Sense8: Limbic Resonance
June 8, 2015 6:38 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Angel – advised by Jonas and hunted by Mr. Whispers – activates a group of eight senseates, appearing to them though they are scattered around the world. After the intense experience of seeing and feeling her they slowly start to sense each other.

The episode takes it time introducing us to the eight senseates and their separate lives. They are (adapted from Wikipedia entry to avoid spoilers).

Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) is a Spanish telenovela actor living in Mexico City.
Riley Blue (Tuppence Middleton) is a DJ living and working in London.
Sun Bak (Doona Bae) is a Vice President and CFO of a powerful company in Seoul, though she is not respected by her brother.
Wolfgang Bogdanow (Max Riemelt) is a locksmith with ties to organized crime in Berlin.
Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith) is a cop in Chicago.
Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai), works for a pharmaceutical company in Mumbai and is engaged to marry a man she does not love.
Capheus Van Damme (Aml Ameen) is a van driver in Nairobi who is trying to afford caring for his mother.
Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) a lesbian political activist living in San Francisco.

Near the end of the episode Riley takes DMT, jumpstarting her connection with Will, and we see some of the ways in which the characters will experience each other. Will (with Riley) recognizes the church where Angel killed herself and he and his partner investigate. Diego leaves and Will and Riley are able to speak to each other, realizing that they both had seen Angel. Riley (and Will) gets pulled out of the Chicago church as a shoot-out breaks out.

Entertainment Weekly recap/review. Onion AV Club review.

My comments:

I found the episode wholly intriguing, and more than a little bit dumb in a way that works. It has much of the wonder of recent films by the Wachowskis and I am excited to see what they have done with twelve hours or so of show.

I am thrilled that they are telling such a broad set of stories and that they’re taking their time with it. There isn’t a lot of action or plot in this episode, but there is also little talky exposition; they're letting us see what is going on. With so many people we don’t get much time with any of the eight senseates, but it all looks wonderful, shot on-location in the seven different countries, full of exterior shots making the most of the varied locations.

I really loved the use of “Kettering” by The Antlers and “Dauðalogn” by Sigur Rós.
posted by mountmccabe (41 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My roommate and I just got done with the first episode and both really liked the setup a lot. It looks reasonably complex and promising, moved quickly and was beautiful to watch. I liked the way we found out one of the characters is trans - very quick and sly. Getting over the parallels with Heroes (and the associated traumatic memories) is the only downside so far.

Is it just me or did a lot of characters have daddy issues?
posted by mediareport at 7:56 PM on June 8, 2015

Mod note: Couple of comments deleted. Please don't discuss future episodes/scenes in here, even in a vague way; sorry, unless it's labeled a 'Rewatch', we ask folks to be really careful about that. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:01 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I thought the first episode was too slow, it didn't really have anything driving it until the final scene — but that was enough for me to stick around for episode 2, and then I pretty much binge-watched the rest, it's very good.
posted by robcorr at 9:57 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought the first episode moved pretty slowly, which I didn't mind too much, but I can see how it would turn other people off. Though ha, I just realized the pilot was about 1:05 compared to the other episodes clocking in at :45-:55. So it really was longer/more slow. I really appreciate the time this show takes to let you get to know the characters though. I too was feeling a little wary thanks to Heroes-associated trauma, but I honestly think Sense8 is the show Heroes could and should have been.

From the start, I was struck by the image of Angel holding up her hand and reaching out, and Jonas coming to take her hand. That's a lovely shorthand for what seems like part of the series' ethos. I also liked the use of diegetic music, which I thought was a great way to put us in the characters' heads, and primes the viewer to keep an eye and ear on clues about the sensates' connections. (And I agree, the use of Kettering was lovely.)

I feel like even in this slow-moving first hour, there were a lot of little touches that kept me interested and enthralled, even aside from the premise which I was already all in on. Things like the Nomi/Amanita sex scene, which I was prepared to find as tedious as most premium cable sex scenes, which tend to focus on the titillation aspect. But the Nomi/Amanita scene had me smiling, because it was so beautifully intimate. Most of the camera's focus was on Amanita's face, watching Nomi. The Jean Claude Van Damn was another little thing that delighted me.
posted by yasaman at 10:18 PM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Apparently half the people I know in San Francisco were extras/background in this episode (according to fb), so I'm going to have to watch it soon. Just added it to my Fanfare list.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:19 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Forgive my possibly hopeless naivete, but is "ambulances won't come to this neighbourhood, so let's just leave a critically injured teen to die" really a thing? What about "this hospital does not treat people bleeding copiously in our doorway, because gunshot wounds are too annoying"?
posted by misfish at 11:01 PM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Binged the entire thing in a day and found it silly, unbelievable, heartfelt awesomeness.
The cast is great especially Doona Bae and Jamie Clayton.

I like the slower pace that Netflix seems to be affording new shows, sick to death of the cram 15 plot points and 12 storylines into 30 minutes style that seems to be the norm for traditional TV.

Whatever the Wachowkis do, they do it with all their heart and I have to admire that.
As the scene between Nomi and Amanita showed. It was sweet and touching and not many TV scenes with a rainbow strap-on could say that.

A fierce pride seems to infuse the show.
posted by fullerine at 11:09 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

What about "this hospital does not treat people bleeding copiously in our doorway, because gunshot wounds are too annoying"?

Yeah that was my first "OK let's recalibrate expectations a bit" moment. I hope it doesn't get *too* much sillier than that. I'm not expecting a realistic drama, but come on. Don't pull me out of your story so stupidly for no good reason.
posted by mediareport at 11:47 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

It's slow-going, but the range of characters is interesting enough to keep going. I'm adoring Nomi and Amanita, and not just because I've had a crush on Freema since Doctor Who and now she has amazing hair. Except it's totally because of that hair.

I didn't realise it was Darryl Hannah in the initial scene, but that might also be because I was entirely distracted by Naveen Andrews.

Unfortunately, I binge-watched this over the weekend, so I'm having trouble remembering exactly what happens when. But if you're having issues with the slowness, keep watching, it picks up.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:02 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did anyone else have difficulty hearing/understanding a lot of the dialogue? I missed a hell of a lot of it* and possibly some visual cues that would have helped too, since I decided to watch it over dinner and eating tacos with structural stability problems was more fraught with peril than I anticipated.

(*Such that I didn't know Nomi was transgender until it was mentioned in this thread - what was this comment above referring to, if no-one minds filling me in?
'I liked the way we found out one of the characters is trans - very quick and sly.'
I'm not keen to google and likely spoil myself for future eps.)
posted by pseudonymph at 1:55 AM on June 9, 2015

Check the flashback where the lesbian lovers remember their first pride; one of the women they meet makes a quick angry dismissal of Nomi as a man. Her lover jumps in and Nomi tears up, saying it's the first time anyone's ever defended her. It happens really fast; I bet a lot of folks missed it.
posted by mediareport at 2:33 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

pseudonymph, thankfully, Netflix has subtitles, which helps us immensely with keeping track of dialogue.

And, thankfully, Tumblr provides the scene where they reveal Nomi is trans. Definitely in the first episode. And although I got spoiled for it (thank you, Tumblr), I was still utterly delighted when I watched it, because god, look at it. It's not just someone standing up to a TERF, it's a woman in love with another woman who has never had anyone stand up for her. And Amanita is.

All hearts, all the time.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:36 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

I also kept missing some of the dialogue, too. It may be the range of accents, that there's so much of it, or that it's often so bad.

I left off that Nomi is a trans woman from the character description because it wasn't clear to me after the first episode, but I recognize that others will have had a different experience.

For those that may have binged the AV Club episode review ends with quotes and plot points that for me was useful in reminding me how much was in the episode.
posted by mountmccabe at 7:01 AM on June 9, 2015

I couldn't get past the glacial pace or the loopy plot. I wanted to, but could not. I might have to give it another go.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:24 AM on June 9, 2015

I mean, the plot doesn't get any less loopy even if the pace improves, so if you're not on board the eight people psychically bonded and evading a formless conspiracy train now, watching more episodes won't help you. Though FWIW, I think the show really hit its stride by the end of episode three.

Oh, another thing I wasn't expecting from the show: just how much I'd be laughing and crying. Lito's scene in his trailer, where he's randomly horny thanks to Nomi/Amanita and baffled by it, was hilarious and had me giggling. And then the performance at Pride just had me leaking tears.

Also, re Nomi being trans, when we first see her, she's giving herself a hormone shot. Out of context the shot could be fertility drugs or something else, but that plus the Amanita standing up to a TERF scene make it pretty clear Nomi is trans.
posted by yasaman at 9:43 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

The show is very funny, which I, and many others were not quite expecting going into it. Firsts couple of times I laughed out loud, it was with genuine surprise, but the laughs remain consistent and generally fantastic.

Second, the show has an awful lot of heart. Earnest, sappy, sloppy but joyful heart. Also, slightly unexpected, but no less welcome.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 10:32 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's a lot of This Is What I Am Thinking Now dialogue, but I do think it remains charming; it may have been a bit much to try to introduce everybody all at once instead of drawing out the introductions over a couple of episodes. (Not to mention the Chicago guy and the Berlin guy look vaguely similar, so I keep getting tangled up w/r/t what they're up to.)
posted by psoas at 10:55 AM on June 9, 2015

Folks should think about how often you want new episodes posted and then join the conversation in the recent Talk thread about binge-ing vs slow-watching.
posted by mediareport at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2015

What about "this hospital does not treat people bleeding copiously in our doorway, because gunshot wounds are too annoying"?

The other thing that annoyed me about that plot is that the white cop was pure and good, but both people of colour in that plotline - the latino (?) partner and the black nurse - literally wanted to let the kid die because they hate "gangs".
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:29 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

On the hospital issue
posted by robcorr at 6:48 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

On the hospital issue…

Thanks for that. Fascinating. Seems crazy that hospitals in areas that experience high levels of trauma are not properly funded to run trauma centres.

But the Chicago hospital in that article they wouldn't turn away a gunshot patient that they could treat solely because of 'policy':
UCMC does note that they wouldn’t turn away a gunshot victim arriving on their own to UCMC’s emergency room. Treatment, however, would depend on if “appropriate resources” were available at the time of need; the preferred option would be to transport the victim to a designated trauma center.
tl;dr it was bad writing.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:55 PM on June 9, 2015

Why was it bad writing? Sure, it was dramatised (because quoting policy documents is not great television) but it wasn't a huge distortion. The nurse said they preferred gunshot patients to be taken elsewhere, and encouraged him to do that, but then didn't turn him away. So what happened is basically what the UCMC said would happen.
posted by robcorr at 9:42 PM on June 9, 2015

I had a whole thing written out, but my browser crashed. Sadface.

I felt that it was unbelievable because the nurse didn't say that they couldn't treat him because the hospital could not longer afford to run a trauma centre or they didn't have the right facilities, she said they couldn't treat him because of 'policy'. Full stop. Even though transferring the kid to the other hospital would undoubtedly result in his death en route. That policy is not plausible.

UCMC states in your linked article that they would definitely treat a trauma victim that showed up on their doorstep, that couldn't be transferred. But the show made it seem like this nurse broke rules to admit the kid.

Then there was the whole thing about the nurse instantly assuming that a child with a gunshot wound must be a gang member (what, no bystanders in Chicago?), and her statements to the effect that this child was obviously an irredeemable cop killer and deserved to literally be left to die in the street.

Systemic racism, inner city poverty and gang violence are compelling enough subjects without making up imaginary crazy stuff.

But hey, it's just feels. I mean, I've never even been close to a US hospital, so I could definitely be wrong.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:49 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The ER scene failed on two levels:

1) It was an incredibly unlikely combination of dialogue and events that would not take place in the real world. The medical worker (I couldn't tell if she was a doctor or a nurse from her outfit + stethoscope) tried to tell the cop that a) there was A Policy b) why there was a Policy c) boy, was that Policy important and d) fuck the Policy, because I, a single medical worker at this hospital who just follows Policy and does not make Policy, will feel pity for the kid after declaiming for a couple of minutes and will arrange for him to get full life-saving treatment then and there because suddenly magical powers to override Policy.

2) It was totally unnecessary dramatically. Kid gets shot -- cop carries him to the hospital -- medical worker says nopenopenopeYES -- kid gets the care you'd expect from any hospital anyway. Unless this was Chekhov's ER and there's a major callback later in the season, this was a stupid, pointless little blind alley in the story.
posted by maudlin at 12:27 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

I was stunned that Freema Agyeman is in this, and looking younger with a totally great american accent. I almost didn't recognize her. (And that first scene... wow.) Though I've lived in San Francisco and it's not nearly as totally gay as this episode episode seems to suggest. (Though I see in the second episode, it's Pride week.)

Come to think of it, I'm sure London isn't as Lock, Stock... as this episode was trying for, or that all marriages in India are arranged, or that all plucky heroes in Africa are bus drivers, etc. I get the impression that the decision to have the opening credits flash over stock footage is a rather apt.
posted by Catblack at 10:03 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Though it's not super clear in the first episode, Kala's marriage isn't "arranged" in the sense that their parents decided for them. I actually appreciated that Kala's relationship is one that is traditional, in the sense that Rajan courted her and their families are heavily involved in the engagement/marriage process, but it's not like they're being forced together. They know each other through work, Rajan is smitten and courts her, and things progress from there in the way that's standard for their culture. I'm not Indian, but I am from a similar culture, and Kala's storyline is a pretty believable update of the traditional arranged marriage story.

But uuughhh, the Will as white savior cop storyline was wince-worthy. I shrugged and accepted the hospital issue thing as the sort of bad writing that's endemic to TV, but it would have been a relatively easy, more believable fix to have Will call it in, ask what hospital he can take the kid to, and be told "not Hospital X, they don't take gunshot wounds, Hospital Y across town instead." Will can get indignant and insist the kid will be dead by the time they get there and go to Hospital X anyway, get scolded by the medical staff there, and the point is still made.
posted by yasaman at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]

I was annoyed by the "what if the kid grows up and shoots someone?" line. I hope cops don't think that way and I *certainly* don't expect medical people to think that way.
posted by uosuaq at 6:54 PM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

I was annoyed by the "what if the kid grows up and shoots someone?" line.

Yes, on that basis, you should always let everyone die. What if they do something bad in future? Close up the hospitals, no need for them any more.

Actually, better go out and slaughter all children in case they grow up to be bad!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:42 PM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

I somehow completely missed that this show was coming at all, though I live in Chicago and vaguely remember someone laughing at what bar they'd chosen to film some things one day quite a while ago. Twitter et al chatter flared up when it was finally released and was all pretty uniformly positive. I didn't read reviews beyond the letter grade/score if they had one. I knew that it was Wachowskis + JMS.

While there are Wachowski films I don't defend (you know which two), I at least like if not love the others. Yes, even the beautiful, stupid Jupiter Ascending. I'm not the hugest B5 fan as I watched it out of curiosity via Netflix and it has not... aged well, exactly. But it's a neat attempt at serialized TV when that was not the done thing. So uh. That alone was to sell me.

The kicker: Somehow through all this, I had no idea what it was about and managed to miss the slug line that Netflix puts up when I was hitting play on the first episode.

So this was a lot of, "Um... What is going on. Are they all tripping? Is that one clearly suspicious Nyx dude onto something?" And I found the off-kilter rhythm of switching between scenes/characters by keying off unknowingly shared senses a really neat trick. Aside from the generally okay writing and the fact everything looked great, it was fun sharing the characters' confusion about WTF was going on while also being introduced to them on a character level.

Final note: Uh. Am I wrong in thinking they shot literally all of this on location? I can vouch for just about every bit of Chicago they showed. But, uh, I've never been to any of those other places. It didn't seem like the exteriors were sets though. Everything was where it was. That did a lot to sell me on the spread out cast. It made it feel like 8 shows tied together by... weird shit that presumably gets explained later, and I was okay with that. An interview I just read with JMS mentions that that was very much a thing they were trying to accomplish.

(I just finished the final episode, but there's enough to talk about here in terms of form and my WTF without getting into plot.)
posted by sparkletone at 11:03 PM on June 10, 2015

An interview I just read with JMS mentions that that was very much a thing they were trying to accomplish.

I'm a dummy and skimmed over a whole section of the interview I'm referring to that was specifically about how they sort of treated it like the olympics. They'd take the whole cast to each of the locations, and there'd be one character who's in everything and works really, really hard for three weeks... And then it's someone else's turn at some other location. No green screen in any of the way conversations flip around locations. That's really cool.
posted by sparkletone at 12:07 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

The most unbelievable segment in the episode was Kala alone in front of Ganesh for what seemed like 5 minutes!! Don't the Wachowskis know the population of Mumbai?

Took me right out.
posted by Gyan at 3:39 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thoughts one episode in:

I'm wondering if anyone involved in the making of this show has read Catherynne Valente's Palimpsest, which deals with psychically bonded people similarly.

The first episode never manages to get past the "music video" level of depth, but given that they needed to introduce a fairly large cast in multiple locations with individual storylines, I'm willing to keep going to see if they go deeper.

I will never not adore Freema Agyeman, but her attempted California accent is hilariously bad.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:36 PM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

[i]The most unbelievable segment in the episode was Kala alone in front of Ganesh for what seemed like 5 minutes!! Don't the Wachowskis know the population of Mumbai?[/i]

For me, it was the two South Side cops grabbing lunch at Superdawg - about as far from the South Side as you can get within city limits.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 11:42 AM on June 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

For me, it was the two South Side cops grabbing lunch at Superdawg - about as far from the South Side as you can get within city limits.

Wait till you see what the show thinks is a divey cop bar.
posted by sparkletone at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

I have to say while I found the hospital scene a little irritating, it didn't ring false to me as it did with other folks. Perhaps none of you have been severely poor in the U.S. ? Despite what you may believe hospitals routinely do their best to turn away non paying customers. As to who gets to tell the patient/ family/ cops bringing the patient in, that would be low person on the totem pole, so yes quite possibly a nurse.
Also I didn't read the previous scene as white man saves the day despite dissension from the darker folk. But as naive suburban white guy wants to believe the best of everyone, while street savvy folk look on in disbelief. Perhaps I'm being the naive one here.
I AM really enjoying this show. I'm four episodes in and it keeps getting better.
posted by evilDoug at 1:49 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My read was that they had the people of color trying to dismiss the gunshot victim because they wanted to make it clear that the indifference was institutional rather than out-and-out racism, which is how it would have looked if the white cop wanted to leave the kid to die. Or if the nurse had been white. Far be it from me to claim that race was not involved in that situation, but it exemplifies a problem that's bigger than race alone.
posted by stet at 1:49 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well, just watched it. I had the impression from the reviews that the first few episodes were booooring and then it slowly got better, but I liked it. I get where they're going there. Still wondering how Daryl Hannah is going to be a main character when she blew her had off in the first five minutes though.

I was flabbergasted at the buddy cop and the hospital woman being all "who cares about saving a kid," though. GEEZ, REALLY? I dunno, maybe he'll grow up to NOT shoot cops since one saved his life?!

The lesbian loving was adorable, as was Freema's hair. Martha Jones, how far you're coming. Also, the defense scene: aww!

The Van Damn van is also adorable.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:52 PM on June 14, 2015

"So this was a lot of, "Um... What is going on....'"


Yeah, I just binge-watched the first four episodes. I'd held off on watching this because the reviews I'd seen were pretty lukewarm, but I enjoyed it right from the first. But, like others, that hospital scene rang very false.

It's totally true that many such hospitals do what they can to discourage certain ER patients and that it's actually fairly customary for ambulances to take those sorts of trauma patients only to certain hospitals. But that's a far different thing than an actual gunshot victim being carried into the ER. Refusing care at that point is like inviting some huge lawsuit. That would never, ever happen. What they do is try to avoid getting those patients long before that.

I thought Freema Agyeman's accent was really good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:41 AM on June 15, 2015

I didn't feel like the first episode was slow. I liked the dreamy perspective-shifting a lot. I also didn't feel that way about Cloud Atlas. I have reservations about JMS but usually like the Wachowskis.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:02 PM on June 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Check the flashback where the lesbian lovers remember their first pride; one of the women they meet makes a quick angry dismissal of Nomi as a man. Her lover jumps in and Nomi tears up, saying it's the first time anyone's ever defended her.

I started watching this show the day the SCOTUS same sex marriage decision was announced and I cried and cried at this scene.

I love that Nomi is actually played by a trans woman. I love that her girlfriend is Martha from Doctor Who!

I agree that there are some scenes that are ridiculously implausible, but overall it's been interesting and suspenseful enough to keep me hooked.
posted by desjardins at 9:51 AM on June 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm REALLY late to this but just watched the first epidode and then read all of these comments... there are a lot of problems with the cop/shooting victim story, but I texted a friend in the middle of the episode because I was so happy about the shout-out to lack of trauma centers. I'm not sure how believable every bit of it is, but it's a real issue.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 5:01 PM on December 26, 2016

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