Previously on Sense8, ‘Just Turn the Wheel and the Future Changes’
Last time, I said that these final episodes feel a lot like the ending to a video game, where you spend the majority of your time acquiring various abilities only to be put to the ultimate test at the end when you’re forced to use them all together strategically. The powers all play off of one another, and you can’t ignore one or overuse another to get by—you have to use them all to beat the game.
So Capheus’ driving expertise, Nomi’s hacking and organizational skills, Wolfgang’s cold-bloodedness, Sun’s martial arts know-how, Lito’s ability to “lie,” Kala’s chemistry knowledge, and Will’s tactical ability were all necessary to save Riley from the clutches of evil Mr. Whispers.
But Riley is a sensate, too. Shouldn’t she have a power? She spent most of the episode in bed, and honestly throughout the whole season I was wondering when we’d get to see her shine.
Coincidentally, my brother and I were having a conversation about Captain Planet recently, and we were talking about how we used to think Ma-Ti had the lamest power. Remember how Wheeler got to wield fire, Linka got to control wind, Kwame could manipulate earth, and Gi had control over water? Then there was Ma-Ti, who had the power of heart; a.k.a., nothing tangible. Nobody wanted to be Ma-Ti when they were kids, right?
But Gaia (Mother Earth) claimed Ma-Ti had the greatest power of all, didn’t she?
As it turns out, I think that Riley has a lot in common with Ma-Ti. Because while all of the other sensates had a practical physical ability, Riley’s ultimately boiled down to empathy, hope, and love… that is, heart.
Without Riley, this cluster would have ended up fractured, like Jonas and Angelica’s did when Angelica pulled the trigger in the first episode. Without Riley, the story of these sensates doesn’t really matter.
The final chapter of their story begins with a Young Will sitting on a couch looking at the snow with a therapist. The therapist is talking poetically about the snow, but all Young Will sees is how much work he’ll be doing as he shovels it. The therapist tells Will that sometimes people have a “Savior Complex” where they think they have to be the ones to protect people against harmful emotions, and comes right out and tells Will that it is hurting Sarah’s parents when he pretends to be able to see her. So even as he is staring right at the dead girl, who is standing on the other side of the window in the snow, he tells the therapist he doesn’t see her.
Then, with a jolt, he wakes up on a plane landing in Iceland.
Iceland, of course, is where “all the things” are about to go down. Riley is being transported in the back of a van, having flashes back to her accident again. This particular flash back was the first all season in which I’ve actually felt the magnitude of it. I also think it’s the first time we really saw the full impact of the car hitting the snowbank.
With Magnus dead and his body freezing, Riley starts delivering the baby by herself (was this another live birth scene?). She names her Luna, and tells her someone is coming to save them. Just then, in the present, she wakes up in the back of the van to see Will, who tells her he is coming for her.
And he is, with the help of Nomi, who is hacking away on her computer a world away with Amanita. She is able to determine that Riley is being taken to a research facility owned by BPO, and that a private plane carrying Whispers just arrived. Will stands at the front of the airport ready to do whatever he needs to do, but he needs transportation. Amanita—being the badass she is—has already ordered him a car on Metzger’s credit card. A stylish sports car pulls up.
In the past, Riley wakes up covered in ice. This was probably the most disturbing scene in the series for me, because while Magnus is clearly dead, the baby isn’t making any sound and I’m left to wonder if she was indeed already holding her frozen newborn. The baby doesn’t make any sound for the rest of the episode, so I think the answer is probably yes, and Riley was in a state of extreme denial and desperation.
In the present, Riley awakens as she arrives at the BPO facility. In her delirium she asks where her baby is, but Yrsa appears and tells her that it would be best if she’d kill herself. It’s what Angelica did in the premiere episode, and it’s all making sense to Riley. So she grabs one of the guard’s guns, puts it in her mouth, and is ready to pull the trigger when Will sensates in to stop her, pleading “please don’t. I’m coming for you. Don’t give up.”
Meanwhile, in Berlin, Wolfgang arrives at his uncle’s house and gets a pat down. Uncle Sergey asks where Steiner (the cousin Wolfgang blew up in the last episode) is. Wolfgang says he’d give him details, but he will be able to ask him yourself very shortly.
When Wolfgang pulls a gun, there is a shoot-out. Wolfie manages to hit Sergey in the chest, but as he is ready to leave, Will sensates in and tells him he heard the shots, but also heard bullets hitting Kevlar. He’s right, of course, because Uncle Sergey wakes up and starts shooting again. Wolfgang makes it upstairs and barricades himself in a kitchen when Kala appears and scolds him, “this was your plan?!”
Kala then begins wrapping together a bunch of aerosol cans, hot peppers, and spices. She says that while she is no Sun, she still knows how to fight. Improvising a fuse from a torn apron, she hands her bomb to Wolfgang. They kiss, he lights it, and throws it over the barricade.
Down the hall, Wolfgang approaches Uncle Sergey, who tries to shoot, but he’s empty. Wolfgang looks down on his Uncle and tells him he’s about to find out who really killed his brother (Wolfgang’s ass of a father). It was him. He killed him and lit his car on fire when he was a kid, and he smirked the whole time. Then, Wolfgang kills Sergey, and turns to face Kala.
“This is why you have to marry Rajan.”
Back in Iceland, Riley is in her hospital room as both Whispers (in a helicopter) and Will (in his car) race toward the facility. Nomi tells him to stop the car, because Whispers knows he’s coming and he needs a distraction. Amanita and Nomi had chosen that particular car so that they could burn it… because men can’t stand to see a pretty car in trouble. Will pulls over and cuts a fluid line or something, and as the car smokes he continues driving toward the facility.
After he arrives, the male employees are indeed huddled around the burning car. With that distraction, Will is able to use a false identity provided by Nomi to gain entry into the facility.
But Whispers is already with Riley, and is telling her to open her eyes. When they only flutter, he scolds the nurse for sedating her too much. Jonas appears and smugly asks whether or not Whispers made a mistake.
Nomi, escorting Will, says she doesn’t know where Riley actually is because that info isn’t in the system. That’s when Lito appears and tells them not to worry; he’ll figure it out… he’s good at secrets. He (or rather, Will) dresses up and flirts with a nurse to learn Riley is in room 620.
Also, Lito reminds Will of that one time they had sex, and it’s hilarious.
Now that they know where she is, Jonas appears to Nomi in San Francisco and volunteers to help with an exit strategy. Jonas tells them that in a few minutes an ambulance will arrive with someone on their side pretending to have a heart attack. They’ll use the ambulance to escape.
But Whispers knows something is up, and demands a security sweep. As Will arrives on the sixth floor, there are four guards waiting for him… but Sun appears, and asks calmly, “oh, that’s all?” She easily handles the guards and even throws one off the side of the balcony.
Will walks into Riley’s room, and looks at her in person for the first time. When she touches her, they switch places and flash back to every time they sensated with each other. He’s ready to go, but she’s still unconscious. Luckily, Kala the Pharmacist knows just what she needs to wake up.
Somewhere else, Jonas is being tortured by Whispers, who wants to know how they’re planning on leaving. Jonas accidentally looks at him, and reveals the ambulance plan. Come on, Jonas! Pull it together.
At the hospital, Will and Riley make it into an elevator. It’s one of the kind made of glass, so you can look out and see the entire facility as you transverse the floors. Unfortunately, Whispers happens to be standing right beside the elevator shaft on the floor below, and as they pass, Will looks right at him.
In the basement of the parking garage, Will gets Riley into the ambulance. There are no keys (thank you, Sense8, for not resorting to the old keys-in-the-visor trick) but Capheus appears, saying, “this is no problem. The Van Damn has been stolen many times and I’ve learned many tricks in order to steal it back.”
With the van running, Whispers appears to Will and tells him it is foolish… because wherever you go, whatever you see, whatever you hear, he will be there. Jonas appears, and tells Will that it’s true—Whispers has won.
But Will won’t give up. Neither will Nomi and Amanita—who are checking the weather, of all things. Amanita finds a way to block Whispers’ helicopter using the fog. Whispers positions his helicopter in front of the van and tells Will he knows he won’t kill them all. Luckily, Wolfgang knows someone who will.
The game of chicken works, and Will drives the van into the fog. Angelica appears, and Will swerves off the road to avoid hitting her. Sensating with Riley, Will sees himself as pregnant and Riley’s accident replays itself as Nomi loses contact with both of them.
Moments later, Riley is running away from the ambulance, hallucinating that she is again losing her baby. Will follows her and tells her it’s going to be all right, but they both know it’s not. Jonas appears, and tells Will that the only way to protect them is for him to kill himself so Whispers can’t find them.
Will stands up and throws his gun away. Hatching an idea, he runs back to the ambulance and injects himself with something to help him pass out. As he loses consciousness, he tells Riley that their only chance is if she get in the ambulance and get them out of there.
But she can’t leave “her.” It hurts too much. But Will knows how much it hurts, because he can feel it too. And that means she can feel what he’s feeling… she can feel how much he loves her, and that’s why she can’t give up.
The screen fades to white, and then Riley is singing something in Icelandic. Will groggily wakes up and, with his head in her lap, realizes they’re on a boat. Sven, the helpful neighbor, is sailing them away.
Expressing their love once more, Riley injects Will so he will again fall asleep. Now it’s her turn to tell him that everything will be okay, and it looks like it might actually be true. She saved them. Then they’re all there together on the boat, sailing away into an unknown future.
As I reflected on that final scene, I realized that even if it ended there, it would be okay. Sometimes I think we can over-think a story, because it doesn’t have to be much more than what we got, really. “You did it… you saved us.” That’s it, and it’s fine. Each of these characters went through a lot to be able to get on that boat. Each one of them had a challenge to overcome, and that is what makes the difference between a good story and a bad one.
This was a good story because of the characters, and I’m glad we didn’t get the full history behind BPO or the other “mysteries” behind everything that happened, because in the end it really was tangential to what it was all about. We got enough of the other stuff to fill in the blanks on our own.
Sense8—the first season, anyway—was a very simple story disguised as something super complex. It could end right here and continue to be a very memorable and worthy experience. But with a season two confirmed, it could yet turn into something else; maybe something super-complex disguised as something very simple.
And those are the really great stories.