In Its Second Season, ‘Sense8’ Finds Itself

While the first season fixated on the 'how,' this time around viewers get to the 'why.'

Imagine having access to someone else’s knowledge and their skills: You don’t know how to fight, but they do, so they can control your body in a risky situation. It would be weird to have someone in your head like that all the time. If you let them, they would even know what you’re feeling and where you are from. Now, imagine the same thing, but with eight people. You could access the lives, languages and abilities of seven other people just as easily as you breathe.

It’s obviously more complicated than that, but “Sense8,” a Netflix original, follows the lives of eight strangers from all over the world, who find out that they are connected emotionally and mentally, because they are sensates born in the same cluster. Sensates are a different form of humans, born on the same day and time as the other members of their cluster, thus sharing a cohesive connection. They can work as a team to do anything together, and, as the more mature scenes in the show prove, anything means literally anything.

While the first season of the show started in medias res, with the characters figuring out their abilities and why these strange people, who aren’t physically there, keep popping up in various situations, the second season delves into the meat of the larger plot.

The cluster is being hunted by another sensate called “Whispers” and the organization he runs. He hunts his own kind, using their psychic link to find the rest of the cluster. He runs a group called BPO, or Biologic Preservation Organization, which used to be a team trying to find a way to protect sensates and live alongside humans who don’t have this ability. But since 9/11, the organization’s view changed. Sensates were suddenly dangerous, and the BPO began hunting them down to remove any kind of threat.

Image Via Bustle

The directors, Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, teased viewers with a two-hour Christmas episode released on December 23 of last year. Then, on May 5, Netflix released the next ten episodes of Season 2, the weekend right before I had to take my finals. Needless to say, I spent very little time studying for my finals, and more time than I care to admit binge-watching all of Season 2. And this season was worth the wait.

The concept of the show is hard to explain, but the camera does most of the explaining for the viewer. Season 2 showed how the cluster helped each other through situations in their lives, as well as their attempts to avoid being caught by Whispers.

The way the directors chose to film the scenes where some of the sensates are taking over the others’ bodies was very effective in helping viewers understand how the connection of sensates works. Sometimes the sensates were all together, or sometimes the show would depict one character fighting, but it’s actually another character who knows how to fight. One of the scenes in the series ended with all the sensates around a specific character, and as they walked down an alley, all the characters morphed into the individual whose point of view the narrative was following.

Sometimes it’s hard to like characters in TV shows, but “Sense8” managed to make me, not only like, but love all eight main characters. What sets the production apart is its diverse cast. Since the characters in the show are from all over the world, the directors wanted to get international actors to make it as authentic as possible. Instead of just casting American actors with fake accents, the directors held auditions for the show in several different countries until they found actors who actually fit the roles.

Three of the actors are from their character’s town of origin. Max Riemelt, who plays Wolfgang Bogdanow, is from Berlin, just like his character. The character Kala Dandekar works at a successful pharmaceutical company in Mumbai, and is played by Tina Desai who is from the same city. Doona Bae, an actress born and raised in Seoul, South Korea had her role as Sun Bak decided when she became part of the show. The directors were bouncing back and forth between a Chinese, Japanese or Korean character, and finally settled on Korean when they realized they wanted Bae to be in the show.

And the cast isn’t just diverse in ethnicities. Nomi Marks, a transgender blogger and hacker from California, is played by transgender actress Jamie Clayton. The characters in the show share a lot with their actors and actresses, which offers refreshing representation that you usually don’t see in TV shows. “Sense8” also brings these people from different backgrounds to work as one unit in a beautiful way.

“Sense8” covers many different relevant topics, including sexuality, gender identity, poverty, corruption and drug use. All eight of the main characters’ stories come together to make something incredible.

I should have waited and watched all of Season 2 at a slower pace so the story wouldn’t have to be over so soon. So, consider yourself lucky, if you haven’t seen the show yet, because you get to experience both seasons without waiting for new episodes to come out. Take your time and appreciate what the show is trying to represent.

Kara Mercer, Northern Illinois University

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