Mark Watches ‘Sense8’- S01E04 – What’s Going On?

In the fourth episode of the first season of Sense8, YES. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Sense8.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of nonconsensual medical procedures.

I realize I may come across as being very harsh on Sense8, perhaps more so than usual. I’m not ashamed of that, and I hope that most people know that this is just what I do when I watch television. (I even do it with what little TV I get to watch on my own. Y’all should see me watch American Horror Story with my boyfriend. I yell a lot at the TV.) With Sense8, I want to make sure that I’m not just enjoying it for the sake of it. There’s a value in representation and diversity, but I don’t believe it should be praised just for the sake of it. Bad representation shouldn’t necessarily be held up as the standard for others to follow, you know? I want more diverse casts and more diverse stories, but that doesn’t mean that writers and creators should check boxes off of some imaginary list and call it a day.

I say this while recognizing what a HUGE FUCKING DEAL this show is, and I wouldn’t dare deny what an important thing it is for Sense8 to exist as it is. This industry is run by numbers, unfortunately, and I want Sense8 to succeed so that old rich white men can stop telling us that diverse casts and stories don’t make money. Clearly, most of us know that’s not what we look for in the fiction we love, but they do. And Sense8 is the kind of show that could only be made for an independent distributor like Netflix, at least in our current social climate, and it’s exciting to know that it is happening.

I’m starting off like this because “What’s Going On?” felt like the culmination of the last three episodes, and it’s a sign of just how good this show can be. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far, mind you, and I didn’t want to lose sight of that while delving deeper into the meanings and implications of Sense8. It’s good, y’all, and I’m very thankful to be watching it.

Kala

I think that one of the reasons this felt like such an explosive episode is because the plots set up in each individual sensate’s story are now coming to fruition. While Kala has a fairly small role here, it’s a set up for a much bigger fight. I know it would be easier for Kala to deal with her upcoming marriage if Rajan were easier to hate, but the truth is that he is a gorgeous sweetheart, the kind of guy most people would want to marry. But that isn’t how romantic attraction works. It’s not! A person can be hot and sweet and kind and charitable, and you still can’t force attraction. Kala simply cannot make herself fall in love with Rajan, you know?

But now things are going to get even worse. I was a little confused as to what it was that Rajan and his father were going to do, but it’s clear that their secularism is a threat to those who practice Hinduism in Kala’s city. So now she’ll be at odds with her religion and her husband. OH NO.

Wolfgang

I think that he’s the only character here who doesn’t have the direction and purpose that all the other sensates have. He and Felix celebrate their first step in selling the diamonds they stole, and it’s pretty fun to watch. Felix is infectious! But what does it mean for him? There’s no real conflict for him (yet, that is), and it still feels like he’s the furthest away from the other sensates in terms of his connection to them. He has a number of visits and senses, but he still isn’t pursuing them like the others.

What’s up with him?

Sun

WOW, I DIDN’T THINK A STORY COULD MAKE ME SO ANGRY. Sun’s story focuses on family loyalty in a way to show us how people can exploit those they “love” in order to get what they want. Turns out I was right about her brother doing something terrible within their father’s company, and now the embezzlement has caught up to him. The flashbacks we see of Sun’s childhood help us to understand her frame of mind as the big twist is revealed: Sun’s father wants her to take the fall for Joong-ki. The horrible irony of it all is infuriating. This woman has spent YEARS living in the shadow of her brother, who was openly favored by her father. It’s prevented her from shining brightly within the company, and that’s exactly what these men want to exploit.

Since no one knows who she is, they can pass the entire scandal on to her.

Yeah, fuck them. I’d let the company sink myself, but I understand why this is a difficult decision for her. Her mother wanted her to protect her brother. But at what cost? Her own happiness? Her freedom?

Capheus

Gods, this character is like an endless beacon of pure goodness, I SWEAR. The man doesn’t regret doing anything possible to help his mother, and I ADORE IT. So I was thrilled that word of his deeds had gotten around and he might finally find the success he deserved. But there’s always someone waiting in the wings, ready to exploit those who rise above their situation. In this case, that’s Silas. Capheus chooses to help the man further humiliate the gang that nearly killed him, and I think it’s a sign of how willing Capheus is to put others first. Sure, he hesitates to accept what Silas offers, but in the end, he knows it’s a means to an end.

Will / Nomi

The only reason I’m sticking these characters together for this part of the review is because their stories are so intertwined with one another. As Nomi’s doctor accelerates her lobotomy, Will begins to flash even more frequently over to Nomi’s life. His interactions with Jonas are SO IMPORTANT because it’s how we learn the logistics of the sensates and…well, I’ll get there.

So, if I understand it correctly: sensates can visit or they can share. They can experience what others do, or they can share their skills and knowledge with anyone else in their cluster. (Does that mean there are other clusters out there???) I loved that Jonas said that Will was no longer just Will. He was seven other people. That helped me to understand what this experience must feel like. It’s like he’s eight personalities and lives all at once.

Armed with this new knowledge, Will does the spectacular: he visits Nomi and shares with her the knowledge she needs to escape from the hospital. That whole sequence was RIDICULOUS, y’all, and I loved it. I LOVED IT.

What’s Going On?

Now, I loved the music montage at the end of this episode, and I think it was a beautiful way to show us how this cluster was becoming closer with one another, even if they didn’t fully understand their experience. I was just distracted a bit because…well, that 4 Non Blondes song reminds me of one thing every time I hear it.

I’m so sorry.

The video for “What’s Going On?” 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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