Mark Watches ‘Sense8’: S02E09 – What Family Actually Means

In the ninth episode of the second season of Sense8, my HEART. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Sense8. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of transphobia, suicide, death, alcoholism. 


The Wedding

This was just… it was everything. EVERYTHING I could have wanted, and I’m so happy that despite how dark it got at times, love and family prevailed. We see this theme represented consistently throughout the episode in various ways, but it truly felt strongest here. Tegan’s love of Nomi was evident long before this, but seeing her look upon her sister with pride and admiration during both the reception and the ceremony??? IT WAS TOO MUCH. (Question, though: I’ve attended very, very few weddings, and in those, the ceremony was first, followed by the reception. Is there any reason why this was done in reverse here? Is it a cultural thing I don’t understand?) This script doesn’t flinch when portraying Nomi’s parents’ transphobia, but it also doesn’t dwell in it. We see the glares her parents give her and Amanita, and Nomi’s mom offers a particularly revolting solution to her problem. And it’s really HER problem, not something that is reasonable or fair at all. Tegan made it clear that she wanted her sister there, and yet their mother still insisted on deadnaming Nomi and asking her to leave. 

Instead, with the support of her partner, Nomi gives a speech that is honest. Vulnerable. Powerful. She named the reasons why she loves her sister, and those reasons are so damn REAL. Nomi speaks of her sister’s kindness; her support during difficult times; her decision to be there when Nomi woke up after her surgery. She says it all because it’s true, and she says it all because she has to. She names exactly what this is: family. Tegan made Nomi re-think what it means to be a family, and it was so damn electrifying to watch this happen. 

And it’s during a moment of crisis that Nomi’s family reveals itself again. My heart fucking DROPPED when I saw Bendix outside that church, y’all. I was worried that this would truly ruin everything, and it became clear that Nomi’s mother felt vindicated by her transphobia and hatred of her daughter. She always assumed the worst of her, didn’t she? And to her, the appearance of Bendix wasn’t an attack on Nomi, WHICH IT ACTUALLY WAS. No, this was an attack on HER. It’s such a delusional, self-centered reaction!!! 

Which makes Nomi’s father’s reaction all the more meaningful. Knowing full well his wife will turn against him, he finally changes. Not a whole lot, and certainly not enough to undo the damage already done. But he defends his daughter from Bendix and then CALLS HER HIS DAUGHTER. He names the truth. FINALLY. I just???? Have so many emotions????


There is an incredible parallel to all of this in Capheus’s plot, too. I expected things to heat up, but I did not anticipate the direction this episode veered towards. But it makes sense, does it not? Silas is very appreciative towards Capheus in general, but his relationship with Capheus’s mother suggests a new layer. Because he wants to marry her, he’s viewing Capheus in a new light: as his potential son-in-law. Granted, he shows this in a way that makes perfect sense for him. Bodyguards! He knows Mandiba poses a genuine threat to Capheus, and so it’s perfectly logical for him to send men to protect him. Thankfully, Capheus didn’t seriously harm either of the men after him. HE VERY WELL COULD HAVE. 


Ah, I was so happy we got a scene that was just Kala and her mother!!! This episode is so perfectly synchronous with the theme, y’all, and I love when the show nails this. Familial love pops up again as Kala has a vulnerable moment with her mother. (Which I would also argue is a deliberate parallel to that scene in her father’s restaurant; both her parents know exactly when something is off with their daughter.) They have a revealing conversation about the adjustment that comes from marriage. And to her credit, Kala’s mother tries to give the best advice she can while her daughter is VERY vague about what she’s going through. She suggests that maybe time will help smooth the wrinkles of their marriage. And perhaps that IS the case! I still think Kala needs to tell Rajan the truth, yet even then? It’s time and slow, patient work that will get the two of them through their problems. 

I also just want to call it: I DO NOT TRUST THE GIFT THAT ARJAY GAVE THEM. AT ALL. There is something horrible in it, isn’t there??? Is it retaliation for Rajan’s change of mind??? 


I know I found Lito’s family very, very strange when the show first began, but now? I don’t question it. The three of them ARE a family, and amidst Lito’s grief and depression, Daniela proves that she thinks of Lito as part of her family. Her display here is just… unreal. Completely and totally in-character, and SO IMPRESSIVE. She manipulated multiple people and the Hollywood media machine in order to get Lito in the right room at the right time, and it’s now highly likely that Lito will book a much-needed role where he DOESN’T have to hide himself. And she did it all under 58 minutes!!! MY HERO. 


You know, I thought I had this figured out, and then… Jonas. As sad as it is, I figured that Riley and Diego were about to find something terrible in Carol’s home. She messed with BPO, and it was only a matter of time before they retaliated. Before I get into that, though, I want to say how cool it’s been to experience this with Diego around. He’s a grounded character, one who is written for comic relief but to also provide some very necessary support to Riley, which he’s always quick to give. After he makes fun of the situation, of course! But it’s also fascinating to me that he’s in this space where he seems to believe the weirdness he’s been dragged into, but he’s never afraid to question it, either. It IS a very strange situation when he can talk to his best friend without him around and without the aid of technology. But he just does it, you know? 

So I wonder if his presence is to provide an analytical mind for Riley as she tries to crack this mystery. He even says at one point that the mystery of Carol is the bulk of police work: assembling a whole from a tiny piece. This time, I thought I had the whole, though. Carol was targeted after giving up Whispers’s address. I assumed the suicide was either staged or that she was somehow controlled through that neural device and that’s how she died. SO HOW DOES JONAS FIT INTO THIS? Jonas knew what Carol had done because he appeared to the cluster to warn them not to take out Whispers. Did he then, as part of his new arrangement with BPO, snitch on Carol? Was he the one who carried out her death sentence???


And yet, at the very end of “What Family Actually Means,” we are also reminded that family can hurt. Indeed, loving people can be very, very painful. TRUST ME, I AM LIVING THIS REALITY RIGHT NOW. But Will’s intense love for his father has hurt him so much because of the distance he’s had to put between the two of them. We’ve seen how Mr. Gorski’s reliance on alcohol has returned, and now, while Will cannot come home, he has to visit his dying father through Riley. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking sequence, and again, I have to comment on the masterful acting and editing, which is always so damn seamless and emotional!!! Those shots where Riley becomes Will, and this his father believes he is talking to his son… WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME. 

He hasn’t died yet, but I don’t feel great about his chances. Whew, this was so intense, y’all.

The video for “What Family Actually Means” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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