Sense8: What's Going On
June 16, 2015 3:47 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Sun goes looking for her brother. Jonas explains some things to Will, finally. Nomi and Amanita stage an escape, with another sensate's help. Capheus ends up in deeper waters with Nairobi's criminal elements. Wolfgang kicks off a singalong.

4 Non Blondes' What's Up had a prominent role in this episode. Sun also had an excellent badass moment scored with Lykke Li's Get Some.
posted by yasaman (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If this show didn't have me before, it certainly did after that ridiculous yet joyful and amazing globe-crossing singalong of What's Up. I confess I wondered if it would even work as portrayed, time zone-wise, but nerdinablender on Tumblr has worked out a possibility. (Though in general, it's probably best not to think too hard about how the time zones work out, as I can't imagine they always do.)
posted by yasaman at 3:54 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

Yeah, the show works best for me -- even to the point of making me cry -- when it pulls those "not alone" strings. I can be feeling annoyed with some clunky dialog, or just sort of thinking that the show is a bit mediocre, and then suddenly there are moments when I am thrilled or deeply moved and it's always a manifestation of a character suddenly not being alone, or having someone else's strength to lean on via their connection.

The sing-along was corny, but also so wonderful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:59 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

Yeah, that was a marvelous, joyous moment. Kala's glorious smile when she joined Wolfgang on stage would make any heart swell. The escape from the hospital was great, too - sharply filmed, suspenseful and surprising. Will realizing what he'd just done in freeing Nomi was a fun quick moment, and Amanita's strength is always great to see.

That said, this was the first episode where serious cracks began to show. The Hindu businessmen felt like a cheap stereotype; the writing and acting in the scene between Sun and her brother (especially her brother) was atrociously, cringe-worthy bad; the many little digressions - Wolfgang's pal telling the story of losing his virginity, the scene in the shoe store, the priest in the temple complaining about Kala's father-in-law- and husband-to-be, Capheus and his mother's drugs - had me wondering which, if any, would actually wind up being relevant to the larger story. I get that the Wachowskis want to cover a lot of ground here, not all of it directly related to the main story of the sensate cluster and its enemies, but for the first time I found myself questioning how much of a handle they had on the story. I'm still not sure (only up to episode 8) but here's where I started wondering.
posted by mediareport at 8:19 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

This was the first of two episodes directed by Tom Tykwer and I felt like I was able to tell that it was him.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:55 PM on June 16, 2015

For some reason or another, I've been in to the show since the first episode. I was forgiving of corny dialogue or story points. But this episode, as some of you have said, was where I considered myself all in. I hadn't heard "What's Going On" in ages, and wasn't that thrilled with it when it was out, but once it started going I somehow remembered so many of the lyrics and was kinda singing along with the show.

I agree with you, Ivan, that it's definitely something about the idea of suddenly not being alone at a time of weakness. That idea hits very hard with me now, and so this show clicked really well with me.
posted by snwod at 2:52 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Ha! My husband and I were singing along too. They really got that one right. And perhaps that's the secret of the show; it really feels like you are a part of their 8; a very intimate, connected view into their most private moments.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:56 AM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

Continuing from comments in the last episode's discussion of the opening credits, here are all the shots in the credits (to the best of my ability to identify them)....

SF - daytime - Golden Gate bridge over water aerial shot daytime
Chicago - daytime - skyline - sunlight through clouds on river
Ravine - daytime- river in a rocky gorge with green
London - daytime - Thames River aerial shot
Berlin - nighttime (full moon) - domed building (?) on river (?) - TV tower in background
Nairobi - daytime - aerial shot
Berlin? - nighttime - cars on highways aerial shot - rivers of light?
Seoul - daytime - many bridges across Han River (?)
Mumbai - nighttime - lights of cars crossing Bandra-Worli Sea Link over Mahim Bay
Rainbow over rapids of river
SF - Twin Peaks Tavern neon sign - rainbow flag
Two elephants nuzzling
Scone on a plate - tea pouring from pot to cup on saucer in background - pastries on carousel
Person lying on a bench back to the camera in a slightly lit room - bicycles leaning against wall
? - dusk - purple lit 4-sided arch structure with dome
Chicago? - daytime - street scene with 3 distances of public transport (bus foreground, elevated train midground and background)
Seoul? - nighttime - neon lit bridge over river
Nairobi - daytime - giraffe in field in foreground, city in background
Jesus and Mary tchochkes
Seoul - daytime - Maitreya statue at Bonegeunsa
Berlin - daytime - Molecule Man sculpture
Mexico - daytime - Mayan? pyramid in field under cloudy skies
Chicago - daytime - Cloud Gate sculpture
Two horses nuzzling
London - nightime - closeup of cars crossing a bridge
Mumbai - daytime - people outside Muncipal Corporation Building?
? - dusk - lighthouse overlooking water
? - daytime - digital kiosks below metal structure
Nairobi - daytime - run down residential buildings along a dirt road with people
? - nighttime - ornate blue building decorated with gold vine pattern
? - daytime - geometric tunnel looking over park with city in background - woman and girl with rice paper umbrella
Seoul? - daytime - N Seoul Tower?
SF - daytime - Golden Gate Bridge in fog
? - daytime - small white house on rocky coastline
Chicago - nighttime - skyline
Mumbai? - sunset - building on water
London - nighttime - Tower Bridge
Mumbai? Nairobi? - daytime - cricketers on a field
? - fruit market
Three sheep on a dirt road
Sausages cooking on a grill
Berlin? Chicago? - people walking in a passage
London - Mind The Gap
Nairobi - daytime - bus terminal
Mumbai - daytime - fishermen
SF - trolley - Grace Cathedral
London - daytime - Parliament, Thames
Volcano erupting with lava
Berlin - nighttime - cars approaching Victory Column
Two zebras fighting
Chicago? - daytime - trains between buildings
Water crashing against rocks
Berlin? - daytime - valkyrie with snake statue overlooking city
Nairobi? - daytime - busy city intersection with pedestrian crossover
Woman picking tea?
? - nighttime - roundabout - car lights forming vaginal image
Seoul - nighttime - crows and neon signs
Berlin - nighttime - light show on the Brandenburg Gate
SF - daytime - aerial shot of the Castro, rainbow flag
Seoul? - nighttime - crowds crossing busy shopping street
Nairobi - daytime - group of children looking out from corrugated metal building
Mumbai? - daytime - clothes washers
Berlin - daytime - group pedaling a tour cart
Mexico City - colorful skulls
Berlin - daytime - Pergamon Museum? statue of man?
Chicago - daytime - Wrigley Field - mascot on bear costume
Nairobi - daytime - boys playing soccer
Mexico City? - daytime - Frida Kahlo drag queen painting Frida Kahlo
Little girl dancing in a crowd
Mumbai - daytime - crowd scene with woman blowing bubbles (which float at camera)
? - daytime - bridge crossing to government building?
SF - daytime - two white bearded men making out with ice cream
Chicago - daytime - ferris wheel
Man standing in grassy space between rocks
Mexico City - daytime - empty Zocalo
Three black girls wearing pink sunglasses
Geyser shooting water
? - neon lit blue modern building
Mexico City- daytime - 4 men in a mariachi band
? - crowd of white people dancing
? - three white guys in medieval garb
Nairobi - crowd of kids ascending a staircase on a pedestrian bridge
Mumbai - daytime - man with dyed red beard and skullcap
Chicago? London? - daytime - man in blue sweater smoking a cigarette - graffitied walls in background
Seoul - food market
Mumbai - man with painted skull and beads standing before flower garlands
Nairobi - daytime - woman and children walking on dirt road
? - dayime - two men wearing leather jackets (one clearly reads Harley-Davidson Chapter Iceland)
Mexico City? Nairobi? - man wearing elaborate blue hat, white t-shirt with hot dog
? - wedding party taking pictures on the water
SF - daytime - couple kissing on a park bench in park overlooking city
Mumbai? couple embracing, turning in a circle, before gate-looking building
Berlin - daytime - people on tilt-a-whirl at Brandenburg Gate
? - carousel in park
Mumbai - daytime - two women turning in circles
Berlin? - daytime - group of people walking - one doing a flip held by two others?
? - daytime - people swinging upside-down? on an amusement ride
? - woman dancing in a park
Two boys sitting in a fountain
Mumbai - group of people jumping up and down
? - group of people marching with red flags
Man playing ukulele, man holding ‘Kindness is Sexy’ sign
People walking before mural of man in stockage with ‘CHEESE’ written over it
Mumbai - Ganesha parade
Mexico City - Day of the Dead festival before church
Mumbai - Ganesha parade wide shot
SF - sunrise - fog rolling over hills, city skyline in background
posted by kokaku at 6:25 PM on June 17, 2015 [12 favorites]

I salute you. Wow.

This is something that I totally considered doing last night, but sanity prevailed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:47 PM on June 17, 2015

Someone asked in the previous thread if there was any significance to the two men eating the ice cream because they are focused on so heavily. When I watched the next episode I was timing the shots (not with a stopwatch or anything, but they're roughly one per second). The men aren't on the screen any longer than the other shots, but they are the only ones who get a switch between a medium and closer shot, so it seems like more.

The cities are as much a part of the show as the characters. Capheus' story could only happen in Nairobi; Lito's in Mexico (not necessarily Mexico City); Tala's in Mumbai. The cities ground the viewers because we know the characters who belong to each one. We get plenty of long shots of San Francisco in particular with Nomi looking down from above. And in large part they are all products of the places they live. It's a beautiful opening sequence with so much colour and life, but it's not just picture postcards.
posted by tracicle at 11:12 PM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I loved the group singalong. I adored the concept, I thought it was an amazing way to show how they are connected, and everything about it worked so well.

Except for the song. Because oh my god, I cannot stand that song. And I kept saying "Jesus Christ! Are we back in 1993? What?!?"

But aside from me rolling my eyes so hard they developed their own orbit, I loved this episode. The escape from the hospital was wonderful, and I feel like even though some of the plotholes are starting to show, this is where the show really starts to snap into place.
posted by Katemonkey at 5:33 AM on June 18, 2015

I weirdly sort of loved that it was a song that I didn't care for and questioned its choice. I don't know how to explain it, but it actually made the scene work better for me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:04 AM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

"The perfect soundtrack to a labotomy". Nice.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:58 PM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Wow, this episode. I've liked the show up until now, but now am fully on board.

The bits with Sun and her brother and father served to underscore something which I've always believed: that men are awful, and that the world would have been turned to ashes and cinder hundreds or thousands of years ago had there not been women to step in and make things right. The funeral of Sun's mother was devastating, even though it was only a few seconds long.

Also, a testament to the folks making this show: That 4 Non Blondes song is likely my least favorite song of all time - like, I have a visceral, negative reaction whenever it comes on - but I really liked the way it was used. It made perfect sense, and sounded right.

I'm torn at this point between carving out a day to binge on the rest, or doing one episode every few days or so to savor.
posted by jbickers at 10:56 AM on June 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I fully endorse binging this show, but if you want to take it a little slower, I think watching it in 3 4-episode chunks works out well.

Also, count me as another person who's not big on that song and has no particular nostalgia or affection for it, and yet its use in the show felt perfect and had me smiling and tearing up.
posted by yasaman at 11:52 AM on June 19, 2015

Could not believe the 4 Non Blondes bit. Could not believe how far they took it. When you're cackling and smiling and tearing up a little? That is this show.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:27 AM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Two episodes a session is my limit. Not sure the singalong sequence would've had the same emotional punch if I were already all cried out from the "I am also a we" speech. Also, the show has a brain-wrinkling pychiatric/body horror aspect for me, as shared realities, projected bodies, and assorted other fractured idenity weirdness have always been prominent strains in my own delusions. To have that jumbled mess of wires translated into an eminiently entertaining not to mention unabashedly queer TV show is like a finely calibrated laser pointed right at my heart. Which I wholeheartedly admit has made me completely blind to any of its shortcomings: I just don't care, it's too good. So, basically, Community but for sci-fi.
posted by Lorin at 8:55 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes, the singalong was beautiful. I kinda feel sorry for Kala and Wolfgang somehow having whopping sexual chemistry across half the world while she's engaged and he's a criminal, though. Especially since her fiance seems SO besotted that he even wants rings!

Will finally helped Nomi out--with lock picking. Awesome.

I feel so bad for Sun being literally a disposable woman to her family. It enraged me that the only reason they'd care about her for five minutes is to deep six her into prison to save her shitheel brother. If she disappeared forever, they wouldn't even notice except for that. RAGE.

I have to admit, I just love plots where people have weird telepathic connections for some reason. I think it's cool beans. Probably not exactly feasible IRL for a host of reasons (see Buffy's "Earshot"), but somehow I love that stuff (like "In Your Eyes"). Very useful to have your friends visit or beat someone else up for you or pick locks for you, eh?
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:14 PM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I can be feeling annoyed with some clunky dialog

"Clunky" would be the term I would apply to the dialogue only in an "Apart from that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?" sense.

The show is, for better or worse, exactly -- even comically -- what the result of a collaboration between Straczynski and the Wachowskis would be. It has the kind of dialogue you might spot in a better McSweeney's piece imagining a collision of these two high-concept cretative forces. A representative example of the dialogue, as a new character introduces himself to one of the protagonists :
"I'm Silas Kabaka."

"I know who you are."

"Our reputations precede us. You did me a great service, though you may not even know it. You see, the gang Superpower had been working for me. They got it in their heads they no longer needed me, and in one afternoon, you destroyed whatever reputation they felt they'd been building, thereby saving me from the incumbent messiness of betrayal."
It is hard to imagine a more ham-handed bit of exposition and character reveal. It is unfortunately not hard to imagine JMS pecking that out, then sitting back from the keyboard and nodding in satisfaction.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:23 PM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

I haaaaaaaaaate this song. I'm guessing some of you who liked that scene didn't have to listen to it 400 million times in 1992.
posted by desjardins at 2:46 PM on July 5, 2015

> I haaaaaaaaaate this song. I'm guessing some of you who liked that scene didn't have to listen to it 400 million times in 1992.

Ohh, I did, and generally I roll my eyes so hard that I sprain them when I hear this song. On the other hand, I grinned at the very, very San Francisco dyke-community reference of Linda Perry. I love when the show gets the local details really right.
posted by desuetude at 11:18 PM on August 2, 2015

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