Netflix premiered the second season of Sense8 last week. As I wrote about at the end of its first season, and when its Christmas special debuted late last year, It remains a great big mess of a show, but one that’s so ambitious, so endearing, and so much fun when all of its many globetrotting elements are all working together, that I will forgive it the many moments where it feels like pure gibberish.
And the second season was much stronger overall than the first, both because co-creators Lana Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski had gotten all of the set-up out of the way, and because they had learned as much as their characters about how all of this works. Here are a few specific things the show did better in season two — with spoilers for the whole season — coming up just as soon as I mix you the world’s best sidecar…
Less explaining, more punching.
The premise at this point is a bit like why no one recognizes Clark Kent as Superman, just because he wears a pair of glasses and slouches a little: the more time spent trying to justify it, the sillier it seems. Season two certainly doesn’t lack for technobabble about where sensates come from, how the clusters interact, what BPO’s agenda is, etc., but it’s mainly confined to a couple of subplots, and easier to tune out while so much else is happening. As Todd VanDerWerff has noted, the new season felt more like a television show, with specific goals for the characters in each episode rather than the usual Netflix “10-hour movie” slog, and part of that differentiation from episode was making sure there was at least one great action set piece — nearly all of them more ambitious than what the show attempted a year ago — per episode. Lana Wachwoski’s one of our greatest working directors of action, and this season had some doozies: Sun trying to fend off a group of assassins with a noose around her neck, the cluster vs. cluster fight (more on that in a moment), and that stunning chase scene through the streets of Seoul early in the finale. It’s much easier to forgive the show its various indulgences when it can frequently offer something so thrilling.
(The kinetic, easy-to-follow style of the fight scenes, and how great Doona Bae in particular is at them, only makes Iron Fist look lamer in comparison.)