Netflix TV binge review: Sense8 (Episodes 4, 5 6)
Chris Bryant | On 08, Jun 2015
“Art is like religion – to the believers, it is everything.”
Netflix’s blurb suggests that Sense8’s protagonists, The Sensates, are people whose telepathic gifts are the one thing keeping them alive. However, Episodes 4, 5, & 6 suggest quite the opposite. These three episodes place their focus not on the buzzword “telepathic” but on the word “people”.
Episodes 4 to 6 are wonderful celebrations of humanity, achieving awe while demonstrating a bravery and colourfulness rarely seen on the small screen. It is made very clear that the creators are as impressive on the small screen as they are in any multiplex. Vivid and heartful, these chapters dispense with the tension attempted in the first trio – and make way for a melancholic dance in which the Sensates laugh, cry, worry, fight and fall in love together.
Episode 5 opens with a beautiful montage of a few of the Sensates, separately, engaging in sex with their various partners. Over the next few – wonderfully soundtracked – minutes, they delve in and out of each other’s experiences, sharing and joining one another. It’s brave and most likely one of the best scenes television will produce this year. The Wachowskis join a staggering list of big screen directors committed to treating television no differently from their genre-defining blockbusters.
Elsewhere, the extreme emotions of the Sensates’ personal struggles are shared – in every way – as the begin to recognise and communicate more. Will and Riley bond over their opposing views on the law, while both of them tangle with their colleagues over their honesty. Sense8 basks in turning what could be mediocre comparisons into philosophical links between every living person: Kala and Wolfgang, raised in two extremes, connect deeply over their lack of control; Kala is troubled by the speed of her arranged marriage; while Wolfgang is outright disobeying his Godfather-esque family.
Though the deep loves and battles of the series may dazzle, Miguel Angel Silvestre’s Lito outshines everything he touches. Cheeky, broken and really quite fanciable, Silvestre brings the Spanish film star to life – and what a life it is. As the renowned actor hides his sexuality, he continues to experience visions of people in his most personal moments. His immeasurable passion is what sparks the group sex experience, and extends far further than the bedroom.
Capheus and Sun balance this, both still likable in their respective optimism and pragmatism, both being crowbarred into tough decisions. Sun must decides whether to sacrifice her freedom for her family’s honour, while Capheus’ dreams come true – at a price. Perfectly portrayed by Doona Bae, Sun manages to be both reserved and incensed by her coming choice.
Sense8 cleverly uses the telepathic links to further stories, while carrying the emotions of previous scenes – a thought-provoking tactic. Managing the tone of a scene before it even begins, and carrying it through others once each has ended, gives Sense8 a powerful emotional depth and eye for tragedy far greater than is usually possible.
All episodes of Sense8 are available to watch on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. For videos introducing each of the main characters, click here.