“Sense8” recap (1.2): Frontal LobotNomi

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I’ve been mulling over the subject of limbic resonance, the title of episode one. In my family, we all have it a bit, but nowhere is it so pronounced as between my dad, my little sister, and I. We just take it for granted that whenever the three of us talk, we’ll find we’ve been preoccupied by the same thoughts, events, or individual words. In our last conversation it was “the three billy goats gruff” and “starlings.”

I’ve had relationships with girlfriends and friends where I could sense their distress from miles away, and all the women in my family take their dreams seriously if they have a certain feel of prophecy about them. I accept these things as fact because I’ve felt them my whole life. And I really do value the idea behind Sense8, that if those feelings applied not just to our loved ones, but to strangers around the world, we would perhaps discover that we are not so different after all. There’s an element of that idea in Orphan Black, except that its notion of connectivity feels less busy, didactic, and humorless. (Also, if Sense8 truly wanted to commit to its multiculturalism, it would have all its characters speak in their actual languages, instead of imposing uncomfortable English accents on everyone.)

However, this episode of Sense8 did win me over much more so than the first one, largely because it focused on the tribulations of Nomi, the character in whom the most love has clearly been invested.

We pick up Nomi’s storyline during Pride weekend. She can’t shake the feeling that her visions of Angelica have some significance, and Amanita wonders if perhaps the mysterious woman is a relic of Nomi’s “hacktivist” background. (Nomi=Neo count #1.)  At home, in the apartment I now know she earned with her elitist, gentrifying tech money (guys, take a joke) she makes a video on the subject of pride. And, even though it’s more heavy-handed that a Jaime Lannister high-five, I do appreciate the notion that in a way, queerness makes sensates of us all. We come from every background, but when the movement works the way it’s supposed to, we march as one.

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At the parade, Nomi spots Jonas again and the sight of him is so overwhelming that she falls from Amanita’s incredibly sexy motorcycle.

When she comes to, she’s in a hospital bed, with a woman looming over her refusing to call her by her chosen name.

sense82.2ATTACK OF THE KILLER WASP.

I don’t think there’s ever been a scene—not even the conversion therapy in American Horror Story—that felt so much like the ultimate queer nightmare. Nomi is trapped in a hospital bed, her partner exiled because the ward is “only for family.” Her mother claims to love her, but that love is a negation of every truth she has ever fought for. To Nomi’s mother, her identity is a delusion. And I think a lot of people’s parents, even if they eventually came around to love and acceptance, went through a phase where, had there been a procedure available to de-queer their child, would have gone through with it. According to Nomi’s doctor, the lobes of her brain are fusing, and she requires what amounts to a lobotomy to fix them.  This would explain Nomi’s visions, but it doesn’t explain why this hospital has such an eerie feel about it.

Our other queer character is having a somewhat easier time of it this week. He’s at the premiere of his film (crazy how last time he was still in the middle of shooting it and now it’s done with postproduction, even though in Nomi-land, it’s still the same pride weekend) with a lovely but ill-chosen beard named Daniela.

sense82.3LOOKS LIKE THERE’S MORE THAN ONE CRAZY EYES ON NETFLIX THESE DAYS.

Lito gives a very good performance of leading-man heterosexuality, but his date isn’t in on the game, and is a bit miffed when he begs off going back to her place. That’s because he has a very handsome boyfriend to go home to, in the kind of “slighter frame and sharper mind meets big and brawny and simple-hearted” dynamic that is the basis of virtually all gay male fanfiction.

They make for a refreshingly tender couple, even though Lito’s boyfriend nurses an ache over their closeted status. But their secret is exposed when Daniela shows up, armed with a bottle of Cava and an unstoppable libido. Lito tries to dance away from her in his underwear, and just like last time, it’s the only the only remotely comical scene of the episode. Eventually, of course, Daniela breaks into Lito’s bedroom and finds Hernando waiting bemusedly in the bed. Far from being heartbroken or angry at this revelation, Daniela is delighted to find herself nestled between two men in a Big Gay Conspiracy.

sense82.4 PRIDE!

Love or something like it is also in the cards for two more sensates this episode. Wolfgang has vigorous boy-girl sex with a stranger (apparently simply to prove that, shirtless dancing aside, he is straight) and promptly dumps her afterward. He’s not particularly unkind about it, he’s just not looking for a relationship. That is, he’s not looking until he has a vision of Kala and makes a face like he has just been shot with an intensely pleasant bullet.

Kala, meanwhile, is at an engagement party, where the class differences between her family and that of her fiancé are hovering around the conversation like an uninvited guest. Here’s my theory on Kala’s situation, and if I’m wrong, please remember that we are trying to keep the comment section spoiler free. I think that the pharmaceutical company Kala works for is going to end up trying to exploit the sensates in some way, and her Prince Charming fiancé is going to reveal a dark side. At this party, though, all he does is lip sync a Bollywood number at her, which I should be critical of but unexpected choreography is my great weakness, other than sweet lady kisses.

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