Episode 8, We Will Be Judged By the Courage in Our Hearts – Many of the Cluster face hard choices in their own lives. Meanwhile, the dots connect the mysterious Whsipers to the a company called BPO, and the man himself finally catches up with Nomi.
“We make choices and life has a way of making us pay for them” becomes the spoken motto of the episode as many prior events have severe or even dire consequences for many of the Sensates. That’s even a line from one of Lito’s movies and it motivates Daniela to take the fall for him as she agrees to go back to Joaquin in exchange for keeping his sexuality private. This works on a number of levels as while Daniela is paying for bringing the complications of Joaquin into Lito and Hernado’s lives, so too does Lito have a price to pay for letting her go: the man he loves. It’s a sad but incredibly fitting moment as Herando walks out on him for abandoning her to such a fate. Now, he must stop acting as a hero and become one if he’s going to save the lives and treasured relationship the three of them have developed. This is a great development in Lito’s story but the only gripe here is how independent he’s becoming from the rest of Cluster. While the rest are going closer, this marks two straight episodes of him being a lone wolf. Hopefully, seeing him go after Joaquin will result in a big team effort, the likes of which this episode impressively showcased to help Nomi escape. It’s a sequence that not only forged new connections but upped the scale of Cluster teamwork. When Capheus took on the Superpower gang, we saw the isolated sharing moments of Will and Sun swapping out with him when required. This takes it even further as we see both Will and Sun in play to help Nomi at the same time. Will calls the shots using his police knowledge while Sun lands the hits for a result better than both would have achieved sharing by themselves. When we imagine what the co-ordinated efforts of all eight members could achieve we start to understand why Sensates would be feared or hunted. It’s also great to see Chapeus brought into the skill base as the getaway driver of choice as he busts out Hard Target moves from his extensive muscles from Brussels playbook. Not to mention that Nomi’s whole escape is utterly thrilling; right down to her bike vs. cars evasion.
Last episode, we saw Wolfgang, or more specifically his best friend Felix, pay the price for their actions. Sometimes the many childhood flashbacks of the show feel overused but this German edition is the best yet as we see the early years of these lovable troublemakers. In keeping with the Van Damme usage, Sense8 seems determine to pay tribute to the action icon. This time the young Wolfgang and Felix find their inspiration to take on bullies, abusive fathers, and more thanks to Conan the Barbarian (Crom approves). The two young actors are immediately likeable. Their scenes are both very fun and reinforcing to adult Wolfgang’s feelings for his hospitalised friend, “He’s my brother, not by something as accidental as blood”. Wolfgang’s story also continues the developing relationship with Kala as she becomes a point of console and comfort in his time of need. Their opening scenes are a great reminder of the Cluster emotional connections as Kala can’t escape Wolfgang’s sadness despite watching a riotous Indian comedy. Things also continue to develop between Will and Riley as they explore each other’s homes. Their kiss is both a touching moment and sets up the best laugh of the show so far when Will’s partner walks in on half the action.
Capheus finds the hard choices don’t even knock; they just burst through his front door as his choices over Silas catch up with him in a less expected manner. Last episode implied his work would force him to do the awful but this is brilliantly flipped as he’s threatened over betraying Silas’s sweet and innocent daughter. Like Lito, this takes his story in a great new direction. It’s also fun to catch up with his friend Jela again. Were it not for Will’s air tongue display, his domestic troubles would have stolen the episode, “It’s mother****er.... how will I tell them apart if you call all my friends mother****ers?”. Sun is still struggling for progression in the little big house. As expected, last time we see her kicking some lady arse in the prison yard over her friend Susan being bullied. This is a great sequence but other than making some friends (and enemies), she still doesn’t feel like she’s going anywhere. Kala’s story takes the award for most unexpected bad luck as the Indian people make their feelings known about traditionalism vs. modernisation.
This is a much better offering in episode 7. It covers just as much story ground on central and individual levels while managing to be much more fun and enjoyable. As this marks the two-thirds point, the next episode could be critical as the time to reveal a bit more of the mystery. Let’s hope we won’t be disappointed.
Episode 9, Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye – While many of the Cluster deal with loss and hardship in both their past and present, Riley and Will make some discoveries about the BPO company and why they were all chosen.
It’s almost casually dropped but the reason these 8 people were chosen to form a Cluster is brilliant in its simplicity. Just as they were all born as Sensates together, so to they were born into the ordinary world together. They all share birthdays and presumably were birthed at the exact same time (roughly 370,000 people are born each day averaging 4.3 per second so 8 simultaneous births seems realistic). It’s a nice notion that the 8 have been connected their whole lives; they just didn’t know it until now. However, this episode shows that it’s the emotional connections they share rather than the numerical that are what really binds them. We’ve already seen some good scenes throughout the series of characters reaching out to each other but this episode offers the best yet as many reach their lowest moments. The most effective of these comes from an incredible heart-to-heart between Lito and Nomi. The beauty of the art gallery setting should not be overlooked and Lito’s flashback’s of his and Hernando’s first date their perfectly pledges their immediate chemistry. At first Nomi’s role as visitor looks like it will merely be in LGBT solidarity only to deliver so much more. Her own life changing moment of bullying is powerful and horrific in itself but stands in firm context to her point about deciding what was important to her, “Their violence was petty and ignorant but it was true to who they were”. Suddenly we see Lito and Nomi as two sides of the same decision. Just as Nomi has long suffered and accepted the price of being who she wants to be, so now must Lito pay the price of being with Hernando. Again the exploration of sexual identity becomes the most rewarding aspect of the series. There’s a great mirrored perception to their conversation too. The big strong man bursting into tears while the smaller weaker woman consoles him.
Elsewhere, we learn the truth about why Riley left Iceland, and why it took her so long to come back. There was always the feeling something bad had happened but when the reveal is delivered, it still packs the shock value. Suffering that kind of loss is one thing, but being spooked into thinking you caused it could send anyone catatonic. Like with Lito and Nomi, there are great results from bringing Capheus into the scene. The pair makes some insightful points about which is worse: having no say goodbye or not getting to say goodbye. Both their ordeals focus on the connection of family which is echoed by the smaller arcs of episode. The biggest surprise is Sun’s father visiting her in prison. It seems her sacrifice may not have been soap idol after all as it reminded her father of the love he still bares her. Even more importantly, it gives her story a future beyond the prison walls. Family love comes in surprising places for Wolfgang as well. The Conan viewing is a great throwback to last episode but like Sun the level of family love he receives is surprising. Although unconfirmed, it feels like Steiner was behind Felix’s drive by shooting but his family affection for Wolfgang owns him a Billy Martin chance to make things right before anything else happens.
The introduction of Riley’s fellow Sensate in Iceland raises a few interesting questions for the central story. She and Jonas’s very polar viewpoints on inter-cluster romances are interesting. Again this links back to episode wide themes of love and loss. Jonas believes the love is worth any pain but she’s convinced the loss can be overpowering. She also makes some curious accusations towards Jonas and Angel, stating they were collaborators (presumably working with Whispers). This is probably true and feels like it will be a back story explored in the final episodes. Presumably, they both ran away from him together.
This is an episode that could be viewed as a downer but at the same time it's terrific in the way it captures these emotions. The great use of music frequently accentuates any a moment with the gentle Mad World piano score being a real highlight. We could still do with a little more escalation and a better picture of finale end game, but just as it has been all series, the individual characters and stories are interesting and endearing so given results are still highly satisfying.