There are moments when something comes along and shines through the piles of science fiction at our disposal. Sense8, a Netflix original series, not only shines through, but pushes the boundaries of the superhero genre in a way I haven’t seen since I read the phrase, “Who watches the Watchmen?”
I am confident that you’ll fall victim to the amazing and unique storytelling that I only need to push the first episode. It opens with a drugged Angelica, trying to cloak herself from some unseen bad guy. When her lover and partner Jonas comes into the scene, we quickly realize she’s seeing him not in physical space but in her mind. She’s discovered by a man known as Whispers who not only kills her but goes out of his way to make it look like a fire. The hint of telepathy touches my heart and I’m sucked in enough to see how the Wachowskis’ show off these “powers.”
What happens next not only sucked me in, but thrilled me. Eight people are born on August 8th, known as Sensates, people who share a telepathic bond. The group of eight consists of vastly different people with at least one who will resonate with the viewer. An African bus driver, a Korean business woman, a Chicago cop, an Indian bride-to-be, a transgender hackivist, an Icelandic DJ, a locksmith crook, and a gay actor make up a core cast so diverse the only question to be exploded is, “Would you want to share your/their thoughts?” And while side stories take focus and partners and triangles are developed, each of them has a rich story that seeks to explore individuality in a telepathic collective.
If the story isn’t enough to trap you, (I was already beginning to ponder how much sleep I was about to lose) the visuals within the storytelling are done so well, the Wachowskis’ appear to have this story perfected. As we move from one character to the next, changing mental states or even landscapes, the camera moves in a way where we are transported with them. The motion happens in a seamless manner that not only prevents us from being jarred, but gives us a true sense of what the Sensates must experience as they hop from one mind to the next. The first episode pushes this concept to a degree that I can only describe as, “Perfected storytelling for those with ADD.” There is a moment where you feel safe to walk to your fridge and grab your next Coke or check your text messages. Fear of missing a transition from one character to the next keeps you focused on the screen. You only manage to break away when you realize it’s 2:30AM and you still have to show up to work in the morning.
I was so captivated by the individual character’s struggles and reliance on one another I nearly forgot the show also has a “big bad” we can expect to see throughout the series. Whispers, a Sensate who we only know has the ability to invade clusters other than his own upon eyesight, remains shrouded in mystery and only lightly touched upon during the first season. While I originally thought this would be a one season show, come to find out it was always intended to consist of five seasons, all of which have been green lit. In a world with early cancellations, we will see the final show down between our characters and their mysterious nemesis?
Overall, if you haven’t seen it. Do it. Close your laptop, turn off your phone, and prepare for a character driven superhuman story. While the special effects aren’t going to make this a blockbuster, its captivating storylines and well-developed characters will give you something major motion pictures seems determined to avoid. Sense8 is original in every aspect, and now I sit here typing, counting down the days until I can binge watch the second season on Netflix.