Sense8 recap: Demons
I’ve mentioned in my recaps of the previous episodes of Sense8 that underneath all of the drugs, cover-ups, robberies, and shootouts, the show is proving to be a wonderful celebration of humanity. The sixth episode of the season, “Demons,” is the most obvious example of that ethos so far. It’s an episode brimming with love and empathy, with shared experience and culture. Plus it culminates in a cross-continental sensate vision orgy, so hey, love and lust for everybody!
Of course, not everything is sunshine and orgies for the sensates. In fact, Riley, who’s had little to do this season other than listen to The Antlers, is in serious danger. Holed up in an apartment with her friends, she’s tracked down by Nyx, who’s finally come looking for his drugs and money. Riley tells him she got rid of the cash and the drugs (which she did!), but that doesn’t satisfy Nyx.
What follows is the darkest, most uncomfortable scene of the season so far and the first time Sense8 has really established how dire the consequences are for the sensates. Nyx has his henchmen hold Riley down while he wraps a plastic bag around her head and asks her over and over again where the money is. There’s nothing she can tell him though, and Nyx won’t let up.
At the last minute, Will visits and takes over. In Chicago he’s struggling to breathe and beating off his fellow cops, who all think he’s going crazy, but in London he’s breaking the fingers of the henchmen and smashing Nyx’s face in. His intervention allows Riley to escape, but that’s likely not the last we’ve seen of Nyx.
Everywhere else there is love and compassion, even as bad things swirl around the sensates. For instance, right before Nyx finds Riley she visits with Will and shares a beer with him. They talk about what’s happening to them, about where they live and what they do. It’s a scene that’s brimming with that feeling of first love; of that all-consuming warmth you feel when you connect with someone immediately.
Kala and Wolfgang are going through similar, if more explicit motions. The morning after fainting at her wedding, Kala is getting dressed when Wolfgang visits her only moments before she is meant to meet her husband/almost-husband. Wolfgang has some fun lying in bed naked and talking about how the Germans are much more comfortable with nudity while Kala lambasts him for ruining her life.
“You didn’t want to marry that guy,” he says, and Kala knows it’s true but just can’t admit it yet. Wolfgang and Kala’s story lines have been the least compelling so far this season, mostly because not a lot has happened with them. In this episode though they show off their chemistry. The strange love story of Wolfgang and Kala, which also has a lot to do with how culture and religion shapes our understanding of sexuality and desire, finally gets some time to shine and the show is better for it.
NEXT: A tangled, sexy mess of bodies
While the sensates have been visiting each other in couples so far, “Demons” brings them all together for a giant orgy (kind of). The montage sees Nomi and Amanita making love in Amanita’s childhood bedroom, Lito and Hernando making love while Daniela pleasures herself, Wolfgang laying back and experiencing it all in the spa in Berlin, while Will feels the pleasure of it all during his workout.
It’s a beautiful, sensual scene, the emotional power of which comes from the editing. We see the sensates experience one another. Lito caresses Will as he lifts weights, and also kisses Amanita; Nomi and Amanita are pressed against one another, then Nomi is gliding up to Wolfgang in the spa. The crosscutting is staggering, creating a sense of pure, shared pleasure. It’s not only a stirring affirmation of human sexuality, but also drives home the episode’s (and show’s) main thematic concern, which is that the human experience is one that’s shared, that knows no physical, racial, sexual, or class boundaries.
If anything, “Demons” and Sense8 is about how necessary empathy is in our world. We live in a world where we have the power of digital connection and yet remain removed from one another. Sense8, especially in the orgy scene, suggests that empathy and understanding can go a long way. The orgy that takes place is about shared, mutual pleasure, and that pleasure is open to everyone no matter their sexual preferences, gender, race, or culture.
Empathy even extends to the bad guys here. Silas, who’s built some sort of sketchy empire in Nairobi, has charged Capheus not with delivering more coconuts but with transporting his daughter to and from the hospital. Silas’ daughter has leukemia, and considering that he has many enemies, he can’t drive her to her appointments himself; it would put her in too much danger.
So in steps Capheus, who in exchange for a full week’s pay and presumably continued access to the medication his mother needs, uses Van Damn to transport Silas’ daughter. Having Silas give a short speech about how everything he does is for his daughter so that she can have a future is a little too easy in terms of changing the audience’s perception of a character. Still, it works in the sense that this is the world Sense8 has created; the show promotes a worldview that suggests we all have struggles and that it’s important to understand that everyone around us is dealing with pain, anger, insecurity, loss, etc.
That sense of empathy is the throughline of the episode and the anchor of the touching final scene between Sun and Riley. Riley is crying because of her torturous encounter with Nyx while Sun is in jail awaiting her move to prison the next day after taking the fall for her brother.
The two discuss the danger they’re in and how alone they feel. Sun, despite initially thinking she was doing the right thing, now has her doubts. Riley has regrets too; she just wants to go visit her father but is scared to do so and scared of Nyx following her.
They’re both frightened by the decisions that lie in front of them. But there’s a way to confront those decisions. “I thought I was alone,” says Riley, to which Sun replies, “me too.” They’re not alone though, and Sense8 suggests that nobody is really alone; all it takes is a little compassion and understanding to make a connection, to feel human, to feel loved.