon. Nomi explains that she took the fall for Bug and because she was a juvenile with rich parents and therefore she got off with community service.  How's that for privilege and power? It's worth noting however Nomi forgot to mention her whiteness as part of the equation. Yes as a trans woman there is no doubt that Nomis is a marginalized character and so it's interesting that she cannot see her Whiteness.  In fact she and Amanita have yet to discuss Nomi's whiteness and it seems to play no role in their relationship. Nomi explains that she didn't think that she would ever have to revisit this part of her life and apologizes to Amanita for lying by omission.

Bug arrives for the meeting and the first thing he does is to sexualize Nomi when he sees that she is a woman.  Bug's way of giving a compliment is to say that he would totally fuck Nomi. Okay, so Bug is a sexist bastard though he tries to claim that he isn't speaking about Nomi in a degrading way. Bug then goes on to sexualize Aminata when Nomi reveals that Amanita is her girlfriend.  Nomi shrugs off Bug and it's clear that she is tolerating Bug because she needs computer equipment to begin hacking. I like this scene because it points out the ways in which have to tolerate sexism in order to get ahead sometimes.  There would have been no point in calling out Bug when he couldn't understand the nature of what he was saying and furthermore; it may have stopped Nomi from receiving the computer equipment she needed.

The fetishist (read: Daniela) has taken Lito and Hernando out for dinner.  It seems that this is a restaurant that Hernando being a foodie has wanted to go to for some time. Lito is quick to say that this is not working but Daniela questions why because they went to the wrestling thing together.  Can Hernando and Lito ever have a moments peace without the fetishist in every moment of their existence? Daniela's suggestion is for Hernando to pretend to be Lito's new bodyguard.  When a couple of young women show up and ask for a picture, Hernando falls into his role until he is told by Lito that he will pose for the picture.  Lito is insistent that they head home even as photographers start taking pictures. An angry Hernando stands and orders the photographers to leave Lito in peace.  Everyone at the table is excited that Hernando managed to pull this off.  This moment is about so much more than Hernando successfully playing the bodyguard.  He had to have realised the reason he couldn't have the relationship that he wants in part is because of Lito's fear of being outed and being under the lens constantly made it harder for he and |Lito have a life outside of their apartment. Under the table, Hernando and Lito hold hands.

Riley is flying home when she is joined by an excited Capheus.  Capheus is quick to call Riley lucky and she explains that she is not lucky and that what she has is privilege.  Clearly, privilege and power is the theme for this episode and it's an important acknowledgement that one does not see often enough in the media. The problem of course is that you have the white character calling out privilege on no the Black one.  This is a role reversal that really isn't welcome.  Coming from Nigeria Capheus would or should have some sort of understanding of how privilege and power work since he has beeb subjected to not only racism but colonialism and poverty. Capheus however points out that Riley is lucky because she is still able to see her own father.  Capheus encourages Riley to look out the window and take pleasure in the view. Capheus sees the glass as half full while Riley sees it as half empty. It makes Capheus the simple character while situating Riley as the complex one.

Hernando returns to the apartment with Lito and Daniela.  The two men kiss and Lito drops Hernando quickly when the elevator door opens to maintain his cover as a straight men.  The two men kiss happily in the apartment.

Riley has landed back home and is greeted by her father  Gunnar who plays a version of the Who's Teenage Wasteland for her as a greeting.  Riley is clearly delighted to see her father and the two quickly embrace.

Back in the apartment, Daniela, Hernando and Lito find Joaquin waiting for them.  It seems that Joaquin is morose and wants to know what Lito has that he doesn't.  Daniela is quick to step forward and say that Lito doesn't hit her. Joaquin counters by claiming that he is Mexican, and has been raised to believe that a man must hit a woman to make her respect him,  Daniela then says that Lito is twice the man that Joaquin will ever be. It seems that Joaquin's mission is to watch Daniela and Lito have sex so that he can learn how to better satisfy a woman.  Lito is taken a back by this. When Daniela leaves to grab a phone to call the cops, Hernando chases Joaquin down and throws him out. What no one realises however is that Joaquin got his hands on Daniela's phone.  If you recall, this is a problem because the damn fetishist filmed Hernando and Lito have sex in the last episode.

The only reason for Daniela to take pictures and or video of Hernando and Lito engaged in sex is that she can have something for her spank bank.  Now that she has violated their privacy, all for the sake of her fetish, it's clearly going to cost Lito and Hernando.

Will tracks down more information on what happened with Angelica and in the process, sees a picture of Whispers. Will and Diego track down the van used transport Angelica's body and when he opens the back door, Will sees a vision of Angelica's dead body.

Nomi is busy getting down to business and tracks down Dr. Metzger. Through his travel records, Nomi tracks down one of the patients that Metzger operated on.  Nomi and Amanita talk their way into a nursing home and find the patient to be in a comatose state.  A frightened Nomi leaves with Amanita quick on her heels. Nomi is terrified that she will become like the patient she just met, particularly given that he is the only one to have survived Metzger's so-called treatment.

Kala has gone to the temple of Ganesha to figure out what she is going to do with her life. Kala talks about the different visions that she has had.  What she doesn't know is that she is interacting with the other Sense8s.  Kala fixates on Wolfie and says that there must be some meaning that she cannot see or understand.  What she doesn't know is that Wolfie has been watching her pray.  Kala finds herself standing in the rain at a cafe.  Kala asks to be left alone but Wolfie claims that he cannot stop thinking of her. It's worth noting that any other context this would be stalking. Kala takes a seat next to Wolfie and then they are transported back to India where it's not raining. The two shift together between the locations. Wolfie questions if Kala's God has ever helped and Kala explains that she asked her God to stop her wedding.  Kala believes that what is happening between them is a miracle, even if it is totally inappropriate.

Capheus has a memory back to when he was a little boy.  His mother is confronted about the fact that Capheus belongs with his own people (note: Capheus's parents are from different tribes).  Capheus's mother refuses to turn her back on her own child and she takes Capheus by the hand and leads him away.

Sun is put to work sewing in the prison.

Riley eats the breakfast Gunnar made for her and she pauses when she hears a voice telling her that she should not be back.

In a flashback, we see a young Kala at the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. She crawls inside a float of Ganesha and gets a birds eye view of the festival.  Kala is clearly captivated by the colours and the people. Wolfie brings the fact that Kala is a scientist but Kala explains that her life as a scientist does not preclude her from having faith.  Wolfie is clearly confused as to how Kala reconciles the two halves of herself. Before Wolfie and Kala can kiss, Wolfie is pulled out of it by Felix. Wolfie says that he needs to take a trip to India.

Capheus drops off Silas's daughter and is told to come inside for a surprise.

Lito delivers breakfast to Hernando and notices that Daniela has texted him from inside of the house. Daniela is quick to deny texting. When Lito checks, he finds the pictures Daniela took of he and Hernando having sex.  A tearful Daniela apolgises and promises to get the phone and the pictures back. Lito begins to freak out about what this will do to his career.  This is not unreasonable given that Lito tends to play action starts who are situated as hypermasculine men who always get the girl. There are many that believe that no matter the setting that gay men should not be positioned as hypermasculine.

Aminata and Nomi and are waiting for Mertzger in a coffee shop he frequents.  They manage to hack into his email. Mertzger gets a call a call from Doctor Matheson and rushes out without his coffee. Nomi contacts Matheson, who says that he is looking forward to meeting her.  Nomi decides to break into Mertzger's place when she sees that he is booked on a flight out that night.

Capheus is invited to Amondi's birthday party.  Silas take the opportunity to speak with Capheus about how much Amondi likes him. They once again bond about the females in their lives that they love.  Silas is let into an area where a man is tied down.  It seems that Silas was grooming the man to be number one before he watered down the drugs.  After donning an apron, Silas cuts off the man's hands with a cutlass and informs Capheus that the man understood the risk he was taking.

Amanita and Nomi break into Mertzger's place and Nomi quickly kills the alarm.  The women make their way through the apartment to Mertzger's computer.  Nomi is shocked to find nothing personal on Mertzger's computer.  When Amanita finds a photo of Mertzger with Cheney, she declares him evil. I very much have to agree with that assessment.

Felix is frantic when Wolfie shows up.  Felix tried to sell the diamonds but the man didn't show up, so he is busy packing a bag.  A woman knocks on the door asking for help and Felix approaches only for the woman to step away as a car pulls up.  Felix is shot once in the gut and Wolfie ducks to avoid the glass.  An alarmed Wolfie rushes to check on Felix and sees Steiner in the car reloading his shotgun.

Metzger is back home and is surprised to see Nomi.  Metzger starts talking about the surgery and Amanita confronts him with mace and a mallet.  Nomi asks about Matheson and Metzger is shocked. Nomi admits that she spoke with Matheson and questions who he is.  Jonas appears and warns Nomi that she has to leave because Whispers is coming.  Metzger tells Nomi that she has killed them all. The comatose patient from earlier enters Metzger's and he and Metzger fight, as Nomi rushes to finish downloading the information on Metzger's computer.  Now done with Metzger, the zombie patient storms out and shoots the two men that Nomi and Amanita reached out to for help.  Nomi and Amanatia get away so the zombie turns his attention back to Metzger and shoots him in the head. In the mirror, Nomi sees that the zombie reflection does not match who he is as the zombie blows his own head off.  The image in the mirror belongs to Whispers.  This is getting creepier by the minute.

Much of this episode is about power and privilege.  You can see that with Sun's complete loss of power, being forced into a prison industry.  It appears again in Sun's fellow prisoners congratulating her on embezzling and shaming both her father and her brother.  We know of course that for Sun that is no the case.  There's also the conversation between Capheus and Riley which felt backward to me for the aforementioned reasons.  Then we have Nomi putting up with sexism to get her gear.  Finally, there's Joaquin and his belief that intimate partner violence is necessary and his ability to destroy Lito's career by outing him.

As much as we don't like it, until we become enlightened beings, power and privilege will always be a part of the human experience.  I do believe that despite all of the beautiful cinematography and varied locals that at its heart more than any other show recently, Sense8 is about the human condition. In this case, to some degree, Sense8 chose to explore the bad.  As much as the good unites us so does the bad even if we cannot always readily see the commonalities of oppression because we are blinded by our privileges.  This is evident from Nomi's erasure of her Whiteness.  Nomi can understand bigotry as a trans woman but her ability to gain privilege from her Whiteness is invisible.

I am still very much in love with Sense8 and look forward to seeing where this is going.