When I first saw the trailer for Sense8 I instantly became interested in watching the whole series as soon as possible and seeing it was a Netflix original, that made it even easier as they released all 12 episodes at the same time. Now I’ve decided to do this review and will keep it as a spoiler free as much as I can, but be warned that occasionally I will be dropping in a snippet here and there.
What’s it about?
Well the basis of the story is that somewhere, anywhere in fact, on the face of the planet there are certain individuals who are connected to each other no matter how far apart they are. Now I don’t mean that they share the same dreams or see random images in their heads (although this does happen a little), I’m talking about a connection so intense that you can actually feel the same emotions as another person, hear every word they say, be there with them in whatever they do as if they were standing not only right next to them, but instead actually are them. Imagine doing something as simple as enjoying your favorite dessert, the taste of it, the smell, the feel of it on your tongue. Now what if it wasn’t you eating that dessert, nor is it a favorite of yours, but in fact it is simply you sharing the enjoyment through someone else!
Now THAT’S a connection! Well that’s what happens in Sense8, eight random people, scattered over the globe with no knowledge of each other, who are all linked together in this unique way and unique is a great word for Sense8 because as far as I know this is a completely original concept, you may be a better person than I and know of something similar (if you do please comment and let me know) but it’s rare to find something that’s this original and unique.
8 become 1.
The lives that each person leads are completely different and yet somehow, once you get past the initial confusion of jumping between the various characters (which I believe is purposely put into the script), they seamlessly blend together over the course of the series. As I mentioned the story revolves around eight main characters that I’ll briefly mention; Capheus who is a van driver from Nairobi. Nomi, a hacktivist living in San Francisco. Will, a cop from Chicago. Kala who is a pharmacist from Mumbai. Riley, a DJ from Iceland who lives in London. Lito, an actor from Spain filming in Mexico City. Sun, a business woman from Seoul and Wolfgang who is a locksmith/safe-cracker living in Berlin. Plus they receive help n the form of Jonas (Naveen Andrews – Lost) and Angel (Darryl Hannah) who help them come to terms with this ability.
So as you can see, 8 people from different backgrounds with nothing in common that anyone can tell, well almost nothing anyway as we discover near the end that all senates are born on the same day which does explain the link, only a minor spoiler. Each of these sensates have their own story to tell, for example Kala is to be married to a man that she doesn’t entirely feel happy with, while Capheus earns a living driving passengers around in his ‘Van Damme’ van so he can buy medicine for his mother, who has AIDS.
When our cast start to develop their link between each other they have moments of confusion, understandably so, when another’s thoughts and emotions begin to enter their own head, which only becomes more mysterious when they can’t actually see and hear another sensate, leading to the people around them thinking that they may be going a little crazy, which is understandable. As they become more interactive with the other members of their cluster, which is what a group of senates are called, they also find that thoughts and emotions aren’t the only thing that they share, they also have the knowledge and skills of the others as we learn in one episode when Capheus is in trouble and is assisted by Sun, but I won’t spoil that for you.
It’s difficult to highlight one character as a favourite as each has a part of their lives that you can relate to, but I’m sure that by the end of the 12th episode you will have someone in mind, be it Wolfgang and his darker side, or Lito and his passion for, well most things!
Pushing the limits.
One of the great things that I enjoyed about Sense8 was the fact it took things that many people consider taboos and not only showed them in all their glory, but practically thrust them at you. Things such as homosexuality and gender reassignment, which some still have issues with, are at the forefront most of the time during the series while in one episode childbirth is shown with no frills attached. So the scenes pull no punches and while this was a little surprising at first it’s only because these subjects are rarely put on such a grand stage within a TV series, but it was completely refreshing to see that someone was willing to put such real scenarios into the mainstream, because in the world we live in diversity should be embraced and not hidden.
So credit to that has to go to the people who created, wrote and produced the series. Those people are Andy & Lana Wachowski along with J. Michael Straczynski. Now you might recognize the first two names there, they were the people that bought us The Matrix and when you realise this, the way that Sense8 is produced and put onto screen becomes a lot easier to understand, I mean what do you expect from someone who wrote such a far out storyline. While Straczynski boasts Thor, World War Z and Babylon 5 among his credits, so these people have a good and weird repertoire in their portfolios. Add to this that each of the characters stories are actually filmed in the cities and countries that I mentioned earlier and this only helps to capture my imagination as I follow them around their homes.
All in all the world of the sensates is a strange yet fantastic blend of action, drama, and science fiction. The possibility that someone can share a bond with another so real and intense that their lives become entangled is a fascinating one, and while I admit the first episode or two are a little out there, they lay the foundations for the rest of the series to show its potential. By the end I was engrossed in the lives of these 8 strangers, wishing that there were a few more episodes to carry on our journey with them, to see what possibilities remain when you have such a gift, or curse depending on your point of view. So let’s see if Netflix can continue to do what they have been, take a chance on potential, the rewards could be Sense8-tional.