On Christmas Day, Netflix decided to play Santa Claus and surprised “Sense8” fans with a brand new episode called “A Christmas Special.” The two-hour-long episode is the official introduction to the show’s second season, which will be available to stream on Netflix on May 5, 2017.
“A Christmas Special” follows the sensates around the world as they try to rebuild their lives, deepen their bond, and figure out ways to outsmart Mr. Whispers (Terrence Mann).
As you may recall, Sun (Doona Bae), Nomi (Jamie Clayton), Kala (Tina Desai), Riley (Tuppence Middleton), Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), Will (Brian J. Smith), and Capheus (Toby Onwumere) first came together at the end of season one in Iceland, where they escaped Mr. Whispers’ deadly trap, but not before he managed to get into the Chicagoan cop’s head.
“Lito’s problems become Riley’s problems become Nomi’s problems – it’s this beautiful tapestry,” Brian J. Smith, who gives live to Will Gorski in the Netflix original series, said during an exclusive interview with Buzzfeed back in May. “The show is so much more interconnected this year. There’s very rarely a scene that someone will have in their home city where someone else doesn’t get folded in from the cluster.”
And that is exactly what we saw throughout this Xmas episode.
After placing the sensates in different scenarios – Kala enjoying her honeymoon in Positano; Will and Riley hiding from Whispers in a junkie world; Nomi living as a fugitive in a women’s shelter with her girlfriend, Amanita (Freema Agyeman); Sun in solitary confinement; Wolfgang taking care of his best friend at the hospital; Capheus fixing his bus, the unforgettable “Van Damme;” and Lito facing media backlash after a tabloid published a photo of him and his boyfriend, Hernando (Alfonso Herrera), having sex – we witness the first example of how one sensate’s problem, becomes every other sensate’s problem.
“Why is it when I feel scared that I end up with you?” Lito asks Nomi in the first scene that exposes sensate interaction. “I don’t know. I’m such a chicken compared to most of the others,” Nomi replies.
Right from the get-go, we are informed that the sensates are now very aware of their connection, and have been “visiting” each other’s lives since we last saw them. However, we are still unsure about the origin of it all, and how Jonas (Naveen Andrews) and Angelica (Daryl Hannah) became the controversial couple they are, and why Whispers is trying to put an end to their species.
Fans may argue that many of their questions were still left unanswered at the end of episode, but this was a Christmas special and, in my opinion, it was successfully treated as one.
Besides setting up some of the challenges the sensates will have to face in the new season – Kala’s struggle to fall in love and have intimacy with her new husband; Will and Riley fighting to keep their love alive inside a nightmare; Nomi and Amanita running away from authorities; Sun trying to get out of jail to prove her brother is the one to blame for her father’s company’s corrupt acts; Wolfgang dealing with rival criminal rings that want him dead; Capheus getting his business back together and trying to trust his former enemy; Lito accepting his career as a Mexican movie star is over just because he is gay; and of course, bringing Mr. Whispers down – this episode focuses on all things Xmas: family, love, happiness, joy, fun, faith, and celebration, which is highlighted by a montage of scenes featuring the sensates celebrating their birthday together around the world.
I can’t say I have any complaints about the show’s representation of the LGBT community thus far. In fact, I would like to applaud two of this episode’s scenes.
When Lito visits Nomi after finding out his relationship with Hernando was making the headlines of every tabloid in Mexico City, she tells him: “I’m worried for you. I hope that what I said to you at the museum didn’t make you do something you didn’t want to do.”
“No. No. What you said was important to me. I needed you to say it,” he replies. “But it doesn’t make what is going to happen any easier. I know I can be a bit…dramatic. But really, when you came out, did you have to deal with anything like this?”
Cut to Nomi visiting Lito in Mexico City and experiencing the harassment he has been going through since the photos of him and Hernando having sex were made public.
Later in the episode, when Nomi and Amanita are having a moment in their tiny little room at the women’s shelter, she joins the conversation: “I know we live in our little bubble world in this city, but, I mean, when I look at those pictures of Lito and Hernando, I think, ‘That’s hot.’ I just don’t get it! Why can’t the rest of the world see what we see?”
In Nomi and Amanita’s “bubble world,” better known as San Francisco, being a gay actor does not necessarily mean your career is over. The same can be said of the second entertainment mecca in the world, New York City. In Mexico City, however, most actors are forced to hide their homosexuality in order to maintain a successful career.
Kudos to J. Michael Straczynski and the Wachowski sisters for keeping it real when it comes to representing the LGBT community in other countries as well.
Another powerful and touching moment occurs when Lito realizes he is going to have to face his mother, who now knows he is gay thanks to the media, on Christmas Day.
“I always save your clippings. The good, the bad and the inevitable,” Lito’s mom tells him when he arrives home for Xmas dinner.
She continues, “This wasn’t the hard part, and it wasn’t the friends thrusting the pictures in my face with their sincerest condolences. I never had so many friends call. Who knew I was so popular? Dear friends, dear colleagues, dear all: Now that my famous movie-star son is here, let me thank each and every one of you for showing me your true colors during this dark and difficult period. Truly.”
“Mama, I’m sorry,” Lito tells his mother after she finishes speaking her mind in a room that is decorated for a big party, yet empty.
“No. You have nothing to apologize for. Come here, my baby penguin,” she responds opening her arms and welcoming her son into her arms. “I know you could have denied it all like so many others, and you didn’t. And I have never been prouder of you. I am your mama, and I always knew this day was coming.”
“You knew?” asks a very surprised Lito.
“Of course. You were too good a dancer to be a straight boy,” says Lito’s mom.
All and all, “Sense8” is a show that celebrates diversity in all of its forms, and it does it staying true to itself, and honoring the fact that love, in whatever shape or form it might come in, is something to be honored and cherished. Now, if you add incredibly smart and complex characters, action-packed scenes, and let’s be honest, an orgy here and there, you have a perfect combo.
“Sense8” returns to Netflix for a second, 10-episode season on May 5, 2017.