Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Sense8 Christmas Special was Kind of Chill

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Spoilers for the Sense8 Christmas Special ahead

Sometimes six months goes by in your life, and not much happens.

I suppose “not much” is a relative term when you’ve recently discovered that you have psychic powers and an evil corporation (or whatever BPO is) wants to dissect your brain for it. But the fact is, the Sense8 Christmas Special didn’t do a whole lot to progress the mysteries or the plot of the series as a whole. Rather, it took two hours to focus on more quiet character arcs, and to bridge the time between the first two seasons. It might be called a “Christmas special,” but that was only because it happened to be released two days before the holiday, as far as I can tell. It spans the time from July to New Year’s Eve.

Our heroes are just kind of chilling.

Wolfgang is just kind of chilling after shooting up his uncle’s criminal empire. Law enforcement apparently doesn’t care about it because all the dead people were bad guys, I guess. The previously comatose Felix recovers, and they’re back to their key-cutting and partying ways.

Wolfgang doesn’t seem particularly interested in crime anymore, but his surviving family, lead by his aunt, are trying to get him to take a leadership role in the Russian mob “kingdom” of East Berlin. They’re concerned that a vacuum of power will inevitably lead to a mob war between the four big gangs in the city. But even though he really didn’t do anything to get himself wrapped up in the nonsense, by the end of the special, it’s obvious that the war is here and Wolfie is in the middle.

That’s kind of at the end, though. For the majority of the special, he’s mostly just slightly sad that he let Kala go. Maybe even regretful.

Kala is on a slightly OTT rich-person honeymoon in Italy, but her and her few husband are having problems. Sex problems, guys. Kala, because she’s awesome, is all about her sexual agency, so the fact that she’s in love with a guy who kind of shares her brain (and also not really in love with her husband) makes her not so much in the mood. And poor Rajan is feeling a little insecure. Who can blame him, really? He’s still a cinnamon roll. They work it out, but the underlying problem is not at all solved.

This will work out great….

Lito is dealing with the repercussions of being blasted out of the closet at the end of the first season. He discovers that people on the internet are horrible, but that Hernando and Daniela and his other friends are supportive and that he’s going to get through this. Though he doesn’t seem all that sure about his career.

It might not sound like much, but Lito has some of the most significant character development so far. His being able to assert his identity and his relationship in the face of people on twitter telling him to go kill himself is remarkable progress from the moral cowardice he was struggling with in the first season.

Capheus, on the other hand….

I discussed in my catch-up post about how some characters are not integrated into the overall story as much as others, and Capheus’s case is by far the worst. Not only because he’s had nothing to do with the BPO stuff (neither have Lito or Kala), but because he was totally in a holding pattern for this special, much more so than anyone else. Crime-boss guy gave him a new van, and Capheus started to question his supposed reformation because free medical clinics are a good way to smuggle drugs. That’s kind of it.

The elephant in the room is that the character was recast, with Toby Onwumere replacing Aml Ameen. Onwumere does fine (it’s kind of hard to tell given how little he was given to work with), but he got Capheus’s perpetual optimism down. Still, they better fix his side-lining, or it will start to get concerning.

Sun is still stuck in solitary for more or less the whole special. Her brother is still a poop-hole. First he scares away her lawyer and then he sends goons to kill her in prison. And she gets an extra two weeks for kicking the wall in her cell because that’s “damaging government property,” which seems a bit much in my opinion.

In short, neither Sun nor I can see any way out of her sucky situation. And if she didn’t have the ability to swim in the Mediterranean and have dance parties/orgies in her brain, I don’t think she would have survived.

Nomi is also still in trouble with the law and has this creepy FBI guy who’s totally not just an FBI guy stalking Aminita and low-key terrorizing the woman’s shelter where she’s holed-up. But she uses her internet-savvy to basically keep everyone informed about everything, and she’s able the sneak out for sexy picnic and to see the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, so it’s not that bad.

You know who does have it kind of bad? Will and Riley.

If you recall, Whispers, the “hunter” from BPO who like to dissect the brains of sensates, made eye contact with Will at the end of the first season. So now he can “visit” in Will’s brain. Ever since, he and Riley have been on the lam. Will spends most of the time unconsciously high on heroin, and Riley goes to some length to make sure that he has no idea where they are.

That sucks for Will, but I kind of feel even more sorry for Riley. Not the least of which because she basically got no development or time to shine at all in the special. She was just the chick taking care of Will. Though to be super fair, she probably did get plenty of attention last season, unlike others.

Will spends some time talking to Jonas, the cluster’s sensate mentor, and we learn a bit about Whispers, like that he’s a dad and he totes got in trouble for screwing up in Iceland. But Whispers also does some screwing-over.

You see, Will’s dad, a retired cop, kind of took it badly when his son dropped off the fact of the earth. And he took it even worse when Whispers shows up to help him hang Christmas lights and implies that Will is some kind of terrorist now. So he falls of the recovering alcoholic wagon, and Will is very, very worried. The willingness of Whispers and BPO to go after the cluster’s loved ones will not doubt be a major point of conflict as the series goes forward, especially as the bad guys learn the identities of the other members of the cluster.

Moving forward, my biggest concern for this series is this dichotomy between the characters who are involved in the main plot (Will, Riley, and Nomi basically) and everyone else who’s off on their own having their own kind of quiet crises of everyday life. (Or mob wars.) It’s not really a problem, since the show remains remarkably engaging; “nothing much happened” for two hours but I was still on the edge of my seat and cried multiple times. I’m just not sure how sustainable it will be.

There are a lot of potential ways for the others to get into the main plot by coming onto BPO’s radar, though. Sun is in prison and can’t run away. Kala works at a pharmaceutical company that her father-in-law who kinda want to get rid of her owns. I would be quite surprised if he wasn’t somehow in bed with BPO. Capheus’s crime-boss friend is opening a free medical clinic that international NGOs may be involved in. Lito is in the public eye, and if he starts acting strangely, the BPO might recognize his behaviour for what it is.

All in all, I’m not worried that this show will get boring.

Most importantly of all; is it May 5th yet?

Images courtesy of Netflix

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