Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sense8, Season Two, Episode Five: Fear Never Fixed Anything

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The sensates have never really been in denial about how much danger they are in. They know that they're being hunted by BPO because they are different. They know that they had to come together to rescue Riley last season.  Will has had to spend months on hard drugs in order to stop Whispers from tracking them. The knife has quite literally been hanging over their heads but up until Jonas was killed, they were intact.  Jonas may not be a part of their cluster but he was important to them and now he's gone.  Jonas's death is keenly felt and it accomplished exactly what BPO wanted, they are all afraid and at a loss for what to do.  Jonas was the last member of his cluster and what happened to him, could easily happen to them if they don't find a way to escape BPO. 

Even with BPO hanging over their heads they still have to continue their everyday lives and the struggle that comes with it.  It's what reminds us that though the sensates are different because they communicate differently than sapiens, they live and share the same world. This is what helps to keep the story grounded. 

Between his exploits with Silas and being interviewed on television, Capheus is attracting more and more attention.  The Kenyan Democratic Reform Party pays Capheus a visit about running for office.  Naturally, Capheus denies that he's a politician and wants no part of this.  It must weigh heavily upon him that when his father stood up to be counted he was killed.  The leaders tell Capheus that they don't want a politician and that they want a leader but Capheus refuses to entertain the idea even briefly and is quick to escort them out of his home. Personally, I can see why Capheus is so appealing to  The Kenyan Democratic Reform Party. Capheus speaks passionately about income inequality, changes that need to be made to the system and our shared humanity. 

Kala pays a visit to her father and he has her try a new recipe he is working on. Kala is clearly distracted.  On one hand she is drawn to Wolfie and cannot really deny the feelings she has for him and then there's her marriage to Rajan. Rajan may have provided Kala with a beautiful home, a wonderful wedding and honeymoon but he's certainly keeping secrets when it comes to work.  Kala is a deeply religious woman and she pledged her love, body and loyalty to Rajan and her feelings for Wolfie are in direct conflict with that. Sanyam may not have the answers, particularly because he doesn't know exactly what his daughter is going through but he does offer some comfort and promise that things will eventually make sense and she will know what to do. 

Sun is now on the run by herself and so she turns to her former teacher.  For Sun, simple comforts go along way. Not only is she reunited with her teacher, she's reunited with her dog.  A night's sleep, a shower and a warm meal leave her feeling much more like herself. Her tranquility however is ruptured when Joong-Ki appears on television to make a plea for his big sister to turn herself in. An enraged Sun, breaks the television and instantly feels regret; however Kang-Dae makes it clear that if she didn't do it he would have.  Sun begins intensive training, even though she currently doesn't have a plan for how to move forward. All Sun knows is that she has an enemy and that she won't stop until that enemy is dead. Sun however does get a visit from a former opponent/lover, now cop. He doesn't speak to Sun directly however does make it clear that he knows that Joong-Ki is no innocent and only needs some time to prove it. The cops says that he knows that Sun needs a friend. Alright, I had a little bit of squee because I really want Sun to have something good happen to her. 

Nomi, Amanita and Bug are busy picking up the pieces by continuing the investigation by working with the only lead they have left - the pictures that Lito took in Raoul's room when he visited Raoul's father.  It's Amanita who finds the manufacturer of the equipment that Angelica used and traces it back to the University of Chicago. This seems to be ongoing because the company is still supplying the university. I knew that Angelica, despite her name was no damn innocent. 

At this point, Nomi's life is still very restricted because she's a wanted woman and Amanita's run in with Agent Bendix is a stark reminder that the authorities are not going give up until they have her in custody.  It's Bug who comes up with the key to Nomi getting her life back - e-death.  At first, Amanita is irked because he didn't mention this before and it would have saved them so much trouble but as it turns out, Bug only knows a guy, who know a guy, who can make it happen. Bug assures the women that he's already started the process. Could there be a light at the end of the tunnel for Nomi? It would be nice, particularly because Nomi's sister is about to get married and Nomi has been asked to be the maid of honour. It's time to see "The Guy", that is if Bug can stop with the pregnant pauses to make every word he utters that much more dramatic. Yeah, Bug is growing on me, even if he's getting on Amanita's last nerve. 

Capheus may not want to be a politician but he does know that he wants to get to know Zakia a lot better.  Even though he's currently on a run, Capheus stops his bus at the television station.  Capheus stops at the reception desk to ask to speak to Zakia for a few moments and gets a lot more than he bargained for.  Three dude bros who work with Zakia say that when she was in London, she had an affair with a woman and that since Capheus is a man, he has no chance with her. They laugh like it's all some big joke and I found myself wanting to slap them. Why are dudebros always exactly where you don't need them to be?  Zakia sends a message through the receptionist that she's in a meeting and cannot be disturbed. The dudebros of course imply that this is because Zakia just isn't into Capheus and he leaves the station with his head down. 

Whispers decides to change his game plan and be far more accommodating in his next meeting with Will. Whispers did after all manage to foil Will so neatly and arrange for Jonas's death. At this point, Whispers holds all the cards and the sensates are just trying to keep up. Whispers is done with hiding his location and he and Will sit on a bench in London.  Whispers starts to talk about how architecture changed after the black plague and Will clearly has no patience for this conversation. Whispers attempts to argue that he is actually working to make things better for sensates and that Angelica believed in what he's doing. That's a big stretch given that Angelica killed herself to avoid being captured by Whispers and his goons which Will is quick to point out. Naturally, Whispers has an answer for Angelica's suicide and reminds Will that cops and soldiers often take their lives because they've seen too much. Whispers even goes as far as to point out that Will's father found his escape in the bottle. It's a low blow and it's meant to sting despite the fake kindness dripping in Whisper's voice.  Whispers is basically telling Will that fighting evil comes at a cost and is low key threatening.  How much stress exactly can Will handle? When will the cost of resistance be too much? Oh how I hate Whispers.

Unsurprisingly, coming out has come at a cost for Lito. He argues with Hernando and Daniela The Fetishist that there are no gay action stars, or at least no out gay action stars. Being type cast is death to an actors career and for far too long, being gay was/is a career killer.  Though Lito doesn't mention him, it's hard not to think of Rupert Everett, who while not an action star, certainly had his career ruined by coming out. In order to encourage him, Daniela The Fetishist, points to an invitation to be the Grande Marshall at the São Paulo Gay Pride Parade. For Lito, this just feels like doubling down on the problem. Lito is obsessed by what people are saying about him on twitter and feels that he's losing fans by the minute.

Bug may love his pregnant pauses but he comes through for Nomi. Bug, Nomi and Amanita head to a movie theater to meet with "The Guy".  It turns out that the theater is playing one of Lito's movies.  Bug is shocked to find out that Lito is one of the people in Nomi's cluster and raves about how much he loves Lito. Lito shows up and takes a seat next to Bug and is reassured by Bug's fan worship of him. "The Guy" takes a seat in the theater behind Bug, Amanita and Nomi wearing a Gay Fawkes mask. Why of course he does.  Really Sense8? How very imaginative.  It seems that "The Guy" knows a lot about what's going on with Nomi, BPO and homo sensorium. "The Guy" is all down for fighting the man with the proviso that at some point in the future, Nomi does a favour for him.  "The Guy" then distracts Nomi, Bug and Amanita, long enough to slip Nomi a flash drive and disappear. 

When real courage fails you, sometimes you have to turn to liquid courage. Lito returns to the bar where he kissed the bartender last season before taking on Daniela's The Fetishist's ex boyfriend and orders eight shots of tequilla. That's one shot for each sensate. The bartender thanks Lito for that kiss, saying that it inspired him to finally work up the courage to ask his boyfriend to marry him and led to the greatest year of his life. This inspires the sensates to think about their next move.  It's Will who points out that BPO seems to have a lot of resources and that would only be necessary if they were trying to contain a lot of sensates. So far, they've been running and hiding and it's gotten them nowhere. Fear has actually been holding them back and so it's decided that Riley will take up Victor's offer and play a set, in the hopes of drawing out other sensates. 

Cue the big moment of the episode, Riley is on stage and everyone in her cluster is in attendance. Riley tells the crowd how she moved through life with her head down and how great it is to finally look up. Riley then declares her love for Will. I should be really moved at this moment and probably would have been if this speech had come from any other character but Riley, who seems to exist to just be Will's girlfriend. Sure, we know about the death of her husband and baby but unlike the other sensates, she doesn't seem to add any real value to the cluster. The music starts to play, everyone begins to dance and a few sensates from other clusters make an appearance

Naturally, the impromptu event draws the attention of Whispers, who arrives at the party with police. Will and Riley are forced to flee. Whispers tells Will that what he has done is reckless but Will and Riley manage to escape on a boat, thus drawing the mind back to the end of season one.  It's a small moment of triumph for Will's cluster.  They may have made a public spectacle but they've managed to draw the attention of other sensates which could in handy for what is to come. 

Fear Never Fixed Anything is really about facing what you're scared of head on and taking control of your destiny.  It's heavily implied that if you do this, it may be difficult but that your life will improve.  At it's heart, Sense8 attempts to send a positive message but to do that, they have to paint a pie in the sky picture. Yes, facing your fears can sometimes make things better but it ignores the fact that more often than not, especially in the case of Lito, these fears exist for a reason and cannot easily be wiped away by a little courage. Lito coming out will not suddenly end homophobia in the film industry and it will not guarantee is career as an action star. 

This episode, I found myself most drawn to what is going on with Lito and Sun. What these two have in common is that they are being targeted and oppressed for who they are.  For Sun, it's the crime of being born a woman in a highly sexist society and for Lito it's for the crime of being born gay.  Throughout Lito and Sun's life, there has always been pressure to stop being who they are and to stop dreaming.  Sexism and homophobia may operate differently but they are both oppressions and both are crushing in their own way as we can see from what is happening to both Lito and Sun.  

Sometimes, Sense8 is just a little bit too on the nose. Sure, Bug talking in pregnant pauses and bringing up, "The Guy" is the writer directly winking at the audience but when "The Guy" shows up in a Guy Fawkes mask it takes a joke just too far.  Sometimes, Sense8 fails to recognise that it like everything else has limits and that you can indeed take a joke or a point too far.  

For the last few episodes, I've been complaining that we haven't really been given a motivation for Whispers.  In Fear Never Fixed Anything, we learn that Whispers believes that he's actually working to benefit the sensates by cooperating with BPO. It sounds pretty self serving to me and I don't buy that as the reason he's been killing and torturing people for years.  For as dangerous as Whispers is, we know that he is not at the head of BPO and is in fact just a good little soldier following orders.  Was he threatened in some way? You can justify just about anything to yourself if you're motivated but I don't believe his interaction with Will gets to the heart of the matter because Whispers was still playing power games.