Sense8 (season 1)

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Sense8 (season 1)
Sense8 season 1.jpg
Promotional art
Starring
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 12
Release
Original network Netflix
Original release June 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of Sense8 episodes

The first season of Sense8, an American science fiction drama web television series created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, follows eight strangers from different parts of the world who suddenly become "sensates"; human beings who are mentally and emotionally linked. The season was produced for Netflix by the Wachowskis' Anarchos Productions and Straczynski's Studio JMS, along with Javelin Productions and Georgeville Television.[1] Unpronounceable Productions was set up to oversee production for the show.[2][3][4]

A multinational ensemble cast starring Aml Ameen, Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton, Tina Desai, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Miguel Ángel Silvestre, and Brian J. Smith portrays the suddenly connected strangers. Freema Agyeman, Terrence Mann, Anupam Kher, Naveen Andrews, and Daryl Hannah also star. The season acts as the origin story for the eight sensates.[5] All episodes were written by the Wachowskis and Straczynski and the majority of them were directed by the Wachowskis, with the remainder being divided between their frequent collaborators James McTeigue, Tom Tykwer, and Dan Glass.[6] Filming took place almost entirely on location in nine cities around the world: Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Nairobi, Reykjavík, San Francisco, and Seoul.

All 12 episodes of the season became available for streaming on Netflix on June 5, 2015 and were met with generally favorable critical reception. The season was noted for its presentation of LGBT characters and themes, winning the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series. It was also recognized with a Location Managers Guild award for its use of locations as an integral part of the story, and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

The eight sensates[edit]

Other regulars[edit]

  • Freema Agyeman as Amanita "Neets" Caplan, Nomi's girlfriend, who later becomes an ally for the new sensates.[22]
  • Terrence Mann as "Whispers", a sensate who turned against his own kind and who is a high-ranking member of an organization determined to neutralize sensates, known as the Biological Preservation Organization (BPO).[23]
  • Anupam Kher as Sanyam Dandekar, Kala's loving father, a chef and restaurant owner.[24]
  • Naveen Andrews as Jonas Maliki, a sensate from a different cluster who wants to help the newly-born cluster of sensates.[23][25]
  • Daryl Hannah as Angelica "Angel" Turing, a sensate from the same cluster as Jonas, who becomes the "mother" of the new sensates' cluster as she activates their psychic connection.[26]

Recurring[edit]

The recurring actors are listed by the region in which they first appear.

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Limbic Resonance"The WachowskisThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
A woman named Angelica "births" the psychic connection of eight people around the world, before killing herself to avoid capture by a man who has been hunting her. The eight experience the beginnings of their psychic connection, by hearing what the others hear and seeing what the others see. Riley meets a powerful dealer named Nyx, becoming entangled in London's drug world. Sun faces sexism in her father's company. Capheus' matatu business is failing. Lito turns down the sexual advances of a female co-star of his, telling her he loves someone else. Nomi spends time with her girlfriend Amanita, recalling she fell in love with her when Amanita defended her against transgender discrimination. Kala is about to marry Rajan, a man she does not love. Will brings a young gangster who has been shot to the hospital. Wolfgang and his best friend Felix steal diamonds that Wolfgang's gangster cousin, Steiner, had been planning to steal. In Chicago, Will decides to investigate the church in which Angelica killed herself; Riley appears there too, through her and Will's connection. Back in London, Riley's boyfriend attempts to rob Nyx, and the ensuing fight ends with Riley the only survivor in the room.
22"I Am Also a We"The WachowskisThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
While at the San Francisco Pride with Amanita, Nomi spots Jonas, Angelica's lover, and faints. She awakens in the hospital with her sister and transphobic mother. Dr. Metzger claims that Nomi needs a brain operation and keeps her in the hospital against her will. Jonas visits Nomi telepathically and tells her that the operation will lobotomize her. Will and his partner Diego discover a gap in the CCTV footage while investigating Angelica's suicide. Homeland Security briefs Will's precinct that Jonas is wanted for murder. Will thinks this is linked to a girl from his past named Sara Patrell. Lito is using a fellow movie star, Daniela, to appear straight. Daniela learns the truth about him and his boyfriend Hernando but she is happy about the situation and excited to help them. Kala's parents meet their future in-laws. Wolfgang and Kala begin to see visions of each other. Riley goes on the run when she discovers her purse holds Nyx's money and drugs. Jonas comes to Will in person, telling him that Will is a "sensate" and that Nomi needs his help, just like Sara once did. Will tells Jonas he has to turn him in and crashes into his car.
33"Smart Money Is on the Skinny Bitch"The WachowskisThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Will wakes up from the crash and learns Homeland has captured Jonas. Riley throws the drugs away and gives the money to a piano-playing busker. Pretending her boyfriend threw her out of the apartment, she goes to live with Shugs, an old acquaintance of hers, and his girlfriend, Bambie. Sun becomes increasingly frustrated by financial problems at her corporation and her inability to reach her father, the CEO. Will opens the Sara's case file and recalls that when she disappeared at the age of 10, he had visions of her. In them, Sara was being lobotomized by a mysterious man and was asking Will to help her. Amanita lights a fire in Nomi's hospital, delaying her operation. Daniela reveals to Lito there is an additional reason she did not go home the other day; she is hiding from her gangster ex-boyfriend, Joaquin. Joaquin shows up at Lito's work and intimidates him. Sun moonlights as an underground kickboxer, unbeknownst to everyone but her trainer. Capheus and his partner, Jela, buy AIDS medicine for Capheus' mother, but their matatu is attacked and robbed by bandits. Capheus channels Sun's skills and rage, and Will's knowledge of guns to defeat the bandits.
44"What's Going On?"Tom TykwerThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Kabaka, a high-ranking gangster, offers Capheus efficient AIDS medicine in exchange of protecting a bag. Kala encounters religious conservatives at Ganesha's temple, who are praying for the death of Rajan's father, a prominent atheist politician. Sun confronts her father and brother, Joong-Ki, about Joong-Ki embezzling money. She volunteers to go to prison in her brother's place to save the company, as her mother's dying wish was to take care of him. Wolfgang and Felix manage to sell some of the diamonds. Will encounters Jonas in a vision; Jonas explains that the phenomenon is called "visiting", which is something all sensates can do once they have made eye contact, although members of a cluster can do it instinctively. Jonas says Will's cluster has eight members and that he needs to save Nomi, one of them. He further explains members of a cluster can "share" each other's knowledge, language and skills. Riley listens to "What's Up?", as Wolfgang sings it karaoke. All eight sing along to the song, which ends with Kala and Wolfgang sharing an intimate moment. Nomi "shares" Will's skills, and with the help of Amanita, escapes the hospital. Nomi "visits" Riley and confused they sing along together.
55"Art Is Like Religion"James McTeigueThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Lito and Sun experience visits. Wolfgang is questioned about the diamond heist by his uncle, who makes veiled threats. Capheus and Riley visit. They are interrupted when Capheus is attacked by bandits, grabbing the package he is delivering for Kabaka. Capheus manages to recover the bag and deliver it to Kabaka, who repays him with more medicine, and reveals that it was only a test. Kala is getting ready for the wedding and briefly visits with Wolfgang. Nomi tells Amanita about the visions she has been experiencing. Will discovers that a kid named Clete, witnessed what happened inside the church, according to the CCTV footage. A local gang protects Clete before Will and Diego get to him. Lito shoots many scenes for his movie, including an action scene while sharing with Will. Capheus and Sun visit and converse about their troubles. Sun gets her dog to her trainer as she decides to go to prison. Nomi and Amanita find their apartment raided. While at a spa, Wolfgang visits Kala during her wedding and asks her why she is marrying a man she is not in love with. Hearing his words and seeing him naked, she faints.
66"Demons"The WachowskisThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Will and Riley visit each other and use their phones to prove to themselves their connection is real. Sun admits to the press the embezzlement of money and police detain her. She is not granted bail. Shugs sells out Riley to an alive Nyx, who nearly kills her while questioning her about his drugs and money. Riley channels Will's self-defense skills and escapes. Nomi and Amanita move in with Amanita's mom and tell her about Nomi's experiences. Kala wakes up and visits with Wolfgang. She tries to resist her growing attraction to him. Later, Rajan tells her that he still wants to marry her. Kabaka gives Capheus the job of driver and bodyguard to his daughter Amondi, who suffers from leukemia. Thus, Capheus informs Jela he is out of the matatu business. Will, Lito, Nomi, and Wolfgang share a sexual encounter while visiting. Daniela secretly photographs Lito and Hernando. Riley and Sun visit, and Riley talks about a voice that came to her as a child, which told her she was hexed and that bad things would happen if she stayed in Iceland. When her mother died, Riley believed it was her fault. Sun encourages her to return to Iceland.
77"W. W. N. Double D?"James McTeigueThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Nomi acquires hacking tools from Bug, a fellow hacker, to investigate Metzger. Sun is transferred to prison and makes friends. Riley travels to Iceland to visit her father, Gunnar. Joaquin breaks into Lito's apartment and intimidates Lito and Daniela. Will uncovers the face of the man who hunted Angelica. Nomi visits Nyles Bolger, a former patient of Metzger's, in a nursing home; she finds he has been lobotomized and is virtually catatonic. Kala visits Ganesha's temple to look for answers, but finds herself visiting with Wolfgang again. Nomi clones Metzger's phone and calls the most recent contact, a Dr. Matheson, who seems to know her. Joaquin stole Daniela's phone in his earlier visit, and now blackmails her and Lito with the photos of Lito and Hernando. Kabaka shows Capheus he will not show mercy to traitors. Steiner shoots Felix, who falls unconscious. Nomi and Amanita break into Metzger's apartment. Metzger finds them in his apartment, and panics when he learns that Nomi has spoken to Matheson. Jonas warns Nomi that someone named "Whispers" is coming. Nyles arrives, murders Metzger, and then kills himself. In a mirror, instead of Nyles, Nomi sees the reflection of the man that hunted Angelica; Whispers.
88"We Will All Be Judged by the Courage of Our Hearts"Dan GlassThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Kala visits Wolfgang while he is in the hospital at Felix's bedside. Wolfgang recounts how the two met as kids in detention, and of life with his drunken brutal father. Daniela returns to Joaquin and his abusive behavior to protect Lito. Hernando breaks up with Lito for letting her do it. Sun defeats a gang of prison-yard bullies and is placed in solitary confinement. Back to Iceland, Riley visits with Will, and she tells him of growing up there, of her famous pianist father, and her deceased mother, before sharing a kiss. The group of bandits from the matatu encounter demand that Capheus brings Amondi to them. Will finds surveillance footage of Bolger leaving the nursery with a gun. Will visits Nomi to the bemusement of Amanita. They discover the company behind Metzger and the Angelica and Nyles incidents is the "Biologic Preservation Organization" (BPO). Whispers arrives with police to take Nomi into custody. She escapes with the help of Amanita, Will, Sun, and Capheus. Will is suspended from his job for ignoring orders. Rajan's father meets with Kala at the temple to tell her to cancel the wedding; they are ambushed by religious fundamentalists who stab him repeatedly.
99"Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye"The WachowskisThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Riley discovers the voice from her childhood belongs to Yrsa, who is sensate like her. Yrsa explains her actions by saying Riley was not safe in Iceland, as BPO have a facility there. She also says she will go into hiding, as BPO have the technology to trace connected sensates and they will find her if Riley gets captured. Will is visited by Jonas, who is being held prisoner by BPO. Will visits Riley, while she continues to visit Yrsa. Jonas and Yrsa reveal that all members of a cluster are born at the same time, taking their first breath as one. Yrsa becomes agitated when she finds out that Jonas is present. She tells Riley that Jonas and Angelica were collaborators who used to help Whispers hunt sensates. Wolfgang's uncle visits the hospital to warn him not to seek revenge on Steiner. Sun's father comes to visit her in the prison and reveals he will confess the truth. Nomi and Lito share intimate stories of their past. Riley visits the graves of her husband and infant daughter. Capheus visits her and tells her of his infant sister they gave up for adoption. Lito struggles with the loss of Hernando.
1010"What Is Human?"The WachowskisThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Wolfgang visits the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe to think. Sun reluctantly signs the papers that will free her, knowing the consequences for her brother. Steiner threatens he will have Felix killed if Wolfgang does not hand over the diamonds. Jonas and Will visit, and Jonas explains sensates have existed since the beginning of humankind. He also tells Will that Whispers will use Jonas to get to Will's cluster. Wolfgang meets Steiner to hand over the diamonds. As Steiner beats Wolfgang and prepares to kill him, Lito visits and concocts a story that distracts Steiner long enough for Wolfgang to reach a hidden gun. Wolfgang manages to kill Steiner and his men. Will and Riley visit, and she reveals to him Yrsa's warning about Jonas. Lito arrives at Joaquin's house to get back Daniela. Lito is beaten by Joaquin, but he eventually wins with the help of Daniela and Wolfgang. Lito and Daniela have a joyful reunion with Hernando. Riley goes to see her father play Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto". The music causes her to remember her birth. The rest join her and remember their births as well. Riley passes out, bleeding from the nose.
1111"Just Turn the Wheel and the Future Changes"Tom TykwerThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Riley wakes up in a hospital. Yrsa visits and tells Riley that BPO will find and kill her. Will and Nomi realize that BPO will turn Riley into a puppet, like Bolger. Bug provides Nomi with the confiscated hacking equipment. Capheus chooses not to sacrifice Amondi and arrives at the bandits' location empty-handed. Kala informs Rajan about his father's wish to not get married, but Rajan will not change his mind. Joong-Ki visits Sun in prison to tell her their father committed suicide, but Sun deduces he killed him. The bandits reveal that they have kidnapped Kabaka, and order Capheus to kill him. With the help of Sun and, later, Will, Capheus is able to defeat them, and reunite Kabaka with his daughter. Wolfgang smuggles Felix out of the hospital. Kala finds out that Guru Yash, the leader of the conservatives, and his followers, are the ones who tried to kill Rajan's father. Riley has flashbacks to the car accident that killed her husband and baby. Jonas visits Will and Nomi, telling them that Whispers knows about Riley. Whispers uses Jonas to lure Will to Iceland. Kala is afraid of Wolfgang's plan to kill his uncle; the two finally kiss.
1212"I Can't Leave Her"The WachowskisThe Wachowskis & J. Michael StraczynskiJune 5, 2015 (2015-06-05)
Riley is transported to the BPO facility. She relives the car accident that killed her husband and newborn daughter. Will races to the facility in Iceland. Yrsa visits Riley, telling her to kill herself to save her cluster. Riley grabs a guard's gun, but Will convinces her to stop. Wolfgang reveals to his uncle that as a boy he killed his father, and now Steiner, before finally killing him. Will and Kala help him escape. Kala is horrified by the violence and Wolfgang realizes that they have no future together. Amanita, Nomi, Lito, Jonas, Sun, Kala, Capheus, and Wolfgang help Will rescue Riley. As they escape, Whispers manages to make eye contact with Will and get inside his head, while continuing to pursue them. Riley panics when they drive by the car accident location. Jonas tells Will he needs to kill himself in order to save his cluster. Instead, Will takes enough sedatives to knock himself out, and talks to Riley about their feelings for each other, convincing her to find the strength as the cluster's only chance. Riley escapes with an unconscious Will on a boat, as momentarily all eight sensates see each other together for the first time.

Production[edit]

Filming and locations[edit]

To properly tell the international aspects of the story, filming for Sense8 took place almost entirely on location around the globe. In the first season they filmed in nine cities located in eight countries: Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Nairobi, Reykjavík, San Francisco, and Seoul.[40] Production on the first season began on June 18, 2014 in San Francisco.[41] The filmmakers successfully negotiated with the organizers of the Clarion Alley Mural Project and select artists to feature their artwork in the show.[42] Shooting in Chicago began on July 9 and wrapped up on August 8,[43] with filming taking place both on location and at the Cinespace Film Studios.[44] They shot some scenes in the Superdawg drive-through restaurant, while customers were being asked not to stare at the filming. Lana and Lilly Wachowski are frequent customers of the place.[45] During location scouting, the producers found the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana which is nearby Chicago, and changed one site's description in the scripts to a church accordingly in order to fit that particular site into the filming. They filmed in the church from July 25 to 28.[46] Filming proceeded to London for a short shoot and then to Iceland, where between August 26 and September 6 they shot in Reykjavik and nearby places such as Akranes.[47][48][49] Filming then started in Nairobi, where a sequence required a crowd of 700 extras, 200 cars and a helicopter.[27] In Seoul they filmed from September 18 to 30.[50] Next they moved to Mexico City and later to Germany, where they filmed in Berlin and inside Babelsberg Studio.[51] Last place they visited was Mumbai where they also shot a Bollywood dance number that was choreographed by Slumdog Millionaire's Longinus Fernandes.[52] The writers wanted to feature an event in each city.[47] They were able to schedule the Pride[53] scenes with its Dykes on Bikes on the Dyke March[54][55] in San Francisco, the Fourth of July fireworks celebration in Chicago, and the Ganesha Chaturthi Hindu festival in Mumbai.[56] Additionally they recorded footage from the Fresh Meat Festival of transgender and queer performance[57][58] in San Francisco, a club event taking place at the KOKO in London,[59][60] and a real lucha libre (Mexican professional wrestling) event with the fighters wearing wrestling masks in Arena Naucalpan, in Mexico City.[56][61] Lastly the scenes where characters are flying on an airplane were recorded during the real flights the cast and crew had to do to get from London to Iceland.[47][56][62] On November 17, 2014 Straczynski wrote that the main unit shooting had wrapped, with only a few winter shots in Iceland remaining to be captured the next month.[63] These scenes were further delayed to mid-January 2015, until Iceland had the necessary amount of snow,[47][64] with the wrap party taking place in Reykjavík's Harpa Music and Concert hall on January 21.[65] By the end of the shooting, the filmmakers had completed 100,000 miles of flight time, or four times around the globe.[40]

Music[edit]

Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer, who co-composed the score for Cloud Atlas and had a minor contribution in the soundtrack of The Matrix Revolutions as part of Pale 3, composed the season's music which was orchestrated by their fellow Cloud Atlas collaborator Gene Pritsker.[66][67] The music was written before filming began[66][68] and it was recorded by the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra.[51] Ethan Stoller and Gabriel Isaac Mounsey, past collaborators of the Wachowskis and Tykwer, are credited for composing additional music and score. Stoller also acted as the season's music editor.[69]

The theme music was picked by the Wachowskis from the two hours of original music Tykwer and Klimek had written. It was shortened from its original seven or eight minutes and a choir and electronic elements were added to it at the wish of the Wachowskis.[70] The show received a nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music during the 68th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.[71]

The title of Episode 4, "What's Going On?", refers to lyrics in the song "What's Up?" by the 4 Non Blondes, which is featured in a scene where the main cast collectively sings it as their first shared experience together. After Nomi escaped from the hospital she said the lyrics were in her head all day and Amanita recognized the song saying it was the perfect soundtrack for a lobotomy.[72]

A soundtrack album for the first season was released digitally by WaterTower Music on May 5, 2017. It includes 10 tracks by Klimek and Tykwer, and four licensed songs including "What's Up?".[66] Klimek and Tykwer's compositions alone, are also available on WaterTower's YouTube channel.[73]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception and popularity[edit]

Critical reception of the first season of Sense8 has been generally favorable. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator website, reported a 69% critical approval rating with an average rating of 6.26/10 based on 55 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Some of the scenarios border on illogical, but the diverse characters and the creative intersections between their stories keep the Wachowskis' Sense8 compelling."[74] On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the season is assigned a score of 64 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[75]

In a report released by Netflix it was discovered that at least 70% of the viewers that watched up to the third episode ended up watching the entire first season,[76] and Straczynski was told there are people that watch it "straight through – three, four, six times."[77] In another report released by Netflix, Sense8 was listed among the shows whose viewers tend to heavily binge-watch their first seasons, rather than savoring their episodes by watching them at a slower pace.[78] Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos praised the success of Sense8 in the up-and-coming French and German markets[79] but also globally.[80] Vice president of international series for Netflix Erik Barmack has named Sense8 one of the most popular Netflix series in the Brazilian market.[81] Less than three days after the premiere of the first season, Variety reported that it had been pirated more than half a million times, regardless of the series' digital distribution.[82]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
2015 Camerimage First Look – TV Pilots Competition Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski (directors), Christian Almesberger, Frank Griebe, Danny Ruhlmann and John Toll (cinematographers) (for: "Limbic Resonance") Nominated
2016 Dorian Awards LGBTQ TV Show of the Year Sense8 Nominated
Campy TV Show of the Year Sense8 Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series Sense8 Won
HPA Awards Outstanding Color Grading – Television Tony Dustin (for: "What's Going On?") Nominated
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in a Contemporary Television Series Marco Giacalone and Bill Bowling Won
Saturn Awards Best New Media Television Series Sense8 Nominated
Emmy Awards Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer Nominated

Marketing[edit]

The red carpet premiere of Sense8's first season took place on May 27, 2015, in San Francisco's AMC Metreon,[96][97] where the first three episodes were previewed.[98] Starting in the middle of July 2015, Netflix Brazil released a series of documentary shorts called Sense8: Decoded. Inspired by Sense8 and directed by João Wainer, the shorts briefly touch upon subjects such as psychiatry, feminism, being transgender and buddhism.[99][100][101][102] Later in the month, Netflix released a music track titled Brainwave Symphony on Spotify.[103] To produce it they subjected eight strangers to a series of various stimuli and they recorded their individual brainwaves using EEG sensors. After extracting a melody from each of them they arranged them in a way to produce a track which mirrors the escalating action of the season.[104][105] In early August 2015, Netflix made available Sense8: Creating the World, a half-hour web television documentary, shot around the world, about the making of season 1 of the series.[56][106]

References[edit]

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