First up, it’s impossible to fully express my thoughts on the so-called finale without spoilers. So there will be a second review soon (it’s already in the works) that will deal with all the parts of the special that I wouldn’t want to spoil for people who haven’t watched the special yet. I will also address some of the controversy that has, unfortunately, split the Sense8 fanmily there. Please note that there will be spoilers about seasons 1 & 2 without notice. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to talk about the plot at all. I will also not hold back when it comes to naming some of the characters we get to meet (again), but I won’t give away how we get to see them again.
My (first) experience of „Amor Vincit Omnia“ was actually a truly unique one. Never before had I watched a season (or series) finale for the first time almost completely in public. That doesn’t mean I watched it in a movie theater, no! I watched it on the train, at the airport and on the plane. The 151-minute-long episode was released on Netflix Germany at 9:01 on Friday, June 8, I had to be in school at 9:45 at the latest and left for the airport right after class at 11:30. So I downloaded the episode to my smartphone and started watching on the S-Bahn train on the way to Munich airport. I continued watching at the airport – and got to the really really emotional parts on the plane, where I had to keep myself from sobbing loudly (I did have tears streaming down my face). I did have to stop before the final 10 minutes or so (for reasons that will only be disclosed in the spoilery post).
By now I have watched it a number of times at home, not always completely and not always entirely focusing on it the whole time, but it has been imprinted in my mind and – in my heart. There are a small number of things about the special that could have been done better, but I’m going to focus mainly on what makes this special so watchable – and, well, so special.
As Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) is still in the hands of the BPO (I couldn’t disclose this in my (German) review of seasons 1 & 2 up to that point), he is one main focus of the plot, especially in the first third of the special, where we learn more about his family background in the flashbacks he has while being sedated and on blockers. You understand even more what made him kill his father (and uncle) and why he thinks he isn’t worth being loved. As you know, if you’ve followed me either here or on Twitter, I can’t really get enough of Max Riemelt as Wolfgang, and so I’ve enjoyed every single scene with him and I honestly feel that Max’s acting has become even better, as he seems more comfortable now with acting in English than maybe in the first season. More about Wolfgang in the upcoming second part of the review.
The cluster together – including their „sidekicks“
This is actually one of the things that I missed a bit: We don’t get to see all the first real-life meetings between the sensates and their „sidekicks“ Dani (Eréndira Ibarra) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman). But this is something that was already missing from Season 2 episode 11 where towards the end we see the cluster working together to kidnap Jonas (Naveen Andrews) and Whispers (Terrence Mann). I felt a bit robbed of these moments but I’m pretty sure that Lana Wachowski and the other writers would have taken their time more to give us these moments if they had been given a complete third season.
That being said, there are a number of wonderful group sequences, from the funny turning bad-ass operation Trojan Horse to the „I feel you“-music sequence – and, of course, the finale of the special (see what I did there? 😉 ). My heart felt so full of joy while at the same time aching with a sense of longing and a tiny bit of loss. Even if my mind won’t accept that these were the last times we’d see all of them together, my heart clearly felt scared of losing them.
And while we don’t see how the cluster all meet for the first time, we do get first-time meetings and reunions with some of the sidekicks (you might also call them „significant others“) – and they made my heart sing with utter joy. Especially Bug (Michael X. Sommers), Rajan (Purab Kohli), Detective Mun (Sukku Son) and Felix (Max Mauff) get beautiful and/or funny moments, some of which actually made me squeal with excitement (remember: I watched this in public). I can only imagine how exhilarating it must have been to experience this in a whole movie theater filled with Sense8 fans! But I didn’t care about my surroundings, I pretty much let my feelings flow…
It becomes quite clear that the cluster of the eight sensates alone wouldn’t be enough to defeat Whispers and the BPO – and just as I loved the idea of Star Wars: The Last Jedi that „the Force“ lies within everyone and not just a few „chosen ones“, I cherish how essential the Homo Sapiens are alongside the Homo Sensoriums. It’s not them against us – not only are bridges built between the different continents and circumstances the sensates come from, but also bridges between the sensates and their „normal“ friends and families. (Side note: What is quite interesting about what I’ve just written is the fact that this all just came to me while I was writing this.) Some of these „supporting characters“ rise to the challenge in a most unexpected way, which makes some of the developments that I’m going to talk about in the SPOILER post believable to me.
The Wachowskis rose to fame with Matrix, as everyone knows, and one of the appeals of this movie (or indeed the trilogy, even if I don’t really like part 2 and 3) to me is the action. The fight sequences in Matrix – and they way they were shot – were groundbreaking, and they also play a big role in Sense8. There were a number of Martial Arts fight scenes involving Sun and Mun over which I would have erupted into applause in a movie theater! Such great fight choreography! Of course, some might argue, there is too much and kind of redundant action in the special – bringing back „an old friend‟ of Wolfgang’s admittedly feels a bit repetitive -, but some of it is surely simply fan service. And yes, I admit it: I do love well-choreographed, bad-ass and well-shot action sequences! Even – or maybe especially – in the midst of all these positive messages of togetherness and love.
Amor Vincit Omnia
Love conquers all. Of course, love is omnipresent throughout the whole series, displaying two of the most beautiful, lovable queer couples ever: Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) and Hernando (Alfonso Herrera), Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and Amanita. Herlito, as the fandom calls them, unfortunately doesn’t shine that much in the special as it’s very clearly Nomanita who are closest to Lana Wachowski’s heart, as they surely represent Lana and her wife Karin. So it is them who are in the limelight in the last about twenty minutes. And, honestly, rightly so. Even though I usually don’t get „the feels“ with lesbian couples (the movie Carol, for instance, left me completely cold), these two made me cry of joy so hard, tears were literally streaming down my face (while on the plane to London). The celebration of their love – in different ways – touched me deep inside and continues to do so every time I rewatch it. In these moments all minor quibbles I might have about the plot feeling rushed, the background about Jonas, Angelica (Daryl Hannah) and Whispers being dealt with too quickly and seeming a little forced, about new players being introduced with not too much effect on the plot after all, all these aspects fade into the background because my heart is full to the brim with love – to the point that it physically hurts. To a non-Sensie this might sound cheesy and completely over the top, but that’s just how it is. I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way – Sense8 has triggered something in me that I haven’t experienced before. And that says a lot about a 48-year-old TV addict. 😉
So, is it a finale then?
I hadn’t exactly looked forward to the special, instead I had dreaded its coming as I feared it might actually really feel like a finale that does not leave any backdoor open for a continuation of the series. The trailer had the quote „This is the end“ and „FINALE“ in big letters, some of the other promo clips featured the cast saying the word „finale“… I wasn’t too hopeful, even though first reactions from the previews and premiere sounded rather uplifting: „You’re gonna love it!“
The miracle of it all is that the very issues one might have with the plot and some of the new(er) characters keep most of the Sense8 fanmily hope for more. There is a lot left to explore, it’s by no means an ending that is fulfilling on all levels. That fact has given me back the will and determination to fight for more, to keep promoting the show and to support Sense8, its fans, cast and crew in any way I can.
To name one example: I have backed the San Francisco mural project „I Am Also A We‟, initiated by the muralist Deirdre Weinberg and supported by Maximilienne Ewalt (who plays Amanita’s mother) on Kickstarter. I’ve pledged enough money to guarantee that my name and country will be on that mural. This may sound like a waste of money to many if not most of my readers, but having physical proof of my being connected to the idea that is Sense8 (for it is more than „just a TV show“ to me and so many others, including actors of the series), makes me very happy. Plus, I saw that money was only slowly coming in and I wanted to help a little more than I already had. Another $6,500 must be raised within only 8 days left for this project to happen! Please klick on the link above to contribute if you want and can.
So, let me draw a conclusion and quote myself from a comment I left at Medea Rants (a blog by fellow Sensie Siddy Nickhead):
[T]he most important thing about Sense8 is how it speaks to my heart. It’s always the most important aspect when I review a movie or series (or play): Has it moved me? If it has, plot becomes secondary. To me the relationships & the messages of unity while being different & love & sex being something beautiful and almost sacred – no matter with whom, as long as you care for each other, are what makes Sense8 unique, everything else (cinematography, fight scenes…) is just some extra on top.
This is true for the whole series (up to now) in general and the special in particular. I’d like to add and, thus, conclude the no-spoilers part with three quotes from the special that have special meaning to me and should have for this world in which we are living right now. How you interpret these words, is up to everyone themselves.
Neutrality in the face of evil is complicity.
[…] people endow what is familiar with new, ever-evolving meaning, and by doing so, release us from the expected, the familiar, into something unforeseeable. It is in this unfamiliar realm we find new possibilities. It is in the unknown we find hope.
We live in a world that distrusts feelings. Over and over, we are reminded that feelings are not as important as reason. That feelings are childish, irresponsible, dangerous. We are taught to ignore them, control them, or deny them. […] But I know that feelings matter. Sometimes they are little […] and sometimes they are huge. However, if you’re lucky, I mean really lucky, a feeling comes along that will change everything.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤