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SENSE8 Recap: “Christmas Special” Delivers Festive Feels for the Holidays

SENSE8 Recap: “Christmas Special” Delivers Festive Feels for the Holidays

The Netflix original series Sense8 is back and in top form. There’s plenty to celebrate with our favorite cluster of sensates. And I couldn’t help but get the song “We are family” stuck in my head during the two-hour “Christmas Special” that dropped just in time for the holiday weekend. It  reaffirmed the importance of each of these unique characters to the series. So let’s talk about those strangers in our heads–heavy spoiler warning.

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We reenter a world grounded in reality but dashed with the best bits and pieces of sci-fi on a TV series since The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sense8 premiered in 2015 and was created by J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) with the writer-director team of Lily and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix). Season two was announced earlier this year–with a sudden hiatus announcement from Lily Wachowski–but it’s felt like forever since we last got a chance to visit with everyone.

Season one introduced us to eight uniquely connected human beings: Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith), a police officer in Chicago; Riley Blue (Tuppence Middleton), an Icelandic DJ in London; Capheus (Aml Ameen ), a matatu driver in Nairobi; Sun Bak (Bae Doona) a businesswoman and underground kickboxer; Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), a closeted Mexican actor; Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai), an Indian pharmacist in Mumbai; Wolfgang Bogdanow (Max Riemelt), a German safecracker; and Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton), a transgender woman and hacktivist living in San Francisco.

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It’s a bit overwhelming at first to meet so many main characters at once, but trust me–in those twelve episodes, you experience a well-crafted blend of emotions. The grander schemes of catharsis and recovery from this collective hit all the right spots with the “Christmas Special”–like when Sun is released from solitary confinement and is embraced by her cellmates; or when Lito, his mother, Hernando, and Dani experience a rush of true love and acceptance together despite all the negativity around them. It’s so refreshing to see these characters express gratitude and joy for small wins in humanity–not everyone’s a psychotic government agent or rude college student.

There wasn’t much extra character development to add here–aside from introducing the new face of Capheus moving forward, Toby Onwumere (solid performance; looking forward to more from him BTW). And for a “Christmas Special” there wasn’t really a need for complex character building. These two hours felt more like a festive revisit to the Sense8 world for any wandering newcomers. And it serves as a stark reminder to fans about what hangs in the balance for the eight–it closes just as Wolfie escapes another deadly mob fight, with creepy Whispers breathing down Will’s neck and Nomi continuing to dodge Agent Bendix who’s legit hunting her and Amanita. The threat of death and devastation is very real for everyone

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I still can’t quite put my finger on a certain angel-like sensate, though–yeah, I’m talking about Angelica (Daryl Hannah), the departed cluster mother. She looms and glows in the background here, but I’m still waiting for some more context regarding her appearances. Here’s hoping season two will delivery more Angelica closure. More Jonas (Naveen Andrews) “explains it all” moments wouldn’t hurt either!

Visually, everything keeps getting better! Filming on location across the globe continued in this special with some great shots in particular of Iceland and San Francisco. And in its apparent trademark, we’re gifted once again with some awesome musical moments. Two in particular were everything: a wild sensate orgy to celebrate their shared birthday (truest quote: “We exist because of sex”) and a touching Christmas celebration paired with a rendition of the late Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that included the talented San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (I’m not crying… you’re crying!).

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Really the biggest takeaway from any “Christmas Special” of the TV variety has to be love. And Sense8 delivers all the love in the form of eight hyper-connected humans, emotionally and physically relying on one another in an increasingly hostile, dangerous world. It also succeeded in reigniting some hype for season two next year. Leave us with your love for the sensates! Let us know what you think will happen in season two!

Images: Netflix

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