Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sense8, Season Two, Episode 0: A Christmas Special

Yeah, I know that I am late to this as well but what can I say, the holidays are a busy time.  I certainly couldn't skip talking about it because Sense8 turned out to be my favourite new show of 2016.  I think I've actually binge watched the entire first season two or three times now. It was with a sense of anticipation as I sat down to reacquaint myself with Sun, Lito, Kala, Capheus, Wolfgang, Nomi, Riley and Will.  Last season we watched as the sensates began to connect with each other, their lives in some kind of crises and the Christmas episode showed us some of the fall out of their decisions.

It's been a really long wait for season two and so I suppose the purpose of this episode was to remind the viewers what we loved about Sense8 in the first place, hence the massive group sex scene, the group birthday celebration and of course, the ending moment with Hallelujah. The point of this episode was to drive the plot forward  just a little bit and to act as a tease for what is to come.  On that level, I think it would be fair to say that Sense8 absolutely succeeded, even if at times it felt like season one being rebooted slightly. If anything, it feels sort of like Sense8 offering its fans a new pilot.

There were certainly moments that really struck a chord with me.  As promised, Lito and Fernando's sex pics were released to the public.  Fernando is confronted with it during his lecture when the students begin laughing like children.  Fernando doesn't run from the moment and explains it as, "Art is love made public". It's a beautiful tribute because the pictures of Fernando and Lito are indeed beautiful, even if they do represent the worst sort of violation of privacy.

As expected, Lito being a public figure takes the hit.  There are problems with his agent, he's hounded by the media and then thrown out of his home without warning.  When he finally makes it up to his apartment, he discovers that his possessions have simply been discarded.  Now that he is an out gay man the message is that he is a threat and somehow unclean.  Because of being outed, Lito is moving from a man of privilege to a new problematised identity as that of a gay man.  Lito and Hernando take refuge with Daniela the fetishist. This of course comes once again with Daniela the fetishist masturbating to Lito and Hernando having sex. Filming a woman masturbating is certainly subversive because it allows Daniela the fetishist to own her sexuality in a world that slut shames women for being sexual beings; however, having it occur when Lito and Hernando are having sex is hella problematic. The world may have turned its back on Lito but he learns that his mother has always known he is and has always loved him.  I'm glad that with everything Lito has lost, the writers still gave him a secure foundation to build from. 

Speaking of sex, Kala isn't having any with her new husband Rajan. Just as Wolfie warned, Kala isn't happy in her loveless marriage.  The person she really wants to be with is Wolfie, who while he interacts with her, is clearly keeping his distance given the complications in his own life.  It seems that with his uncle out of the way, there's a void in the crime families in Germany. Wolfie, is tapped to take over but he's reluctant to do so. Clearly, Kala has has an effect on him.

Will and Riley are on the run together from Whispers.  Just like Angelica, Will is forced to do drugs to keep Whispers from entering his mind and tracking him down.  Just as you would imagine, the drugs aren't doing good things for Will at all.  He misses his father and the life he used to have and so all of his rage is focused on bringing down Whispers and the organisation he works for. Will does manage to surprise Whispers and show up where he is thus turning the tables for the first time.  It's clear that the battle is just beginning.

Speaking of new beginnings, Caphaues has to get his bus back on the road.  I have to admit to having to pause when he first appeared on screen because he looked different. It seems that the character has been recast and is now being played by Toby Onwumere.  I'm not sure that I like this change. The new incarnation of Capheus is no longer light and filled with incredible hope but is instead far more quiet and retiring.  It feels like we will have to get to know him all over again and I'm not sure that I'm pleased with that.  

Sun is increasingly finding her imprisonment difficult to bear.  Her brother is doing his best on the outside to shut down her attempts to appeal her conviction and even goes as far as to have her lawyer taken out.  Things aren't looking good for Sun.  She may be no closer to freedom yet but she does have the solidarity of her fellow female prisoners who with their small acts offer succor to Sun.  I really want to see Sun be free and I suspect that this is what will happen in season two. 

Amanita and Nomi are on the run from the authorities. Nomi is still doing her best to hack her way to the truth but is not making much progress.  Through it all, Nomi and Amanita remain committed to each other.  In the end, they are forced to take refuge with Nomi's old hacking buddy Bugs, who predictably remains as creepy as ever. As Nomi and Amanita prepare to head out to celebrate Christmas, Bugs talks about spending his time with his online family. He considers them to be close though they've never met before but it's clear there's a touch of sadness about him.  

The scene between Nomi, Amanita and Bug brings us to what Sense8 is all about.  Yes, our online friends are our real friends but that doesn't mean that we don't all feel a sense of loss of connection. In fact, the more connected we become, the lonelier it seems we are. Sense8 is about bringing people together and helping each other during the rough times.  Nomi shows up for Lito when he's feeling sad after being outed and Will is there for Wolfie when he needs back up during a fight.  The idea I think is that individually we are vulnerable but when we let out guard down and pair up with others we have the strength to survive anything.  At it's heart, it's a beautiful message and makes me love Sense8 all the more.