Review: Sense8 (Christmas Special 2016)

A Treat

It’s hard not to feel Christmassy with this 2 hour special for Sense8 fans, after its considerable hiatus.

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Not the most obvious cosy Christmas Special candidate, Sense8 returned with a 2-hour event on the Netflix horizon to kick off the new season, due to start in May 2017. Well, over a year since Season 1 aired, the cast (well, seven eighths of it) are back, and as strong as ever. Capheus’ replacement, Toby Onwumere, seems to be settling into his role just fine, but it will still take a little getting used to after Aml Ameen’s childlike spirit and fantastically optimistic Van Damme enthusiast. Luckily, his new makeover partners him with an old friend, Jela (Paul Ogola), who more than makes up for the lack of consistency, and then some. Other supporting cast members such as Felix (Max Mauff) equally deserve such praise.

Two hours never passed so quickly, more than earning its 120-minute time slot with a rich and busy plot in preparation for the new series. The special certainly jumpstarts the latent imagination for the Sense8 universe. From the immersive and exhilarating opening scene, with the eight connecting beautifully through water, quenching thirsts to the sounds of Aviccii’s satisfying cover of Feeling Good; to the New Year’s Eve gunfight scene in Germany. It was an absolute treat for fans, a movable feast that jumped around the world in celebration of birthdays and Christmas. While the new Capheus took a little more of a back seat, Sun (Doona Bae), Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) and Will (Brian J. Smith) were given the chance to shine. Sun’s beautiful friendship with fellow inmates, taking pleasure in the little things in life from her small cell, and Will’s heartbreaking phone call with father Michael – played by the fantastic Joe Pantoliano – were two of many satisfactory moments in this embarrassment of riches. The overarching villain, Mr Whispers (Terrence Mann), was accompanied by the demons and villains of the eight individual plotlines that spanned the oceans. The cultural fusion continues in proving the potential of this show, still very much in its infancy. Still, Wolfie’s mobster plot persists as one of the most exciting and interesting, and Riemelt is compelling in driving his story to the fore.

The tiresome, unfunny forced duo in Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and Amanita (Freema Agyeman) were balanced by the hilarious rekindling friendship of Wolfgang and lifetime friend Felix, as well as the surprising slapstick of Kala (Tina Desai) and Wolfie, everyone’s favourite couple – sorry Will and Riley (Tuppence Middleton). It was funny, scary, beautiful, colourful, big and bold, and about a million other words from the dictionary that can describe the human condition and the celebration of people when we aren’t beating ourselves up too much about all the baggage and bad connotations that the word, humanity, can bring.

However, there was an issue. The satisfaction of having these sensates together, something the Wachowskis held back in Season 1, is now being overindulged. The scenes are amazing and beautiful, but with each one came a sense of overriding overkill. If not for the season of overindulgence, these slow-mos of beach raves and German nachtclubs would be too much.

Overall, the Christmas special is a surprising Christmas treat, that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, while outside your mind is propelled forward in preparation for the harsh reality of new beginnings, New Year, and a new season. This was the perfect move for the show to make, providing rations for the winter, that keeps fans going until 5th May, from that cold courtyard in Berlin where the sensates have clustered.

Watch the Sense8 Christmas Special now on Netflix. Series 2 returns 5 May 2017.


About Author

Fourth year French and English student and 2018/19 Live Editor for The Edge.

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