Sense8: impressions

I just finished watching Season 1 of Sense8, and I'm glad I got around to it -- I really enjoyed it.

I haven't spent a lot of time with the philosophy and metaphysics of the series, so I may ultimately change my mind. (I'm particularly aware of that possibility with a film by the Wachowskis, because of The Matrix, which has more narrative holes than narrative.)

But I am absolutely in love with the relationship that the series has to its medium. It's like they built the metaphysics of this universe backwards from the question "What can we do with a camera?" It's a really, amazingly, brilliantly film-based series.

(Spoilers hereafter)

In the last handful of episodes, I started to realize that the mechanics also justify the series's action-movie-style events. The standard-issue action hero seems to have several careers' worth of professional experience, including more than one kind of martial skillset, plus the backstory of a normal, well-adjusted person, and a perspective and goals within the realm of sympathy for a standard human adult.

In Sense8, this wild inconsistency of persona vanishes in what becomes eight separate narratives about individuals with their own coherent pathos, plus seven other people's worth of skill sets and temperaments. 

When Wolfgang couldn't lie to get himself another couple inches to reach his gun, Leto -- a professional actor -- took over. When Whispers played chicken with Will's sense of moral obligation to human life, Will let Wolfgang take the wheel (figuratively and literally), granting him a moment of plausible utter disregard for human life without destroying Will's character.

I've only watched through once, but I was paying careful attention when I did, and I noticed a lot of places with blurry material continuity -- like, sensates who are not physically present picking up and handling things when they aren't embodying the present character in the scene. But I don't remember ever seeing a moment where it was consequential -- like, in Episode 12, Kala makes a bomb for Wolfgang and prepares a shot for Will, when she isn't present. The two men just sit there, but Kala noticeably doesn't help by manipulating materials until after they're in a position where they can do it themselves. 

Which is a long way of saying I'm really impressed with the attention to detail they give to their visual abstraction of the sensates' abilities.

Sense8 reminded me most vividly of two other peices of media: Inception, which also used an elaborate metaphysics to explore filmmaking, and the short story "'Run,' Bakri Says," available for free in audio and text at that link, published by Escape Pod in 2012. That story uses a metaphysical conceit to explore the mechanics of video games.

I'm excited for season 2, which I heard got picked up, and I'm excited to start digging into commentary by other people on the show.