Bright and colorful, Sense8 is the antithesis of all that. Or rather, it was. The often bewildering, always entertaining Netflix series has concluded with a feature-length finale that started streaming on Friday and embraces what makes the show's two seasons so unique. Despite its flaws - of which there are many - Sense8 succeeds in championing empathy and depicting the tenaciousness of the human spirit. It is remarkably inclusive and hopeful.
A refresher, for those who need it: The sci-fi series, created by J. Michael Straczynski and the Wachowski siblings, centers on a "cluster" of eight people across the globe who are connected via their consciousness. They experience each other's pain and joy, can "visit" another sensate no matter their physical location and share abilities like language comprehension or martial arts. The sensates form quick bonds - some tinged with romance - as they hide from and often fight members of a research organization called BPO, which seeks to eradicate their kind.
The structure of BPO is as unclear as the motivations of those who work for it, but that doesn't matter much. Sense8 thrives when it strays from plot intricacies and instead highlights how the characters respond to the threat. A good chunk of the finale is devoted to seven sensates working to save the eighth of their cluster: Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), a gruff German man who tells the others he isn't worth risking their lives for. Obviously, they disagree.
"Wolfgang, you are," says Kala (Tina Desai), one of the seven and Wolfgang's love interest. "You are. I know what love is because of you."
The line is cheesy but so sincere, which also applies to the rest of the series. Right before "Sense8" ends with a telepathic orgy reminiscent of the one from its first season - there are exceptionally weird perks to the whole shared consciousness thing - we attend the wedding of sensate Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and her girlfriend, Amanita (Freema Agyeman), who begins her vows with: "We live in a world that distrusts feelings."
"Over and over, we are reminded that feelings are not as important as reason," she continues. "That feelings are childish, irresponsible, dangerous. We are taught to ignore them, control or deny them. ... But I know that feelings matter."
Sense8 just wants us to care about each other.
"Improbably, unforeseeably, your love has brought Sense8 back to life," co-creator Lana Wachowski wrote at the time.
It couldn't have happened to a more diverse show. The main sensates include Nomi, a witty hacktivist in San Francisco; Wolfgang, a safecracker in Berlin; Kala, an emotionally conflicted pharmacist in Mumbai; Riley (Tuppence Middleton), a widowed DJ from Reykjavik; Sun (Doona Bae), a wrongfully imprisoned executive in Seoul; Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), a publicly closeted actor in Mexico City; Will (Brian J. Smith), a cop in Chicago haunted by his past; and Capheus (Toby Onwumere), a bus driver and aspiring politician in Nairobi.
Sense8 avoids tokenizing its characters, which involves giving each sensate a full backstory that helps viewers understand what motivates them. The diversity extends to the cast, too. In addition to most actors being from the same country as their characters, Sense8 cast Clayton, a transgender actress, in a transgender role.
The finale is bittersweet encapsulation of all that we lose along with Sense8, a sentiment the writers address through Nomi's wedding vows: "I'm afraid of pretending things will be permanent." But as long as we maintain a sense of optimism, they remind us, we'll all be just fine.
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