Happy F*cking New Year.
Who Am I?
Fear Never Fixed Anything
Isolated Above, Connected Below
I Have No Room in My Heart for Hate
All I Want Right Now Is One More Bullet
What Family Actually Means
If All the World’s a Stage, Identity Is Nothing But a Costume
You Want a War?
Following the dramatic events that transpired at the end of the first season, Sense8 picks up where it left off with a 2 hour episode before settling into a more formulaic format, taking the show in a bold new direction. With a deeper exploration around the history of the Sensates and each character’s personal lives, the second season is certainly more emotionally engaging but some contrived humour and messages around gun violence and other societal issues are a little clumsily handled that do take the edge off an otherwise impressive season of explosive entertainment.
The opening 2 hour episode does well to set the foundation for the main storyline featuring the shadowy Whispers and the company hunting the Sensates. With many of the Sensates on the run or in prison, the opening few episodes are more action-packed than the first season before settling into a more consistent rhythm with various sporadic jumps between the 8 different main characters. Will (Brian J. Smith) and Riley’s (Tuppence Middleton) storyline is the most closely aligned to Whispers (Terrence Mann) and their elaborate, globe-trotting game of hide and seek sees them turn the tables from being the hunted to becoming the hunters. Capheus (Toby Onwumere) dabbles in politics, wrestling with his own moral compass and corruption as he begins to climb the ladder of social justice, Sun (Doona Bae) continues her rage-fuelled vengeance against her brother, which is one of the only storylines this year with a definitive ending, and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) finds himself in the clutches of fellow Sensate Lila (Valeria Bilello). Kala (Tina Desai) finds out married life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and her intense feelings for Wolfgang continue to blossom and grow as the season wears on. After embracing his homosexuality, Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) suffers the trials and tribulations of life in the movie industry as a gay man and the highs and lows that go with that while Nomi (Jamie Clayton) continues her mission of helping the other Sensates with a little help from Bug (Michael X. Sommers) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman) while struggling to gain acceptance for her life choices from her family.
All of these parallel stories work well, much like they did last year, and although there’s much more emphasis on the Sensates working together as a group through most of the action rather than individually, where the show really thrives is during its intimate moments between two characters as they share a specific emotion or part of their life. Whether it be Sun and Riley’s emotional reunion at the same spot they met during season 1 or Capheus and Lito’s apprehension about their clothing before a big moment in their career, it’s these vulnerable little moments that really help Sense8 come into its own, strengthening the bonds between characters and providing more empathy for each of them.
The second season wastes little time getting straight to the heart of the story either and despite the long episode length (3 episodes are over an hour long this year), there’s rarely a moment that Sense8 feels like it’s dragging or taking longer to develop than it should. Some of this is thanks to the action peppered through the episodes which is well shot for the most part, making good use of camera angles and rapid editing to accentuate the ferocity of these scenes.
One of the best things about Sense8’s first season was its use of music and once again the second season doesn’t disappoint in this department. Whether it be the various 3 or 4 minute montages dotted throughout the 11 episodes or the exhilarating, adrenaline-fuelled bites of orchestral music during the action, Sense8 excels with its sound design. If there’s one blemish on this otherwise impressive season it’s with the abrupt, open ending and some of the clumsily handled messages around gun violence. The latter in particular is lathered on a little thickly at times, especially deep into the second season with numerous characters mentioning this. While it’s an important message to get out, it does feel a little too overbearing at times and consequently parts of the season do suffer because of it. Thankfully with a finale now green-lit which will hopefully bring some closure to the series, the premature ending is a little easier to swallow but there’s still a slight niggling feeling that the unresolved storyline feels like a poor investment of time given the uncertainty around a lot of the characters’ fates.
After the excellent work done with the first season of Sense8, it was always going to be difficult to try and outdo the work done last year and while Sense8’s second season is bigger and more action packed than the first, it loses some of its effectiveness with more humour and an open ending. Still, there’s a solid season of entertainment here and Sense8 remains a very impressive sci-fi series on Netflix. The characters are ultimately what make this such an enthralling watch though and with more world building and a quicker pace to the events transpiring this year, Sense8 maintains its momentum from the first season to deliver another solid season of entertainment.