Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sense8, Season Two, Episode Six: Isolated Above, Connected Below

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In the last episode, Riley played a concert in order to reach out to other sensates. Will's cluster may be intimately connected with each other (remember sensate orgy) but that doesn't mean that other clusters are the same, nor does that mean for a moment that there's any kind of trust between clusters.  Other than being sensates what they all have in common is that they are being hunted by Whispers and that means that not everyone can be trusted because some will make deals with the devil in order to survive.  

Will and Riley are traveling by train and Will is on blockers to make himself invisible to Whispers.  This means that when a new sensate shows up, Riley is his contact person because she's the only person who can see him.  A Scottish man who appeared at the party the night before appears to Riley but absolutely refuses to give her his name because he doesn't trust that she isn't working for BPO. He asks to be called Old Man Hoy because having spent 30 years on the run, his trust isn't something he gives away easily. That's about all Hoy is willing to share before disappearing. 

Feeling inspired after the concert, Lito takes his talents to the kitchen where he makes an epic breakfast to celebrate his decision to travel to São Paulo and be the grand marshal. When Lito, Hernando and Daniela The Fetishist arrive at the airport, there are quite a few fans waiting to greet Lito. It's just what he needs to boost his spirits, even if he's nervous at the very idea of giving a speech to start off the festivities. 

Now that the e-death has been accomplished, Nomi and Amanita are finally free to return to their home. It's a beautiful moment because they've been on the run for so very long.  Maybe, just maybe things will finally work out for these two and they absolutely deserve it.  They aren't free from the threat that BPO poses but they finally have a place where they can feel safe and have privacy from prying eyes. It's a small victory and it's worth celebrating. 

As for Sun, her small respite is over. Her teacher may have provided her with food and shelter but she cannot stay there forever.  The cops already suspect that she may be hiding there. Sun says goodbye to her dog and her teacher once again but she promises that she will come back one day.  It's what Sun needs to do but it's still so sad. For Sun, the respite can only be brief because not only does she have to worry about BPO, Joon-Ki isn't going to stop until she's dead. 

Capheus left Zakia's network thinking that his feelings might not be returned but it turns out that the dudebros were wrong.  Zakia flags down Capheus's bus and while Jela and his passengers listen in, Zakia admits that she did have a same sex relationship in London.  Zakia explains that she's attracted to people and not genitals. This makes yet another LGBT character on Sense8, which is easily the most diverse show that we do. Zakia says that it's now time for her to show some courage and she and Capheus kiss, while the passengers and Jela cheer. Capheus points out that they are different worlds but Zakia says that tonight they are not.

Capheus and Zakia head off to Zakia's place and start to have sex.  The one thing we know is that when one sensate has sex, others are likely to as well.  We aren't treated to a group orgy scene but we do finally get the pay off of Wolfie and Kala getting it on.  It was all so damn hot I had to fan myself.  Of course, Wolfie and Kala aren't together in the same way that Zakia and Capheus are but as Wolfie proved earlier, that isn't a barrier to sensates. 

The next morning, a naked Capheus goes onto Zakia's balcony and thrusts his hands in the air in triumph and after a night like that, I certainly don't blame him. Capheus then makes his way into Zakia's kitchen and seems astounded by everyday things like a cappuccino maker. It's a reminder of just how different Zakia's life is from his.  Zakia who was educated in London has privilege that Capheus has never had. 

Wolfie is absolutely happy to have spent the night with Kala but instead of greeting the day with arms raised in celebration, he's kissed awake by Rajan.  It's a funny moment and a reminder of just how weird life as a sensate can be sometimes. Kala on the other hand seems to have some regret in the harsh light of the morning.  She may have wanted to sleep with Wolfie but faced with Rajan's smiling face, she's reminded that she broke her vow by doing so. 

Capheus sits to have breakfast with Zakia and he reveals that the head of the Kenyan Democratic Reform Party paid him a visit. Zakia is impressed until Capheus makes it clear that he cut the meeting short and showed the man the door. Zakia is insistent that the leader is a brilliant man and that if he chose to speak to Capheus,  this means he has something important to say.  Capheus once again stresses that he is not a politician and it's Zakia who uses Capheus's words against him this time saying that he's a leader. Touché

The next sensate to introduce themselves to Riley is Puck. Yes, they met when he was examining the blockers but he didn't reveal at the time that he's a sensate. Puck is truly a gross human being and has no problem sexually harassing Riley. What Puck won't do however is give Riley any information or reveal his source for blockers. Like Mr. Hoy, Puck is not keen on trusting any sensate because of the potential for betrayal to BPO. 

After a lot of angst, it's time for the gay pride parade. Lito is on the float with Hernando and Daniela The Fetishist. Lito begins his speech by saying that he's honoured to be there but then quickly backtracks. Lito talks about how all his life he's had to hide who he was in order to have any shot of being an actor.  For the first time, Lito has the courage to tell the assembled crowd that he's a gay man. The look of relief on his face is just amazing. Lito yells,"I'm a gay man", several times before bringing Hernando to stand next to him and kissing him before the crowd. It's absolutely amazing and a reminder of how wonderful and necessary safe spaces are. Also, if you didn't cry, you have a heart of stone and I'm judging you. The other sensates join Lito for his moment of celebration and Daniela The Fetishist dances a long with her face painted with rainbows. 

Nomi now has no barriers to attending her sisters wedding. It's exactly what she wanted but it means dealing with her parents, who don't have a history of being either supportive or understanding.  Nomi's parents told her sister not to invite Nomi because they are certain that Nomi will make the wedding all about her because they believe her to be a narcissist. Nomi is worried that this is true, particularly because of how involved she's been recently with everything that's been going on with BPO and the sensates but Amanita is there once again to be a soft place to land and encourage her to be part of the ceremony. Amanita also tells Nomi that she's nothing like that. It's worth mentioning that calling Nomi a narcissist is not only heavily ableist but extremely transphobic because this is what trans* people are often called when they refuse to lead closeted lives for the comfort of cis people.  

Will has a vision of waking up in a home with Riley and kids.  It's enough to make me wonder if this what happens when the blockers wear off, or if sensate abilities are heightened when they sleep? We quickly learn that Will is actually in Whispers home and who he is seeing is Whispers wife and child.  Whispers calls the secretary and he is very excited about a big event that day. When Will wakes, he tells Riley that something bad is going to happen. Anything that Whispers would be excited about would be bad for Will's cluster. 

At this point, it's clear that Wofie is not interested in anything that Lila has to offer but the only way to get more information is to make nice with her.  Wolfie accompanies Lila on a hit and even reads the situation will enough to warn her about a potential danger. Lila is clearly intrigued by Wolfie but like the other sensates, she doesn't trust him.  The only thing she will share is that Whispers is often called Cannibal.  Whispers probably earned the name Cannibal by destroying his own cluster. 

Mr Hoy decides to pay Riley another visit and he's still insistent on retaining his anonymity.  He's built a wooden box in order to visit with other sensates without revealing his location.  Realising that they are never going to get anywhere like this, Riley takes Mr. Hoy up onto the rooftop so that he can see exactly where she is. Riley makes it clear that if he's going to sell her out to BPO that he now has all the information that he needs.  This is finally what earns Mr. Hoy's trust and he in turns shows her his home which is in the highlands of Scotland. 

Now that Hoy and Riley have established trust, he's willing to share with Riley what he knows about BPO.  It was actually a sapien who started BPO after her sensate sister was killed for being a witch in Egypt. BPO began in 1952, when a number of governments held a conference to debate reality. The conference was the start of  the Biologic Preservation Organization. Hoy knows this because he was in attendance, along with the founder Ruth Al-Sadaawi.

It's been 65 years since many of the world governments convened to discuss the sensorium and the larger public is still unaware that sensates exist.  Hoy explains though he has dear friends who are sapiens, they have proven over the years to have very little tolerance for difference.  Sapiens have gone to war, operated gas chambers and repressed anyone perceived to be different and so it's reasonable to assume that sensates would receive similar treatment, given that they constitute a separate species. BPO has moved so far from its original intent Hoy says that if Ruth were alive to see it today she'd be disgusted. 

Riley is very much determined to find out where Whispers lives and though Hoy is afraid, he agrees to help. Hoy explains that sapiens have only just gotten the internet but that sensates have had it for some time.  Hoy initiates a chain psychic connection to hunt Whispers down and reports back to Riley that she has to go to Chicago alone if she wants an answer as to where to find Whispers. 

Nomi and Amanita are at a fitting for Nomi's bridesmaid dress.  Nomi thanks her sister repeatedly for inviting her and promises that she won't cause any trouble.  The fitting is cut short when Amanita gets a text from her dads. It seems they've figured out exactly where Angelica's cabin is.  Nomi makes her apologies and goes rushing out. As Nomi and Amanita approach the property, Nomi is able to see the memories which reside there.  Nomi sees Angelica arguing with Jonas and the rest of her cluster. It's clear that Angelica has taken Whispers side against the advice of her cluster.  Raoul is forced to cover the cabin and himself with gasoline before setting himself on fire. If Angelica didn't force him to do this, she's at least complicit. 

In Isolated Above, Connected Below, we got a lot more information about the origin of BPO and the nature of the relationship between sapiens and sensates. The problem is that it all felt like an enormous info dump.  There had to be someway to show, rather than tell.  We know from earlier in the episode that BPO didn't start out to persecute sensates and this was confirmed by Hoy. What we are still lacking is Whispers motivation.  How did he manage to come between Angelica and her cluster to the degree that he could convince her to betray them in such a stunning fashion?  Given the way in which Raoul died, I don't see Angelica as an innocent who got duped. It does however call into question why it is that so many sensates seem to have such strong feelings about Angelica?  Just before Jonas was killed, Angelica appeared to him. She's certainly at the center of this mystery.

It actually makes sense to me that none of the sensates trust each other but it did come as a surprise that there seems to be such little trust within clusters.  Up until now, we've been led to believe that all clusters function in the same way that Will's cluster does.  Self preservation however is a strong urge and it seems that there are those who have no problem trading the lives for others to save their own. This cast is already impossibly large but I'd really like to see more sensates and the clusters to get a better sense of the dynamic within clusters themselves. Also, what the hell does Chicago have to do with everything? Somehow I suspect that it's not an accident that Will is from Chicago. 

For me the best moment of the episode was Lito giving his speech at Pride. He's absolutely struggled since the pictures of him having sex with Hernando were released.  Lito may have his cluster, Hernando and Daniela The Fetishist but up until that moment, what he didn't have was a larger community. Being forced to be closeted in order to have a career, cut Lito off from LGBT support systems which are clearly beneficial.  When Lito declared loudly and proudly that he's a gay man the joy was palpable. All credit goes to Miguel Ángel Silvestre for selling the hell out of this scene. 

In terms of fan service, Wolfie and Kala finally got to have one night together and even if things were more complicated in the harsh glare of morning light, it's hard not to be ecstatic for them. This has been building between Wolfie and Kala since they first laid eyes on each other. Now all they have to do is actually be together.  

With Will taking blockers, it's forcing Riley into a more active role and this is needed. For far too long, Riley has been the one who needed saving, and the one who functioned merely as a girlfriend without an real purpose.  Now Riley must negotiate with the other sensates to gain the information that their cluster desperately needs for survival. If Riley does indeed head to Chicago, the separation from Will will be good for her character. We need to see that she can be independent and make decisions on her own. We need to finally see her become an important member of her cluster in her own right.