After nearly two years, the moment sensates have been waiting for has happened: Sense8 Season 2 is now on Netflix. For fans of the show, the long gap has been painful, broken only by the two-hour “Christmas Special” last December. Now we finally learn what happened to our favorite cluster and answer some crucial questions.
This review is not about what Sense8 is, as fans are aware of the premise and characters. I’m not here to discuss the show’s support for diversity, inclusion, and social justice. There is no need to rehash praises (and criticisms) regarding the show’s slower, more introspective approach to science-fiction. Instead, I will discuss some impressions and differences that fans may notice.
Bigger Central Story and Larger Personal Stories
Sense8 started with individual stories that were geographically centered, but then gradually began to focus on a central plot. This season takes a different approach, with a greater focus on the main plot now supplemented by the personal tales. The antagonists take center stage, to the point that some cast seems to lose their individual plots.
Don’t worry if you preferred the personal story lines, however, as they still exist and they’ve grown in scope and consequence. From Capheus’ local fame to Wolfgang’s effect on the Berlin underworld, Season 2 takes things to a new level. Of course, these changes are in no small part thanks to the growing abilities of the sensates themselves…
Sensate Powers and Battles
While the cluster learned to use their skills last season, now is the time for them to shine. The way the group works in sync with each other has grown. I was particularly excited as the characters begin to blend skills and conversations seamlessly, and perform actions in mind and real-life simultaneously. On a more serious side, we also see what happens when a cluster member experiences severe pain, and it’s not pretty.
I think the best part of Season 2 is the introduction of other (more experienced) sensates, who show just how far they can go. From individual abilities to sensate culture, we watch in awe and excitement as the scope of abilities grows just like the plots. I won’t spoil too much, but the trailer hinted at a scene of cluster versus cluster that gave me goosebumps!
Sex and Acting
Now, as great as the new season is, it is subject to some critique. While the show has had some very open-minded sex scenes in the past, I felt they might have been pushing that sexuality a bit much. At times, it felt like there were nudity and sex every other episode; this made the scenes feel gratuitous rather than having the emotional depth they previously had. As attractive as the cast is, some viewers may become sick of how often they see them naked or involved in sexual activity.
Similarly, there is something over-the-top about some of the moments this season. While this is fiction, Season 1 still managed to keep a grasp on realism that helped the audience focus on the human stories. Occasionally, Season 2 fell victim to tropes, from martial arts duels to stereotypical personalities. Those moments, sadly, pushed the boundaries of believability and interrupted the investment I had in the story.
A Change of Cast
I would be remiss without discussing the most notable difference: the recasting of Capheus. There’s no need to speculate he was replaced, as you can find plenty of rumor out there, but be prepared for a different face. Despite this significant change, this is probably the least important difference of all! Capheus’ character remains entirely the same, and Mr. Onwumere’s performance is as good as Mr. Ameen’s. I still loved the character’s optimism and courage, and the plotline in Kenya continues as if nothing had changed.
Sense8’s new season is what we’ve been waiting for: bigger plots, greater character development, questions answered, and even more displays of sensate powers. The show remains a bastion of inclusiveness and open-mindedness desperately needed in this age of nationalism and bigotry. Perhaps they went a little too far, however, regarding sex and nudity, not to mention some cliché moments that broke the illusion on occasion. Still, even with the recasting of a major character, the Wachowskis continue to show us how introspective science-fiction should be done.
I give Sense8‘s second season a solid 4.5 beta blockers out of 5.