A playground for entertainment.
A show that toys with greatness, though I remain sceptical until I see more.
Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Starring: Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton
Cinematographers: John Toll, Danny Ruhlmann, Frank Griebe, Christian Almesberger
Editors: Joe Hobeck, Joseph Jett Sally, Fiona Colbeck
As we’re introduced to the characters of Sense 8, there’s a sense of expanse I haven’t seen much elsewhere. This is classic Wachowski territory: Cloud Atlas for instance, expanded time, space and cultures of the farthest distance; Jupiter Ascending also. Watching the introductory episode doesn’t simply make the world bigger, but richer too, everyone leads their own show.
Science fiction television is a genre often riddled with stipulations. To my mind, Quantum Leap is the only exception – perhaps also The Twilight Zone. Even Heroes, a high ranking favourite of mine, is stipulated by its allegiance to the comic book story and aesthetic. Plenty of shows pivot on a reference point as something cultural helps an audience better understand how the show’s world functions. Sense 8 ignores this idea. Their only rule is that characters should intervene psychically – like Quantum Leap – besides fulfilling the rule, Sense 8 has infinite potential to tell any conceivable story. Shame it doesn’t – other than their being connected, the stories are standard, so far.
There are rich stories aplenty here, all tying thematically and emotionally, but none being mind-blowing in their concept. Though the themes of togetherness extend beyond the concept of psychic connection itself, that the show isn’t tunnel-visioned on exploring only the concept – some of the shows best moments come from their lives aside the concept – you’ll see enough life to get a feeling of it then being interrupted by the sub-conscious presence of these 8 distant strangers.
In 1×03 I began to wonder when they’d start using their ability to effect each other’s lives. I knew their unique skills would come around to save the day, I just didn’t know when; in the next scene, it happened, and it was, umm, cool enough. As a first moment of interference, this felt more like a water test for what similar scenes are yet to come. I can safely say that Sun and Cepheus’ moment was more badass, however, there’s an undeniable, more potent catharsis from the exchange between Nomi and Will. Maybe I like their characters more, perhaps their stories were more developed, either way, as a first shining moment of the concept coming into action for the first time, it’s a shame to see it overpowered so suddenly by a better storyline.
For those pleased with Cloud Atlas or just the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer (the directors of Cloud Atlas) and James McTeigue (director of V for Vendetta) in general, you’ll probably enjoy a heavy portion of how Sense 8 plays out narratively – instead of each episode having a director, each director has a location instead. For those who liked Heroes, like myself, they will enjoy the experimentation of adding sci-fi elements to character interactions. Despite sounding a gimmick, there is promise, so far, that we’re in store for some interesting situational combinations. And whilst contributing to the world building in general, the visual conjunctions between characters are playful in wonderfully entertaining ways. There’s a lot of room for games in Sense 8’s playground.