‘Sense8’ Bids Fans Farewell With Action-Packed Finale
This one is definitely for the fans. Netflix’s “Sense8” was always puzzling, but it was never boring. At its heart is a very special message that outshined its faults as a TV narrative. It gained enough of a fan following during two seasons to merit a special send off after its cancellation was announced. And so the show’s creators, the always inventive Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, have delivered a mammoth two and a half-hour finale loaded with action scenes, cryptic plots and an orgy of an ending. Designed for the fans, those who barely tuned in or are complete outsiders to the series might not have the stamina to sit through it all. But for the devoted it has all the basics with some fireworks thrown in.
As the finale opens Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) is still in the clutches of the BPO, strapped to a chair in some lab. He is experiencing flashbacks to his own childhood and his brute of a father. Meanwhile his “Cluster,” the group of friends who are all inter-connected literally through their minds and emotions, are trying to figure out how to find him. The whole gang includes Sun (Doona Bae), Nomi (Jamie Clayton), Kala (Tina Desai), Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), Will (Brian J. Smith), Amanita (Freema Agyeman) and Bug (Michael X. Sommers). In trying to get to Wolfgang, the group gets closer to cracking the BPO plot and finding out more about their own origins as individuals a bit different from the average human. They have already captured Whispers (Terrence Mann), who had devoted his life to capturing clusters. They decide to offer BPO a trade and make their way to Italy to try and finally end the threats to their existence.
As pure TV, the finale, titled “Amor Vincit Omnia,” sort of works. “Sense8” wants to be an action thriller, philosophy experiment and personal drama all at once, and so the challenge is to make all these angles fit into a cohesive whole. You can follow what is happening, but are also left wondering what it all means in terms of the plot itself. But for a review what needs to be addressed is whether this particular episode delivers or not, because it’s the hardcore fan base that will actually be tuning in for its 151 minutes. Even at that running length the narrative is bursting at the seams, trying to find space for everything. Cryptic phrases are thrown around, Whisper’s wife files for divorce offscreen, his own superiors run a lab where Wolfgang is kept along with other clusters who are being groomed to become suicide assassins. While all this is happening, our heroes are dealing with personal dilemmas resulting from their gift. Kala loves Wolfgang because they are linked, but she also loves her husband, Rajan (Purab Kohli), who pops up at the clusters’ apartment in Paris looking for her. Nomi and Amanita don’t have that problem, but they are planning a wedding even while attempting to take on some sort of high-tech, armed entity keeping Wolfgang captive. The editing style itself can be a maze as a character will mentally transport into another place with the scene inter-cutting in-between lines from one spot to the next. It is an effective technique in conveying the ability to link into someone else.
“Amor Vincit Omnia” is directed by Lana Wachowski and she delights in doing many scenes that are obviously for the groupies. Free from any worries about streaming numbers, Wachowski presents scene after scene that are simply joyous. One such moment involves our heroes on their way to face off with the BPO, some are on a train and others in cars, but they soon become linked by someone listening to “I Feel You” by Depeche Mode. Suddenly the entire scene turns into a music video-style montage of slow motion smiles, fist pumps and hand waving. Not exactly what the average person would do when facing possible death in combat, but hey, this is geek fiction. At times the plot grinds to a halt as long shoot outs take place with much bloodshed. Yet here some of the dialogue still gets whacky (“Oh dang! I have been waiting forever to see that!”). Although one such scene climaxes with a well-acted moment where Kala is shot and both Rajan and Wolfgang try to save her.
Fans expecting a clean resolution to the overall plot won’t get one. The whole stand-off with BPO is left open-ended as Whispers meets a fiery end but the bigger bosses remain somewhere out there, no doubt targeting clusters. “Sense8,” like most of the Wachowskis work, was always a narrative as an excuse to convey the siblings’ admirable, radical ideas about identity and artificial borders. The whole linking angle is a statement on how race and gender disappear amid the bonds of friendship and love. They pulled this off much better in the underrated movie “Cloud Atlas,” but when “Sense8” worked it felt like sci-fi with something meaningful to offer. The final moments in the series finale revolve around Nomi and Amanita’s wedding, staged at the Eiffel Tower, complete with big fireworks. Then we get a Roman orgy (yes, indeed) where everyone decides to finally let off steam by having hot sex in a fancy hotel. It is here where Kala solves her dilemma. Why only choose one lover when she can have both? Well, if it works, it works.
It would be unfair to judge this episode in terms of reviewing it for everyone, because after the final scene Wachowski even throws in a message explicitly saying, “For Our Fans.” If you were loyal to “Sense8” then this is a big celebration of everything that made the show what it was, from the geeky humor to the violent action to its hopeful message of loving beyond labels. The show bids farewell, but hopefully not its core idea.
“Sense8” series finale premieres June 8 on Netflix.