I can’t recall if Lito and Wolfgang have teamed up before (save the big orgy scene), but they’ve quickly become my favourite pairing!
Let’s bitch it out…
So, what is human? Will (Brian J. Smith) and Jonas (Naveen Andrews) have a disappointedly short conversation, where Jonas fills in a few blanks for Will, but not much. The basic gist of what the sensates are, according to Jonas, is that they’re a very, very closely related species to homo sapiens, but not actually homo sapiens. A little twist here and a little tweak there in the genome can produce a whole new species that is almost indistinguishable from humans. In fact, Jonas goes on to say that humans and sensates have both been around so long that it’s unclear which developed first. Jonas implies that sensates predate humans, and that humans evolved slightly differently, cutting off their connection with nature. “Killing is easy when you feel nothing,” he says. I think this whole scientific approach would have been a little easier to swallow if they’d just said that sensates are an evolutionary step forward from humans. Saying that they’ve been around for thousands of years, and that the reason is genetic, has a lot of flaws. If it’s genetic, then how is it that eight completely genetically independent people are all connected? Wouldn’t you pass your sensate genes on to your offspring? Why aren’t there millions of sensates, if they’ve had millennia to procreate?
Just to go off on a quick tangent here, it always bothers me how people are so dissatisfied with the answers presented for the mysteries on LOST. I always liked a bit of mystery, and don’t feel that everything needs to be explained. Yet I can’t help asking these questions about Sense8, which is kind of hypocritical of me, but now I’mi thinking the show would be better off without any explanations at all. Because it seems like every time the writers try to explain something, it just comes off clunky, and instigates more new questions than answers. Maybe it would be better to just say “nobody knows why the sensates can do what they do,” and let the audience roll with it. Trying to explain science fiction concepts using real science always comes off sloppy – this stuff doesn’t exist in our world, so our knowledge of science can’t explain it.
Sooo…ignoring the bigger meta/philosophical questions about what makes a human, this is a pretty exciting episode. And it manages to be exciting without moving the BPO/conspiracy/Whispers plot ahead at all. As in, it’s barely mentioned at all. A few characters, like Will and Riley (Tuppence Middleton) are just chilling, enjoying stuff. A few, like Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) are dealing with their own problems. And a few are only present in montage scenes. And yet I found ‘What is Human?’ to be one of the more enjoyable episodes of Sense8 yet. I’ll attribute that to the fact that the show has done a capable job of getting me invested in the characters, so I actually feel happy for them when things go their way now and then. Especially when things go their way in big, exciting, action-packed scenes!
Wolfgang gets a visit in the hospital from the bad dude who put Felix there. Wolfgang seems to be a pretty stoic fellow, which explains why he didn’t just lash out at the bad guy right away – I can’t imagine how pissed I’d feel if the guy who shot my friend full of bullets showed up in his hospital room. They cut a deal, and Wolfgang agrees to return the diamonds, on the condition that he and Felix get a free pass. Of course, things are never so simple when dealing with bad guys. Wolfgang expects to get double-crossed, and although he’s ready for it, things don’t quite work out when he gets knocked down too far away from his gun to reach it.
Enter Lito, who was last seen in a drunken stupor in his empty hot tub. I think this is the first instance we’ve seen of a sensate (Wolfgang – in this case) being present outside of his own body in his own scene. He and Lito have a conversation while the bad guy is holding a gun to Wolfgang’s head just a few feet away. I’m not sure what to take from that scene, but like I said above, I’m trying to stop thinking too hard about the mechanics of how these powers work. At the end of the day, it’s a fun scene, as Lito steps in (“May I? Do you mind?” he asks, before taking control of Wolfgang’s body). Lito is able to distract the bad guy with a clever story (“Lying’s easy. Lying’s what I do”), allowing Wolfgang to get to his gun – and then to his rocket launcher. It is a strangely satisfying moment to watch Wolfgang casually pull out the giant weapon, and calmly fire it at the escaping car. It’s only made more enjoyable by Lito’s hilarious cheering reaction.
This scene proves to be the instigator for the other fun action scene, as Wolfgang tells Lito that when you make a terrible mistake, you only have two choices – live with it or fix it. Lito has a big problem that he needs to fix, and he seems to take inspiration from Wolfgang. So off Lito goes to try and rescue Daniela (Erendira Ibarra). Leave it to the action star to make the whole entrance more theatrical than any real confrontation would ever be, with the crazy driving and the cigarette flick. This only makes the scene more fun to watch, though. Unfortunately, fighting in the movies is much easier than fighting in real life. Lito gets his ass kicked by Joaquin (Raúl Méndez) – until Wolfgang shows up to return the favour. The whole thing plays out exactly as you’d expect, with Wolfgang kicking ass (“Fighting’s easy. Fighting’s what I do.”), Lito saving Daniela, and Lito winning Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) back. I’m still not sure how I feel about third-wheel Daniela in their relationship, but I really like the Lito-Hernando vibe, so I’m glad that it all works out (like there was ever a chance that it wouldn’t).
The big finale scene is possibly an even weirder montage than the episode 6 orgy scene. While Riley’s dad (Kristján Kristjánsson) is playing his concert and Will is watching fireworks with his dad, all of the sensates appear together in the concert hall, listening to the music. It’s actually kind of touching. Right up until each sensate’s birth scenes played out as part of the montage. I’m talking graphic birth scenes. I mean, I get where the writers are going thematically with the whole ‘what is human?’ and the connection between these eight people who were all born at the exact same moment, but I really don’t need to see baby heads crowning out of vaginas. It’s a little too much, and it just kind of occurs without warning. Riley passes out at the end, so I guess we’ll see what the significance of this scene is later.
Anyway, this is a fun episode, but with only two to go, the writers are really going to have to tie the whole Whispers story together pretty quick. I hope they don’t just leave it hanging for season two (considering season two has yet to be confirmed).
- There was some more stuff going on with Kala (Tina Desai) and her wedding jitters. She has a nice heart-to-heart with her father, but I’m still not feeling this storyline.
- A much better Kala scene was with her watching Van Damme with Capheus (Aml Ameen). I think Lionheart was the first Van Damme movie I ever saw (that or Kickboxer, I can’t remember). I’m sure this Van Damme stuff seems completely random to a lot of viewers, but I smile every time a Capehus scene references Van Damme.
- For a minute, I was worried that Sun (Doona Bae) wouldn’tt sign the legal document in an effort to continue helping her brother.
- Best holiday description? “I’m here with my kid, and pretty soon they’re going to start blowing up shit.”
Your turn: do you care about how all of the sensate stuff works or would you prefer a general statement to explain it all away? Did you enjoy seeing Lito and Wolfgang help each other out? Was the birth montage too graphic for you? Are you as enamoured with Capheus’ Van Damme obsession as me? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers about the two remaining episodes.
Sense8 is available in its entirety on Netflix. Check in Thursday for our review of S1’s penultimate episode.