Sense8: Demons
June 18, 2015 1:09 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Riley has another run in with Nyx. Kala and Wolfgang have a chat about Kala's almost wedding. Capheus gets a new job. And Will, Lito, Nomi, Amanita, Hernando, and Wolfgang share an, ahem, intimate moment.

Yeah, this is the episode with that scene, which was soundtracked beautifully with Fatboy Slim and Macy Gray's Demons, which also provided the episode's title.
posted by yasaman (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
What is it about the Wachowskis that means that a sign of community and communal living is an orgy?

I mean, jeez, I thought I was watching Matrix Revolutions again, just without Keanu's pale bobbing man ass.

I'm not saying it's not hot, because, yeah, but, yeesh.

That being said, there was one lovely bit in it - Daniella obviously enjoying Hernando and Lito making out. It's so rare to see a woman's pleasure not the result of something a man is doing to her, but instead, what she's seeing and feeling and that is awesome.

Also, loved Will's post-workout "Whaaaaaa..." look. Aw, bless.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:00 PM on June 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm not so certain that orgy was meant to be reinforcement of the themes of community, so much as it was an escalation of the show's running theme of intimacy. Intimacy is why I love most of Sense8's sex scenes: the sex scenes don't function as titillation or sexposition GOT-style. Lito/Hernando and Nomi/Amanita are two loving, committed couples. All of their sex scenes are full of affection, intimacy, and love, and the scenes are situated in the context of their relationships. Plus they always look like they're having fun, like their partners' pleasure is the main point.

The other bit of connective tissue for that orgy scene was sheer physicality and sensuality, Sense8's best effort at making the bleedover of physical sensations the sensates experience explicit to the audience. See how Will's workout was being filmed, the emphasis on Will's body and Diego's spoken encouragements about attending to his body's fitness/needs. See also Wolfgang naked in the sauna/pool: that's all about the body and physical sensations too. And Wolfgang's participation/lack thereof was mirrored in his setting. He was surrounded by heat and steam the same way he was surrounded by sex.

So yeah, it's a hot, hot scene, but it's also a fascinating one, one that has a lot to say about intimacy and physicality and sexuality. Also, I laughed a lot at poor Capheus, who got the weirdest boner after watching Van Damme movies, or so it must have seemed from his perspective. One assumes Sun, Kala, and Riley were asleep or otherwise engaged. (Or, prosaically, that the other actors didn't want to do any nude/sex scenes.)

Anyway, I will forever be grateful to this show for giving us a six-person super queer psychic orgy. Literally every single line of clunky dialogue, every plot hole, every ill-considered subplot...it is all 1000% worth it for a six-person super queer psychic orgy, thank you Wachowskis, I will always look upon you fondly for this gift.
posted by yasaman at 2:39 PM on June 18, 2015 [27 favorites]


Oh yes. I confess, I binge watched the show last week. It is kind of a blur, but yes, that scene... Whatever your preference, what's not to like?.

(Another, much different, that scene in the show is in the next to last episode, I think. I hope they make a second season!)
posted by Catblack at 5:47 PM on June 18, 2015


That's a great analysis, yasaman, and I totally agree. The show is very successfully evocative of intimacy of various kinds, and as contrasted against isolation and loneliness.

As a cishet person, I'm totally in a very relatively uninformed and external position with regard to this, but I really get the feeling that a lot of this show is informed by Lana Wachowski's own perspective. In terms of gender and orientation and culture (and family), Nomi has been systematically isolated and alienated from her own most intimate experience of self and identity. And the physical, embodied aspect of this is very important -- so a lot of this with several of these characters is implicitly or explicitly about a reclamation of all these kinds of embodiment and physical and emotional intimacy. Sensation -- embodied experience and sense memory and how this intersects with our identities and social relationships -- is deeply important in this narrative. As it should be, because it's important to most of us, really. But for those of us who haven't been systematically alienated from our own embodiment and the related social intimacy, we take this stuff for granted and so our narratives rarely explore how this sort of sensual embodiment can be a reclaiming of both our embodied selves and of intimacy as an essential component of our existence.

The conceit of the show is that the pod connection dissolves the false barriers that conventionally interfere with this essential and necessary intimacy. It is arguably a metaphor for a deeper understanding of what it means to be embodied and to be sensually intimate.

That's my intuition about this. But I could be totally misunderstanding and I don't want to be presumptuous. I may have some understanding of some of this, as I'm a physically disabled person and there's a lot of social messaging about disability that is similarly alienating in these ways.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:51 PM on June 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


The talk with Amanita's mother and the warning at the end from Sun's mother/Angelica really brought to mind More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon.

Amanita's mother "I teach a class on evolution every semester..." (and she goes on to talk about variation).

Angelica (as Sun's mother): "They are afraid of you and they will hurt you if they find out."
Sun: "Find out?"
Angelica: "What you are."
Sun: "What am I?"
Angelica: "The future."

More Than Human is a 1953 science fiction novel by Theodore Sturgeon. It is about a group of people (adults and children) with psychic powers who are otherwise outsiders but form a connection and work together as a unit, to the point that they are considered homo gestalt, a "next step" in human evolution.

The novel is 50s-era nuclear concerns and insensitive in many ways but there was a lot I found interesting. I'm not going to claim it had any direct influence on Sense8, but this episode really brought this novel to mind.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:23 AM on June 20, 2015


But for those of us who haven't been systematically alienated from our own embodiment and the related social intimacy, we take this stuff for granted and so our narratives rarely explore how this sort of sensual embodiment can be a reclaiming of both our embodied selves and of intimacy as an essential component of our existence.

That's definitely part of what I took away from the scene, but I also wondered about how it affects Nomi to jump into her fellow male sensates' bodies. Does she have any issues with dysphoria? She identifies as a lesbian, but there were a whole lot of dudes in that orgy, does being a sensate end up rendering any binary sexual orientation moot?

That kind of question makes me intensely curious about what the internal experience of being a sensate is like. There's shockingly little "am I going insane???" from the group, and while part of me is happy about that, because it's such a common and by now boring story beat for any supernatural set up to have tedious dithering/disbelief, it makes me wonder why they're all so accepting, especially for those of them who have no external confirmation of their experience. Will and Nomi got fairly quick validation that they weren't crazy. Capheus and to an extent Kala could fit their experiences into their understandings of the world. And bless his heart, I buy that Lito is just too endearingly self-absorbed and busy dealing with his life to spend much time or effort on dealing with the sensate thing. But Wolfgang and Riley and Sun? I mean, if this happened to me, I'd instantly think brain tumor.

I think the moments of total understanding and accord between them gesture at what's happening with them, and there's something compelling about the show's comparative restraint in showing the ways these eight people bond. Because yeah, they have a giant psychic orgy, but there's also smaller moments like Wolfgang asking Kala why she's marrying Rajan when they both know that Kala doesn't love him and doesn't want to marry him. On any other show, Wolfgang's comment would come across as incredibly presumptive. But on Sense8 it's not, because Wolfgang knows, and he's not even really being argumentative about it. It's interesting to rewatch scenes between the sensate characters with the understanding that these people have a fundamental, instinctive understanding of and compassion for each other.
posted by yasaman at 10:52 AM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


"It's interesting to rewatch scenes between the sensate characters with the understanding that these people have a fundamental, instinctive understanding of and compassion for each other."

Yeah, I think that answers the issues you have -- the ones who you'd think would freak out aren't really freaking out because in some respect they're becoming who they really are and they understand this at a deep, intuitive level. I'm partly going from some of the things that Jonas has said -- they really are a different kind of human and so this connection they have isn't an imposition from the outside, but rather who they really are and I think all of them understand this, if not consciously.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:27 PM on June 22, 2015


I watched the first episode around when the series launched, wasn't entirely hooked. Was more hooked by the second, but never found myself in the right mainframe to start watching after getting home from work. But since work closed at 1pm yesterday for the long weekend, I've finally got the time to binge my way through.

Loving it, but, oy, some of the dialogue. I think Amanita saying "Shit just got real" wins the cringe award in this episode. The orgy nearly made me forget it, but, yikes.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:30 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe this is just not the right show for me, idk. If I wanted to watch porn I'd just watch porn. They could have used that time to move the plot along! Almost nothing actually happened in this episode.
posted by desjardins at 5:40 PM on July 10, 2015


Almost nothing actually happened in this episode.

I'm reminded of Leverage writer John Rogers' blog post where he talked about how shows can be categorized as shows about emotions vs shows about systems, and specifically about Lost:

**I'd argue that's what so infuriated many people about Lost by the end of it. (Full disclosure: I really dug the show, and am show-business friends with a fair chunk of the ex-writers). Was Lost "about" the people on the island (emotion), or "about" the mystery of the island (the system)? I'd guess for the writers it was about unravelling those castaways' stories every week. And sure, for a big chunk of the audience, that's what got them emotionally invested. But mysteries demand solving, and as soon as the system of the island was set up as a mystery it became part of the contract with the audience. "Oh, there are mysteries! Puzzles! I'll pay attention over here, too!" But if you don't then satisfy the puzzle-solving part of the relationship -- God help you.**

I think that Sense8 is definitely more focused on the emotional, character aspects than on the puzzle/mystery. So, in that way, the orgy isn't a departure from the plot, the main engine of the plot is the building coherence of the sensate group, so the shared sexual experience does count as something happening.

I don't know, while I quit Lost after the S1 finale because I could tell that I was just going to feel strung along by the writers, the balance of people-drama vs sci-fi/action plot in Sense8 worked for me.
posted by oh yeah! at 12:32 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm too late to watching this and missed the discussion, but wanted to say in at least one Fanfare thread somewhere I love this show. It's really great. Mostly for the production quality, but the writing is pretty good and the characters are fun. And I'm down with the super queer psychic orgy. At the start of the episode I was wondering "hmm, this is going to get interesting when the sensates share some sex" and I can say the show did not disappoint. Particularly appreciated the queering of the Chicago cop. Well not exactly queering, I'm not sure what that was, but it was definitely transgressive.

But actually my favorite character is Van Damme. And I'm sorry he didn't get to enjoy the orgy too. Given the physicality of his intersection with Sun, the very first strong bonding between two if I remember correctly, it seemed a curious omission.
posted by Nelson at 7:56 AM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


And I'm sorry he didn't get to enjoy the orgy too. Given the physicality of his intersection with Sun, the very first strong bonding between two if I remember correctly, it seemed a curious omission.

Well, I figure Kala could have been asleep due to time difference, and Sun & Riley were too traumatized by their current situations to be drawn in. Everyone who was in the orgy was on a similar wavelength - Nomi & Lito since they were having actual sex with their partners, Woflgang because he was in a sensual space/mood, and Will because he was high on exercise endorphins and thus very aware of his physical body. Capheus was getting some kind of vibe from the orgy, but since he wasn't in the right mood for it he just ended up with the awkward 'why is Van Damme giving me a boner?' grimace.

Also, although the Sun/Riley visitation happened after the orgy from the audience point of view, in the Sense8 universe it could have been happening at the same time, couldn't it? Or they were asleep too.I'd love to see JMS & the Wachowski's timeline/show bible someday.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:59 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Also, although the Sun/Riley visitation happened after the orgy from the audience point of view, in the Sense8 universe it could have been happening at the same time, couldn't it?

That's the way I interpreted it, which jibes with yasaman's point above about the point being more about intimacy and meeting the characters where they are.
posted by desuetude at 11:24 PM on August 2, 2015


The queer sex orgy is so important to me. And also fucking hot. I mostly find sex scenes cringe worthy and not aimed at me. This is now TWO sex scenes I'm the same show that did it for me. (Obviously the first is Amanita with a strapon, because hot damn.)
posted by stoneweaver at 9:36 AM on August 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


on Sense8 it's not, because Wolfgang knows, and he's not even really being argumentative about it.

yasaman, I think it's important to note that you are clearly the Sense8 whisperer.
posted by corb at 3:25 PM on October 19, 2016


My roommate was binge-rewatching the show last night; I'd always meant to watch, so I sat in too. He warned me before this one started, "....so, I should say there's a lot more sexual content in this one..." I just shrugged, wondering why he thought it was worth mentioning. Then came the orgy and I thought "okay, yeah, that would strike me as something you'd want to mention to a new fan if you're unsure how they'd take it."

Another fun moment: there was a bit with Lito and Hernando on the roof starting to make out, and Daniella watching them. "....She's going to take pictures of them and tweet them out now, right?" I asked.

My roommate just waited a few seconds....until the camera panned down to show her with her hand down her pants. Then my roommate cheerfully said "Nope!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on June 3, 2018


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