As Sense8 moves toward its plot’s conclusion, by necessity, it also moves toward another important goal. This is a series that’s not about its plot as much as it about working through each of its character’s stories. The plot exists in a way that it connects these struggles in a fashion that makes sense, that they are brought together not simply by virtue of the fact that they’re on the same TV show, but because in a formal sense, they must be together. Or, to put it more simply: the climaxes of each individual’s story should feel connected or similar to one another—otherwise it’s just a bunch of random stuff happening to random people.
“We Will All Be Judged By The Courage Of Our Hearts” has the best and worst examples of this of the entire series. The best, of course, is the thrilling sequence about two thirds of the way through the episode, in which Nomi, on the run from Whispers and his police enforcers, is joined by the presences of a few of the other sensates in order to remain free.
This is a fantastic, dynamic sequence, fully engaging with the premise of the series to create an action sequence that would be impossible without that premise. The moment where Will and Sun appear to talk to Nomi and each other starts with a bit of quick comedy as they try to make initial small talk, but quickly turns into something better, when Will starts to give Sun advice. “This guy’s right-handed, he’s gonna go for your right wrist” says Will, and this works fantastically well because it starts to align audience understanding with the show’s goals in a way that doesn’t feel artificial.
We know that Sun is a martial arts badass—beyond the third episode, where it was clearly introduced— just 20 minutes before in this episode we’d seen her defeat an multi-person attack in prison. We also know that the sensates can understand things about one another without being told—because Will and Nomi shared an experience just like that. So Will knows that Sun can kick ass, we know that Sun can kick ass, so the information provided makes it easier for her to do that, and easier for us to understand how excellent this action sequence will be. And it is! The action sequence is both awesome and comprehensible because there’s a narrative reason for Will to have explained it. And it continues, with Capheus popping in to drive as well, after the best action bicycle chase on television since, well, I can’t pick one out.
Meanwhile, most of the other characters are coming toward the dramatic turning point of their story. Wolfgang, with Felix near death, tries to describe why this is such an attack on who he is. Through this process, he has to decide what he’s going to do about it. (Also, how adorably Muppet Babies were the kids they got and dressed and young Felix and Wolfgang?) Likewise, Lito is being forced to come to a decision point, as he seems too willing, to Hernando, to sacrifice Daniela’s happiness for his own career. This leads to a well-deserved breakup, and, potentially, a shot of the moral courage the episode title describes.
For Kala, the situation seems comparable. She doesn’t want to go through with her wedding, and when her fiance’s asshole father confronts her and tries to push her to call it off. She doesn’t want to—she’s got too much pride and he’s a really bad advocate, but we know it’s the right thing to do. And then…and then some characters from an entirely different movie show up and murder her not-quite-father-in-law.
This is the opposite of the tonal consistency that Sense8 has worked toward. The characters are coming to points of more decision-making—but Kala has her moral decision taken away. Nor is it that we needed attention given to Kala with the pride-of-place of the cliffhanger, as she’s already had that all to herself just a handful of episodes ago. And as these end-of-episode sequences tend to show the sensates coming together, either via action, song, skill, or surprising nudity, having this bit be purely about the India story seems baffling—especially since Nomi’s action sequence, the heart of the episode, just trailed off into nothingness. I honestly can’t think of any good reason for this scene to exist, let alone be given the role of the ending. Perhaps it fits the filmmaking genre of Kala’s Bollywood story, but occurring as it does where the sensate premise has allowed the other stories to transcend those genres, it’s simply baffling. Sense8 spent almost the entire episode was spent showing the mastery it had over its premise, then ended it with one of the biggest missteps of the season.
- “How’m I supposed to tell them apart if you keep calling all my friends motherfucker? Oh. It’s this motherfucker.”
- “No one will remember if we were good men or bad!” I wish we’d seen this side of Felix a little more when he was just the enthusiastic friend.
- Will and Riley showing each other around is genuinely sweet. Are these characters all roughly the same age? Early 20s?
- “Hernando! I’ll be fine. If life has taught me anything, it’s that I can take a punch.” Yikes, Daniela.
- “…in the search for positive and consequential mutation.” “Well. That doesn’t sound sinister at all.”
- I’m calling the villain Whiskers in my head and I don’t even care who knows.
- Huge thanks to Kayla and Caroline for filling in for me while I was ill!