After an episode that was all talk, Sense8 applied the gas again. The hits kept coming: Lito found redemption, Wolfgang upped the badass ante on Sun and raised her some heavy artillery, and Officer Will managed to fall in love while drilling down into the season’s mystery with the efficiency of Nomi and the Spleen Splitter she bought a couple of episodes back. And all of this happens before, prompted by a combination of fireworks, an Icelandic symphony orchestra, and Nomi’s orgasm, a tsunami of birth fills up the screen in an amazing, sort of gross, uplifting and strange sequence that justifies the bravura score and explosives if only in its ambition. Sense8 has had some transcendently weird moments sandwiched with a lot of poorly delivered exposition and uncomfortable narrative choices. This episode manages to deliver a major course correction for one of the stories intertwined with two exceptionally shot action sequences and also reinvigorate the importance of the overarching narrative. It’s a tall order for one episode of television, but “What Is Human?” is an affecting, amazing fifty minutes of television, and Sense8’s best episode to date. Though Will has some major breakthroughs on the mystery and Riley flirtation front, the major part of this episode involves great leaps forward with Lito and Wolfgang. Though Wolfgang had the cool heist at the beginning of the season, he has been going out to lunch on his chemistry with Kala for most of the season. Then his character was deepened unexpectedly by the story of the childhood bond he shared with Felix, and the time afforded this particular flashback pays big dividends when Wolfgang delivers some final vengeance on Felix’s assailants. Seeing Wolfgang do something other than be sexually available for Kala would be enough, but to have Lito finally be called up to be something other than comic relief redoubles the tension and excitement. Lito has been a problematic character for much of the season. There are some genuinely funny moments of domestic comedy in the first few episodes, but his mirroring with Sun was overly broad and relied too heavily on tired gender jokes. His break-up with Hernando gave his story some needed depth; he and Wolfgang’s cross during the episode showed how he can be of value to the group. The exchange between Lito and Wolfgang seemed a little stilted, but this hearkens back to Sense8 critiquing action movie tropes while embracing them. Even without the multi-tiered construction, this is good television. Flawed heroes step forward and win the day; bad guys pay for their misdeeds. In both cases, victory comes at a price, but also shows the hero’s personal growth. It’s some standard Joseph Campbell stuff, but it plays out in exhilarating fashion. Exhilarating on a whole different level is the birth montage. This was “spoiled” in a sense when news broke on the Internet that the Wachowskis were looking to show actual birth footage on their upcoming Netflix program. At the time, this was played with requisite snark, with most posts referencing the less than stellar box office performance of Cloud Atlas or Speed Racer. The most charitable assessment would have to be a little skeptical, but I somehow managed to totally forget this was going to happen in the interim, and when babies started dropping wholesale I was both shocked and transfixed. There is something primal and powerful about witnessing a birth, even one on film. And while not all of them are actual (Kala’s younger self stands out as the typical newborn six month old baby), the aggregate is something that is pretty new and exciting on the small screen. In this age of peak/glut television, delivering a sequence that is both groundbreaking and affecting is rare. If there is a reason to wade through the less successful episodes of Sense8, this is it. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Shawn EH September 2, 2015 That birthing scene was almost too much for me, very strangely inserted into the concert sequence, and representing all of their shared linkages. I preferred the pool orgy scene from earlier in the season, but I suppose the two are kind of intertwined. The creativity of mixing up the combinations of the characters and their abilities really kept me intrigued until the final episode, though. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.