Sense8 S02E11: You Want a War?
Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Writers: J. Michael Straczynski, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Starring: Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Max Riemelt, Tina Desai, Toby Onwumere, Tuppence Middleton, Brian J. Smith
A review by Samantha Pearson
Sense8 S02E11, You Want a War?, ends the second season on a breathtaking cliffhanger. The episode dives headfirst back into the main plot of the show, which was set aside for more personal stories and character development after All I Want Right Now Is One More Bullet.
You Want a War? is one of the most fast-paced episodes of Sense8‘s second season. Even in its softer moments, it moves rapidly. Each action sequence is balanced by a heavily emotional scene, though the pacing of the dialogue makes the episode feel much shorter than it actually is. By the time the credits roll, everything feels as if it’s been thrown into the air with no foreseeable solution.
Things begin at the gala hosted by Sun’s brother, wherein he lies to the crowd of partygoers about how difficult the last year of his life has been. He continues the thread that he’s been a victim of his sister’s murder spree and his father’s death, all the while garnering sympathy to further his own ends.
Sun’s goal at the gala is to kill her brother and put an end to his streak of violence, but her cluster tells her to wait. Their goal is to get a confession out of him. Sun took the fall for his embezzlement and then he murdered their father when he decided to come forward to get her out of prison. If he confesses and serves time for his crimes, there is a possibility that Sun can be truly free.
When Detective Mun arrives at the gala to take Sun’s brother into custody, all hell breaks loose. Mun is shot, Sun’s brother takes off, and there is an epic car chase. At the end, when Sun has the opportunity she’s been waiting for to kill her brother, he pleads with her to stop. Surprisingly, she does — and gets arrested for her trouble.
Meanwhile, her brother is driven away in a vehicle belonging to a member of the government. Sun doesn’t seem shocked that the corruption stems so deep, even though her cluster is horrified at the revelation. Regardless, they all quickly turn their attention to what matters most: freeing Sun. If she goes to prison again, her brother will have her killed. End of story. That can’t happen, so the cluster makes sure that it doesn’t.
This time, they free Sun from her cuffs and then from the armored car in which she’s being transported. There is not another car chase. However, there is a wild action sequence that ends with Sun being carried off by Puck, one of the sensates Riley connected with earlier this season.
Doona Bae channels some incredible action stars throughout these sequences. Her stoic line delivery, paired with the powerful way she carries herself, honestly calls to mind Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels. Bae doesn’t skimp on any of the conflicting emotions Sun feels, but doesn’t lose sight of the intense action. She balances everything beautifully, depicting emotional and physical pain very realistically.
Once Sun is in Puck’s semi-capable hands, You Want a War? cuts to a slower, more emotional scene. In it, Nomi discusses the ridiculousness of her life as a homo sensorium who is constantly using her hacking skills to help the rest of her cluster. She asks Amanita if she can truly deal with how much Nomi’s life has changed, seeing as Neets never signed on for this kind of thing.
What happens next is one of the warmest, most intensely emotional scenes I have ever seen on television. The fact that it takes place between two happy lesbian women in love is almost more than my heart can handle… Jamie Clayton (Nomi) and Freema Agyeman (Amanita) always have sparkling chemistry, but the deep-seated bond they have created between these characters is honestly beautiful. It’s never been more apparent than in this finale scene, wherein Neets’ proposal of marriage is returned with a proposal of marriage from Nomi.
It is so rare that lesbians get happy endings. On a series like Sense8, where the characters are literally fighting for their lives every day, it’s especially gratifying to see these two characters just… be in love. They start the series together and it appears as if they will end the series together. Whether engaged or married, Nomi and Neets are in it for the long haul. No matter what life throws at them. I love them. I cried like a baby and then watched the scene a second time, just for good measure. Even writing this recap has me tearing up.
Meanwhile, there is some closure to the weirdness between Kala and her husband Rajan. He returns from a trip and informs her that his friend Ajay, whom Kala has seemed endlessly charmed by, is a subject of investigation by the Indian federal government. Rajan is cooperating with investigators. Thus, his family — especially Kala — is in danger.
He reveals a safe house in Paris where she’s meant to disappear while the investigation continues. It’s immediately apparent — at least, to anyone who’s been paying attention — that a secret flat in Paris is an ideal place for Kala and Wolfgang to quite literally run away together. He’s still being chased by the police in Berlin; she has to flee Mumbai.
Later, this theory is confirmed, but not before You Want a War? checks in again with Puck, Sun, and Riley. After some frankly gross sexual advances from Puck, Sun injures his foot and one of his hands while she, Riley and Will attempt to glean information from him about his connections to other homo sensorium.
Puck admits that he’s connected to 387 other sensates all over the world, but when Riley demands that he gather them for a fight, he balks. When one of his 387 connections appears and tells him to stay away from our main cluster and get on blockers, he leaves them to their war. He wants no part of it and apparently, neither do his connections. “The Cannibal,” Puck explains. “He’s hunting.”
The Cannibal, it turns out, is another name for Whispers. At least, that’s the impression the series paints.
After Puck gives this warning, the episode dives into a scene between Kala and Wolfgang that is… everything I could have dreamed of for this pairing. They finally confess their feelings in clear-cut terms (!) and talk about Paris as something that’s just for them. The glee Kala expresses at getting to be with Wolfgang physically is actually matched on his usually stoic face. Now that their feelings are in the open, there’s a lightness to both of them that is delightful to see.
Then Lila shows up, accompanied by Whispers and a bunch of BPO goons, and Wolfgang is taken into captivity. What happens next is one of the bloodiest, most stressful sequences that’s ever happened on Sense8. Wolfgang is strapped down, drugged up, and repeatedly electroshocked until he thinks about Kala, which gives away her location.
Max Riemelt is incredible in this scene. His performance as Wolfgang is always sort of heartbreaking. To see him have genuine joy ripped away and replaced by life-threatening fear is… something else. It’s difficult to watch, not only for the amount of blood on the screen but for the pain the character is suffering.
Something happens, then, that has never happened before. The entire cluster mobilizes to be in the same place at the same time, from wherever they are in the world. All seven of them go to London to rescue Wolfgang from BPO. In the process, they discover that Jonas has seemingly betrayed them.
Together, the cluster disables and captures Whispers as well as Jonas. The finale ends with all of them (minus Wolfgang) in the back of a BPO van, their hostages with them. It’s Will who delivers the episode title in the final words spoken during season two of Sense8. It’s a powerful ending… but a horrible cliffhanger.
WATCH SENSE8. Watch it from beginning to end. Introduce it to your friends. Recommend it to your coworkers. Tweet about it. Write about it. Netflix has decided to give the series a proper send-off with one more two-hour special, so we’ll find out what happens to Wolfgang. But these stories are nowhere near done. Sense8 deserves at least one more season to give these characters the arcs they deserve. I am stoked about the special, but I am not willing to give up on the possibility of more. Not yet.