“It’s not hacking if you get paid for it”
Episode 2 of Sense8, “I Am Also A We,” would have done little to win over people who were not impressed with the slow pace of the first episode. Indeed, these first two episodes are more about developing the characters than explaining virtually anything about what is happening to them. However, those with patience will appreciate the care and brilliance of the editing, bringing our eight ‘sensates’ together in more ways than one. It’s novelistic approach to storytelling will surely reap big rewards in the future, but there’s more than enough to appreciate in “I Am Also A We.”
Of course, the episode of the title lays bare the concept of Sense8. Our ‘heroes’ lives intertwine on a mental/spiritual level more and more as time goes by. Part way through the episode, the editing starts to make sense. It encourages us to believe that these people are connected, that their mental lives are colliding. At first, we are as baffled as the characters about what is happening to them. We have the benefit of knowing what the characters look like, where they are from etc, but we still progress through things only as quickly or slowly as the characters. The intertwining of their lives is used mainly for comedic effect in this episode. For example, the mental collision between Wolfgang’s one night stand and Kala’s engagement ceremony gave me the giggles. Wolfgang hungers for Indian food, while Kala is distracted by somebody asking her “He was good, wasn’t he?” in reference to her fiance’s dancing (occurring just after Wolfgang had climaxed). It’s a bold and brave method of storytelling that requires a lot of concentration, but when it all comes together in your mind it works wonders.
Not only were our characters becoming more interconnected, but more about their lives was being revealed as well. After saving the black kid’s life, Gorski has become an outcast in the police. He’s commonly asked how he would feel if the black kid went out and murdered somebody. We learn more about his past, especially his father. His dad, an ex-police officer, is now a drunken lout who spends all day at the bar. There seems to be no lost love between the two, as Gorksi is greeted in the bar by his dad saying “take a shit for me, son.” He throws his colostomy bag at Gorski immediately afterwards.
“I think she wants what she cannot have”
Nomi is another character in conflict with one of her parents. Her blog about all of her mistakes not only coloured in aspects of the other characters (like the focus on Lito when Nomi mentioned about being afraid to reveal to her parents that she wanted to be a women, when of course Lito is a homosexual and probably had the same fear), but also gave us a snapshot of her history. After an accident at the Gay Pride Parade, Nomi is hospitalised, and we get to see her mother. Her mother insists on calling her ‘Michael,’ obviously not accepting her child’s choice.
The conspiracy elements also shine through, as an MRI scan on Nomi reveals two large masses on her brain that need immediate and aggressive surgery. They are responsible for her so-called hallucinations. However, Jonas appears to her and says that she needs to escape; “they” want to eliminate her as a ‘sensate.’ She’s not having hallucinations, but has mental connections with other sensates. The dip into hallucinations as an explanation for her apparent telepathy makes a nice twist to the story. Jonas also pops up in Gorski’s story, as government officials pick Gorski out as part of a team to locate a terrorist: Jonas. Gorski, unsure about the threat of Jonas, nevertheless gets on with his job
The serious nature of the two main storylines is lightened by the comedy of some others. Lito’s continuous rebuttal of his female co-star’s advances brought a few laughs. When she finds out about his boyfriend, it raises the humour level even more. As mentioned before, the juxtaposition of Kala’s engagement party and Wolfgang’s private party raised a few smiles as well. However, did we really need the stereotypical Bollywood dancing scene during the engagement party? It felt like something from a different TV series…but then again, Nomi seemed to be a transgender stereotype in last week’s episode, but this episode added layer after layer to her character. Maybe the same will happen to Kala?
However, the two main storylines highlight the question of Jonas’ status. Is he good or bad? Who is looking for him? How far does the conspiracy go? It’s infiltrated the government, the police and the hospitals. Those are but a few questions of the top of my head about the ongoing storyline of Sense8. In time, I hope, they will be answered. Or it could go all Lost on us and never answer anything…but for now, I continue to enjoy Sense8. It’s slow, methodical pace is a deliberate way to bring the audience into it’s weird and wonderful world. Whilst not understanding the story any more than we did at the start, we certainly understand how (if not why) the characters’ lives are being bound together. The pieces are there, it’s just a matter of time to see the puzzle fit together.
VERDICT: 7/10. Slow-paced for good reason, ‘I Am Also A We’ displays boldness and ingenuity, along with great character development. But the question of reaping rewards has yet to be answered…