TV Brew: Sense8 – A Finale We Needed, But Not What We Wanted
(WARNING: Although we’ve avoided main spoilers as best as we can, there are some in the finale review below! Read ahead at your own risk!)
Fans waited in anticipation after the abrupt cancellation of Sense8 in June 2017. We espoused our own severe complaints about ending such an astonishing, diverse, and progressive show, especially given the weak reasoning behind the decision.
However, less than a month after the cancellation was announced, Netflix relented and agreed for one last hurrah. Production began on a two-hour finale intended to wrap up the cliffhangers from the previous episode.
On Friday, June 8th, 2018, a little over a year after the show was canceled, audiences received their resolution.
Was it everything they’d wished? Did it resolve all the lingering questions? Or was it a flawed attempt to appease the fans, who just want more seasons?
The only answer for all of that is: “Yes.”
Let’s start with the good, which is that “Amor Vincit Omnia,” the final “episode” of Season 2 adequately wrapped up the cliffhangers we were left with in May of 2017.
The story continues almost immediately after the cluster has lost Wolfgang to the enemy but struck a blow to BPO and captured the main villain of Milton “Whispers” Brandt. The team is still physically present (minus their captured friend), along with non-sensate friends, and they are planning to trade Brandt for Wolfgang.
Without revealing too much, the show adequately resolves the fight with BPO, as well as Lila’s villainous cluster. Everyone gets the answers they’re looking for, and the story ends on a high note with little left to carry on.
Another positive aspect is that almost all the side characters introduced throughout the series return. We finish the backstory of Jonas and Angelica, finally get more information on the mysterious Mr. Hoy, and learn how sensates like Yrsa fit in the larger picture.
The finale also provides more lore, showing where the strange monk Bodhi came from and what her mission entails. Although this reveal may have added more questions than answers, it was a nice addition to the backstory.
Relationships were also resolved with the inclusion of just about every supporting friend or significant other. Detective Mun, Rajan, Felix, Diego, and Bug all become embroiled in the schemes of the cluster, fighting alongside them until the end.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of criticism about the finale and most of it focuses on cramming too much in and rushing everything.
Sense8’s seasons weren’t long, but you needed multiple episodes to explore every character, from relationships to growth and dilemmas. By shoving an entire season’s worth of material into a two-hour slot, not only was character development unbelievable but some were outright ignored.
Let’s start with the sheer amount of violence with almost no consequence. Sense8 is no stranger to fights, from Sun’s martial arts to Wolfgang’s criminal dealings; yet, each time the characters had to recover physically and emotionally, in addition to consequences like legal or cultural ramifications.
In the finale, however, the team is regularly involved in melee and firearm combat, and the final confrontation involves substantial gunfights, massive explosions, and the death of dozens. Despite some earlier involvement with police and talks of terrorism, however, the show moves on to a final act that pretends like none of this happened or is newsworthy.
Similarly, character behavior makes no sense, especially given the ideologies of each sensate. You expect violence from Will, Sun, or Wolfgang, but seeing Kala or Riley killing people “because that’s how the others are trained” flies in the face of these characters.
Worse, their own allies seem to cheer on this reckless, violent behavior. Will’s friend Diego and Sun’s love Mun both throw away their careers to join them, while Rajan is amazed that his wife is “a killer” and wants to learn from her.
It’s as if these lifelong friends and significant others aren’t characters themselves anymore, but there only to cheer on their favorite sensate. “I love and support you,” they say, “even if it means sacrificing everything in a paramilitary attack on a shadow organization.”
Many characters are almost relegated to jokes or footnotes as well, from the main cast down to the supporting roles.
Riley seems to be nothing more than “I have contacts” person, not even DJing like she did last year; Lito is bilked even worse, given one small “acting” moment and otherwise there for humor (or to look hot). Both characters deserved as much screen time and importance as combat heavies like Will, Sun, and Wolfgang, or specialists like Nomi, Kala, and Capheus.
Then you have all the background stories which are wrapped up in the last act; a “feel good” romp meant just to wipe the slate clean and end on a high note.
Nomi’s journey as a trans-woman with a bigoted mother is resolved through little more than pot brownies and a fabulous wedding. Capheus presidential candidacy is mentioned several times, but we barely see his family or reporter girlfriend until the end.
Other characters that were important to individual storylines, like Riley and Kala’s families, become nothing more than background extras during the finale. The show provided no time to resolve the many different plots of each sensate correctly, and we’re left with a shallow, “isn’t that nice” that’s supposed to generalize to everyone.
I don’t blame the Wachowskis or J. Michael Straczynski for the many flaws in the finale. If they had merely done one more 10- to 12-episode season, each character, supporting cast, etc. would have received the attention they needed; an abbreviated 5- to 6-episode season would have also worked.
Even the rampant violence, and the repercussions (physical, psychological, and social), would have been spread more evenly. We might have seen the conflict in Kala, a somewhat pacifist individual, beginning to feel the “joy” of violence, or Diego and Mun realizing they’d become international terrorists rather than upholders of the law.
Similarly, the mysteries of BPO, the exploration of Mr. Hoy and the Archipelago, and the addition of the Lacuna could have more naturally unraveled rather than being force-fed through plot devices. Although many questions were answered, the finale also added so much more to understand.
Was “Amor Vincit Omnia” the end we needed? Indeed, and it entirely resolved the cliffhanger of the second season and abrupt cancellation.
Was “Amor Vincit Omnia” the finale we wanted? No, and I don’t understand why they couldn’t have just relented and made the third season.
We may never receive an acceptable finale to Sense8, one that adequately achieves the level of introspection, philosophy, and social discussion we received throughout the series. We can only hope that someone takes up the mantle the series created as a symbol of inclusivity, diversity, and humanity.
Until we meet again in the Archipelago or Lacuna, my fellow sensates, remember: love conquers all.
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