Is there somewhere that I can watch whatever movie Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) is filming?
Let’s bitch it out…
Near the beginning of the fifth episode, Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) faces a polite interrogation by the local crime lord about the theft of the diamonds. The specifics aren’t important, but there’s a little exchange at the end, concerning Wolfgang’s father, where the crime lord tells Wolfgang, “You should always remember who you are.” It’s an interesting line given the context of this show. We’ve seen different characters faced with complicated choices, and who they are is a good basis for determining how they’ll approach making a decision. On the flip side, however, these characters are losing their sense of identity as their minds become more and more linked with one another. Who are they, really? Nomi (Jamie Clayton), in particular, has a pertinent conversation with her lover, Amanita (Freema Agyeman), about how she momentarily forgets who Amanita is – because she was “visiting” with Will (Brian J. Smith) at that precise moment, and Will was briefly in her place. It was Will who didn’t recognize Amanita, but their minds are so linked that Nomi feels it was her as well.
Sense8 touches on the idea of who the characters are repeatedly throughout ‘Art Is Like Religion’. During his conversation with Sun (Doona Bae), Capheus (Aml Ameen) makes a comment about how who we are helps us make choices, and in return our choices define who we are. As we discussed after the last episode, both Capheus and Sun are faced with complicated choices regarding their families. Capheus makes his choice quickly because his mother means so much to him. He’s willing to risk his life, and potentially get into a whole lot of trouble, in order to get the medicine to help his mother. Sun, on the other hand, has a father and brother who are far less loving – she goes so far as to describe their treatment as cruel. Why should she sacrifice herself to help them? And yet, at the episode’s close, we see her dropping her beloved dog off with Mr. Miyagi, so apparently she’s going to make that sacrifice. Because that’s who Sun is: she made a promise to her mother to protect her family, and she’s an honourable and loyal human being.
With this much character development going on, the plot momentum ends up feeling a little muted this episode. We’re still in the process of feeling everyone out, and figuring out who the sensates really are. Moreso, we’re still figuring out just how all this connection stuff works. The writers really amp up the “visiting” and “sharing” stuff this episode. There are a lot of pairs, some new and some old. I probably missed a few, but these were the more noticeable ones: Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Sun; Riley (Tuppence Middleton) and Capheus; Kala (Tina Desai) and Wolfgang; Will and Nomi; Will and Lito; Sun and Capheus; and even a few quick glimpses of Sun and Kala, and Will and Riley.
I’m assuming that this is all laying the groundwork for all eight characters to become increasingly intertwined. They’re feeling out the process of sharing their minds and their skills; they’re questioning what’s going on, why they can understand one another, and why they’re appearing in different locations. Some of them, like Capheus, seem giddy about the new discoveries. Some are a little more reserved or confused. It’s interesting to see how each individual reacts each time that they jump. Last episode we saw how Will could feel the wall in Jonas’ cell, even though he wasn’t present. This episode we see that Capheus can drink Riley’s tea. I’m interested to see how far this can go – will they eventually be able to fully manifest in each other’s locations?
The one storyline that’s not working for me is Kala’s. Will and Nomi have storylines that tie directly into the larger “What’s going on?” idea, and have had direct contact with Jonas (an unseen Naveen Andrews). Everyone else is kind of in their own little story. Some work for me because I feel connected to them, like Sun or Capheus. I liked Riley’s story early, but it hasn’t gone anywhere in a while. Lito’s story is mostly just fun distraction – that action scene he films here is awesome to watch, and the pseudo-threesome interaction between the gay lovers and Daneila (Eréndira Ibarra) their new live-in is amusing.
Kala has a pretty boring storyline. We still have no idea why she doesn’t love Rajan (Purab Kohli) when everyone around her seems to adore him or why she agreed to marry him in the first place. It seems like Sense8 is trying to paint her as victim, someone who finds herself in a terrible situation, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a situation of her own making, and I find myself feeling more sorry for Rajan than Kala. The poor guy doesn’t know what he’s walking into! I’m worried that the writers are going to set it up so that Rajan turns out to be a bad dude in order to force us to feel sympathetic to Kala, but that’s just manipulative. It’s the one storyline that’s done a terrible job of setting up who these people are. The nearest comparison – Nomi – has recovered nicely from a pretty bad characterization in the first couple episodes, and I have a better sense of her now. Kala’s story has yet to transcend a weak/slow start. Even the final shot – with Wolfgang standing naked in front of Kala as she’s getting married – had me rolling my eyes. Kala passing out had zero emotional impact on me. I just felt like I was robbed of a better climax because I was stuck in her story instead of one of the other sensates.
- I continue to love the constant presence of/references to Van Damme. Capheus referring to Sun as the spirit of Jean-Claude Korean Lady was great.
- I really enjoyed Capheus’ story about his mother defending him from the machete gang. It offers a good glimpse of mob mentality: as a group, they’re scary and aggressive, but on their own they’re all cowards and none of them actually wants to risk dying.
- So are we supposed to assume that the kid Will saved in the pilot is back as a gangbanger already? Everyone gave Will shit for saving the kid can now tell him how right they were and how wrong he was? Great.
- I mentioned it above, but Lito action scene is really cool. Watching the actor being pulled around on the cables was a neat behind-the-scenes look at how those scenes are actually shot. And the Wachowski siblings would know. I wonder how many cables Keanu got hooked up to over the years?
- Despite my misgivings about the Kala storyline, hats off of the production team for that incredibly cool-looking wedding. It came off like Rajan’s earlier Bollywood performance ratcheted up several notches. And while I don’t mean to be insensitive to Hindu culture, I thought Kala looked far less attractive with that gigantic nose ring.
Your turn: are you invested in Kala’s wedding drama? Loving the Van Damme references? Excited that the visits are occurring more often? Was Lito’s action scene the most exciting part of the episode? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting about upcoming episodes.
Sense8 is currently available in its entirety on Netflix. Check back Tuesday for our review of episode six as we hit the halfway mark.