Sense 8 Review: Netflix Evolves into something different.

From the creators of the Matrix and the creator of the Babylon 5, we get Sense 8. Let me state right now, I consider Babylon 5, the best TV show ever. Yep, even better than that Breaking Bad show, we podcasted. Babylon’s creator, JMS, also brought me back to Marvel with his controversial Spider-Man run. So, I am biased. Completely totally biased. Until, we talk about the Matrix. I loved the first Matrix, everything else….yeah. So, my dislike for that will hopefully even it out. As always spoilers..ahoy. Lets get this thing going..

There are eight sensitives with a nice supporting cast around them. Let us give you a rundown via early 1990s paragraphing.

  1. Rilley. Scandinavian DJ who is in London with a druggie boyfriend. Her Dad is a classic pianist who is rich and awesome. I love her Dad, so will you.
  2. Will. Standard White Chicago cop who may have seen dead people. Ok, a dead girl. His Dad is Joey Pants from the Matrix films. He is one of three people I recognize from other works. You may like his Dad, he has at least a good line at a bar. Will has an African American partner who has some great lines and actually believes him after awhile.
  3. Wolfgang. A German thief. He has a cool friend, you will not like his Dad. You will activity want to see how his Dad died in flashbacks.
  4. Lito. Mexican Actor who is gay. He has a cool boyfriend and a female co-star who wants to fuck him. Then she finds out he is gay and fucks them both. This is the funny sitcom part of the show. His Dad was a Flamingo dancer and an artist according to Lito. We never see him.
  5. Sun Bak. Korean business woman by day. MMA mixed wrestler by night. She has a drunk asshole brother. Her Dad is very cold and yet, somehow cares for her. 
  6. Capheus. African bus driver who has a Jean Claude Van Damm bus. I am not making this up. He has no Dad, but a mom who left her tribe to make sure he had a good life.
  7. Kala. A soon to be married Indian girl. Her Dad loves her, but you get the feeling the entire family wants the marriage more than she does.
  8. Nomi. Formerly known as Michael and a dude is now a woman living in San Francisco. She is banging Martha from Doctor Who who goes by the name of Amanita. I am sure Amanita is a name the Doctor gave her as a just in case identity. These two are the heart of the show. Nomi has maybe a Dad. Her Mom though more than make up for it by being a total bitch towards her.

Now that we have meet the players, lets got to the meat of the matter. We open with Darryl Hannah of Splash fame going by the name of Angel. She is talking to Jonias who is not there. This is the big thing with this show is seeing characters who are there with the character, but no one else sees. Its a very Angel and the Devil bit. Which naming the character Angel seems to be a bit on the nose. Angel is giving “birth” to the eight sensitives while at the same type evading a person called Mister Whispers and his faceless soldiers. Angel gives birth aka giving them her power as each character sees another character in weird places. Before, Whispers can get to her, Angel kills herself with a gun. The Eight sense it and its up to their characters to determine how they proceed from that point on. Most do nothing about it.

Will however actually investigates the death, because it happened in his backyard. The others kinda move on with their lives. Sun is caught up in her brother’s embezzling and falls on her sword to protect the family. Mainly due to the fact she is a woman and its easy to remove her from the company than her idiot brother. So, she is in prison for all of this.

Wolfgang pulls off a heist underneath his crime family’s nose. His cousin is not happy about it, but his uncle treats him like a son to a point. Capheus finds himself involved in a tribe leader’s gang. All he has to do is make sure that the leader’s dying daughter gets stem cells. Honestly, minus running through a gantlet to get the job he has it easy through most of the series.

Lito who has to hide who is from the press while his somewhat naive female co-star, Danny, makes herself part of his and his partner’s life. However, Danny has a deranged ex-boyfriend who stole her phone while she was taking pictures of Lito and his male partner fucking. Perhaps stupid instead of naive is what I should use to describe her.

The real driver of the story are Nomi and Armanita’s love story. Nomi is the first to fall victim to Mr. Whispers. She sees Jonias at a Gay Pride parade, falls off of a bike and is sent to prison hospital. A Dr. Metzger explains she has brain issues and he has to cut deep. Now, the symptoms are hallucinations and identity issues. This is great news for Nomis’ Mom, because maybe she can get her son back. Also, she has forbidden Amanita from seeing her, because prison hospital only allows families in.

Nomi gets a visit from Jonias as we find out later is a wanted borderline Bin Laden terrorist. Jonias tells her to get out. She can’t. So, Jonias wanted terrorist visits Will, the cop for help. It goes bad, really really bad for Jonias as he gets captured. Jonias does tell Will about Nomi. Will possess Nomi to get her out of the prison hospital.

Riley also needs Will’s help as she gets her ass caught in a drug deal gone bad. However this makes sense due to she and Will being kinda flirty with each other since the beginning. Riley does some drugs and their connection gets stronger. Doing drugs here some to be a cool thing. Something, I am not exactly on board with. Will gets Riley out of almost getting killed which convinces her to go see rich awesome Dad.

Kala’s story is kinda boring. Its cool to see other cultures, but the girl who has to get married due to culture and/or money has been played to death. The best part is at her wedding before she takes her final vow, Wolfgang shows up totally nude. She looks at his package which we, the audience gets to see as well. She faints. I mean it was kind of big for a white guy. This leads to the two of them astral fucking at the same time, most of the cast also gets involved in this massive orgy scene. Game of Thrones would have blushed and walked out the door during this.

Lito’s life goes out of control due to the blackmail. He breaks up with his boyfriend and the female co-star goes with the crazy boyfriend to keep the secret. Lito has a heart to heart with Nomi and goes all Mexican action star with Wolfgang’s help on the crazy boyfriend. Lito does get his partner back and all them become some sort of Mexican Three’s Company.

Kala’s future father-in-law is a victim of a random or maybe not so random stabbing in front of her. Wolfgang’s buddy is shot by his cousin. Wolfgang uses a rocket launcher, let me type that again…A ROCKET LAUNCHER…to kill his cousin. This sends Wolfgang on his own Punisher style quest for vengeance. Kala helps him at one point make a bomb out of chemicals. Wolfgang murders the head of the family. Before he kills his uncle, he reveals that he murdered his Dad when he was 8 or 9 years old by strangulation. And yeah, we see it. He murders his uncle and tells Kala who sees all this to marry the other guy, because he is monster.

Riley in Scandinavia has visions of her mother or someone like her mother that warns her about Jonias. I guess Jonias and Mr. Whispers were in league together. So, its Anakin/Obi-Wan then..maybe..we don’t really know. We also find out Riley was married and had a baby. Both the husband and baby are dead. All smiles on this show. Riley and her dad with his friends do some drugs after one of her Dad’s concerts. Again, awesome Dad depending on your point of view. However, this leads to her being captured by Mr. Whispers.

Sun, who is finding prison quiet nice since most of the women minus the one who tried to kill her happen to be there for killing asshole husbands or Dads. Who knew. Sun’s Dad decides to confess to set her free. Well, that is what is supposed to happen until he commits “suicide” according to her brother. Sun beats the shit out of her brother for that and is sent to lock up.

Capheus actually likes his new job until he has to rescue his boss from a gang. Which he does by using the bus to Van Damm kick the bad guy dead. Honestly, ten hours into this thing is worth the price of admission for this scene alone.

While Riley is captured by Mister Whispers in Iceland, Will goes after her. He does some astral chatting with Nomi and Aminita. All the characters jump into Will to help him get Riley. Will becomes Lito who just oozes enough charisma to get a nurse to talk about where Riley is. Sun takes over to kick a bunch of faceless guards’ ass. Capheus even pops into help them steal an ambulance. The best part is Wolfgang. Let me set this up by telling you, Mister Whispers has the power if he sees you once, he can get into your mind. He can see everything all the time. Its a pretty abusive power and I am not sure why he is this powerful. Yet, he tries to convince Will to stop the ambulance for him and his crew in the helicopter in front of them to take them. Wolfgang decides to take over and ram the helicopter. That scares the shit out of Whispers and they break off.

While the show looks over and done with until Will takes them to the mountains where Riley lost her husband and child in the car crash. Riley loses it and runs up the mountain while Will gives chase. Nothing he says convinces her to leave. Will takes a lot of drugs and astral projects to her that they are going to get caught unless she does something. Next scene is Will unconscious, Riley singing to him while the other Sense 8 casts watches them.

This is a very human show. Thus it has some flaws. One of which is it takes its time. Perhaps too much time getting the story going. The only people who are physically in room together are Riley and Will at the very end. Its cool to see it, but it feels like forever getting there. Another flaw is a lot of shit happens in Africa and Germany where you get the feeling there are no cops. Like they fired all the cops in those countries and everyone is free to do what they want. Again, rocket launcher in the middle of the day. Capheus has to escape a gang who are just shooting a bus during rush hour. Its pretty nuts. Then when there are cops not Will or his partners, they tend to be bad guys. So, I don’t know if that is a statement or what, but its weird.

The other flaws is its very stereotypical for some of these characters. The Asian chick kicks ass, the African kid is poor, the Indian girl is pressured into marriage and we should really care about the two star crossed white kids. Even the bad guys are just faceless stormtroopers. I am getting a bit tired of say nothing minions doing nothing in these types of shows where terrible things are happening. Looking at you, episode 9 Game of Thrones Season 5. To their credit, JMS did write some dialogue that they had inside help at the end, so its not that bad, but its a typical military bad guy writing.

However, Nomi and Lito break their stereotypes to the ground. They really are the heart and soul of the show. When the show is at its weakest, their storylines really move everything along. Especially Nomi who really is the star of the show. While we cheer for Riley and Will, its really Nomi and Aminita who are the couple. The most amount of danger I felt is when it was Nomi at the beginning. That fear does not return until Riley gets caught, but even then you figured Will at full power was going to save her.

JMS’ strength as a writer is dialogue and characters. There is some really great speeches and lines in this thing. You will care at the end of the show about all of the characters. It is also a bit self aware with pop culture. Of course, Capheus has his Jean-Claude van, Wolfgang refers to Conan the Barbarian with his friend and Will’s cop partner calls him Officer Strange and wannabe Mulder. Its good to have those things where people have these weird powers. JMS is the master at the philosophical speech about identity, love, art and religion. He does not shy away from that on this show nor should he ever.

Wakoski’s brothers bring the violence. There is a lot big action pieces to this thing. They are bloody and stylized enough that will jump off the screen most of the time. They are a lot of funny action scenes involving Lito. Plus, again…Rocket Launcher.

I am not sure who decided to have porn in this thing, but you know what its ok. I know a lot of people will say its a shock value bit. However, when you are dealing with adults, you have to deal with sex in a real fashion. Add into the fact these people can see and feel the other’s emotions is crucial. Yet, the orgy might have been a bit much.

The story even though its ten to twelve hours long there is a lot of open thread. How will they be able to save Will from Mr. Whispers? Can Sun get out of prison? What exactly was Jonias, Angel and Whispers relationship back in the day? How long can this thing go without all of them getting together especially Kala and Wolfgang?

Its good questions going into a season two. If you listen to the podcasts, you will know that I think most first seasons shouldn’t be that good. Heroes season one which this show really does resemble at times if not all the time, blew their entire load in one season. After that, they were kind done. Babylon 5 had very rocky season one, I mean really rocky. Yet, season two was great thanks to the addition of Bruce Boxlitner and moving a number of stories to ahead which lead to one of the best seasons on television which is season three. Season three is a masterpiece of art. I could write books on how great that season was.

Will this show be that? I am not sure. It has solid ground to work with. There are pitfalls for a show like this. A cast this big will need to shed pounds. Which pounds may piss off the audience. There is also the ability itself. We know very little about it that its sorta like the Force. Perhaps like the Force, the less we know the better. I am curious to see where the show goes which is good. Instead of twelve episodes, eight could be enough. Fuck that, I am not ending on that pun. Netflix keeping doing these type of shows and will pay the extra three bucks a month. There, its done, now go bing this thing after you are done with Daredevil.


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