In the ninth episode of the first season of Sense8, THIS IS TOO SAD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Sense8.
Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of homophobia, transphobia and transmisogyny, death, and grief/loss.
Holy shit, what an episode.
I think I’ll start off with the stuff that’s less intense, which is pretty damn hard given that this whole episode is IMMENSELY upsetting. In the wake of the attack on Papa-ji, Kala’s life is in shambles. She now knows that her father-in-law wanted the marriage broken up, and she also knows how vicious his opinions on her faith are. How is she ever going to talk to Rajan about this? How??? He seems to view the entire world through a lens of positivity and goodness. Now she knows the truth about Papa-ji, and it’s not exactly good timing to reveal that now.
So when? Does she even want to go through with the wedding anymore?
God, his uncle is THE WORST. I don’t have any clue where this story is going aside from the man’s threat against Wolfgang; Wolfgang has the smallest part in this episode. I get why, though, so that’s not a complaint. By pushing him aside momentarily, the writers are able to focus a whole lot more time on the EMOTIONAL TRAINWRECK that they serve to us, and it makes “Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye” all the better for it.
Well, I’m surprised. I never saw it coming. I figured that Sun would spend the remainder of this season in prison, with maybe some sort of break-out at the end. But then her father is visiting her and TELLING HER THAT HE’S MESSED UP AND HIS LIFE IS MEANINGLESS WITHOUT HER AND WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Riley and Will
As exciting and thrilling as these past couple episodes have been, I find myself more impressed by the quiet scenes where the sensates share their lives with one another and offer support and comfort. This episode DOES open with a major update in the season’s greater story, but it’s such an intimate sequence regardless. There’s a lot of information given to us about BPO, about the sensates, but I’m most interested in what that woman says about love within a cluster. She called it “pathological and narcissistic.” Why that? What was her experience with this, and what would turn her so negative and bitter? Of course, that could have just been our perception. What if she’s telling the truth? What if she’s warning Riley of some inevitable horror that awaits her? AND WHY IS SHE CONVINCED THAT JONAS IS ACTUALLY ON BPO’S SIDE??? Is it true that he and Angelica used to birth sensates just to hunt them down???
Lito and Nomi
If Sense8 has any lasting cultural impact, I hope that people watching “Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye” can at least understand the importance of the scene between Lito and Nomi. Sometimes, it’s hard to describe the scope of the experience of being queer to someone who has no concept of it. And even with my more knowledgeable straight friends, I still get a sense that they’ll never truly understand what I’m talking about. That’s the nature of experience, of course, so I’m not asking people to do the impossible. But there’s a part of me that prevents me from ever feeling like other people, point blank.
It doesn’t matter that I’ve found happiness in being out and proud. I’m very pleased that this has happened and that I’m in a space where I can be myself. But let’s just ignore, for the sake of this, the homophobia I do still experience. That separates me from most of the people around me, particularly in groups or situations where I’m around strangers. If we imagine that this doesn’t occur, then there’s still a chasm: I can never think of my own childhood as one independent of the homophobia I went through.
What this episode tells us is complicated. Our lives are both defined by the trauma we went through, by the lies we told to hide ourselves from the truth, and our lives transcend those moments. I don’t mean that as a universal thing, of course, because everyone is at a different state in this journey. But things were hopeless and dire for me back when I graduated high school and was faced with the horror of my impending outing. I don’t begrudge myself for feeling as I did then because it was the only thing I had. But that was nearly fourteen years ago, and time has changed a lot for me. I’ve gotten to experience what it feels like to be with a man, something I dreamed about for almost a decade prior to my first time. I know that there are people who probably read Lito’s monologue about his consummation with Hernando as purely comical, but the humor was a revelation. Unless you’ve been denied the chance to love someone for a great deal of your life, or if you’ve been forced to live as someone you are not, you have no idea how intense it feels to live as a confirmation of your true self.
Now, I don’t want to conflate gender and sexuality here because it’s easy for them to be in ways that end up being harmful. But Lito and Nomi find a common ground as two queer/gay people who were forced to live entirely in secret. That’s for different reasons, yes. And it’s important to distinguish between the two of them. But they share the general experience of denying themselves and of living in a world that refuses to let them live as they need to be.
Capheus and Riley
I actually had to go back and replay the scene where Riley looks at the gravestone in order to understand that they were for her husband AND CHILD. It’s in this remarkably intimate and crushing moment that Capheus arrives to comfort his friend, and CAN WE JUST CONTINUE TO STATE THAT CAPHEUS IS THE GREATEST RAY OF SUNSHINE ON THIS SHOW? God, I want him to comfort me when I’m sad. But in another sign that the sensates connect to each other when they most need it, Capheus arrives when Riley is facing the death of her husband and child from years earlier. While Capheus can’t necessarily relate to this, he tells her of when his mother had to give up his newborn sister out of desperation. It’s a story of grief and loss, and it’s something that resonates throughout this episode.
And that’s especially the case with Lito, who is devastated over the loss of Hernando. I went through a break-up this year, so the scene never once read as humorous to me. Not. Once. I worried that the show wanted me to laugh at the display of absurdity, but I couldn’t do it. It just made me sad. Lito rages against the unfairness of it all, but in the end, he comes to a form of acceptance. He knows he let down his boyfriend and his friend. But what can he do next? How can he repair the damage he’s done?
The video for “Death Doesn’t Let You Say Goodbye” 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.
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