Mark Watches ‘Sense8’- S01E02 – I Am Also a We

In the second episode of the first season of Sense8, I’M SOLD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Sense8.

Trigger Warning: For transphobia/transmisogyny, nonconsensual medical procedures, homophobia, racial stereotypes.

Okay, this was FUCKING GREAT. I still have some issues with the narrative focus and that one scene, but this is a fantastic leap forward in terms of the overarching plot. LET US DISCUSS MANY THINGS.

Will

I’ll start off by saying that I feel a bit better about this storyline, though I’m getting a whiff of white savior from his plot. I don’t hate Will, and his charming sincerity is a rad quality of his. I like him, and my issues with him stem entirely from the way his story is framed. In just two episodes, it’s clear that the Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski get certain things extremely well. Nomi’s story is so frighteningly realistic that it’s incredibly hard to watch. The same goes for Lito’s tale; while the show aims for more humor than anything else, there’s a clear understanding of homophobia and internalized oppression in the writing.

So when the show misses the mark with Will’s story, it’s all the more glaring. Again, that doesn’t mean that these things don’t happen in real life, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t white cops who care about the work that they do. There are massive structural issues within the American police force, and it feels callous to not only ignore some of them, but to specifically use the crisis in south Chicago in order to tell a story where the hero is a white cop who cares more about black bodies than literally anyone else?

Meh.

When Will’s story isn’t about him being a savior, it’s far more interesting. I’m way more invested in what his life was like with his clearly racist, acerbic father, or in finding out who the hell Sara Patrell is. These things are intriguing to me! I think I’d like to see Will’s partner be less skeptical, too. And if I’m reading the signs right, Will is going to have to stand up against the powers-that-be if they’re wrong about Jonas. WHICH THEY MUST BE. So how will that play out? Will seems pretty stoked to be a cop, you know?

BUT LET’S JUST TALK ABOUT HIS CONFRONTATION AND FIGHT AND CAR CHASE WITH JONAS, BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING SPECTACULAR. That entire sequence showed me the massive potential for this show because, as a full sensate (THEY HAVE A NAME, HOW COOL), these people can send their bodies and their experiences to any of the other sensates birthed by Angelica. Jonas SENDS HIS BODY TO WILL’S CAR DURING THE CHASE AND IT’S SO FUCKING SHOCKING AND I LOVE THIS SHOW ON THAT POINT ALONE.

Incredible. I cannot wait to see what comes of this.

Wolfgang

Now that I know what this process is going to be like for the sensates, I’m really stoked to see how it takes in each of them. Their migraines will give way to a more fulfilled power in a few days. But as we see with Wolfgang, the sensates are still just experiencing brief flashes of… well, weird shit. Those flashes, though, are becoming more and more intense. Wolfgang watches as Kala strolls past him, and Kala sees Wolfgang at her party. It shouldn’t be happening, but it is, which is why Will’s story felt so electrifying. Other people can see the sensates. They’re not astral projections or images that only the person experiencing it can see. So how will the other people in the sensates lives react to their friends and family and partners going through this?

Riley

I just feel so fucking awful for her. Not only is she dealing with the bizarre effects of being a sensate, but her “friends” just forced her into a waking nightmare. Now that she’s got Nyx’s drugs and money, she’s not going to be safe, is she? SOMEONE HELP HER. Maybe one of the other sensates?

Kala

Oh god, I AM SO CONFLICTED. My Bollywood comment in the last review was meant to reference a specific thing, BUT NOT THE FACT THAT THIS SHOW WOULD ACTUALLY STICK A BOLLYWOOD NUMBER INTO THE SHOW. I am not here to speak for this culture because I don’t belong to it, but I admit to feeling super fucking weird about that scene. On the one hand? It’s gorgeous, it’s extremely charming, and there’s a part of me that wants people who saw this to go out and watch these films and fall deeply in love with Shah Rukh Khan because THAT FACE IS TOO FUCKING MUCH. But then all I could think about was how unbelievably impractical and impossible it was that an entire choreographed number could break out like this. Like… did Kala and all her friends come up with their own dance independent of Rajan? Did it just so happen to be in perfect synchronicity with his dance? What are the fucking odds?

Her story seriously feels like a trope in and of itself, but I’m really hoping this goes in a much better direction because I totally dig both of these characters, and I want to see if they’ll further address the class issues that are clearly playing out between the two families.

Lito

HOLY SHIT EVERYTHING MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD, HIS HEART IS PROMISED TO ANOTHER. THIS SHOW HAS TWO CANON GAY/QUEER RELATIONSHIPS, AND THE COUPLES GET TO BE AFFECTIONATE AND SEXUAL AND THE CAMERA DOESN’T PULL AWAY WHEN THIS HAPPENS. You don’t understand, this never fucking happens. Never, never, NEVER. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit to be ridiculous, but it’s so rare that the mere sight of it shocks me in the best way possible.

Oh my god, Lito and his boyfriend are so hot I’m going to pass out. I appreciate that in such a deeply serious story, there’s some comic relief here, and Lito is perfect for playing that role within Sense8. And WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH DANY??? Oh my god, never in a million years would I have predicted that her reaction would be… that. Just… holy shit. I mean, it’s a little fetishizing, but at least she didn’t react as poorly as I expected.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MORE. OH MY GOD.

Nomi

I saved Nomi’s story for last for a few reasons. It’s easily the most upsetting thing here and I admit that by the end of that opening monologue, I was so drawn to Nomi that what happened to her felt personal. Look, my first Pride was in San Francisco in 2003, and I marched those same streets as she and Amanita did, and I cried as I watched the Dykes on Bikes roll by. I had never felt so connected to my true self, to see people who looked like me and loved like me. In that moment, I stopped feeling so desperately alone. I became a we for the first time in my entire life. It’s no surprise, then, that I eventually made my way up to the Bay Area for five years; I wanted to be in the place that had made me feel so loved and appreciated.

Now, this isn’t the time and place to talk about what came of that experience for me, but I wanted to open with that because there is a huge part of me that relates utterly and completely to Nomi’s story, at least more so than Lito’s, despite that he might have more in common with me because we’re both cis gay men. But I had parents frighteningly similar to Nomi’s mother, and there’s something about that unique form of terror and disappointment that is hard to describe to others. When the entire world tells you that your parents are there to love you unconditionally, you feel like a fraud when that doesn’t seem to extend to you.

But this is where our experiences part, and I don’t want to conflate gender and sexuality in a way that diminishes the unique violence that Nomi experiences here. The closest I ever got to that was having to run away to escape abuse and homophobia and nearly ending up in a conversion therapy camp. But I never sat there while my mother repeatedly misgendered me and then told me it was out of love. I never experienced my mother holding my own health and well-being over me as if it were a weapon to yield in some grand moral war against my entire body. Her mother’s transphobia is an act of violence, make no mistake, and nothing typifies that more than the fact that she signed a document that literally gives her the power to control someone else’s body.

Here’s the thing: this is both an actual reality and part of the show’s mythology. It is not a case where we have a metaphorical representation of an oppression with none of said oppressed people in the story. Nomi is there, and it is her story. So I want to know if Dr. Metzger is “in” on whatever force is trying to track down the sensates. Is her brain “syndrome” even real? What if it’s a cover just to give her a lobotomy in order to kill her sensate powers? Why all the security around her room???

Let’s end this by raising our hands to the sky in praise of Amanita saying she’ll burn down the whole building before anyone touches Nomi’s beautiful brain. THIS MAY BE THE MOST SATISFYING SHIP IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, AND IT’S CANON, AND I CANNOT DEAL WITH IT.

The video for “I Am Also a We” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– I will be at Borderlands Books, Book Riot Live, and Windycon this fall! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Kings, season 1 of Sense8, season 1 of Agent Carter, seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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