Entertainment » Television

In the Series Finale, 'Sense8' Goes for Broke with a Proper Sendoff

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Jun 8, 2018

[Editor's note: This feature is a spoiler-free review of the "Sense8" series finale. There are light spoilers about Season 1 and 2.]

Though "Sense8" had a short life on Netflix - just two seasons and now a feature-length finale that will hit the streaming service on June 8 - the LGBTQ sci-fi series leaves behind a loud and proud legacy.

"Sense8" has been an uneven, albeit and exciting thrill ride since its 2015 debut. It's a show that never compromised itself, fully committing to its bonkers visuals and emotional journey. Unlike the plethora of sci-fi shows and movies Netflix has doled out over the last few years ("Altered Carbon," "Black Mirror," "Lost in Space"), "Sense8" has always stood far apart due to the themes it explores.

Created by The Wachowskis ("The Matrix," "Cloud Atlas") and J. Michael Straczynski ("Babylon 5"), "Sense8" was never interested with how artificial intelligence, space travel, time dimensions or technology affected the human condition. "Sense8" is a show about emotion and heart; how people connect with each other and how love is stronger than any bond in the universe, one that brings people from all walks of life together. It's a series that welcomes diversity, casting several people of color and LGBTQ actors in main roles, celebrates the things that made people different and turned the world into its stage. Unlike your typical sci-fi series, "Sense8" is way more interested in delving deep into its central eight characters than executing plot or pulling tricking its audience with unexpected sci-fi surprises (we're looking at you, "Westworld").

That the show thrived on its own terms meant that it built a devoted fan base over the last few years. So it was unsurprising that when Netflix canceled "Sense8" last year, there was a large vocal outcry - one so loud that the company decided to give the show a series finale, allowing it to wrap up the lose ends from Season 2. The two-and-a-half-hour finale, called "Amor Vincit Omnia" (yes, named after the Italian artist Caravaggio's painting from the 1600s), is exactly what fans who launched petitions and tweeted to Netflix will want: A completely off-the-wall and competent sendoff to a one-of-a-kind series.

From left to right: Purab Kohli, Eréndira Ibarra, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Sukku Son, Doona Bae, Toby Onwumere, Tina Desae, Jamie Clayton, Tuppence Middleton, Brian J. Smith, Max Mauff, and Max Riemelt in "Sense8." Photo credit: Segolene Lagny / Netflix

For a good chunk of "Sense8," the show has been a cat-and-mouse game between our heroes, the sensates, and the nefarious organization BPO, which is bent on experimenting on and destroying sensates - people who can communicate and transcend space within their cluster (a group of eight people who are mentally and psychically connected). At the end of Season 2, Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) was captured by BPO and much of the finale deals with our main crew (Toby Onwumere, Tina Desai, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Jamie Clayton, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, Brian J. Smith) freeing him from the organization's henchmen. The sensates enlist the help of their friends and partners to destroy BPO once and for all. But the involvement of the senseates's loved ones takes the show's themes of community and family even further. Like in Ryan Murphy's new series "Pose," queer people, many who have been rejected by their relatives, have the unique privilege of selecting their own family; building bonds as thick as blood with people similar to them. "Sense8" plays with that same idea and the show's core cluster welcomes people who don't have their special abilities with open arms. It makes the finale's very last scene something truly remarkable and unforgettable.

With lots of action and gripping fight scenes, the finale is an all hands on deck caper that comes with its share of shocking twists and turns, none of which will be spoiled here, involving some of the sensates' personal lives and the plot. But with a feature-length running time, "Amor Vincit Omnia" does over stay its welcome as it has some unnecessary moments and confusing plot details that only prolong and add padding to an already lengthy send off. It seems it's pretty hard for the show's cast and crew to say goodbye to "Sense8."

Tina Desae, Brian J. Smith, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, Max Riemelt, Jamie Clayton, Purab Kohli and Toby Onwumere in "Sense8." Photo credit: Segolene Lagny / Netflix

Both casual fans and diehards ought to be satisfied with the ultimate conclusion of "Sense8." Directed by Lana Wachowski, who helmed all of Season 2, and co-written by her along with David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, the finale never feels like fan service. Like always, even its last moments (I will never forget the very last shot of the show), "Sense8" sticks true to itself by aiming high and taking daring risks. The finale goes for broke while managing to tie up loose ends and bring the series to a proper conclusion, making sure the "Sense8" journey ends on its own terms.


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