I haven’t read a Nancy Drew novel in many, many years, but I’m pretty sure the plots don’t usually involve lobotomizing doctors and NSA-grade surveillance.
Let’s bitch it out…
The plot picks up quite a bit this episode, which is a welcome change, given the slower pace of the last two or three episodes. in fact, just about every character has some sort of paradigm-shifting event occur (except Tina Desai’s Kala – of course). Jonas (Naveen Andrews) is back, just long enough to introduce who I presume is the show’s big bad, Whispers (Terrence Mann).
Some of the characters are being drawn directly into Whispers’ circle, but most of them are still plodding along in their own stories, oblivious to the larger importance of their strange abilities. We get our first glimpse of Whispers when Will (Brian J. Smith) goes to confront some gang banger for information. Apparently a kid witnessed Whispers bringing Angel’s (Daryl Hannah) body out of the old building, and got a few snaps off with his phone. “The way he talked and everyone jumped,” the kid says, the old guy must be the one in charge. Makes sense to me. Beyond this interaction, however, Will is mostly shunted to the background this episode.
That’s okay, because we learn a lot more through Nomi’s (Jamie Clayton) story. Nomi really kicks it into high gear this episode, first calling up one of her old hacker buddies, Bug (Michael X. Sommers) who hooks her up with some computer gear. It’s a pretty amusing scene in and of itself, as her old friend remembers her as ‘Mike.’ He then proceeds to tell her how hot she looks as a chick. Bug’s whole personality just seems fun, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him again in the future, even though he was pretty tertiary here. Nomi is able to use the hacking gear to find out more information on Dr. Metzger (Adam Shapiro). Then she and Amanita (Freema Agyeman) set out on their Nancy Drew adventures, tracking down clue after clue. It’s a fun series of events, culminating with a break-in at Metzger’s apartment.
There’s a decent amount of suspense involved, as it’s pretty obvious that Metzger (or someone else) is going to pop in on them, but the way the scenes are shot, by cutting from one character to the next and then back, dampens the effect a little. Plus, Metzger looks like kind of a wimp, so he’s not really that scary. It’s Dr. Matheson, aka Whispers, who Nomi spoke to briefly on the phone earlier, that’s the frightening one. And when Jonas pops up for a second, telling Nomi to run because Whispers has found them, the scene really works. Nomi and Amanita get away, of course, but not before Metzger is offed, and we learn that Whispers can control other people – which leaves us wondering if he can only control Niles because of Metzger’s lobotomy or if Whispers’ power allows him to control a number of people? I’m leaning towards the latter, otherwise he wouldn’t have so easily killed Niles off.
I’m curious how long it will take before more of the eight linked characters start to get pulled into this central plot. We’re over halfway through the season now, so I hope it’s soon. But so far, the others are working through their own story lines, oblivious to the potential danger that Whispers presents to them.
Riley (Tuppence Middleton) and Capheus (Aml Ameen) have a nice exchange early in the episode. Riley took Sun’s (Donna Bae) advice, apparently, and she’s heading back to Iceland. Capheus visits her on the plane and his joy is infectious. His worldview is so overwhelmingly positive, despite the fact that he’s probably had the most difficult life of any of the sensates. When Riley is worried that something bad might happen when she goes home, Capheus counters by asking “What if something wonderful happens?” It’s hard to achieve that level of overt optimism. Even Riley muses, “I wish I could see the world that simply.” Unfortunately, simplicity doesn’t really work on this show.
Things seem to be going well for Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Hernando (Alfonso Herrera). Daniela (Erendira Ibarra) convinces them to go out as a couple, with Hernando posing as Lito’s bodyguard, since the public is already under the assumption that Lito and Daniela are together. I imagine this would be an incredibly emotional and motivating experience for two men in such a situation, and it leads to a lot of optimism about how they can live their lives. Right up until they get home and Daniela’s ex has broken in. This guy is just plain weird. But then again, the whole idea of having a fake girlfriend living with a gay couple after basically forcing herself into their (sex) lives is a little weird to begin with. So I wasn’t really at all surprised when her phone was mistakenly stolen, and Lito gets a text message with a picture of him and Hernando going at it. Their optimistic outlook on life lasted all of one evening. If only life could be so simple for them.
We get to see Sun spending her first few days in prison. The justice system must work a little differently in South Korea. I thought it was interesting when Nomi made a comment about how she took the fall for her friend, and one of the reasons was because she was rich and knew she’d get off easy. Sun is also rich, but she ends up tossed in with murderers in a maximum security prison, despite the fact that she hasn’t been convicted of anything yet. Anyway, not much is going on here, but I look forward to the inevitable scene where Sun kicks the shit out of the lady who is bullying other women in the sewing room.
There are also some more eye-roll-inducing scenes between Kala and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt). Like, seriously, the best this show can do is jokes about Wolfgang’s apparent endowment? Kala is praying to Ganesh for something or other when Wolfgang appears and informs her that “Gods don’t give a shit about us.” At least we got a bit of philosophy out of it, as Wolfgang asks how Kala can be a scientist but still be so devout. I’m probably biased, as an atheist, but her arguments don’t make much sense. The idea that there are things in the universe that we don’t understand doesn’t jive because it needs to be qualified with the word “yet.” Science is a gradual learning process, and just because something doesn’t make sense today doesn’t mean that it won’t in twenty years, or fifty years, or a thousand years. Anyway, Wolfgang’s little date with Kala gets cut short, and his partner in crime, Felix (Max Mauff), gets gunned down in his shop. You could see this development coming a long way off, but I’ll miss their little banter. At the very least, I hope it keeps Wolfgang in Berlin instead of chasing Kala to India.
Sense8 reminds me of other good, but not great, shows. I feel like there’s potential here to be something special, but it’s mired trying to do too much. The writing is on point at times, and clunky drivel at others. Most of the acting seems pretty solid, but nobody is really blowing me away. Some scenes are great, and others are boring. We’ll see how the season winds up, but so far I can’t say more than that this show is pretty good.
- Capheus has to watch a guy get his hands cut off by Silas (Peter King Nzioki). That is pretty gruesome. If that happens to Capheus some day, I’ll be a sad panda.
- As much as I complain about the intermittently bad writing on this show, there are some pretty good lines in this episode. I laughed out loud a few times.
- Riley doesn’t have much to do this week, but I really love the relationship she has with her father, Gunnar (Kristjan Kristjansson). It is such a smile-inducing scene when he sings for her as she gets off the plane. I hope nothing bad happens to him, but it seems almost inevitable. This episode proved that bad things continually happen to good people!
- Hernando made a pretty good bodyguard. Now if only he’d started a week earlier, he might have prevented pictures from being taken while he was bent over the bed. I really hope there’s more to this storyline than public outrage over a hunky male actor being gay. Sometimes I feel like the Wachowskis really need to take some lessons on how to make social commentary in a more subtle way. This is a little on the nose.
Your turn: what did you think of Nomi and Amanita’s Nancy Drew escapades? Is Whispers the Big Bad? Are you excited to see Sun do some prison damage? Do you hope Wolfgang stays away from Kala in real life? Will something happen to Riley’s father? Will Capheus lose his hands <gulp>? Sound off below, but please refrain from addressing future episodes.
Sense8 is available in its entirety on Netflix. Check back Tuesday for our review of episode eight.