Netflix UK TV review: Sense8 Christmas special
Chris Bryant | On 04, Jan 2017
Following Netflix’s 12-episode introduction to the Sense8 world and an exploration of the characters within, the show returns for a Christmas special that smoothly builds upon that foundation to create quality television.
Following the eight sensates as they continue their journey, and with just enough development to keep fans interested, the two-hour outing tackles the subject from a marginally different angle than before, to great effect. The condensed story structure, the Wachowski-friendly running time, and the defined purpose of the show makes this special a fantastic example of what Sense8 can be capable of.
While the previous 12 episodes were unique and beautiful, the lack of a drive for the show – beyond exploring the amazing phenomenon – often let some of the delight and heart slip away against a backdrop of questions and exposition. Doing away with some of that, this two-hour episode brings together everything that makes Sense8 an incredibly involving creation. The eight, irrespective of their individual dramas, are still running from Whispers, and learning more about Angelica and Jonas in scraps as they go. While the suspense is intriguing, it is never central enough to act as the show’s driving force, allowing their interconnectivity to take centre stage.
Whether it be Sun Bak’s imprisonment, Wolfgang’s mob troubles, or Lito’s public persona, the cluster are often removed from their arcs and placed in beautiful montages centred on their link, which may well be the most wonderful aspect of the entire show. (Yes, one of them is another magnificent group-sex scene.)
Rounding the final half-hour, the show begins to express its seasonal message a little more clearly – although in a show about connections and pure love, this may have not been necessary. One aspect it does bring out, however, is that as the sensates continue to accept and love one another, non-sensate acts of love and understanding are brought to the forefront for the audience to feel joy and connection themselves, which is exactly what The Wachowskis and Straczynski had originally hoped for their series. Overall, Sense8 still hinders itself by having so little of its main story arc – an intentional choice by the writers, and an understandable one, when you stack up a sci-fi cat and mouse story against the jaw-dropping visuals of global beauty, multi-cultural love, and total acceptance of other human beings. On balance, Sense8 cannot do everything at once, and letting narrative development take a step back while the cast and crew paint a fantastical vision of harmony and connection seems like a welcome choice and one that makes Sense8 totally unique.
All episodes of Sense8 Season 1 and 2 are available to watch exclusively on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.