Jun 7, 2017

[TV] Sense8: Season 2 Review

So Tobie and I managed to sit down to watch all of the second season of Sense8 on Netflix before he had to leave for the US for a few weeks. But given the nature of my review queue, I'm only writing this review after the news broke that the show isn't being renewed for a third season.

As much as a there are a lot of fan efforts to raise enough noise to get the show back somehow, I remain skeptical of the chances of success. When you look at recent shows with rather loud fan support but not necessarily high viewership numbers, you don't often see entertainment executives changing their minds.

It would be a terrible shame if Sense8 doesn't find a way back into our home as it's quite the brilliant if overly ambitious show. Its global concept made for some beautiful scenes but also some pretty expensive shooting budgets. As much as it was a fairly popular show, I suspect that the returns still didn't quite justify the high production costs of the series.

But only time will tell, really.

Synopsis: Sense8 is a science fiction web series created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski for Netflix. The second season began with a Christmas special followed by a solid 10 episode series, which was still a tad shorter than the show's initial 12 episode run unless you go and count the Christmas special as two episodes, which can work.

The season begins with Will (Brian J. Smith) and Riley (Tuppence Middleton) on the run as the man they know as Whispers (Terrence Mann) is still able to see what Will sees. So far the only way he has found effective at blocking Whispers intrusions is dosing himself with heroin. Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman) are also on the run and end up moving in with Bug (Michael X. Sommers) while they figure out how to get the government off their backs indefinitely. Kala (Tina Desai) has gotten married to her fionce Rajan (Purab Kohli), but she still finds herself thinking of Wolfgang (Max Riemelt). Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) doesn't want to go back in the closet but eventually gets into a bit of a sex scandal when intimate photos of him and Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) manage to get out. Sun (Doona Bae) is still in prison, fighting for her life.

But in this season they decide to stop running and try to figure out ways to turn the tables against Whispers and the US government and Sun's brother and all the others who are threatening them in one way or another. And with the cluster getting better and better at working together and leveraging each other's skills as needed. And they're going to need every trick in the book to respond to even greater threats just out of view.

What I Liked: This series continues to make the most of a very unique concept and expand it further to an even greater story. With Whisper managing to break into Will's head like a pseudo member of the cluster, I guess it was a no-brainer to examine the potential of other clusters of different types and how they might operate differently versus our core team. It's not quite a spoiler to confirm that there are other clusters out there. What is most fascinating is how each cluster differs and how they choose to interact with the world.

And the relationships that define the show are so great at this point. It's more than just how well they've developed each character's individual arc but you also have how smoothly the cluster members slide into one another's lives to offer advice, skills and even just emotional support as needed. And that really makes for some clever and unique storytelling.

What Could Have Been Better: The show still gets lots in its own grandeur and beauty with sometimes excessive establishing shots and all that fun stuff. We still have the quirks of the cluster members being able to help each other out almost at the drop of hat despite everyone being in different time zones with different personalities.

I had really hoped that we'd better understand Whisper's motivations in this season and find a way to elevate him from being an almost comical cartoon villain. Sure the cluster's efforts eventually yield some personal information about him like his name and where he works but then what? There's some vague talk about him working to artificially create sensates but then the idea never feels fully fleshed out.

TL;DR: The second season of Sense8 is a powerful one that really tried to amp everything up in terms of its story, its character development and its scale. This second season really depends on the first to set the stage but the resulting story direction is pretty awesome and worth it all. And thus the second (and I guess final) season of the show gets 5 sensate cluster collaborations out of a possible 5.

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