It is extremely rare that television gives you something that just blows you away; something that grabs you intensely and pulls you into the story. Novels, anime, manga and comics do this more often for me because creators in these mediums seem more willing to play around with experimental concepts. It might also be because I am biased toward those mediums as well. Whatever the case, it is extremely rare for me to become so immersed in the world of a television show. No surprise that this one does not come from network TV. From what I have gathered of Sense8, a play on the word”sensate” and a , the creators of the show, The Wachowski’s and J. Michael Straczynski shopped their concept around to some of the mainstream outlets not too long after developing the story but they were not picked up because no one could understand the core concept of the show at the time. After the passing of a few years on the shelf, the show was then picked up by Netflix. I am glad Netflix game them a chance because Sense8 is an incredible idea that needed to be shared with everyone.
The show revolves around the concept of the ability of some human beings to have a direct neural link with others. The neural links allow those who possess a certain neurological makeup to directly perceive the experiences, sensations, thoughts and emotions of others possessing this same neurological makeup. At the beginning of the show you find a man and woman using her abilities to connect eight other “sensates” as they are called. Other characters have referred to her act of connecting the other sensates to one another as “birthing their cluster”. The first season basically follows their, which at the time of this post is the only season to have aired, follows the sensates on their discovery of their abilities and their discovery of each other. And this is not to diminish the fact that a great deal of personal discovery takes place as well. Of course you would have to do a great deal of soul searching when someone else can come into your deepest thoughts with you and hang out. It is such an interesting concept.
The very premise of the story will obviously necessitate a number of other plot points into the story that come into play very organically. There are of course people who find the very existence of “sensates” to be threatening. One of the characters explains that the human world is built on individualism and privacy. It has been the source of power in the human world. The ability to hide and lie is distinctly human. Sensates therefore would disturb human society as their lives are without veils, without lies, without any walls. Their minds and therefore their lives are completely open. Therefore there is naturally an organization that is attempting to find them and sequester them before their existence becomes known to the world or even possibly before more clusters start forming.
What I often find myself contemplating now that I have finished the season is whether sensates are a different species of human or if they are a development on the spectrum of humanity. One sensate describes their situation as if they are a separate species. However he also makes it clear that the current science within the story’s world does not go far enough to determine whether sensates evolved first and humans evolved to become less empathetic and individualistic thereby losing the ability to form sensate clusters or if sensates are the next evolutionary trend in humanity. You don’t get to this explanation until deep into the season. Although the show is romance, intrigue and action packed, that conversation was probably my favorite part of the show so far. It is very thought provoking to suggests that this individualism we as humans prize so much could be a devolution. In many ways I can see how it could easily be. I have no intentions of jumping up on a soap box but I truly believe individuality and a lack of deep empathy is the root of all evil.
The cinematography is the best thing I have ever seen in a television show. The directors give you incredible angles of vibrant life images that are able to convey the feeling of experience the sensory perception of another and possibly multiple human beings. The shows does expansive globe trotting as the eight main sensates are darted all over globe. The creators use the globe and different cultures as a sort of ninth sensate. The earth and its people are a living character that the eight sensates connect with as well. And the moments of resonance when multiple sensates are sharing the same experience are moving on a visceral level.
Relationships develop quickly on the show. It makes sense why they would of course. Having someone in your head. Creating a friendship with someone who shares your abilities and can be with you at all times I would imagine breeds a special type of relationship. Imagine someone feeling you emotions as you experience something. The sensates learn to trust and depend on one another in a close knit group very fast. I mean, if they were to not become friends with the people then the alternative would be accepting that they are probably going insane. However, I have pondered the concept of their sensate capabilities. And so I am currently of the opinion that not only do they have a special neurological make up, but that make up would likely predispose them also to being more inherently open and group oriented just as humans are more predisposed to selfishness and close-mindedness. That’s just what I think. I could be wrong though.