Sense8 Recap: All in This Together

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Photo: Murray Close/Netflix
Sense8

Sense8

I Have No Room In My Heart For Hate Season 2 Episode 7
Editor's Rating 4 stars

“Violence has a gender,” declares one of Amanita’s three fathers during “I Have No Room in My Heart for Hate.” They’re referring to a mass shooting in New York City that’s quietly mentioned in the beginning of the episode and given significant meaning later on, thanks to a crucial discovery from Amanita. According to her dads — all past partners of her mother, though none of whom know who the biological father is, eschewing traditional family lines and giving Amanita a rather Mamma Mia! background — it’s always men perpetuating this type of public violence. At first, the conversation seems to be a way to contextualize Amanita’s upbringing, reinforcing her parents’ radical, intellectual ways of thinking. But the scene gets at something deeper about Sense8 and the way it interrogates and challenges toxic masculinity.

It’s clear that toxic masculinity is one of the many enemies on this show. As Hernando, Lito, and Dani bound into their home, dancing and chanting, “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” Joaquin returns. Joaquin is an over-the-top villain straight out of one of Lito’s movies, who once suggested that he can’t help being violent because it’s how he was raised, but that doesn’t mean he’s an unbelievable character. He embodies the gendered violence of ongoing domestic abuse, and to make matters even more disturbing, he has a stamp of approval from Dani’s parents, who would rather she be with him than live with Lito and Hernando. Lito once again stands up to Joaquin, with Wolfgang by his side, but it’s ultimately Dani who has the last word, finally giving agency to the character. She tells her parents she is home, standing between these two men who have loved and protected her, and she finally breaks free from her family’s cycle of control, threats, and money.

Toxic masculinity and homophobia are dear friends, and Lito finds himself stifled by both, sending him crashing down from the joyful high of São Paulo. He returns home to find that his agency has dropped him. Two million YouTube views of his pride parade speech mean nothing to his management. As an out and proud gay man, Lito is no longer seen as a movie hero, as if his queerness somehow dilutes his strength and sex appeal. When a crushed Lito enters the elevator, occupied by another handsome man, Sense8 again plays with our expectations. It looks like the two men might start making out, an act of desperation after Lito received the worst news of his life, but instead something much more tender and meaningful happens: The man pulls Lito into a firm, supportive hug and thanks him.

“I Have No Room in My Heart for Hate” also refocuses on Capheus’s relationship with his mother, who utters the titular line in a flashback to the days following the death of Capheus’s father, when young Capheus considered shooting his father’s killers as revenge. But his mother’s resilience, courage, and empathy convinced him to throw the gun into a lake and move forward. Capheus’s past and his father’s death resurface when Zakia accidentally reveals to his mother that he intends to run for office, a political act not unlike the work that got his father killed. Capheus’s priority is his mother: If she doesn’t want him to run, he won’t. But she sees his father in him, and even though it scares her, she knows she cannot stop him. Like his father, he feels a responsibility to make his home a better place.

The men of Sense8 are not inherently violent or macho. The men of the cluster show tenderness, love, and care in a way that isn’t always afforded to male characters on television. There’s no hierarchy within the cluster, and just like the women aren’t boxed into gender roles as damsels, the men aren’t unfeeling knights. When Riley travels to Chicago, Will finally has a chance to reconnect with Diego, who has been kept in the dark about everything since Will disappeared. Riley gives him a quick explanation of her psychic connection with Will, and Diego doesn’t dismiss it, but it doesn’t really matter to him. What matters is Will’s absence and the anger he feels over being abandoned by his best friend. Will calls him to apologize, explaining that he couldn’t tell him anything because he knew he would be questioned countless times by federal agencies. Will knew there was nothing more important to Diego than his job, and Diego cuts in to say that he’s actually more important. Diego and Will love each other and aren’t afraid to acknowledge the depths of their friendship.

Even Wolfgang, whose attempts to eclipse the shadow of his father largely define him, doesn’t buy into toxic masculinity. As we’ve learned, his father was the enemy because of his stringent, violent rules for how to be a man. Wolfgang was a soft young boy with a love for movies. His father molded him into a fighter, and he has been trying to break free ever since. When Sun visits her parents’ grave, contemplating what to do with her brother, the entire cluster visits her to offer their advice. Wolfgang compares his father to her brother — two men who both used power to control and manipulate others. Wolfgang’s father expected him to behave a certain way in order to “be a man,” and Sun’s brother expects her to act a certain way as a woman.

The scene at Sun’s parents’ grave allows each of the sensates to bring forth their pasts and their intricate relationships with the people who raised them. Parallels emerge, but so do contrasts: Nomi points out that she never had a parent support her in the way Sun’s mother did. Capheus uses his own story to caution Sun from acting on hate. Riley reminds her that what happened was not her fault, a lesson she herself had to learn in order to forgive herself for the past. Lito points out that no matter what she decides, Sun will not be alone, and the cluster embraces in a warm, tangled group hug that reinforces their closeness.

Kala also stands up to Rajan in the episode, coming forward with the discovery that shipping documents are being falsified. At first, he dismisses her, claiming that it’s standard business practice in the pharmaceutical industry to sell drugs past their expiration dates. He shows little empathy for the patients receiving those potentially ineffective drugs, pointing out that they’re far away from India. But his tunnel vision and oppressively capitalistic outlook are not met with understanding. Kala realizes, along with Capheus, that she was unwittingly part of the system that led to his mother receiving ineffective medicine. For a moment, it looks like Kala might (finally) be done with Rajan, but instead, he returns with apology roses and admits that he was wrong. He claims that he could see himself and his wrongdoings through his own eyes. Sapiens experience, on some level, the connection of sensorium — it’s called empathy. Rajan blames his beliefs on his upbringing, saying he was taught to believe in this company the way people are taught to believe in religion. Rajan is making small strides toward transcending his past, too. But we’ve yet to see how far he’s willing to go to stop his company from taking advantage of poor communities.

While “I Have No Room in My Heart for Hate” is chock-full of moving character moments, it also ends with some more answers. A late-night Googling spiral leads Amanita to the reveal that the killer in the mass shooting was Todd, one of Angelica’s children. One of the victims killed in the shooting was a British politician giving a speech on the importance of multiculturalism and acceptance, and he turned out to be an old friend of Ruth, the founder of B.P.O. Riley finally meets with the sensorium on the inside of B.P.O. at the end of the episode, having taken a beta blocker as a test in a moment that’s a slight callback to the Wachowski’s Matrix movies. The woman she meets helped Angelica escape B.P.O. so that she could give birth to Riley’s cluster. She reveals that Angelica first started working with B.P.O. to try to find her children, but no one could have predicted how quickly B.P.O. turned into an oppressive, murderous organization once Ruth was gone.

Whispers — whose full name is revealed as Dr. Milton Bradley Brand — developed neurographing, which allows him to control sensates outside of his cluster, a skill we’ve seen him use with Niles in the first season and with the woman who killed Croome this season. He did the same thing to Todd to carry out the shooting. In its supposed attempts to extinguish sensorium so that they can’t be weaponized, B.P.O. has created a dangerous, deadly weapon. None of the new information Riley acquires is particularly game-changing or shocking, although the episode ends with the big reveal that Jonas isn’t dead after all. Good or bad, dead or alive, it’s never easy to tell exactly what Jonas is. But if he can bring some momentum to the cluster’s war on B.P.O., then his return will be a welcome one.

Sense8 Recap: All in This Together