Made by the Wachowskis (who brought us both The Matrix and the incomparably beautiful Unbound), does Sense8 deliver on the innovation, special FX, gorgeous cinematography and tightly twisting plot that we might expect? Yes, it does. The premise of the series takes a bit to get to grips with (indeed, the first series takes a few episodes to explain it properly), but it’s well worth sticking with.
Eight individuals scattered around the world start sharing in each other’s thoughts. They share knowledge and, thereby, their individual skills. So, the South Korean character is able to share her martial arts ability with the character in Nigeria, who is in trouble with local gangsters. The Icelandic DJ is able to inspire the Amercian cop who’s losing his way in the urban jungle, and so on. Going about your day-to-day life while seeing and experiencing what’s happening to someone else in an altogether different context also leads to a host of humorous juxtapositions and mixed up conversations, of course. Sense8, then, is definitely about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
As you’d expect of any piece created by the Wachowskis, there are bigger and deeper themes too. In sharing yourself with another person so intimately, the nature and boundaries of sexuality and being are explored and often challenged. Some would say there’s an LGBT agenda going on (and there is a strong trans character), but that’s to underestimate the work and, for me, to do it a disservice. All agendas are going on – it is our very humanity that is fundamentally being considered here.
Sense8 gives us a masterclass in the avoidance of exposition (‘Show don’t tell’). It keeps us guessing and engaged. Those who apply their intellects are rewarded by insight and revelation. You get out what you put in, people. Sense8 also brilliantly creates suspense, using ambiguous signs, failed attempts at rationalisation and then truly monstrous revealting moments. It’s intriguing, gripping and terrifying all at the same time.
If you like your fantasy and TV viewing ‘smart’, then Sense8 is for you. The first two series are available on Netflix (or in box-set, I imagine). It scores a 9 out of 10 from me. Time well spent.