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So it's been a long time coming, but was Sense8 season two worth it?

OK so season one wasn't perfect, but it did show a load of promise, promise which is largely unrealised in season two.

Individual storylines don't move on much. Capheus gets involved in politics to the extent of speaking at one rally. Kala finds out that her company is a bit dodgy which we all suspected because it seems like all the pharma stuff in this show is connected. Riley does one gig. Sun breaks out of prison, avoids doing anything about her brother until the last moment when the police go after him instead but he escapes and she gets (temporarily) recaptured. Nomi has a very sweet interlude when her sister gets married but otherwise not much changes. Will's dad dies. All of the above could have been covered in one episode if they'd wanted. That leaves us with the two characters who get something interesting to do:

Lito's storyline is nicely measured and develops well over the season. I was worried that Dani would be a spare part after the resolution of her subplot but she, Lito and Hernando continue to have hilarious adventures, the "58 minutes" sequence being a highlight. To see Lito have everything pulled from under him only to have something even better appear was delightful. They remain my favourite of the individual groups. Lito wandering through everyone's head in a onesie crying about how no one knew pain but him was just wonderful.

Almost as good was Wolfgang's subplot. The first cluster vs cluster on reasonably equal terms, the chemistry between Wolfy and the Neopolitan girl and her clear sensate-fascist agenda was brilliant, and completely unpredictable. The set piece restaurant scene - me and my folks, you and your folks - was great. The basic idea of a sensate who loves to play actual mind games for their own sake due to boredom rather than as part of a grand strategy gives the storyline a dangerous, fissile quality that held my interest. My only complaint was the decision to curtail it so that it could end on a cliffhanger. I'm going off season-end cliffhangers generally, they feel like a dated device. Season one handled it perfectly by giving the cluster a moment of well-earned rest while still leaving threads up in the air. This season's conclusion by comparison was cheap and nasty. More on that later.

Other random bits I liked - Nomi and Neetz' mutual proposals; Joey Pants' deathbed acting; Bug; the nods to early Wachowski things (I don't really care for the V For Vendetta movie, but the meta use of the Anonymous mask was nicely done, and I loved how it slightly undercut the potential pomposity - "there's an app for that".); Kala's occasional cutting asides; and finally, dropping in the bit about Capheus's love interest being bisexual but not making a big deal out of it. Given this series' love of soapboxing, that showed admirable restraint. More generally, casting in supporting roles was often great this year - Sylvester McCoy may have had little more than a big wodge of exposition to get through, but his adorable, warm, sad presence was welcome, and his interactions with Riley were subtle and sweet.

But holy hell, that ending. I don't buy for a single moment that Whispers of all people can't tell the difference between visiting and someone actually being there. Visiting involves being conscious that you're in two places at once, right? So how could he miss that Will was on blockers? Not to mention that Will broke into the place without alerting Whispers to the fact at all. I mean, come on. This is BPO. They EXPECT to attract the attention of hostile sensates. Even if Nomi and Bug are the greatest hackers in the world, this is stretching it. Compare the last ten minutes of the finale with the whole of the season one finale to see how ridiculously unearned this is. And of course, they all made it to London unharmed. Despite Whispers identifying Kala when she was still in the airport. Despite them collapsing and having nosebleeds whenever Whispers wanted them to. Despite only Riley and Will having official blockers and only Kala having synthetic, UNTESTED blockers. And how did Whispers identify Kala, anyway? Is forcing Wolfgang to visit her enough? If so, why couldn't he eavesdrop anytime Will visited anyone when he wasn't blocking? He said something about pain being involved, but Will was in plenty pain at various times during the season. It's almost like logic went completely out of the window or something. But that isn't even my biggest problem with the finale. The first time that the cluster are geographically in the same place ought to be a monumental, epic moment to rival "What's Going On?" or the first Clusterfuck. But we don't get to see it. Come on, don't be like every other show. Don't let your shock moments undermine your character and thematic work.

So yeah. Disappointed. A slow, drawn out season with a sudden flash of interesting stuff compressed into a few minutes, ending with a cliffhanger that won't be resolved for two years if at all. What a mess.

Final thought: now that we've seen it, why did Aml Ameen leave? It was rumoured that he was asked to do something in Capheus's storyline that he objected to, but it's hard to see what it could be, unless it was the clusterfuck in the Christmas special. New Capheus is fine, but I preferred Aml, his optimism came more naturally. And he didn't have freakishly tiny ears. I know, I know, that doesn't matter. But they are very distracting.


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September 2017


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