In the second episode of the second season of Sense8, the cluster moves closer to identifying who Whispers is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Sense8.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of homophobia.
Oh, I loved this so very, very much.
Who Am I?
It’s a fundamental question of this entire experience: how does identity work within a cluster, especially if each sensate can experience and know what the others know? Do personal identities matter, or are they merely restrictive labels? There’s a complicated answer to that question that changes based on who you talk to, and I don’t think labels don’t matter to the team working on this show or to the characters within this world. But so much of what that gorgeous sequence at the start of “Who Am I?” accomplishes is based on this notion that when outside parties narrate our lives, they often ascribe labels that harm more than they help. In both situations here, as reporters attempt to bait Capheus and Lito, the characters must deal with people who have a specific agenda. They want to poke fun. They want to harm. They want to titillate. They don’t really care to get an honest answer to their questions. Zakia insults Capheus’s choice of hero to idolize; Lito’s reputation is called into question because of his outing. And neither person dishing out the questions seems to empathize with the person they’re interrogating. It’s very much as if they don’t see them as a person.
As Lito and Capheus talk about who they are—and what that question truly entails—there’s a complicated sequence that unfolds with all eight sensates. It’s gorgeous, y’all, and the editors for this show are GENIUSES. I love how fluid the episodes are in depicting shifts from one sensate’s life to another’s. I never feel confused, but I am subjected to an experience that feels new, exciting, and utterly unlike my own. It helps that the writing is so good, too, and here, there’s a fantastic point made that relates to a larger theme of the show. Just because the sensates are special doesn’t mean they are more or less than the rest of the world. Each person is only… themself! And what more can we ask of the world?
Oh, NO. NOPE. This is bad? Look, I shouldn’t be surprised that a different crime boss would come after Wolfgang to see if he was interested in working together. But Fuchs—the “King of the North,” as Felix refers to him—has an entirely different approach. He looks to be getting to Wolfgang through Felix by just… giving Felix an entire club? Just the whole thing! In one day, Felix is going to own one of the most popular clubs in all of Berlin. Well, that’s assuming he goes through with this. Is Wolfgang going to try to convince him otherwise? He certainly knows what is actually happening here, and this is… bad? REAL BAD?
It’s a brief bit in this episode, but “Who Am I?” shows us the ramifications of Lito’s outing in an entirely new way. There’s a much subtler moment before Lito is hassled by the reporter when a very small group of his fans cheer him on when he arrives at the premiere of his next film. It’s a sweet moment, as well as a reminder of how powerful it is to see someone like yourself in popular culture. It’s followed by a more upsetting look at what this event manifests. First, despite that Lito is the star, the image of him on the poster has been moved to the background. And in a truly upsetting scene, people laugh (and leave the theater!!!) when Lito kisses a woman onscreen. The whole thing is frustrating to me because everyone focuses on the Lito “lying” about who he is. BUT ACTING IS LYING. Everyone on that screen is lying about who they are! And I bet if a straight actor played a gay character, he would be praised and celebrated and given awards, and would anyone truly claim with the same ferocity that that actor was a liar?
Whew, this got me UPSET.
We get a really cute scene about existential dread between Zakia and Capheus, as well as a nice moment between Sun and her friends in prison. And there’s a pretty significant update regarding Rajan’s father’s future. But I felt that the majority of this episode focuses less on character explorations and more on the connection between Will and Whispers. We’ve all known that Will’s attempts to block Whispers with heroin were unsustainable, but Will is stubborn. More than any of the other sensates, he’s had a link to this world for a long, long time. Given his experience with Sara, it’s natural, then, that he’d be the one to want to do whatever he could to stop this nightmare, even if it was at great cost to himself.
And thus, we get this ritual: he tries to break into Whispers’s mind during the brief periods before he takes his sensate-blocking meds. But it’s a terrifying cat-and-mouse game, since Whispers can also break into his mind, too. We saw that at the end of the last episode, when he arrived during the ice skating excursion. In “Who Am I?”, however, the chase is taken to another level. Y’all, I’m so impressed with Terrance Mann, as he’s able to give Whispers that sinister intensity that makes him such a frightening villain. It’s his certainty that creeped me out throughout most of this episode, which is why the final scene was so explosive to me.
For example: the big moment in the “fake” interrogation room! Visually, it’s a striking place to set these conversations, since Will is a cop but is not used to be on the side of the table that he’s on. And I bet that’s intentional on the part of BPO. There’s such a terrifying psychology unfolding here, and it’s all meant to make Will question who he is—hello, episode title!—and what he’s doing. Which is why it’s so damn satisfying to realize that Riley already planned for this. Look, I assumed they were in Iceland! I assumed she had slipped up and mentioned details because she’s human, love is hard, and she was doing her best. HOLY SHIT, THEY ARE ACTIVELY SCAMMING WHISPERS. She and Will are in Amsterdam!!! Ah, and that scene between Riley and her dad? PLEASE, STOP HURTING ME, EVERYTHING IS SO GREAT.
However, it’s the incredible scene at the end of “Who Am I?” that truly gets me excited for where this season is about to go. Y’all know I love scenes with all the sensates working together, but seeing them unite to quickly observe as many details about where Whispers is was magical. He’s in London, and they now have a name to attach to him: Dr. Matheson. All of this builds off the incredible work that Nomi and Amanita did in Chicago, tracking down Whispers through one of this teachers and by visiting Sara’s mother. The pieces are coming together, but I don’t know what the full picture is yet. That’s okay. Because season two has just begun, and I’m so ready for this ride.
The video for “Who Am I?” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now OUT! If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.