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Jun 16 2015

Netflix’s Sense8 Doesn’t Quite Hit The Bull’s Eye.

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Sense8 is a story about 8 people that slowly become aware that they are connected to each other psychically and empathically.  Though they could only read some of each other’s thoughts, they could more easily feel what the others were feeling.  The ‘Senseate’ were also guided through the birth of this connection by Heroes star Naveen Andrews.  Naveen’s character Jonas warns the them about a villainess individual who’s purpose is to track them down.  I appreciated how the Wachowskis (Matrix) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) included people from all over the world.

The most charming aspect of the series was the demonstration of the connectedness of the 8.  You had people from America, Mexico, Germany, Kenya, India, the UK and Korea.  At first you understood through the lens of the characters  that this was a new and disturbing experience.  Sadly the first few episodes took a while to establish the situation.  It started out feeling a little disjointed.  But by the end of the series the writers deftly showed how the characters could help each other at the drop of a hat.  My thing is for a show that gave you people from all over and every background, some had a little more to offer than others.  It’s probably why I felt that some characters were more realized in a 3 dimensional way.  I’ll get into that in a bit.

Now about the bad guy. Mr. Whispers wasn’t enough of a threat.  I just couldn’t take him too seriously.  Did he just want to kill the Sense8 people around the world, or something more sinister?  There was one point where Whispers could control someone and I thought that gave light to a bigger agenda.  But I guess at this point in the story that was too early to be explored.

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Of course the POV of the LGBT crowd was strongly presented in the show (I’m guessing) due to Lana Wachowski’s personal insights of life as a transexual and those around her.  But it wasn’t as simple as ‘this one was Gay or that one was Straight’.  The Wachowkis were hitting on a concept of what would come out of a psychic link with other people where you could feel their emotions, desires and read their thoughts.  You have your own identity but also several others that could fuse with your own at a given time.  Sexuality and love were a large part of the story.  But only for some.  I thought the Capheus from Kenya (played by Ami Ameen) and Sun Bak from Korea (Doona Bae) were very non-sexual.  I’ve seen many examples in media of Black and Asian characters handled the same way (Michonne gets it in on them comic pages, not on TV though).  Everyone else was getting the good-good, why not them? And also that psychic orgy was very white and testosteronic.

Speaking on the depth of some characters over others, I was kinda looking at the Wachowskis with a little scrutiny over their choices of what some characters did.  You had the good white male cop who obviously was the shining knight of the series, and the troubled DJ from across the pond that became a damsel.  But there were two stereotypes that really rubbed me the wrong way.  The Asian woman that was able to help run a large corporation, but mostly was called upon for her martial arts prowess.  And even though I liked the brother from Kenya, he was boiled down to a bus driver with some skills at the wheel and a cliched source of African positivity and wisdom.  Why couldn’t there have been more characters of color like the incomparable Freema Agyeman (Martha from Doctor Who) who was anything but typical.  Maybe that’s just me being a fanboy.

I would have been mad at the whole Mexican telenovela thing, but I liked that it was used as a metaphor for the life of the Mexican action film star Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre).  His was one of the more well told stories of the series.

There were several episodes that were directed beautifully, especially 9 and 10.  I think they concisely explored the truth of what the show was about – human connection.  And I’m a big fan of director Tom Tykwer, who didn’t direct many of these episodes, but did the music for the series.

Lastly, the problem with the show is that the deep meaning of the concept has much more weight than what the excitation has presented thus far.  These are mostly ordinary people that can become extraordinary in their connection.  But if the environments and situations of the individual characters don’t give room for those extraordinary qualities to be explored than the series may fall flat.   As with many Scifi and Fantasy shows, this might just need a little time to get it totally right.  For those of you that liked the idea of CLOUD ATLAS (like I did) then you will enjoy this even better.  And even if you didn’t really like the 2012 Wachowski film there is a chance you might like Sense8 if you can get past the first few episodes.  Now if the whole ‘we are connected’ turns you off then give this a pass.  For me It’s no Daredevil, but it is a step in the right direction for the Wachowskis.

 

Geek Soul Brother Gives SENSE8 3.75 OUT OF 5 COSMIC AFROS.

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About the author

Geek Soul Brother

Puttin' the Funk in the Final Frontier! A Christian time-travelin' brother from the 70s. Loves Scifi, Fantasy, Horror.

1 comment

  1. milaxx

    I agree. The movie has pretty much every cliche possible but it somehow works. I find I had to let go of the issues I had and just enjoy the experience. The movie is a visual and musical delight. I’m actually hoping and looking forward to a season 2.

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