“Sense8” recap (1.1): Meet The Sense8s

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I really like Wolfgang.

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The German-born son of Russian mobsters, one of his first acts onscreen is to take a satisfying leak on his father’s grave. But he’s got layers, this guy. The first time you see him he’s dancing topless at a club, which I at first read as “gay” but may just mean “European.” Wolfgang is a safe-cracker, but in the middle of tackling the most difficult safe of his career, he takes a break to watch Europe’s Got Talent. It’s an inexplicably odd scene, but it’s nice to know he’s god a sensitive side. He manages to crack the safe and he and his idiot friend make off with a bag of diamonds. Unfortunately, one of his associates had intended to his the same safe on the same night, so that’s probably coming back to haunt him.

And then there’s Nomi.  My own personal biases aside, Nomi stands out from the rest of the characters as the most loving, complex, and empathetic person. She’s also the one who is going to break our hearts. That’s because every single other Sense8 starts out with a whole mess of problems, whereas Nomi is pretty much living the dream. And as seasoned viewers of television, we all know that happiness goes before the fall.

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We first get to know Nomi (Jamie Clayton) as she is getting fucked well and good by her girlfriend (the always-welcome Freema Agyeman).  The cinematography doesn’t shy away from the sex at all (there’s a shot of a dripping strap-on, for fuck’s sake) but it also doesn’t fetishize or sensationalize the fact that Nomi is trans.  I am also just going to go ahead and say that if anyone writes a shitty comment about that it will not fly. She and Amanita live in a perfectly bohemian San Fransisco loft (which, given how high rent is there, is the least believable part of her story). It’s Pride weekend in San Fransisco, and the two of them eat some brownies given to them by a couple of Fairies, and reminisce about how they knew they were meant for each other that time when Amanita threatened to punch a TERF in the face for calling Nomi a man. I’m really glad this scene exists, because the divides in our community really will rip us apart if we don’t talk about them. That night, they go to a modern dance meditation on the AIDS epidemic and ponder the terrible sacrifices and losses that enabled them to live and love as freely as they do. I haven’t seen the next episode yet, but the synopsis informs me that Nomi’s freedom is about to be seriously curtailed.

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So, what we have here are some pieces, of varying levels of quality, that make up a puzzle.  Whether the pieces will come together to form a coherent picture remains to be seen. I will save my thoughts on the Washowskis’ track record for a future recap.  But let’s hope so. A show co-written by and featuring a trans lesbian has no excuse to be anything but gr8.

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