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Nothing Matters When I’m When I’m Dancing

8 June, 2018 (22:21) | Goggle-eyes, Sense8 | By: Ian Burdon

The final (?) episode of Sense8 dropped on Netflix today. It was there when I turned my laptop on at 08.00. This post is about it and has one major spoiler at the end.

It has, for one reason or another, been a quiet day, so in the 11 hours since 08.00 I’ve watched it 3 times, pretty much, with a wee bit skipping of scenes. I have a number of initial thoughts on the episode, and maybe by implication the series in general. If the thoughts look critical, I repeat I have watched the show three times in 11 hours, so you can assume I enjoyed it.

  1. The finale did a decent job of compressing a season’s worth of plot into just over two hours. The compression did impact on the narrative though. That’s inevitable. It showed signs of the speed at which it was written and produced, and I think a couple of elements could have been dropped in favour of the initial meetings of, and explanations to, the ‘sidekicks’ (and I’m specific about that because of point 4 below).
  2. Unusually for this series, there was a wee bitty scenery chewing by actors whose name is not Sylvester McCoy.
  3. Tina Desai and Doona Bae were my stand-outs of the lead players. Erendira Ibarra was criminally underused; her take down of Whispers while wearing short shorts and knee-length denim boots was, er, excellent. Purab Kholi was also very good.
  4. One of the things that drew me into Sense8 in the first place was the deep exploration of character that infused Season 1. Most of that was missed out of the finale; people just didn’t have the screen time.
  5. For the BPO elements, a full season would have allowed the show to earn the denouement.
  6. The action scenes were effective and the structure mostly worked for me (though see 10 below), but some of the dialogue clunked like a clunky thing.
  7. Unpopular opinion time: I think Sense8 is at its weakest with inspirational speeches and meaningful aphorisms. I cleave strongly to the principle of show don’t tell. I also don’t find most of them inspirational or meaningful either, and often find them over-written. That may just be my Brit ears, and I notice that they go down well with audiences whose first language is not English; perhaps they work better with audiences used to languages with more structured syntax and grammar.
  8. Losing the format of a full season means many of the subplots of season 1 and 2 were discarded. I know why that had to be, but I still missed them. On the plus side, if the show ever finds a new home it leaves plenty of scope for picking up stories.
  9. Two uses of Chekhov’s gun, one telegraphed and spotlit, the other not.
  10. Puck (Kick Gurry) was funny and spot on.
  11. I really miss J Michael Straczynski‘s involvement in the writing. He’s strong on structure in the narrative in the way Lana Wachowski isn’t–her strengths lie elsewhere. I think Lilly Wachowski’s influence was missed too. The first season was strong because of the involvement of all three of them (ironically, one of the themes of the show). I enjoyed season 2 and have watched it many times; but I adored season 1.
  12. Nice to see an out-of-focus Lana dancing near the end.

So I enjoyed it, given all the circumstances that led to its making, but would have preferred a full series to give context to some of its elements, especially those elements that link to the Sense8 mythology.

And I daresay I’ll watch it again. And again.

Added: on a 4th watching (I know!) I noticed that Lila always goes for a headshot, but she shoots Kala in the stomach. Why? And further to that, a war requires a toll to be paid but our band of heroes pay no toll. I know why it didn’t and couldn’t happen in the drive for a happy ending to wrap up the series for the fans and give us a nice twist at the end, but had it been a full season, Kala, or someone close to the cluster, should have died.