Sense8, a 2015 Netflix original series, has been named dropped to me about as often as Jessica Jones. I finally got around to looking into it and the concept was certainly interesting: “Eight strangers around the globe find themselves connected — first by a violent vision, then by their shared ability to connect with one another’s thoughts and actions, and finally by the urgent need to find out what happened and why.” It’s a show about telepaths who are specifically linked to one another despite having never met, and whose abilities are triggered by a traumatic event none of them were aware of. Interesting urban fantasy concept, right?
The pilot episode was disappointing. The entire episode was setting up who each of the eight main characters are, which is pretty typical. Except that there are eight main characters. We start off with the first character (not one of the 8) who I am calling suicide lady. Suicide lady seems to be on drugs and/or hallucinating. Her hallucinations start arguing, and then reality and hallucination mix—for the audience as well—and she shoots herself in the mouth. Well if that first five minutes doesn’t grab your attention, what will? Just watch the trailer!
The problem is that her suicide is the only major plot line of the entire episode, and it’s the first five minutes. After that we get bounced around between a telenovela actor, a manic pixie DJ, a safecracking burglar, an African who runs a bus called “Van Damn,” a Korean businesswoman, a transsexual woman, a Hindu bride-to-be, and a cop. Their only involvement in the main plotline is their shared visions of suicide lady. Everything else is little vignettes of their lives with hallucinations of each other’s lives added in. For example, the cop wakes up to very loud music coming from the neighbor’s apartment but when he goes to ask that they stop and goes into the apartment, there’s nothing there…turns out it is manic pixie DJ’s music.
We do get some mysterious plot teasers, from suicide lady’s hallucinations. A middle-eastern-looking man named Jonas who seems to be a good guy, and another one who looks like President Snow from The Hunger Games. I hope they will reappear soon and carry the plot, because the other characters did not in the pilot.
Sense8 was weird. Not necessarily bad, and it has promise, but a poor pilot is a big turn off. I’ll review season one at some point, see if it gets better. I should add that the characters themselves are interesting enough that I want to know more about their side stories. But there is a difference between “I could watch a movie about this character” and “I could hope this character can carry me through twelve hours of this show.”