Sense8: I Am Also a We
June 10, 2015 2:52 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Nomi faints after seeing Jonas and is hospitalized. Will sees and pursues Jonas. Lito and Daniela Velasquez come to an agreement, sort of.

Episode two focuses on developing the plotlines of three characters, though we see all eight.

Pre-wedding festivities continue for Kala and Rajan, with Rajan giving a speech then leads everyone in a Bollywood-style song and dance. Kala is clearly having fun but is more worked up later when Wolfgang is having sex a continent away. The woman he is with is interested in him but can tell that he is distracted, thinking of (and seeing) someone else.

Nomi faints after seeing Jonas in person during the Pride parade. Nomi's transphobic mother seems to revel at the news that her daughter is hospitalized against her will and needs an expensive operation as soon as possible to save her life, insisting on calling her Michael and not allowing Amanita to visit. Nomi is not allowed to leave the hospital, but Jonas is able to 'visit' her because they made eye contact and warns that she is about to be lobotomized.

Will watches over the boy he rescued in the previous episode, and catches flack for it as he visits his (own) father in a cop bar. He and Diego check the security camera covering the church where Angelica killed herself and finds a two-hour gap. Chicago cops are warned about Jonas by someone from Homeland Security, then Jonas visits (in person) Will telling him that the authorities lied to him and that he has been reborn as a senseate. Will is suspicious and they end up in a car chase that leads to a car crash.

We meet Lito's boyfriend, Alfonso Herrera, and so does Daniela Velasquez. She has been dating Lito's, wanting more, comes over in the middle of the night and is let in after being harassed by paparazzi. When she realizes why Lito isn't interested she is even more excited at the prospect of knowingly being his beard. Lito is not so sure this is a good idea.

Entertainment Weekly recap. AV Club recap.

My comments

I really like that the episode included all eight senseates but focused on a few stories. I like how broad the show is but this is a lot of major characters to have in a show, especially when they each their own lives and friends/family/associates.

I'm still not sure what is going on, but the conspiracy seems to at least have influence high up. It's interesting to see how big of a role parents are playing, in many different ways.
posted by mountmccabe (21 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A couple of people in the thread for the previous episode raised the annoying "white savior cop" plotline. My initial read was that Will's reactions were being subconsciously influenced by his connection to the others, and that's why he was behaving in ways that his partner and the nurse found surprising (like not leaving an injured teenager to die and insisting that a hospital treat said injured teen).

The scene in this episode with his father in the cop bar made it seem like he was just a dangerous maverick who cares about black people, in defiance of his colleagues. Which seems so lazy and insulting. Especially in light of the fact that all those questionably racist lines in the previous episode were given to PoC characters.
posted by misfish at 7:22 PM on June 10, 2015

That Bollywood dance number scene was glorious. I love that they lingered on it for a full two minutes, and that they actually made the husband-to-be a sympathetic character. The unabashed pro-Pride musical interlude and the "Fuck Thomas Aquinas" blogologue was fun, too - so completely non-ironic and positive it felt weird in my normal overly cynical tv-watching mode.

This show is such a wonderful mess - we had a hilarious queer love triangle that felt like something out of an Almodovar comedy (did not see the beard's reaction coming and laughed out loud), a rousing Bollywood dance number, a car chase with a piano score straight out of a 1970s Barretta episode...the Wachowskis are really having fun with this and the joy is definitely contagious.

The cop's dad is the 2nd person in 2 episodes who's told him if the kid he saved kills someone it'll be on him. That's some pretty heavy-handed foreshadowing, on par with some of the other blunt/silly/obvious stuff we've seen mixed in with the cool, fun, creepy stuff, but I'm good with accepting the occasional dumb stuff when the rest feels so fun.

Seriously, doesn't this show feel different than most anything you've watched before? Smarter and more fun while still being aimed at the mainstream? It sure does to me.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 PM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]

Yeah, mountmccabe, parents are definitely a major theme so far. At first I admit I was pissed the trans woman was placed in helpless mode right away, but the family dynamics felt true and her self-doubt in the face of "crazy" internal feelings makes sense for the character, for sure. Then her girlfriend showed her strength and I was happy. (I think Game of Thrones has ruined the helpless woman trope for me permanently.)

The connections between the characters are kind of obvious but still fun - e.g., the German thief fucking his one-night stand while the Indian woman tells her friend she was burning up and asks if it was hot in the room. Overall, I'm really liking this strange and silly and intriguing setup, and have been pointing the smarter Flash- and SHIELD-liking folks I know in its direction.
posted by mediareport at 9:23 PM on June 10, 2015

mediareport, yeah. I'm rewatching the early episodes after a binge. Most enjoyable show I've watched live since Wonderfalls/Firefly/Battlestar Galactica mini-series/seasons1-3. It gives good genre.

Sense8 straddles the fine line between obnoxious and endearing, putting up few fronts save wanting to entertain, slip in some sly heart and slink out hoping you don't notice all the shaggy bits.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 9:52 PM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

This was the episode where things clicked after being completely thrown by the way episode 1 was structured (I knew who made this, but not what the premise was going in). I was still as vaguely confused/accepting of the weird stuff as the characters were, which remained a nice feeling until it evaporated.

As for specifics... Kala's heart wants what Kala's heart wants, but Rajan seems pretty nice. That dance number was a delight. I found Nomi's speech touching, but oh god. I get that it was meant to be, and the actress played it to perfection but I wanted to yell at the TV every time she condescendingly deadnamed Nomi.

Will... I dunno about him. Or at least I didn't as I watching this. I've since seen the rest of the episodes but I wasn't sure about him at this point. I did like the encounter with Jonas and the ensuing car chase. For something filmed on presumably a large-ish TV budget, I thought the chase was tense. The L train steel beams making for tight space and both of them flipping in and out of each other's cars was a great touch.

I immediately liked Hernando, but wasn't sure about Daniela, especially when she starts to get way, way too aggressive. CONSENT, DANIELA. I did like the twist with her being pleasantly surprised that Lito is gay, as well as how confused that made Lito and Hernando... The three of them drinking at the same time was funny, but that last shot of the three of them in the bed was uncomfortably ambiguous as to what her blackmail terms would be.

This was the one that pretty much sold me on the show barring any major future fuckups.
posted by sparkletone at 11:14 PM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

So, in the opening credits, there's briefly someone with pink dreadlocks dancing. Is that Lana Wachowski making a cameo?
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 11:46 PM on June 10, 2015

I have to admit, I started shouting "Helmet laws, Amanita! They're there for a purpose!" the minute they got on that bike.

Which makes no sense, because they were going so very slow, but I think it's just force of habit.

It was also nice to see Joe Pantoliano again, although, and I don't remember where we got this from, we keep on calling him just "Joey Pants". So we were like "Aw, Joey Pants! Great to see ya!" and then "Aw, Joey Pants, what're you doin'? That's gross!" when he threw down the colostomy bag.

The car chase was fantastically done, not just because it was a proper Chicago-style old-skool car chase, but then the fast switches between Jonas and Will and Jonas taking advantage of Will's lack of knowledge...brilliant.

Daniella's reaction to Hernando and Lito is a bit sketchy, not gonna lie, but the minute she said "Oh my god, that is so hot!" and started talking about the gay porn she watches I instantly fell in love with her. Girl, you are one of us, and that is beautiful.

(Also, Hernando is ridiculously snarky and ridiculously attractive and those glasses! Oh man, Dani, I am right there with you.)
posted by Katemonkey at 1:07 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seriously, doesn't this show feel different than most anything you've watched before? Smarter and more fun while still being aimed at the mainstream? It sure does to me.

It definitely feels different to me. It feels inclusive of me, if that makes sense. Like, usually with some bit of popular media I enjoy, I have to do some reading against or digging to find a kernel of something true to me or my experiences. There's always an awareness that I'm nothing approaching the target audience, that it isn't for me, and that if there is something I'm seeing that is for me, that's a sort of happy accident. With Sense8, I don't get that feeling. Partly because if you plumbed the depths of my id for my perfect TV show, it would look a lot like Sense8 for a variety of reasons having to do with tropes and general uncynical ethos and attractive people being attractive. But also because the show's diversity of sexualities and people just feels a lot more like the world I live in.

I don't remember where we got this from, we keep on calling him just "Joey Pants".

I also exclaimed "Joey Pants!" as soon as I saw him, so it's not just you! Where did we get that from?

Re Will, I was also pretty lukewarm on him and his storyline on first watch, but I'm rewatching now, and I think I can see what the show was going for. Or at least, I can come up with a reading that's the least wince-worthy. I don't think he's some ~maverick cop~, I think the contrast set up between Will and his fellow cops is that Will is a cop who believes in "protect and serve" while the other cops are more invested in the thin blue line. The very first cop situation we see Will in, Will's partner sets up as an "us vs them" scenario and goes on about how much "they" (the presumed gangmembers) hate cops, and how that's the natural order of things. Will is clearly uncomfortable with that and persists in not othering the people he's policing. Sense8 is subtle as a hammer with it, but it is nice to see this true to life tension between the ideals/goals of policing and the reality of it. It's just that it also comes with a heaping side of unfortunate implications thanks to the tone deaf racial politics of the scenario set up in the first two episodes.
posted by yasaman at 7:12 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Joey Pants is a nickname Pantoliano has had for pretty much ever. It just goes around with him.
posted by Naberius at 9:05 AM on June 11, 2015

Seriously, doesn't this show feel different than most anything you've watched before? Smarter and more fun while still being aimed at the mainstream? It sure does to me.

I like it but I wouldn't say it feels smarter than anything I've seen before. Certainly it's quite original. But the dialogue can be kinda clunky, particularly in the first two episodes. Lots of "As you know, Bob" exposition to fill in backstory.

That can be forgiven as long as it goes away as the characters become more established. Pilots are hard.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

That said, "dialogue can sometimes be kinda clunky" is a huge step up for a show with which JMS has been involved. He has a lot of strengths. Dialogue is not one of them. I assume he's not particularly involved with this show.
posted by Justinian at 1:41 PM on June 11, 2015

That, or The Wachowskises edit the final script so JMS's contributions aren't so JMS-ey.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:50 PM on June 11, 2015

The dialogue by and large feels more Wachowski to me than not. Especially some of the longer things like the monologue in this episode. I'm guessing they at least had a pass at that in most, if not all, of the episodes.
posted by sparkletone at 1:58 PM on June 11, 2015

Well, the dialogue in Jupiter Ascending was some of the clunkiest I've seen in a movie in recent memory, so the occasional (ok, frequent) clunkiness here isn't a surprise. But the storytelling in the early episodes still strikes me as smarter and more fun than most other shows, particularly superstuff shows. Good lord I tried to watch Archer and Flash, etc., but The Stupid was way too strong. Sense8 seems to have a lower amount of stupid and a lot more joy and sexiness from the start. That's all I'm saying.
posted by mediareport at 3:44 AM on June 13, 2015

But the dialogue can be kinda clunky, particularly in the first two episodes.

Hamfisted. Oh lord it's some of the most hamfisted, on-the-nose dialog I've seen in a long time. We get it mom is gleefully evil about her denial of Nomi. And we get it, Will is a Good Cop™, an ounce of subtly would be nice.

That being said, I'm otherwise totally and completely engaged, so will continue to wince my way through the awe full exposition. I'm only up to this ep, but I expect some serious binge-watching ahead of me.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:10 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hamfisted. Oh lord it's some of the most hamfisted, on-the-nose dialog I've seen in a long time.

Dialog's never been the Wachowski's strong suit. When I say the dialog feels like them, I mean certain turns of phrases feel very "them" but ... yeah, also this. They don't go in for subtlety by and large, even in their best work. Like, yeah, the dialog in Jupiter Ascending is clunky to the point of occasional ludicrousness, but if you go back and look at the first Matrix... The dialog, a few memorable classic lines notwithstanding, is not why people remember that movie fondly.

I don't mind it really. I know those tendencies are part of the package, and other things about their better work, including sense8, will more than make me look past it.
posted by sparkletone at 5:46 PM on June 13, 2015

Well, the Jonas-is-everywhere plot (how?! he's tangible! intangible!) is certainly interesting, as is Nomi's omg-lobotomy plot. I guess that doctor is in on the grand global conspiracy?

I'm still down with Will, he's a nice cop and we need to see more of those.

OMG, Daniella. Dang, girl. I don't know what you're up to, but dang.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:42 PM on June 14, 2015

I think what I like about this show is the same thing I like about a good comic book. It is a distinctive point of view written on a huge canvas with imaginative genre elements.

It is also really interesting to see a story with trans women both in front of and behind the camera. If nothing else, I'm on board for that. You can't just get that anywhere.

I haven't seen the Wachowski's last two movies yet. I feel like the production design here isn't as specific or stylized as in Bound or the Matrix movies. I don't know if that is something they are moving away from in general, or just didn't focus on here, but I miss it.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:25 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, yeah. I'm also curious to see where this thread of hospitals being evil, uncaring places leads to.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:27 AM on June 17, 2015

Watching this late.

- I thought "Undifferentiated Frontal Lobe Syndrome" was the stupidest thing I've ever heard, but I guess it was a lie so that's OK then.

- Nomi's mom is hard to believe. I know there are plenty of unsympathetic parents out there but she seems like a weird evil caricature.

- "If that punk kills someone it's on you" -- AGAIN?? REALLY?? A cop saves a 12-year-old and everyone's angry at him because the 12-year-old might be a murderer at some unspecified time in the future? I could understand if they were trying to portray racism, but judging by Episode 1 they seemed to be going out of their way to say that wasn't it. Just that Will is somehow the only good cop left in the whole city who would save a kid in a bad neighborhood.

- Jonas is awesome. Really good acting. The car chase especially.

- I liked Wolfgang and Kala's surreal little meeting where they kept seeing each other in their separate scenes.

- I think JMS does have issues writing good dialog, but the LAST people he needed help from were the Wachowskis...

At least this show is different, and it has a weird sort of heart, so I'll keep watching. But it definitely has some issues.
posted by mmoncur at 3:05 AM on February 9, 2016

That Bollywood dance number scene was glorious. I love that they lingered on it for a full two minutes, and that they actually made the husband-to-be a sympathetic character.

Oh god no, I hate that! I was all happy to be rooting for Kala but now I'm like "noooo he is so great and I love him and want him to be happy!"
posted by corb at 11:55 AM on October 19, 2016

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