Mark Watches ‘Sense8’- S01E03 – Smart Money is on the Skinny B***h

In the third episode of Sense8, the sensates begin to experience more dramatic connections to one another. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Sense8.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of racism and racial stereotypes, transphobia, drug use, suicide, abuse.

Oh, Sense8. You are so intriguing and exciting, and I wish you’d shed the things holding you down.

Will

So, whoever Sarah was, she was long ago kidnapped and experimented on, most likely killed by the same people who are chasing the sensates. It explains why Will was willing to go to his father and suggest that whatever was happening to him was related to Sarah; he knew that there was a connection between her disappearance and his current predicament. Unfortunately, Will’s got the massive bureaucratic monsters that is his own police department and Homeland Security standing in his way. How much longer until he pushes it all out of the way? And which sensate’s power can he use to make that happen? Gods, that’s probably the most exciting thing about the design of this show’s mythology. Any of these people could send their own personal skills to someone else through their connection. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS AND I FUCKING LOVE THIS.

Riley

Ah, so she’s Icelandic! I love that choice rather than just go with the obvious. I think her story here is muted, especially in comparison with what’s happening to everyone else, but I enjoy that. It’s a fascinating contrast because she’s in recovery mode. After the horrifying events of the first episode, she’s adrift, without a place to stay and uncertain if she’s safe anywhere. On top of that, she’s experiencing more and more moments with the other sensates, and it’s bewildering.

I think that her conversation with Bambie and Shugs, then, is a commentary and a bit of foreshadowing. It works as a commentary on our own world and the hopelessness that many of us feel when the deck is stacked against us. I didn’t expect such a frank conversation about suicide, but Shugs ends up tying it to drug use and the justification many have for it: escapism. I wonder, then, what Riley’s role in the greater story is going to be. How does it relate to her past with depression and suicide? Does she still think she’s hallucinating, or is she convinced that something else is going on?

Lito

With the remaining four characters who appear in “Smart Money is on the Skinny B***h,” it seems the writers are really stoked by stereotypes, and I keep wondering how the hell no one seems to have thought this through. If you were asked to come up with stereotypes associated with each of the cultures in that appears in Sense8 – Mexican, Kenyan/African, Korean/Asian – you would very quickly arrive at the exact trope-filled stories that are being told here. I adore Lito and Hernando, I am so thankful for how funny their story is, and I think it’s incredibly meaningful to see both Spanish and Mexican queer/gay men depicted onscreen.

At the same time, there are cringe-worthy elements to their plot that seem so glaringly obvious that, again, I’m curious as to how no one pointed them out before they made it to the screen. Now that I know that Daniela is trying to hide from a clearly abusive ex, I feel less weird about her role within Lito’s life. At the same time, there seems to be an entirely uncritical existence of her own fetishism of gay men. Could we not? If she needs to fulfill this role to protect Lito’s reputation, fine. But her awkwardness stems from her need to treat Lito and Hernando less like people and more like objects that she can use for her own pleasure.

It’s entirely unsurprising – but still disappointing – that a story set in Mexico focuses on homophobia and the drug trade. Again, it’s not like homophobia doesn’t exist in Mexico City, and it’s true that the cartels in Mexico are a very real thing. But there’s no subversion here. The stories given to these characters are so on-the-nose when it comes to the stereotypes about people who live in these places or have these experiences that it gives me pause.

Nomi

I think there’s an aspect of that in Nomi’s story, since she’s the only character abused by the medical system while she copes with the transmisogyny she’s subjected to. I’m thankful, though, that there’s more to her story beyond this, and I’m very eager to see what Amanita is planning for her. Again, I think her plot is the most openly horrifying and viscerally upsetting of the bunch, and I want her out of that hospital as soon as possible! Given Will’s flash of Sarah’s fate, I’m guessing that’s what is awaiting Nomi and NO. DO NOT TOUCH HER.

Oh my god, DID AMANITA ACTUALLY BURN DOWN THE HOSPITAL TO SAVE HER GIRLFRIEND???

Sun

Martial arts? Really? It’s the obvious choice, and the writers stick to it without any sort of awareness of what they’re doing. Now, I say this while acknowledging that there is a lot in Sun’s story that I enjoyed. I’m intrigued by whatever she’s dealing with at her company, and I’m guessing that her brother did something illegal or awful, and she’s the only one standing in between him and law enforcement. It’s clearly a terrible burden for her, so she uses the MMA fight to burn some of her anger off. Which makes sense internally, but still. It just seems so stereotypical, you know?

I say that, and then I also need to say that OH MY GOD, THE FIGHT SHE HAS ON CAPHEUS’S BEHALF IS SO FUCKING AMAZING AND I LOVE IT AND AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Capheus

Surprise! Another stereotype. SERIOUSLY, IS THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. It’s like someone decided to mix up every negative stereotype of Africa as a whole into a bag and plucked out random shit. Let’s have someone have AIDS! Let’s have someone do whatever they can to get drugs for someone! Let’s have a group of thieves, all of whom are dark-skinned and have literal mouths of rotting teeth, rob the hero! I’m not saying that I am an expert on Nairobi or Kenyan culture or what life in an African city is like. I am saying that, like every single person of color on this show, Sense8 loves to swim about in some of the most pervasive stereotypes imaginable for these people.

That’s not mutually exclusive with me saying that Capheus’s fight scene is FUCKING INCREDIBLE. It really is, and as I mentioned earlier, it allows the show to hint at how incredible the sensates’ power is. I WANT TO SEE SO MUCH MORE. And I want to see Capheus destroy those thieves. FINISH THEM.

The video for “Smart Money is on the Skinny B***h” 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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