Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sense8, Season Two, Episode Two: Who Am I

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Netflix is absolutely the perfect home for Sense8. It allows the show to have a large budget and benefit from binge watching.  Sense8 is not a show that would do well if consumed on a weekly basis because it's meant to be an almost immersive experience. It plays like one long ten hour movie, rather than individual episodes slowly moving the plot along. 

In the season premiere, we briefly catch up with all of the sensates.  Wolfie is still very much struggling with trying to avoid getting dragged deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld. It's clear that at this moment he feels very trapped. What he wants is a life with Kala but they couldn't be from two more different worlds.  Party every night and a random woman from time to time doesn't seem to hold the same thrill for Wolfie but he goes through the motions anyway because what else can he do?

For her part, Kala is just as trapped as Wolfie.  She's married to Rajan now and he's purchased them a beautiful home to live in.  One can almost hear her internal scream when as a selling feature for the home, the realtor points out at great space to put a nursery.  This may be the life that Kala agreed to but it's not the life that she really wants.  Kala is trapped by expectation and by the weight of Rajan's love for her - a love that she does not reciprocate, even though she cares for him. I suspect that things are about to get a lot worse for Kala now that her father in-law Manendra has announced that he will be running for a government position. We already know that Manendra doesn't believe that Kala and Rajan should be together and that Manendra, unlike Kala, is an atheist. 

After having a nice Christmas with his mother, Lito has to deal with the fact that he's been outed in the most cruel of fashions.  Even his home has been taken from him and he obsessed with the fact that he might lose his career as well.  At this point however Lito is determined to be courageous and to stop hiding who he is from the world. Gone is any shame he may have felt about his sexuality. 

Sun is increasingly frustrated by the fact that she remains in prison while her brother lives the life of a free man without a care in the world. Sun is absolutely determined to get vengeance but every time she attempts to find a way to free herself, her brother throws another roadblock in her path.  Nomi suggests waiting until they can break into the prison computer system but Sun's patience is wearing thin. 

Caphues is still driving his bus in Nigeria.  He is still very much conflicted by his relationship with the local drug lord.  It seems that Silas, the drug lord, has turned over a new leaf now that Caphues has saved his daughter but this is not something Caphues trusts. It's further complicated by the fact that he still needs AIDS medication for his mother.  Caphues is all too aware that all of this kindness could come at a cost, no matter how much the community seems to be buying into the new Silas. 

Nomi is still on the run with Amanita. For the time being, Amanita and Nomi are staying with Bugs, who still functions very much like comic relief.  Amanita and Nomi may trust Bugs as far as staying with him but not enough to let him in on their secret.  At this point, Bugs believes that Nomi spends a lot of time talking to her self but what she is actually doing is talking to other sensates.  When Nomi isn't with Bugs trying to track down Whispers, she and and Amanita are doing research on telepathy and the branch of humanity which can communicate without words - "homo sensorium".  In  a lecture series they learn that the ability to communicate through words rather than thoughts and emotions gave humanity the ability to lie and that this would have been a genetic advantage. 

Will and Riley take up the majority of the plot advancement in this episode. Whispers is actively hunting Will and this means that he has to spend his time on smack to avoid capture. As we know, this didn't end well when Angelica was in the same position. To remind us that Whispers is an evil bastard we watch in a flashback as Whispers uses mind control to have a man's throat slit.  Right now, Will, Riley and Whispers are actively playing a game of cat and mouse; however, who is in the role of mouse is very much up for grabs. Both parties shift their environment around to make it seem as though they are elsewhere.  Will and Riley play a recording of seagulls to give them impression that they are in Iceland when in fact, they are in Amsterdam.  Whispers brings Will to a what he believes is a military installation however everything about the room turns out to be fake.  The party that wins will be the one to figure out the other's location first. 

Throughout Sense8, Will has spoken about a little girl that he was able to see from the time he was a child.  Sarah has been something of a lightening rod for Will, though I'm not quite sure why at this point. If anything, Sarah's role in the story is the one that confuses me the most.  Will talks Nomi and Amanita into visiting Sarah's mother and she reveals that the sensates have been coming to visit her for years to talk about seeing Sarah. Will has Nomi promise Sarah's mother that he will never give up on finding Sarah's killer.  It's only when Nomi begins to show Sarah's mother pictures of the sensates that they learn that Whispers, who at the time went by the name Dr. Matheson, used to tutor Sarah. Will is absolutely convinced that that it was Whispers who killed Sarah.

Will's position is precarious because the drugs are slowly killing him.  Kala is very concerned that he cannot keep this up much longer.  Wolfie encourages Riley not to give up on Will because Will would not give up on them.  They are desperate to get more information on Whispers so that they can track him down. Finally, they get a lucky break and find Whispers while he is in a meeting with his boss Croome at BPO. Whispers is stunned that the sensates were able to find them and struggles to get to his drugs to cut off the connection. When Whispers tries to leave the room, Will gets in his face and promises that he is coming. It's the big moment of the episode and it's awesome.

Throughout the episode, the running theme is the goodness of humanity. The greatest framing of this is at the opening for Lito's latest movie.  At the same time Lito is being interviewed, so is Capheus.  Lito is asked about his sexuality and if he lied to his fans. Capheus is asked about uplifting the white saviour with his worship of Van Damme.  Lito suggests that labels don't really apply and that he is the same as the reporter in that he's made up various things. Capheus's answer is essentially the same to the woman who is interviewing him. Essentially, what everyone has in common is the human experience.

Later, the reporter returns to Capheus and they speak about how amazing it is that she's a woman reporter in Nigeria.  Zakia downplays this achievement, even as Capheus talks about how a life like hers wouldn't have been possible in their grandmother's lifetimes.  Capheus believes that the world is changing for the good but that it's happening slowly and that's why humanity needs to keep dreaming of better days.  This speech works a lot better than his justification of the deification of Van Damme. The truth of the matter is that what Zakia said about Van Damme is absolutely correct. Sure, we all have a shared human struggle but it's absolutely individualized.  Praising a white man who goes around kicking ass and taking names while ignoring the various crimes of White supremacy, while living in Nigeria no less is stunningly ignorant and certainly not benign.  What works for Lito in terms of perhaps of eschewing labels, certainly does not work for Caphues in his defense of his idol worship of Van Damme. 

I would be remiss if I didn't end by speaking about my favourite moment of the episode.  I love the relationship between Riley and her musician father.  There's something so natural about it that I actually have to remind myself that I'm watching two actors. Their chemistry is beautiful and touching to watch, even though they don't really discuss anything meaningful.  Sure, it's a small distraction because his sole purpose is to deliver supplies to trick Whispers into thinking that they are in Iceland but it's still sweet and heartwarming.