It’s strange to say, given that it’s a narratively complex sci-fi thriller, but plot is not the most important thing for Sense8. It isn’t a brilliant show because of its mythology or its long-term plotting. It’s a brilliant show because of its characters. The conflict with B.P.O. is compelling, but that story line isn’t without holes and weak spots. The focused conflicts in the sensates’ lives — and the ways those conflicts overlap and interplay with each other — are much more captivating because they’re more character-driven. The season’s penultimate episode steps back slightly from the B.P.O. crisis to zero in on what’s happening in the cluster’s lives, bringing many of their arcs to crucial turning points ahead of the finale.
Wolfgang tells Kala he’s sick of hearing her talk in circles about her life, about why it isn’t right to be with him. And I agree. While all the sensates have been trapped in some way this season, Kala has been the most mired in her life with Rajan. Perhaps because Rajan isn’t a fleshed-out character, her story line feels even more static and tedious. But Wolfgang demands that they start living in the moment, that she stop thinking about what is right and start thinking about what she wants right now. They share a dazzling kiss that reflects that sense of immediacy, and Kala agrees that it’s time for them to run away. Finally! The music choices are always strong on Sense8, and the lyrics in Gert Tabener’s “In Need” that play over Wolfgang and Kala’s scene — “This bond between us is so special to me” — get at the heart of their intense relationship.
Spiraling in the wake of his father’s death, Will is haunted by nightmares of Sara Patrell, Whispers, Angelica, and his cravings for heroin. His grim descent has direct ramifications on the cluster: When Capheus’s campaign speech gets overtaken by violent demonstrators from Mandiba’s camp, Capheus is left vulnerable. Sun and Will step in to try and save him from an attacker, but Will is far from his A-game. After Capheus’s Superpower acquaintance swoops in for the save, it’s a wake-up call for Will, who realizes that his actions affect the cluster. “When my father was killed, I went a bit crazy, too,” Capheus assures him. Will promises the cluster he won’t screw up again. When it comes to the sensates’ individual skills and knowledge, they all complement each other with interlocking abilities that make them unstoppable as a group. When it comes to their lived experiences, to their emotional responses and states of mind, they overlap in fascinating ways. The ability to borrow each other’s skills is handy, but it’s those emotional parallels that make being a sensate much deeper and spiritual than a mere party trick.
Both of those connections are seen through Sun and Lito in this episode, especially as Lito finally gets his groove back. At the exact moment he’s called in to audition for Hollywood producer Kit Wrangler, Sun is also put to the test. Undercover as a bartender for her brother’s corporate party, the event manager challenges her to make a sidecar. At the very last second, Lito swoops in to flair bartend “the best sidecar in the world.” He knows doing so might botch his audition, but he also knows he has to be there for Sun. (After all, she was there for him in the last episode and she constantly protects all of the sensates with her fists.) As it turns out, the audition isn’t ruined. Sun visits Lito, perfectly executing the audition for him, because she can relate to the words she’s reciting on a personal level.
It’s a great episode for Lito, even though some of the Hollywood spectacle at Kit Wrangler’s party gets a little ridiculous. At one point, there’s an inexplicable live costuming session right in the middle of the party that requires Lito to strip down to his underwear and don the over-the-top look of the role he just landed. We meet his co-star Blake (Cheyenne Jackson), a three-time Academy Award winner with a literary mind who hits it off with Hernando right away. Lito eventually makes his way down to the beach, where Hernando finds him fretting over not being good enough. For Lito, acting isn’t a career; it is his dream. It’s part of his identity. “There’s nothing more frightening than having a dream come true,” Hernando says, always wise and grand with his words. Then the two men recreate the most iconic scenes from From Here to Eternity, making out on the beach as waves crash around them, signaling not only a turning point in Lito’s arc but a transcendental moment in which he becomes something he never thought he could be because of his sexuality. While Lito breaking into Hollywood is a huge step for his career, coming out is a huge step for his sense of self. Rolling around in the ocean with the man he loves, unanchored and liberated, makes for a powerful image.
At the end of the episode, the cluster comes together to let Sun know that they’re there for her. “One way or another, we end it,” Wolfgang says. His words touch on Sun’s predicament, but it’s also implied that he’s referring to the grander conflict that connects them all, declaring a promise to B.P.O. and any enemy who gets in their way. No matter what, they will survive together. “Take everything that matters, push it all into this,” Kala says, placing her hand on Sun’s fist as the others follow suit. The sensates all fight in their individual lives, but they are all fighting for the same essential thing: each other. Sense8 is defined by its compelling characters, and although they can stand on their own, they’re most moving in the ways they overlap and interplay. Even when plotlines like Capheus’s run for office waver, the characters, their convictions, and their emotions fuel Sense8.