RT: One thing I will note here is that, for most people, Sense8 takes 3-4 episodes to come together and join up into a singular story (that just happens to take place across various locations). So if you plan to watch it, make sure you hang on until episode 3 at least. Trust me, it is SO worth the wait!
And, Cassidy, thank you for reminding me of everything I had forgotten about in Season 1 of Sense8. So, if you have already watched Season 1, now is the time to get a refresher course via Cassidy’s recaps before Season 2 starts 😉
CF: Because Season 2 is coming, I felt getting these recaps out would be a good way to introduce people to the show. And the written word doesn’t do this series justice. You must see it.
Written by The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by The Wachowskis
An abandoned building in the middle of the night; looks like it could be an burned-out church. There’s a woman on a mattress laying still, gazing upward. She’s starting to tremble, gasps: she seems like she’s in pain. She finds a small box with drugs and tries getting a last hit. She’s reaching up: someone takes her hand. A man takes her hand and she calls to him: Jonas (Naveen Andrews). He comforts her; she says she hurts. We see, though, that he isn’t there in the building: she’s alone. Yet he holds her. He tells her it must be now. He tells her she must do this to give “them” a fighting chance. She goes into a small convulsion and then sits up, for she sees them:
A man in a church with a pistol.
A woman on a city roof at night lighting a cigarette.
Another woman doing morning Tai Chi somewhere in Asia.
A shirtless man in a dance club.
A Chicago police SUV coming to a stop in an alley at night—and who sees the blond woman sitting in the alley.
Another woman descending a flight of stairs in a modern office building. She, too, sees the blond woman.
A man driving a lorry sees the woman standing on the corner of a busy street in Africa.
The man in the church sees the woman before him.
A woman gives herself an injection in her thigh, then turns and sees the blond woman looking back at her from a full-length mirror—
—And then she’s in the burnt-out building with her.
The smoking woman sees the blond as well, as does the woman doing Tai Chi. She is in the night club, and on the street in Africa, and in the alley in Chicago where a male officer approaches her—
The blond woman gasps and falls back, being held by Jonas. She did it. She tells him to protect them, but he says someone’s here. And there’s another man behind the woman. He says she’s giving birth. Jonas speaks, the other man speaks, too. They can’t hear each other: only the woman hears them. Jonas finally speaks her name: Angelica (Daryl Hannah). She tells Jonas she can’t do it if here’s there. They share a moment and she’s alone with a gun and the other man. Just then the other man walks into the building in real life with others. He tells her to put the gun down: Angelica blows her brains out.
A dream of a small girl running into an abandoned building, followed by a young boy. The young boy turns into Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith), a Chicago police offer, and he find Angelica on the mattress, sitting up to look before killing herself again—
He wakes and grabs a gun, scared. He freshens up in the bathroom as EDM jams out, giving him a headache. He goes to the apartment next door to get them to turn that shit down, but guess what? There’s no one there—no one. The apartment is empty. But he hears the music . . .London:
The same beat plays as Riley Blue (Tuppence Middleton) DJs for a dance club, getting them going. She meets after with her manager, Jacks, and his mate Nocker. They congratulate her on a great set, and introduce her to Nyx, a drug dealer. She’s not in the mood, though: she’s got a migraine. Jacks mentions her “freak out,” and Nyx asks about the vision—the one she had of the Angelica on the mattress.
A bloody hand in water and we’re back with Pistol Man in the Church. He slowly approaches an alter and a kneeling priest with gun drawn. A nun tries to stop him, but he won’t listen. The priest asks if Pistol Man is there to confess, and he says he’s there to blow his fucking brains out. A confused turn and the priest wants to know if they’re going off-script. It’s a movie, and the man with the pistol is Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), making a movie with a director who is not happy that he’s improvising.
Sun Bak (Doona Bae), Vice President and CFO of a family business, greets Mr. Yuen, who is there for a deal. He only wants to deal with her brother, and makes a crude sexual comment to show he isn’t about to do business with her, only her brother. The brother shows up as Sun is starting to make a fist behind her business card case and he orders her off to get coffee for him and the Japanese Sexist Asshole. While standing there she has the vision of Angelica the others have had.
RT: Besides Nomi, Sun is one of my fave characters. She is understated, but make sure you never underestimate her. (Yes, that might be a spoiler) 🙂
CF: I just finished Episode 4: no, don’t underestimate her.
Nocker talks about his nieces who came and cuddled with him. At that moment his sister was suffering from internal bleeding and was in trouble. Nyx says it’s limbic resonance, and Jacks thinks that’s what happened to Riley, and that it has something to do with DMT, or Dimethlytryptamine, which occurs naturally in some mammals and can cause hallucinations. Nyx says there’s some belief that it could lead to some kind of synaptic network. (Note: In every episode the title is mentioned once at some point, and only one time.) There’s thunder and rain off in the distance—
—Which Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai) also hears. She asks her father about the umbrellas, but he tells her there’s no rain, the sun is shinning. She knows she heard it, but he wonders if this has something to do with her wedding coming this weekend. There’s thunder again—
A funeral in the rain. A procession down the street. Wolfgang Bogdanow (Max Riemelt) is one of the marchers. Turns out Wolfgang is a thief, and he is among other thieves and criminals.
Capheus (Aml Ameen) tends to his sick mother, giving her comfort, before he heads out to work. We learn he’s not a lorry driver, but he drives a bus: the Jean-Claude “Van Damn”, complete with bad side murals. He feels it’s gonna be a good day.
In their apartment Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) is in bed with her girlfriend Amanita (Freema Agyeman), and Nomi is getting fucked hard by Amanita, who is using a strap-on. They both reach a wonderful climax and kiss. Amanita wants to know if she helped her honey’s headache, and they wish each other a Happy Pride, which helps place these events in June.
RT: I think my fave thing about the early episodes of Sense8 is the fact that the only ones in a normal and loving relationship is this couple. I love so much that they are just normal people, being normal. They’re not just the token trans or gay characters there for shock value.
CF: That’s what I liked right off the bat. You can tell they have a working relationship, and this early on you now Amanita, aka Neets, would do anything for Nomi, because she loves her.
Lito is going over lines in his trailer and trying to get into character, but his dick is bothering him—as in he’s horny as hell. So he starts humping a sideboard in his trailer. He has to stop when Cassandra, the actress playing the nun, comes to check up on him, and after a moment of small talk she can’t help but notice the bulge in Lito’s pants. But he can’t: his heart belongs to someone else. She says that woman is very lucky.
The members of the procession are giving their sympathies to the children closest to the man who had died. Wolfgang greets his aunt and her husband, and they go on about how the man who just died went on and on about his father. They tell him he should go pay his respects, and Wolfgang goes off to find the grave of his father, who died in 2001. Wolfgang stands over the grave, and then whips it out and pisses on it. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and speculate that Wolfgang’s got some unresolved daddy issues. Nairobi:
That good day Capheus expect? Yeah, not happening. While his barker is doing his damnedest to drum up customers, most of the people in this area are climbing aboard the “Bat Van”, which may just end up giving them a short ride to the Zack Snyder Murderverse. (Note: oh, and the barker is waving around a card with the number “8” on it—coincidence?) They finally get a third person to come aboard, but all he has for fare money is a chicken. Which gets away from the barker—
—And jumps on to Sun’s desk, ‘causing her to scream. And just like that the chicken is gone. But it was there, and she has a full on, “What the fuck?” look on her face. She gets a call that someone wants to speak with her, but she tells her assistant she’s in a meeting as she eyes a pink folder.
Riley is leaving the club and sees Angelica in the hall. She vanishes and Riley leaves. Jacks tries to get her to go to Nyx’s for a party, but her migraine is killing her— San Francisco:
—When she finds herself standing in daylight and in the presence of people who ain’t Jacks. There’s a shift and she looks, and we find Nomi and Amanita sitting in the park having lunch and talking about Pride. Except when we shift away from the men dressed as fairies tossing flower pedals about, it’s clear that Amanita is speaking to Riley—almost as if Riley is Nomi. Another visual shift, and we’re back to Nomi sitting across from Amanita. They remember their first Pride, where they were high as fuck on brownies and spent a good portion of that event making out in the park. Amanita thinks they need that again, and take a couple from the Flower Fairies. As they nibble on the brownies, Nomi offers her best memory of the day: when they were wandering the park and encountered some of Amanita’s female friends. After Amanita introduces Nomi, one of them clocks her as “the tranny that blogs about politics”, giving the first hint that Nomi is transgender. The woman doesn’t like what Nomi said about dropping the LGBT designations, but when she tried to explain herself the same woman lays some flat out TERF bullshit on her, saying she’s “Just another colonizing male trying to take up any space left to women.” As Nomi takes off, Amanita threatens to give this bitch a beat down before running after Nomi. She finds Nomi crying, and she tells Amanita that she’s crying because no one’s ever defended her before. Back in the present, Nomi says that’s how she knew she’d always love her. Mumbai:
Kala goes to a temple and gives an offering of modak to Lord Ganesha before knelling before the statute. We get the lowdown on what’s happening in her life: she’s getting married to the son of the owner of the pharmaceutical company for which she words, and while all the women want him, she doesn’t love him. And you can tell this is as problem . . . Berlin:
Wolfgang is with his friend Felix, who is cutting a key for a job they’re going to pull. Felix asks if the safe Wolfgang is going to crack is an S&D, which is the same model that got Wolfgang’s father busted when he couldn’t break one.
Amanita is working a club collecting donations while Nomi is speaking with the writer of a play being presented this evening. He feels worried about his piece being a downer, but he’s reminded that in the 80s Pride was seen as more of a solemn event. The piece deals with people with AIDS, and both Nomi and Amanita are moved by the piece, but Nomi sees something else: Angelica in pain.
Will is telling his partner Diego about his vision as they report for work. (Note: the building used in this scene is famous as the exterior of the Hill Street Station from 1980s TV series, Hill Street Blues.) They’re cruising the South Side, and it’s all a lot of tenseness between people on the streets and the cops. They get a call on a shooting and head off—
Wolfgang and Felix arrive at their score: a private apartment with an S&D. We get a quick cut back to Chicago, where Will is speeding to the shooting, and Wolfgang asks if Felix hears sirens. He goes back to cracking the safe, the tumblers clicking—
—Which Riley hears through her headphones. She gets up from her chair and looks out the window upon the empty night time street and hers the siren as well.
Will and Diego make the scene, and abandoned building. They find a young boy inside, a gang banger, who has been shot. He asks for help, and Will tells Diego to call an ambulance. Diego knows that ain’t gonna happen, so Will picks up the kid: they’re taking him to the hospital.
Wolfgang continues working the safe, taking his time, but he’s getting stressed by it just bit. They’re on the clock: someone else is coming to rip this joint off, and if they aren’t gone in the hour it’s likely they’ll be killed. Wolfgang turns on Euro Talent Spotlight, saying it relaxes him, and he’s gonna relax.
Will and Diego are speeding to a hospital. The boy asks Will if this is the first time he’s been in the back of a police car, and he says, no, old man was a cop and I had a certain amount of rebellion.
Wolfgang remakes about how the girl up now is great, but Felix says she won’t win, her eyes are too close together. He’s right: she doesn’t win. This is all we need to get a flashback of Wolfgang at a recital as a child and he’s terrified to sing, which causes his asshole dad to break out laughing in front of everyone. The girl doesn’t win. Wolfgang gets back to work, relaxed.
Will and Diego make it to the hospital, but they won’t take him: they don’t handle gunshots. Will begs her to take him.
Wolfgang continues as Felix’s alarm goes off. They’re out of time. The other guy, Steiner, arrives, and they’re in real trouble. Wolfgang is turning the dial slowly. Turning, turning, turning . . . Clicks the button and the safe opens. He’s cracked it. They steal the diamonds inside and get the fuck out.
The nurse comes out and tells Will the kid will make it. But she wants to know how he’s gonna feel if that kid kills a cop some day.
Riley listens to music on her headphones while Jacks and Nocker do drugs with Nyx. They’re high as fuck, giving Nyx the opportunity to speak with Riley after he removes her headphones. He speaks softly, sees the scares of her suicide attempt. He says she’s beautiful but scared, and that she doesn’t belong with Jacks and Nocker. He was once like her, totally exposed, until someone showed him how to live. He offers her a hit of the shit they’re smoking. She accepts, and—
—She’s in light as she sees Will. No, she is Will, and she walks with Diego to the SUV. Now Will is there and she sees herself outside Will’s window. He seems to see her, too. They leave, and she’s reminded of a moment when she was a little girl in Iceland. Will has Diego stop the car, and when he does it’s Riley who says this is where it happened, and Will turns back and says this is where she killed herself. Will and Diego go inside and find the place where Angelica killed herself. Will knows this place. He finds the drugs, and knows there was a gun. Diego feels it’s bullshit, so he’s heading back to the car. Will is examining the mattress, and there’s Riley, standing and watching. They talk: they see each other. She knows it’s where she died, too, as she saw it. Will asks where she’s from: she says London. He tells her they’re in Chicago, and she remarks that she’s never been to America (you hear her Icelandic accent here for the first time) and doesn’t know how she got there. Then she turns and wants to know what they’re doing—
Jacks and Nocker have out pistols and a bodyguard gets shot. Will is where Riley sits and sees it, though back in Chicago Will sees she’s vanished. It’s all a rip-off: Jacks and Nocker have been tracking Nyx’s shipment and they’re taking the score. Nyx’s has a knife and waiting to use it as Jacks tells Riley he’s doing this for them, so they can go to America and start a new life. The not-yet-dead bodyguard shoots Jacks in the leg; Nocker kills him; up pops Nyx and kills Nocker by opening his neck and bleeding him out. Nyx goes for a gun and both he and Jacks shoot at the same time, both hitting, both going down. And leaving a panicked Riley standing there flecked in blood—
And there you have it: the huge recap for the first episode of Sense8. I’ll be back in a few day with the recap for Episode 2. As always, tell us what you think in the comments below!
Tuppence Middleton — Riley Blue, London
Brian J. Smith — Will Gorski, Chicago
Doona Bae — Sun Bak, Seoul
Aml Ameen — Capheus, Nairobi
Max Riemelt — Wolfgang Bogdanow, Berlin
Tina Desai — Kala Dandekar, Mumbai
Miguel Ángel Silvestre — Lito Rodriguez, Mexico, DF
Jamie Clayton — Nomi Marks, San Francisco
Freema Agyeman — Amanita
Terrence Mann — “Whispers”
Naveen Andrews — Jonas
Daryl Hannah — Angelic