Before Sense8 came about, the film industry was getting rocky for the Wachowskis. Their movies weren’t hitting with audiences, and it seemed that studio meddling was making already confusing entries like Jupiter Ascending even messier. But thematically, their messages about freedom, love, and anti-corporate justice stayed consistent. And regardless of the varying script quality, the visual splendor and action iconography of their movies are still nearly impossible to beat.
So when Sense8 came around, it seemed like the siblings would be challenged to compress their big — and often unrefined — ideas into a smaller, thriftier, more intimate medium. But in episodes like “You Want a War?” we get to see their cinematic vision more cogently than ever. With an inexplicably big budget — the huge cast, multiple continents, and enormous set pieces — an ensemble that now interacts like a family, and a thrilling script, “You Want a War?” is its own movie. Sun’s 24-minute chase through Seoul could stand up with the best of Bourne. And what’s more: This action thriller of an episode features a queer cast, as created and showrun by a trans woman. This isn’t a gay show, or a genre addiction; it’s something new, and I can only hope it continues to thrive — in multiple countries, with a beautiful polyglot cast of characters who love and fight for their chosen family.
At the start of Sense8’s first season, Sun was perhaps the most confusing of the characters. She was the repressed daughter of a millionaire businessman… and a pro cagefighter? But by the time she showed up in a pink wig to the J-Bak Summer Gala, she had evolved into the one we most root for. She’s kind and sensitive, and she sticks up for her friends. But do not cross this hardass.
The cluster has a plan to extricate Sun’s brother and get him to admit to his wrongs — patricide, attempted fratricide, and embezzlement — but once Joong-Ki gives a rehearsed speech about their father, Sun is finished. She grabs a knife and gets moving, but before she can strike, Detective Mun shows up to arrest Joong-Ki. But the snake shoots our beloved Hot Detective and pegs it on his sister, unaware that she’s actually there. As he runs, he spots her, pulling her wig off and pulsing with rage. “What do we do now?” Kala asks. “We get that motherf—er,” Will responds. That’s right, you better run.
Chasing her brother and his goons into the garage, Sun accepts an assist from Kala. She fires at the gas tankers of several cars, setting off an explosion. Speaking of character evolutions, can we all agree that Kala is dope? You could tell Wolfgang couldn’t get enough of her with a gun. Neither could I.
Joong-Ki tries to get away alone. Sun goes after him. At this point, she’s wearing only a bra, sequined shorts and booties, and she’s holding the biggest handgun I’ve ever seen. For those of us who were — to put it nicely — disappointed with Emilia Clarke’s Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, it appears that Linda Hamilton has been properly reborn in Doona Bae. She and Capheus hop a motorcycle and go after her brother, and even Joong-Ki has to admit: “My sister’s the f—ing Terminator!”
They tear through the streets in a classic Wachowski chase. Cars flip, markets get demolished, and Sun serves some sickening side-eyes from a motorcycle. Finally, she drives a pole into Joong-Ki’s whip, flipping it over. He crawls out, bleeding and begging for mercy. Sun takes a long walk, ready to end it, but finally lets go and spares him just as the cops arrive. She’s arrested, and he gets escorted back into a limo. It’s not over.
Luckily, her buddies are here: Will helps her uncuff herself, and Nomi causes a traffic light malfunction that sets her police escort van upside down. Sun is clearly terrified, but her family holds her close, and she survives. What now? The pervy Puck comes to the rescue, likely tipped off by the Archipelago. They ride off to uncertain safety.
After helping to save her sister, Nomi crashes into bed with Amanita. But before they can relax, she checks in with her love: “Are you okay with this?” This is growth for Nomi: Her journey this season has been to step out of herself and look out for others in her life, and she’s finally getting there. Amanita is not only okay with it, but committed to it for the rest of her life. She’s also had voices in her head, ones that said to her, “Whatever you do, do not let her go.” Just as she pulls out a ring to propose to Nomi, the future Mrs. Caplan does her one better and whips out a ring of her own. It’s a draw, and they couldn’t be giddier. This couple has been a delight since their early Nancy Drew adventures. This is going to be an amazing wedding. And an even better honeymoon orgy.
The weakest part of the episode comes in Mumbai, when Rajan returns home. Apparently, he’s involved in a political corruption case, and Ajay is at the center of it. It’s all pretty silly. Now their marriage could be in danger? I have no idea what is going on there, and neither Kala nor I seem to care. He’s rented an apartment in Paris and needs her to go there for her safety. No need to ask her twice.
Sun and Riley watch news reports in a Love Motel. It seems that Hot Detective is going to make it. But Puck won’t leave them alone. He thinks he’s entitled to a reward from “the princess.” With Riley’s nod, Sun breaks his toes and calmly orders him: “Go. Sit.” Though I would have liked for Tuppence Midddleton to get more lines in this episode, it’s mesmerizing watching her interact with the other actors, particularly Doona Bae. It’s clear from anyone who stalks the Sense8 Instagram that this cast has gotten close over their many months of travel, and it shows in these quieter scenes. The two women seem to move together instinctively, beyond any direction. There aren’t a lot of ensembles that can do this.
Will wants them to get information out of Puck. Apparently, he’s connected with 387 other sensates, a mind-boggling number considering how much trouble we’ve had from just our eight. But the interview gets cut short. Puck’s been warned: The Cannibal is hunting. No one is safe.
Kala and Wolfgang pack and flirt. She inspects his gun, and he pokes around with her lingerie. But before she boards her flight to Paris, she needs to know that he really loves her. “If I told you that you’re the last thought I have before I sleep,” Wolfgang says, “if I told you that you’re the first thought I have when I wake… if I told you how much I love you, will it have done any good?” The wait to Paris feels unbearable at this point, and after seeing our other couples on the show hit such peaks, I couldn’t help but get excited for these two.
But then Lila shows up, and it all comes crashing down. She’s sold Wolfgang out to Whispers, and his goons show up at Wolfy’s pad — with Tasers. He’s out, and Kala scrambles through the minds of her cluster to come up with a plan. She’s going to need to manufacture a lot of psy-blockers.
Whispers straps Wolfgang down and puts him through a horrific series of electroshocks to draw out his connections. The pain electrifies the whole cluster, nearly incapacitating them all at once. But now, Whispers has a lock on Kala. Will begs Jonas to help them, but it’s too late: He’s crossed over. According to him, there’s only one way out, and Angelica already took it.
The shocks hit Lito particularly hard, and he starts spitting blood in the bathroom. When Hernando tells Dani to call an ambulance, Lito begs him not to: They have to go to London. Suddenly, it’s on. Sun — wearing a FABULOUS incognito ensemble — boards a plane from Seoul, and Nomi and Amanita grab their passports and go as well.
Whispers takes a break from torturing poor Wolfgang to meet with Will in the interrogation room. But he doesn’t realize that Will is actually there, and we get to relish Brian J. Smith beating the crap out of Dr. Milton. He gives Jonas one last chance to help them, but he won’t do it: He and Whispers are too intrinsically linked now. No matter. Sun, Neets, Capheus and Nomi show up at Jonas’s door and take him out.
Now, we’ve got our entire cluster — save Wolfgang — together. And they’ve got Jonas and Whispers in their hands. Though we missed out on some big in-the-flesh meetings and group hugs, it’s undeniably epic to see the gang together in the flesh. They’ve got a corporation to defeat, a community of sensates to unite, and loved ones who need to know the truth. But first and foremost, can they rescue Wolfgang and have an IRL group-sex session? It’s been a surprisingly sex-light season. Aren’t we owed a big bang for season 3?
In a tightly constructed, beautifully shot season, the best part has been watching this cast get closer. I hope we get news of a third season soon and can continue to watch these beautiful, queer-friendly, and crazy talented people travel the world together on a mission of love.