I have to admit that based on the first episode of Netflix’s Sense8 that things weren’t going to go to well. Reason being, while it managed to avoid the problem endemic to the Wachowskis’s Matrix sequels–which because of their tendency to ‘tell, not show’ came off a bit pretentious–it also came off a bit scattershot.
Then again, it should have been expected when you take into account the underlying premise of the series, which revolves around eight individuals from all over the world, linked by a mysterious woman (Daryl Hannah) that are somehow able to share experiences and abilities, that it would feel a bit jumpy, telling so many stories almost at once.
So, it’s initially a bit disorientating to have things start at one point, then at the next you’re in another country, with entirely different people.
Though things work themselves quickly, and once I came to learn who the characters were, everything became a lot more interesting. In fact, structurally it reminds me quite a bit of NBC’s Heroes, except that its scale is bigger. For instance, while while Heroes made use of a lot of green screen and backlots in California, Sense8 was filmed on location all over the world, and it shows.
What’s also pretty clever is how each ‘Sensate (what each of the Sense8 is called) copes with what’s happening to them)’.
Some characters feel overwhelmed, some feel afraid, while others just take what’s happening in stride, enjoying their new-found abilities.
Also unlike Heroes, which tended to play it relatively safe, Sense8 isn’t afraid to explore people who are different not by reasons of geography, but sexuality. Two of the Sensates are homosexual and while the series can tend toward the graphic–particularly what I like to call ‘the dildo scene,’ it shows how far the series is willing to do to depict all sorts of truths.
I also like the idea that the Wachowskis are working again with Tom Tykwer (Perfume, The International) who’s directed the fourth episode, What’s Going On?, as well as scoring the series.
So, like the Sensates themselves, once you get over the initial disorientation, Sense8 is pretty impressive.
They may look you and I, but the world of Sense8 exists only on Netflix..