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The Sense 8 mindset

SHARDA PATASAR Sunday, August 13 2017

Thanks to a loyal fan base, the Sense 8 Netflix series is geared to air in 2018 with a two-hour finale.

Earlier this year, to the dismay of some of us who were ardent binge watchers, the show was cancelled after its second season.

Fans took to Twitter and other online forums to petition for the return of the series. Efforts were rewarded later in June 2017 with the announcement from Netflix that the finale would be aired in 2018.

In a time of fractured relationships between people, ethnicities, race and nationalities and divisive attitudes created along these lines, getting lost in the world of film and television isn’t so much of a negative thing. If anything, the unity of the fans, against a corporation like Netflix, displays the power of the audience.

While some may debate the value of popular television, this move by fans is, more importantly, an indication of the power of stories and the content that move people to protect those stories if they have to.

Sense 8 follows the lives of eight persons who are all born at the same time in different parts of the world.

They are sensates, people who are connected telepathically and live the experiences of the people in their group or cluster. Each cluster has a mother who gives birth to them. Call her a second mother, one who gives them their sensate quality since they all have real birth mothers.

Each of the characters comes from a different city–Chicago, San Francisco, Nairobi, Mumbai, Berlin, Reykjavik, Mexico City and London–though the locations for filming extend beyond just these eight. Apart from its sometimes quirky editing (the introduction to the episodes is worth looking at) and R-rated scenes in some instances, the core of the series is its take on difference.

Comments on the divisiveness of tribal relations in Kenya that produces divisions among people even though they belong to one country; the LGBTQ representation which comments on the discrimination faced by people of such orientations; capitalist ventures that see the exportation of substandard products to countries that are ignorant of the fact that they may be importing medicines for instance that are on the verge of their expiry dates, are just some of the major issues at hand.

The telepathic connection between the characters gives these issues more weight, for shared experiences magnify sadness and injustice as they do joy. In Season 2 Episode 2 a scene stands out that, in a sense, captures the entire series.

When Lito, one of the sensates, a gay man who happens to be a public figure, openly declares his sexual orientation it comes with repercussions for his career. While the media in Mexico plays on his distress, Capheus the bus driver is under similar scrutiny in Nairobi.

In his case, discrimination comes in the form of racial prejudice.

Capheus drives a bus he calls “Van Damn.” He is an avid Van Damme fan for to him, Van Damme’s films are about courage.

It’s a simple fact for him but not for an interviewer who believes that the films glorify the white man’s courage.

“What does courage have to do with a man’s skin?” he asks his interviewer.

A question is then posed to Capheus as it is to Lito – “Who are you then?” “Who am I?” Each character repeats the question and we now see that discrimination is a universal ill.

The questions raised in response now begin to echo from city to city through the voice of each character and it is worth quoting from the scene: “Do you mean, where from? Do you mean, what I’ve done? Do you mean what you see? Do you mean what I see, what I’ve seen, what I fear, what I’ve done. Do you mean who I love? Do you mean what I’ve lost? Who am I? “I guess who I am is exactly the same as who you are. Not better than, not less than. Because there’s no one who has been or will ever be, exactly the same as either you or me.” The answers are non-linear –given the nature of the echo–though I may have presented them as such.

We can detect a linearity with the punctuated “Do you mean…?” but this is as much as we can get.

The non-linear injects a sense of the thought process that takes place when faced with a question that cannot be pinned down to one answer.

It is a deeply philosophical question and a caption that features on a Sense 8 poster “I am We,” can serve as a possible starting point for those wishing to c o n t emplate the question in relation to themselves.

And with that, I eagerly await the finale in 2018.



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