Rating:

Netflix Original Binge

Main Cast: Naveen Andrews, Jamie Clayton

Directors: Various

Sense8 posterDamn, I love Netflix original programming! Not all of it, mind you, but a healthy percentage. My most recent binge was of Sense8, the freaky sci-fi series with just a first season streaming. Not to worry – a second season was announced on August 8th, 2015. I can’t wait.

Sense8 is not your run of the mill series. First of all, you will be almost entirely lost throughout the first few episodes. Don’t give up. Once things start coming together, you’ll be rewarded for your patience. The general gist of season 1 is our introduction to the concept of the sensate. A sensate is one of a group of people who are linked together – through mind and sometimes body. They are not born this way, they become linked as adults. Our story is about a group of 8.

During the first few episodes, we meet our main cast. Nomi (Jamie Clayton) – a transgender blogger and hacker living in San Francisco. Capheus (Aml Ameen) – a single man taking care of his ill mother in Nairobi. Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) – a thief living in Berlin. Sun (Bae Doona) – the beleaguered and ignored daughter of a powerful businessman living in Soeul. Kala (Tina Desai) – a pharmacist engaged to be married in Mumbai. Will (Brian J. Smith) – a cop living in Chicago. Riley (Tuppence Middleton) – an Icelandic DJ living in London. Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) – an action hero actor living in Mexico City.

These are our sensates. But we also have a few peripheral characters that promise to feature prominently in the overall story arc of the series. Jacob (the delicious Naveen Andrews) – a nebulous figure who is either a guide for the new sensates or an evil in their midst. Whispers (Terence Mann) – definitely an evil in their midst. Angelica (Daryl Hannah) – a mysterious woman who somehow gave “birth” to the sensates before taking her own life.

I know – it’s already confusing. The first handful of episodes are all about meeting and getting to know the individual characters. It is time well spent, as we are thoroughly invested by the time they start to get hold of their connection to each other. We also begin learning about the abilities of sensates, and the benefits and drawbacks of being one. Be patient – with each episode your footing will improve and your attachment to the characters and series will increase. At the end of season 1, my personal favorites among the characters are Capheus, Sun and Lito.

The series is filmed on location in all of the characters’ home cities – something that I find absolutely amazing – and the result is that there are a lot of visually stunning scenes. The series was conceived, written and executive produced by the Wachowskis (seriously, the brother (Andy) and sister (Lana) pair are not billed separately) of The Matrix fame and it shows in the look of the program. The visual effects are top notch and they’re fearless when it comes to exploring topics that were absolutely taboo in the recent past – foremost among them being a wide range of sexuality. The show also examines the vast differences among the characters based on their cultures.

Overall, though I had to watch the first episode twice, I ended up really enjoying the first season of Sense8. It’s weird and compelling and brave in a lot of ways. I definitely look forward to season 2. Season 1 is currently available on Netflix Instant Streaming (as is Sense8 – Creating the World, a 30 minute featurette on making the show). It will likely eventually be released on DVD, but for now Netflix is your only option. Season 2 is predicted to hit the air in the fall of 2016.

You can’t buy the series outside of Netflix, but you can buy this little unauthorized companion book.  I have no idea if it’s any good, but it’s only $3.

An Unauthorized Guide to Sense8: The Wachowskis’ Sci-Fi Netflix Series (Audible Audio Edition)


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