Sense8: Will You Stay Connected to The Wachowskis' Netflix Thriller?

Sense8 Review

If you had any doubt that Sense8 was partially the product of Matrix directors Andy and Lana Wachowski, the first episode of Netflix’s trippy thriller likely put that uncertainty to rest.

Co-exec-produced by The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski (Murder, She Wrote, Babylon 5), the mysterious drama — which hit the streaming giant on Friday — centers on eight individuals across the globe who are connected by a strange vision.

Before we get your thoughts on the series premiere, here’s a brief recap of what went down in the debut hour:

The first minutes of the episode belong to Angelica, or “Angel,” played by Kill Bill‘s Daryl Hannah. She’s on an old mattress in a dilapidated church, writhing in pain until her friend/mentor/possible lover(?) (played by Lost‘s Naveen Andrews) appears by her side to comfort her. Despite the agony Angel seems to be in, she finds the strength to sit up and, through the power of her mind (it would seem), presents the image of herself to eight different people across multiple cities and countries. No matter where they are or what they’re doing, each person sees Angel standing in a pool of light. (A few moments later, when Angel commits suicide due to her pain and inner conflict, each of the eight people receives that vision, also.)

Sense8 ReviewThe rest of the hour helps us get familiar with each of the eight connected folks — all from very different backgrounds:

* Will (Brian J. Smith, SGU Stargate Universe), a Chicago cop
* Riley (Tuppence Middleton, Sinbad), a troubled DJ living in London
* Lito (Spain’s Miguel Ángel Silvestre), a movie star in Mexico City
* Sun (Doona Bae, Cloud Atlas), the chief financial officer of a corporation in Seoul
* Kala (Tina Desai, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), a pharmacist working in Mumbai
* Wolfgang (Germany’s Max Riemelt), a skilled jewel thief in Berlin
* Capheus (Aml Ameen, The Maze Runner), a bus driver in Nairobi
* Nomi (Jamie Clayton, Transform Me), a transgender political blogger in San Francisco

Most of Sense8‘s first episode flip-flops between telling us more about these people — for example, Wolfgang has major daddy issues — and showing us how, exactly, they are connected. Each character periodically hallucinates Angel’s tragic death, and as the hour goes on, some of them are able to transport to each other’s locations (only mentally, though).

For instance, when Will wakes up to the sound of dance music booming through his walls, the police officer busts into the adjacent apartment and finds there is no music playing in the room at all; rather, that music he’s hearing is playing in London, where Riley is performing a set. Later in the episode, Capheus is presented with a live chicken by one of the men riding his bus; at that same moment, Sun hallucinates a chicken landing on her desk in her South Korea office. In Berlin, Wolfgang hears the sound of a siren that’s coming from Chicago, while Riley hears the clicking of a combination lock that’s being turned all the way in Germany. (You get the idea, right?)

All of this culminates in the episode’s last 10 minutes, when Will stumbles upon the very church where Angel shot herself. Once inside, he is joined by Riley (who isn’t really there; she’s merely under the influence of a particularly strong drug which has enhanced her connection to Will) and the two of them begin to understand — barely — that they both have experienced the same vision. But if you’re looking for more answers than that, you’ll have to stick around for Episode 2. (Which is starting in 15 seconds! Hurry!)

OK, your turn. What did you think of Sense8‘s series premiere? Grade the episode via our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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27 Comments
  1. Sam says:

    Loved it. Already on Ep 5

  2. Jay says:

    I’m on episode 3, really enjoying it so far!

  3. Since says:

    “Meh.” is the word I was looking for. It’s not necessarilly bad, but it’s not matrix-kind-jaw-dropping either. Maybe I’ll finish it, maybe I won’t…

  4. Annie says:

    I don’t quite know what to think yet. There’s no doubt it’s expertly crafted, in every single sense. That ought to mean it’s awesome, full stop – and yet somehow the first episode had me kinda furrowing my brow from about four minutes in on. (Funny enough, that first scene, which a lot of folks apparently found incomprehensible, grabbed me right off the bat. It was the rest of the episode that left me a little chillier, if not outright cold.) I’m going to hang in, but I don’t have that “OMG MORE CRACK PLEASE” compulsion to bingewatch that I’d expected I’d have, seeing as this show ticks all my favorite boxes, at least on paper.

  5. VJ says:

    I´m on episode 3 right now and so far, I really enjoy it. There is a lot of personal arcs right now and very little explanation regarding the visions, so I hope that becomes clearer as it goes on. I´m hooked. And I was really surprised to see Max Riemelt, but I´m very happy about it.

  6. On episode 8 and still nothing has really happened. Very slow moving and far too much time spent on what is supposed to be character building but they still have very little substance.

  7. Neva says:

    I didn’t think I’d like this. I do. I always seem to be a sucker for overly complicated plots. Speaking of Lost…

  8. Para says:

    I love it!!!

  9. Para says:

    There is also a matrix tribute in ep 5

  10. binged the whole thing and i must say its a master piece you can see Lana’s struggles in this show and as a hetero male, i connected most with the LGBT characters and their struggles.

    the performance from Nomi and Lido especially is spectacular.

    • furthermore, the technical detail in this show is incredible, i mean first episode in we all know that strap on was drippping wet after a thorough use! attention to detail, and if you watch the action scenes closely uyou will see amazing special effects, that a lot of shows pull away from (im talkin full on headshots, and cars slammin into folk ETC vivid detail!)

  11. Julie Williams says:

    Loved, loved, loved the series ! When is Season 2 ????

  12. Will Norman says:

    i love it! i am already looking forward to the next season.

  13. eva says:

    Two words — episode six. But I also love the parts of the show that aren’t an orgy ;)

  14. Lindsey says:

    I am so hooked! I already finished all 12 episodes and can’t wait for Season 2 to come out! I love how well developed each character is. The romance between Riley & Will and Wolfgang & Kala. I can’t wait to see those relationships develop even more. All in all it is a great series and has so much room to grow in Season 2!

  15. opal says:

    Ok.. it started off kind of slow, but reading what was coming kept me tuned in. Now on ep 9.. having a blast watching this except for the constant turning up and down of the volume. Yo! sound people.. get yer act together and modulate!

  16. Bark Star says:

    You really have to force yourself to continue after episode 1… wich is not a good thing for a pilot. And indeed, there are many times throughout the series when things… kinda slow down. But if you hold on, there is a reward. Sense8 is… unique. There has never been anything like it. It is hard to define what that is but in the end it grabs you and just wont let you go. Can I recommend this show ? I still cant answer that one. All I know is that I want to hear more from the eight.

    The one thing that annoys me the most is that 95 percent of the people and critics mostly attribute this to the Wachowskis. Dont kid yourselfs. They are talentless hacks. All the good here comes from JMS who already changed televison by bringing us serialised storytelling. The Wachowski just added their trademark visual style – you know, Sloooooooooow Mooooooooootion. Sure, its pretty, no denying it. But its JMS that is the mastermind behind this.

  17. Carmen says:

    I just finished the 12 episodes and I love it. Can’t wait for Season 2.

  18. danny says:

    Was totally blown away by this series.
    Closest feel to “Lost”, very close.
    Spectacular locations, great score/music, love the plot and the actors are for the most part alright.
    Bingewatched the first 5 episodes, even came close to tears during the 4-non-blondes song, really touching.
    Hope the next 5 episodes are just as good. Fingers crossed!
    Never ever would have suspected any quality show from the guy who produced the babylon5 garbage.

  19. Robert Alderman says:

    Amazing story telling!! Tuned in for the Sci Fi, stayed for the heart. I can’t wait for season 2.

  20. Lauren says:

    I don’t have any idea why I kept watching this show other than wanting desperately to know how the whole sensate thing worked. It went too slow for it to ever get off the ground in standard TV, but the longer I waited the better it got. The premiere is intriguing, but it’s not until an episode or two after the orgy that I was truly hooked. The last 4 episodes of this show are incredible. The story required a long set up, mostly because 8 protagonists is way more than a sane writer would start with, let alone setting up a world. This show is amazing and I have no doubt that season 1 is all about setting up for season 2. Stay tuned, the first season finale is one of my favorites, all time.

  21. I agree with other comments. you really do have to force yourself to continue…but there are moments of genius in every episode. There is A LOT of back story to all these people…almost too much. The last episode was amazing…but one of the best scenes by far was when Riley was listening to her father play…and all the Sense8’s joined her. Beautiful scenes for each of them!!

  22. Kevin says:

    Started slow but by the season finale I was totally hooked.

  23. Nathan says:

    I Am absolutely in love with this show Riley and Wills love is one for the books. Aso well as Nome’s love. This story is so well written but it’s very hard with 8 protagonists it’s a lot to take in. Stay with it though folks I think Sense 8 is going to be on if Netflix driving forces in their series line. The finale was one of the most amazing finales I have ever seen and how the cluster(if you’re just starting you’ll know what this is soon enough) finally fully comes together and the switching is a work of art. The watchowskis(sp) are beautifully amazing and you can see the struggle for the lgbt in this series and I would love to meet her and shake her hand.

  24. Tamar says:

    Please renew for season two I absolutely love this show.The storyline and plot is amazing never have I seen anything like this on TV or even in the movies. Please renew and further the story with each character😊

  25. Susan says:

    I hated episode 1 and almost didn’t continue, but the premise is fascinating. I did a lot of skipping because a lot of the back story doesnt tell you anything more about the character than you already know so far. Some people compare this to Lost, but in Lost, the back story always served a purpose. It either explained a mystery, explained a relationship, or completely changed your perception of that character.

    So, I did a lot of skipping of the redundancies. I also skipped all the birthing, because after several minutes, it just got old. Several of what I assumed were supposed to be artistic sections just got old and went too long, so they got skipped.

    I really hope I don’t need to do so much skipping next season in order to simply get to the slow moving story.