Riley takes a risk, Sun gets sweaty, and the sci-fi story takes a political turn.
If I had to boil what I love about Sense8 down to a top three, I’d say that the show’s greatest assets are montages, orgy scenes, and group hugs. Fortunately, “I Have No Room in My Heart For Hate” delivered on the hugging. And like the best episodes of the series, episode 7 pushed forward the shady mysteries of BPO while allowing for some truly joyous moments of sensate connection in the sunshine.
Finally free from nursing Will and set on a solo mission by the delightful psychic network known as the Archipelago (don’t they remind you of the Society of the Crossed Keys from The Grand Budapest Hotel, or the Order of the White Lotus from Avatar: The Last Airbender?), Riley gets some much-needed time to be active on her own. Of course, Will can’t seem to stay out of her head, which is already crowded by new visitors from her concert performance. It’s fun to see Riley — the ostensible introvert of the group — deal with a Greek chorus of personalities nagging her while she’s trying to nap.
But Will’s neurotic nudging starts to bug Riley, and they turn to Nomi to serve as the mediator. Nomi’s also kind of had it with Will, and she tries to give him the brush-off when he interrupts her at a dinner party with Amanita’s mom and three dads. I love how Nomi and Amanita are either running for their lives or partying with old hippies in just about every other episode. “We believe in pot, and sex!” one of the dads proclaims. We should all be so lucky to live in the Wachowskis’ San Francisco. While Nomi cleans dishes, Will asks her how she knows that her fake ID for Riley will work. “Every trans person needs a new ID,” she explains. “And when the government makes them too hard to get, I make it easy.” I wish Nomi could replace the stock tech goon characters on every network procedural.
When Riley lands in Chicago, she’s greeted by Will’s former partner Diego (still cute), who’s not so happy with his former partner. But Will (through Riley as a proxy) and Diego mend fences over fries and malts, and Diego agrees to take Riley where she needs to go.
In Mexico City, the darling family of Lito, Hernando and Dani return from their São Paulo adventure in soaring spirits, clad in rainbow flags, roses, and beads. They’re greeted by one of last season’s most tiresome villains: Dani’s abusive ex, Joaquin. Dani’s parents walk in with him and threaten to cut her off her trust fund if she doesn’t leave this house of debauchery immediately. But Lito steps in and grabs Dani’s suitcase before Joaquin can walk off with it. “Wanna go again, faggot?” Joaquin threatens. And then we are granted the gift of watching Miguel Ángel Silvestre — wearing a backward nipple mesh top and a tiara — shut it down. “Only if you want your ass kicked by a faggot,” he grins, nearly blissful. “Again,” his buddy Wolfgang adds, always ready to back him up.
Set free to be herself in her pink lamé shorts, Dani elects to stay with her chosen family, leaving her biological one behind. “Sorry mom,” she says tearfully, “I am home.” Dani’s parents depart, and our favorite trio nearly jump one another in kisses and hugs.
Kala seems to find her voice in this episode as well, and she stomps all over Rajan when she discovers that his company is knowingly peddling old and potentially dangerous HIV/AIDS medications to patients in other countries — namely Kenya, where Capheus’ mother would be directly put in danger. But like the sweetheart he is, Rajan comes to Kala begging for forgiveness and vows not to ever act again in a way that fails her moral standards. Oy. If only he knew what was going on in her head…
As for Capheus, he has a rather light ride this episode. Sakia tells his mother about his ambitions for office, and a bit of a blowout ensues. Though she still attributes Capheus’ father’s death to his own political career, she can’t deny that her son has the power to do good for his home. It’s been really nice to see Van Damme explore a richer side of Nairobi this season, especially with a game Toby Onwumere in the driver’s seat. After the machetes, drugs, and death of last year, Capheus deserves romance, respect, and some intellectual discourse.
Speaking of discourse, this may be Sense8’s most political episode yet. A shooting in an NYC mosque prompts discussion among Nomi, Amanita, and Riley, and while it would normally come off as a bit strident for TV characters to all agree that guns are evil, it felt not only appropriate here, but just. Queer people have known plenty of suffering of late due to gun violence, and a fantasy of empathic, empowered avengers speaking out and fighting back may be just what we need.
After viewing a video of the shooting, Amanita snoops around — “the internet is a kind of psyllium!” — and connects the main target, a professor named Mitchell Taylor, to BPO founder Ruth Al-Sadaawi. And the killer: Todd, the shady anti-sensate sensate.
Now, back to the hugging. The cluster may be moving united in the battle against BPO, but Sun feels more alone than ever. She visits her parents’ graves and starts to unravel. “Everything I considered my home is gone.” She looks back fondly on her mother, who celebrated Sun even when she was terrified for her. Sun can’t forgive herself for failing her parents, and it takes hand-holding from all seven of her sensate siblings to give her some perspective. Wolfgang compares Sun’s brother to his father; Capheus shares his lessons of finding peace after his own father’s murder; and it all ends in a perfectly magical eight-way hug.
Detective Moon, who shall henceforth be referred to as Hot Detective, shows up incognito as the cemetery groundskeeper. He tells Sun that he’s onto her brother, and that with her help, they can set things right. He makes her an offer she can’t resist: a rematch to their fight in the rain. “May I propose a test to your invulnerability?” he purrs. If she wins, she walks away. If he defeats her, she comes in to the police department and talks. Naturally, the supreme baller of the show can’t say no to a good fight.
The five-minute face-off that ensues crackles with white-hot chemistry, and amid blood and sweat, Sun and Hot Detective lock limbs and lips, and it’s mesmerizing. The only thing in this world better than watching Doona Bae beat the hell out of a man in authority is watching her do it in culottes.
But as they duel, Hot Detective finds the words to shatter Sun’s armor. “You’re not fighting a person,” he says. “You’re fighting something else. You use the false identity to fight because of your father. I think you refuse to see, to understand how special you are.” That hits a nerve, and Sun nearly melts as they start to make out. But, remembering herself, she gives him the back of her hand and knocks him unconscious. Can we please invite him to the next sensate orgy?
Riley gets a tip for a meeting with an Archipelago connection. Of course, it happens to be the abandoned church from the first scene of the first episode. Against Will’s concerns, she goes down the stairs alone and cuts off her connection to her cluster by swallowing a psy-blocker pill. She meets a former colleague of Angelica and Dr. Milton’s, who tells her all about the corruption of BPO from its original purpose. We get more of a handle on the fight against BPO, and it’s shaping up to be a classic Wachowski anti-corporate battle royale.
But most importantly, we learn where Dr. Milton got his nickname. “[Angelica] told me that the voice in your head that tells you to cut your wrist, or to take a handful of pills or to jump from a height… that voice never shouts. It only whispers.” Our secret BPO contact gives Riley the address of the show’s big bad, leaving Will to finish him for good back in London. But he’s stopped with the arrival of… Jonas?
Oh dear. It looks like we’re heading into some Lost territory. After a first half of the season that so robustly mixed the X-Men plots with the more affectionate moments among the cast, I really hope that Sense8 can keep the balance. Plus… we’re due for at least one more orgy, right?