Tuesday, July 28, 2015

So You Think You Can Dance S12E8 & 9

An odd thing about reality tv in general is how dependent on outside forces it is to be "good." The participants have to be interesting, and in the case of SYTYCD also talented, you have to be able to form an attachment to any number of them, and then the "right" people have to be sent home each week to allow the drama to remain compelling and to leave the viewers feeling vindicated that the "right" person has won by whatever metrics such a thing is being judged. After so many episodes this season, I'm shocked by just how many ways this show is failing in those areas.

First off the good, because there is still good. Virgil and Hailee's number that closed the competition routines last night. It's the best thing that's happened this season. My jaw was on the floor, I cheered throughout it all, and couldn't help but to be amazed. Both of them danced it wonderfully, and I have to agree with Travis' point that Hailee was the best person from his team for this number. The two of them together were the perfect duo for the routine and they worked hard to start to distance themselves from the competition.

The number before it staring Neptune and Kate was equally impressive on the other end of the spectrum. The judges can wax poetic about the dancers dancing out of their styles each performance all they like. The fact of the matter is that that's always been the bread and butter of this show. So while it's impressive that Hailee was capable of dancing Hip Hop so well and that Neptune delivered on contemporary as well as he did, it's no more impressive than the many cross-style performances that came over the 10 years before it. But that's not to diminish the number itself which was just brilliant. Neptune and Kate had a chemistry that we haven't seen thus far in the competition because no one's danced together enough to build it. That they can just fall into a new performance and sell the emotion on such an astounding level is to be commended. That's not even mentioning how skillfully it was danced. Kate's skill level and training brought a crispness to her movement that Neptune lacked, and that was all for the betterment of the piece. I got the impression watching them that they were really two different people from two different worlds, but that they honestly loved each other and the entirety of their relationship made sense. Sometimes when two contemporary dancers get together in a routine like this one, their combined skill level leaves it feeling a bit homogenized and like they're both just two halves of the same performer. But there's something about the difference in the quality of Neptune and Kate's movement that really added an extra layer to the story that deeply resonated with me.

Sadly, I think that's where the good ends thus far. The first episode with everyone dancing outside of their comfort zones wasn't as bad as I expected, or as bad as this episode for that matter, but it hasn't been on par with where we're used to seeing this show at a comparable point in previous seasons. The bulk of the dancers, and that's on both teams, simply aren't as good as they usually are. The Stage dancers seem to be low on personality and performance ability. It feels almost as though the 10 of them that made up the top 20 were chosen specifically for that purpose. Whereas the Street team has personality in spades and very little technique and skill. This was expected from the moment the theme of this season was announced, but the failings on the Stage team are more surprising. I think it was orchestrated this way simply because if you took the best Street dancers you could find and pitted them against the best Stage dancers in this show's history, they'd be slaughtered. So conceits were made on both sides to try and keep things leveled. The results are just bad performances that can't solely be blamed on the less trained Street competitors.

Darion going home last week after his technically interesting but ultimately bloodless Ballet number with Jim and his seriously lagging number with Hailee and Yorelis was evidence of this. Here's a classically trained Ballet dancer with all the technique in the world. And we've seen Ballet dancers on this show go far when they let their personality and performance level fly. But Darion didn't have that second level. In fact, he was so lacking in being able to bring out any emotion that I was left wondering if he'd have been on the show without the need to keep the Stage team down closer to the Street team's level to create a fairer competition.

"Would they be here if it were just a regular season?" was a question I expected to be asking of the Street dancers, but not of the Stage dancers. But that's not to say that it isn't fair to ask of the Street team too. In the cases of Burim and Asaf, the answer is clear: No they wouldn't be. Asaf at least shouldn't even be on this season seeing as how the judges cut him only to bring him back to fill in for a last minute injury. Burim at least has a leg up on Asaf in his skill and his ability to pick up choreography, but he's not at the level of some of the better B-Boys we've seen in the past (Hok and Legacy come to mind), so while I think he might have been a good choice for this year, I still ask if he would have made the cut in seasons previously. And yet for all of that, the judges decide to keep Asaf and to lose Burim this week? Over the years, I've seen some really confusing choices be made on this show, but one of the things that generally kept me watching was that those choices were usually made by the voters and then rectified by the judges. The judges' ability to decide who from the bottom three vote getters would be going home until the top 10 was formed was one of the things that always set this show above others. And while they haven't always been perfect, they've at least often made their decision with a level of understand-ability. Not this time. And the lack of explanation on their part doesn't help to make this seem like a reasonable choice either.

How can anyone justify keeping Asaf after he turns in what can only be described as the worst performance of the night. The Cha-Cha routine he was given was even streamlined and simplified for him and he still managed to make it slow and boring and lifeless. The fact is Asaf isn't a strong enough dancer for this competition, and instead of admitting that and sending him on his way, the judges subject us to him for at least another week. The choreographers don't know what to do with him during group numbers, which is why he's always in the back or off to the side and never focused on from the cameras. And he's hurting his partners each week by not allowing them to let lose and just dance for fear that he might not be there to catch them when needed. Keeping him around at this point is both boring and dangerous, and yet he stays because he tries really hard and the judges like the idea of seeing his overall arch when everything is said and done. This isn't a competition to find the best sob story or the most improved dancer, it's about finding the best, or at least America's favorite, dancer, and the judges just undercut that in a big way.

Oddly enough this is also reflected in their decision to cut Moises instead of Edson. Neither of them danced particularly well this night, but Moises proved last week, at least to me, that he's got more performance ability than I expected. He's maybe the most technically sound Stage boy left in the competition, but the way he was capable of bringing out a strength and masculinity that I didn't think he had last week won me over on his performance ability. Conversely, Edson hasn't. In his number this week, I didn't buy for a second that he wanted either of the two girls he was dancing with, and since his character was at the center of a love triangle with them, that was important. But after a lackluster Bollywood routine last week and an unbelievable performance this week, he somehow manages to stick around while Moises is sent packing. It's two bad decisions in one night from the judges and it leaves me thinking that they're more interested in keeping up with their theme than they are in presenting the stellar level of dance we're used to seeing from the show.

It all boils back down to what I said in my very first review of the season; the show is trying to change fundamental aspects of itself, and in doing so it's losing its identity and not picking up a better one to replace it. The Stage v Street concept isn't without it's strengths. The group numbers that have been closing the night have been consistently stellar in my opinion. And their willingness to get rid of contestants without considering gender opens the door for more same-sex pairings. Granted it's a door they don't seem at all interested in walking through as each episode has seen groups of three and four dancing instead of the traditional duos (which has also been the show's loss). But we've still reached a point where there are five girls and three guys on each team. And that's understandable since the girls are so much better this year than the boys. But instead of just having that happen, they need to capitalize on it and do something with those dynamics. What this show doesn't need are more crowded and convoluted routines like Stacey Tookey's number for Derek, Jaja, and Alexia. That didn't make sense and wasn't very interesting to watch.

These routines also speak to the other thing the show has lost: the strong storylines born from the chemistry (or lack of same) of the early pairings of dancers. Being paired together gave the dancers incentive to do their best to help their partner as well as themselves, and it gave us those cute but silly video packages where the dancers would tell us something special about their partners. Instead we're left with very little idea of who the contestants are, and therefore left without much of an ability to latch on to anyone to really root for. Beyond Virgil and Jaja, I couldn't tell you who the Street performers are. Same goes for the Stage team now that Moises is gone. I know Hailee's name after her number last night, but prior to that I wouldn't have recalled her.

So if we know next to nothing about the contestants, and the people who were allowed into the season aren't that talented, and the wrong people are being sent home week after week, then what does this season of SYTYCD have going for it? Nigel remarked at the end of Virgil and Hailee's performance that when this show turns 20, it would be a performance they'd still be talking about. The hard truth is that this show probably won't make it past its 10th birthday, never mind its 20th, and as I watch each episode thinking these are the last we'll ever see, I'm left wondering how we're going to remember the show. They made it a point to look back over the first 10 years during that one hour long special last week, but this season isn't the capper to that remarkable journey, it's just the last death rattle of the end.


--Speaking of the one hour special from last week, how much of a hot mess was that? I don't want to throw it under the bus too bad, but one hour wasn't enough, the current contestants dancing solos wasn't needed at all, and the constant toss ups to Ryan Seacrest about his new show were pointless and took up way too much time. It left something that should have been a wall to wall celebration of what came before feeling empty and rushed. And I also had a problem with Paula and Jason getting to pick performances to see again. They've been there for all of two days and they get a vote? If there was ever a time to bring back Mary Murphy and Mia Michaels, and Lil C, and Debbie Allen, and all the people who've made this show what it is today, this was it. The producers and Fox could have done better; this show deserved better.

--Last week, Nigel had a lot of glowing things to say about Jaja and Jim's performance and about how remarkable it was to see a Ballet dancers and a Hip Hop dancer together making a great performance. He went on and on about it as if this was the sole doing of the Street v Stage conceit, and the entire time I kept thinking "But that's what the Alex Wong and tWitch performance was, and it was a million times better than whatever we just watched." But he didn't even make mention of that piece of history. And then the very next night we get to see that performance again and I felt validated.

--The twitter save thing is another interesting change to the format that I want to like but I'm not sure I think it's being used to the best of its ability. I guess restricting the tweeting to the last 5 minutes makes a level of sense, but I think allowing people to do it throughout the show would encourage live tweeting of the episodes and get the word out even more about the show on social media. But in order to do that effectively, they'd probably have to reveal who the bottom 6 were at the top of the hour, and we already know that that doesn't really work, so I don't know. Either way, it feels to me like a good idea that just needs a little more refining.

--Pharside and Phoenix have been wonderful additions to the ranks of SYTYCD choreographers. I've enjoyed just about every routine they've made over the last couple seasons, and they're winning streak continues into this week.

--I can't express how upset I am over Burim going home. Not that I think he's top 10 material or anything, but that they had the prime excuse to just get rid of Asaf and they didn't take it bugs the shit out of me. Plus, I'll miss his beautiful blue eyes and cute little accent.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So You Think You Can Dance S12E7

I've long believed that if you don't enjoy a story, whether it be a book or TV show, you should give up on it. Life's too short to waste it reading books you don't enjoy or watching season after season of a TV show you're no longer into. Starting a new series is not the equivalent of a marriage. There are no vows, no promises, not even really lofty notions about eternity. It's more of a simple handshake deal. You sit down and you say, "I'm going to give you so much of my time, and in return you're going to entertain me to whatever level I feel I require to be entertained. If you fall short of that task, then I'm leaving you for another form of entertainment and you can't complain; if you wanted me to stick around, you should have been better." It's an odd one way street whereby you don't owe a show anything, but that show owes it to you to be entertaining and to contort itself into whatever odd shape your desires dictate in the moment. But with that being said, I'm only human and I come with my own set of loyalties. So when So You Think You Can Dance announced a set of changes that I felt sure would ruin the show, instead of giving up on it on the spot I decided to give it another go. A show that's built up some capital with me by being good in the past will inevitably last longer and get a stay of execution or two before I give up on it all together. I watched two of the audition episodes this year before I decided to give up on that and check in when the competition started in earnest, and then I decided that I'd give the season a fair shake of about two or three episodes before I decided for sure if I'm going to stick out this 12th and probably final season. After the Top 20 Showcase episode, I'm still on the fence, but not for the reasons I expected to be.

As I mentioned last year, the Top 20 episode is one of my favorites. In the past, when Fox had more faith in the show and give them more time to do their thing, it was an episode that served to simply show off what the contestants could do. Freed from the requirement of dancing for America's votes and from the constraints of having to dance outside of their given styles, the contestants skilled and lucky enough to make it to the Top 20 were allowed to just let loose to some great choreography that was often more about the beauty and the joy of dance than anything else. Now that the showcase has been integrated into the competition, I like it a little bit less, but I still respect the place it holds. This year it's still a solid showcase of strong dancers dancing well, but it's not quiet up to the level of previous years for a very simple reason: The choreography is lazy and uninspired.

When I found out that everyone in Vegas would only be dancing within their own styles, or more specifically that the "Street" dancers would only be dancing in Hip Hop styles and the "Stage" dancers would be dancing in all the different styles, I decided not to watch the auditions. As a result, I walked into this episode not knowing anything about any of the contestants except for Jaja who I loved last year and therefore is my early favorite, and I fully expected the Street dancers to enter this stage of the competition at a distinct disadvantage. In the past, the Vegas round was the most difficult aspect of the audition because it was supposed to prepare the dancers what what they'd be facing in the weeks to come. Here it was lightened in order to coddle them towards instead of away from success. Simply put, if the Street dancers had to dance Ballroom at these early stages, they would have been eliminated in large numbers leaving us without a team of ten in the top 20. So my expectation was that they'd reach this point without an ability to even perform choreography and then get tossed into the deep end against contestants who can do whatever is asked of them. On the one hand, that's not the case as the Street dancers clearly have the better set of performances on the night and take an early lead in the competition. But on the other hand, were any of them actually really challenged and pushed hard enough, or critiqued firmly enough by the judges, to make a fair accounting?

There are a few places were I think the routines lived up to this stage of the competition. The first of which is Brian Friedman's routine for Alexia, Hailee, and Marissa. It's a type of routine that I don't generally care for: sexy girls being sexy for sexiness' sake, but he choreographs it is killer high heels and has them doing a lot of moves in those shoes that should have broken their ankles. To their credit, the girls move around in those shoes well, I only noticed one point when someone looked like she was about to fall, but she caught herself just in time. But the problem here is really that the routine is sexy, the costuming is sexy, the shoes are sexy, and then on top of that the girls decided to pull overtly sexy faces too. It's one thing too much and the judges are quick to tell them to dial it back and not try too hard to be sexy when you've got so many elements making you sexy already. In spite of that one aspect to the execution, I thought the choreography was suitably strong for dancers good enough to make it to the top 20.

Likewise, Darion and Jim's Ballet routine featured a high level of difficulty. They weren't quite as in sync as they should have been, and they noticeably missed the connection on their first lift, but given how difficult the entire routine was, I'm willing to give them a bit of a pass. I didn't think it deserved the standing-O the judges gave it, but it was nice nevertheless. The two group numbers that closed out the night were also impressive and featured a high level from the choreographers. Team Street going last was exactly the right call as they blew the roof off the building and solidified their round one victory.

Everything other than those four performances, however, left something to be desired. It felt like the choreographers were going easy on the contestants in an effort to ease them into the competition, but the result was uninspiring and uninteresting numbers. Even Travis Wall's number was surprisingly lackluster, and that's from someone that I've praised again and again as a genius and the best thing to ever come out of this show. This week his story was simple and overdone, and the movements either didn't suit the story or weren't executed well enough by Edson and Kate to convey the story. It's a strange misstep in what otherwise should have been a home run.

To make matters worse, the judges overpraise the Street dancers at every turn while giving (understandably) harsh critiques to the Stage dancers. The other standing-O of the night came at the end of Chris Scott's number for Jaja, Lily, Asaf, and Burim, and that was horrible. Or maybe horrible is a bit strong, but it certainly wasn't anything to leave your seat over. Scott starts the video package by saying he doesn't really have much of a plan beyond wanting to showcase what each of the dancers is good at. Which......ok? I think I've made this analogy before and if I have, bear with me, but there's something that happens when a coach makes a guts call in sports: if it works, he's a genius, if it fails, people will be calling for him to be fired. There's something purely results based in sports that renders individual decisions incapable of being judged on their merits alone; it's all about if it worked or not. Chris Scott's decision to not come up with any kind of story or put forth any distinct choreography didn't work. And then the routine was filmed in a manner that left each individual dancer on stage as pretty much the only person in the frame while they were dancing. So if there were moments of synchronicity or of two people dancing against each other at the same time, we didn't really get to see them. The moves the dancers executed were nice, but there was no sense of great scale or purpose to it all, just four people on stage doing their own solos, and that's not what this show is about.

Compared to the Pharside and Phoenix routine for Virgil, Yorelis, and Ariana about a man trying to get into the pearly gates and being courted by one angel and one devil, the Chris Scott routine looks like amateur hour. Granted even this routine wasn't my favorite. I didn't find the difficulty level to be too high, though it was still higher than a lot of the other routines of the night, and there certainly weren't enough tricks or lifts in it to keep my attention for long. But it at least had purpose and showed that the choreographers were thinking about what story they wanted to tell and how they could both challenge the dancers to step outside of themselves while still showing off their talents. After a string of solid numbers last year, Pharside and Phoenix are really stepping up as a choreography duo that can stand toe to toe with NappyTabs, and that's a good thing.

This first episode of the competition wasn't enough to measure the show by. The real test will come next week when the dancers are paired up and forced to dance outside of their given styles. But even through the first hour some of the problems are still seeping through. Jason Derulo has yet another performance in this episode. It's not the first of the season and I'm willing to bet it won't be the last, and I'm already seriously beyond bored with him. His critiques have at least gotten better, and he was the only judge to fairly criticize the first routine of the night, so I'll give him that much. The new format has the dancers running off stage into the loving arms of their respective mentors after each tongue lashing from the judges, and then we cut to their very brief (seriously I think it was like three seconds) conversation with their mentor as they respond to what the judges said and he rushes through some kind of advice. Listen, I love tWitch and Travis Wall, but this is horribly fucking pointless. In order for this to work out, they need to better justify these two being such a big factor in the show. Travis choreographs one of his team's performances, but tWitch doesn't, and the advice we see them giving throughout the episode amounts to nothing. I'm hoping that we discover next week that the two of them have a hand in deciding the pairs and maybe even choosing dance styles for those pairs in the weeks to come. If they have insight into what these kids will be good at, I'd like to see them use it to make the show better and also to challenge the contestants to do better. But I'm not optimistic. In the mean time, it just looks like their going to be sticking around to wait in the wings and to pretend to be important. Much like So You Think You Can Dance's 12th season is shaping up to do if things don't change.

Random Thoughts:

--Asaf is the only dancer who seems to be too far out of his depths during this stage of the competition. And since he's only in the top 20 to fill out a spot vacated by a dancers who was injured in the last minute, I guess that's to be expected. I must say I found it pleasantly surprisings that he was the only dancer out there seemingly incapable, or maybe just unwilling, to pick up choreography.

--Megz is another early favorite of mine. She's beautiful and very expressive in her performance. She and Jaja are two reasons the female Street dancers are being so heavily praised this season, but it's not praise that's misplaced at all. From what I can see, the girls on the street team are much better than everyone else at this stage of the competition. It still remains to be seen how they'll do in other styles, but I'm hoping they stick around for awhile.

--Is it just me or are the Stage team boys really really gay this year? It just seemed like each time any one of them opened their mouths, a purse fell out. It's not a judgement, simply an observation. In the past, it's seemed like even a lot of the gay contestants (Travis and Benji both come to mind) were at least passable enough that you might not have known they were gay unless you were paying attention. This year....not so much.

--This year is also short on dreamy boys. No cute and derpy Kent Boyd, no one with the more adult sex appeal of Dmitry Chaplin, and certainly no one as adorable and bear cub-ish as Will Thomas. No one stood out to me this year and that's odd for this show. Who will the young girls who make up so much of the voting viewership of this show vote for?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sense8 S2 Episodes 9-12

An interesting thing happened while I rewatched the last act of Sense8, I stopped taking notes as I had been doing consistently through the first eight episodes and just watched it all transpire again. It shouldn't have been as engaging since I literally only just watched these episodes for the first time a couple weeks ago, but I couldn't pull my eyes from the screen. It wasn't that I didn't have anything to say about what happens in this final act, but what I had to say took a backseat to the experience. And I think that's most of what I love about this show in a nutshell: it's not without its problems, when you stop and think about things for too long (like why the hell does Wolfie just happen to have a damn bazooka in the trunk of his car?), the story can falter a little bit. But it's all so interesting, so engaging, and so unlike anything else on TV that you can be totally immersed in the story while its on. In a scene where Kala Visits with Capheus, she asks him why a house might have a big screen TV but no bed. His response is that the bed keeps you in the slum while the TV takes you out of it. True escapism at it's finest. It's not the only thing I love about storytelling, but it's certainly one of the things I love the most, and I think Sense8 does it about as well as any other show out there.

The last four episodes serve as a culmination of everything the show had been building towards for the eight that came before. Most of the stories draw to a solid conclusion, we get an awesome sequence of all of the cluster working together to use their skills and save one of their own, and a fairly solid path forward for future seasons, assuming there are any. Collectively, these elements combine to make a thrillingly satisfying ending, but taking the stories on an individual level, I'm less sure.

I mentioned previously that Lito's story is my least favorite of all the individual threads they follow in
the first season, and that's equally true for the ending. The scene between him and Nomi in the eighth episode is brilliant, but it's also the first extended Visiting scene he has in the season. The scene where Sun is on her period and he feels the effects for it was mostly played for laughs, as are most of Lito's scenes, and this is the first time that he has this kind of sit and talk and share some piece of yourself moment that the others have been experiencing all along. It's a part of what I don't like about Lito's story: he feels so isolated from the others. But the other thing I didn't care for about Lito's story is that it felt the most predictable. From the moment Lito allowed Daniela to go off with Joaquin, you knew there was no other way for his story to go. Of course he spirals without Hernando, of course he finds his courage and goes after her, of course he gets her back and his actions allow Hernando to forgive him and they all get to be a happy family again. Subtlety was never Sense8's strong suit, but this was all a bit too obvious for my taste. Which leads me to say that we've seen this kind of story (specifically the closeted gay man having to come out in order to earn the love of his out boyfriend) enough times before that there's nothing new or interesting that can be done with it, so maybe choose a better story next time.

With that being said, Lito finding his place within the cluster by helping Wolfie achieve his action movie climax was amazing. I complain about Lito's isolation from the rest of the cluster, but the truth is that Wolfie is isolated too. Prior to the tenth episode, which opens with him having a brief and perplexing conversation with Will and leads to his moment with Lito, the only person he'd spent any one on one time with was Kala. That's still one more senseate than Lito spent time with, but the fact that the two of them are the cluster's most isolated characters and they join together to help one another through their respective story's endings makes a lot of sense and is very fulfilling. If the two of them continue to be on the fringes of the group moving forward, it could be a lot of fun to see a close friendship developing there.

I've mentioned the show's potential balance issues before, and that came up in small ways in these last four episodes. Lito and Will's conversation during the attempt to rescue Riley bugs me. These last four episodes feature a couple of the cluster members meeting for the first time. Capheus and Kala sit and watch a movie together, and the aforementioned scene between Nomi and Lito is their first meeting as well (other than the orgy). In both of those cases, the characters start off not by introducing themselves but by acknowledging that they already know who one another is. Nomi looks at Lito and says, "You're Lito," and he responds with, "You're Nomi." But when Lito pops up in the BPO facility, the first thing Will says to him is, "Do I know you?" It's a line purely in service to the comedy of their awkward exchange about the orgy they had and Will's being flustered about it all, but it doesn't work for me. I think you can stick with Will's discomfort about having had sex with two men and one woman, and the weirdness of it all, but there's no real excuse for the group to have reached the last episode and for him to still be unsure about who anyone in the cluster is. It strikes a discordant note to me.

But there's also an element of discordance to the entire final act which kicks up the action elements of the show to a much higher level than any previous point in the series. I don't think that this is a mistake, the ability for this show to be high action has been there from the start, but it was obvious that they wanted to focus on the characters first and the action later. I think all of this was done in an attempt to make sure that when the action happened, we were invested enough in the characters to care about who was getting shot at and why. But it still makes the third act feel, at times, like a slightly different movie than we've been watching for the last eight hours. The quiet character moments that set this show apart from others in the genre are still there. Lito and Nomi's scene is a landmark scene for the two queer characters within the cluster. Capheus and Kala's scene is a mirror of the scene he shared with Sun in the fourth episode. And this group of episodes doesn't lack in more of the romance between Will and Riley and Kala and Wolfie. There's also the third moment of the series doing something that no other show on TV is doing: the birth scenes while Riley listens to her dad playing.

First the 4 Non Blondes song, then the mind orgy, and now graphic depictions of each senseate's birth all set to classical moment and streamed one after the other. It's honestly transcendent in a way that no other show could really capture. The first time I watched it, I cried like a baby over the beauty of it all. This time, I didn't cry but I still had goosebumps and I couldn't believe how each of their births informed so much of who they'd each become. Kala born in a temple, Will delivered in the back of a cop car, Lito born while the whole family watched the latest telenovela. Who they are echos back to those moments and they are connected to those moments in a deep way, and each of them being connected to their own moment connects them to each other's as well. It felt magical and moving.

But there's also the action. And the action comes to the forefront in a way that it simply hadn't prior. In the last four episodes, there's multiple shoot outs, car chases, two games of chicken, multiple explosions, and hand to hand fights. Each action sequence works because we are invested, so the show did its work well, but the overall feeling of watching a different show is still there on the surface. In the end, I think this is neither good nor bad for the first season, it's just a fact.

It all leaves me with a feeling that through the course of its first season, Sense8 was capable of telling us exactly who it was. It's a show that's capable of grand ambition and showing us things we've never seen before. It's a show about the quiet moments between these connected characters that prove we aren't alone in our personal struggles. And it's a show with some really great action moments. These things don't have to be mutually exclusive. Indeed, in a show about eight people scattered around the world who are all living different lives but get to be constantly connected, I'm not sure how these things could be mutually exclusive. How Sense8 is telling its story is intricately wound up in what that story is, and that's a brilliant thing to find in a first season.

Which leaves us with the question of what me might be able to expect from the show going forward? In spite of Netflix's procrastination in announcing a renewal, I find it hard to believe that we won't be getting more episodes. So what might happen? Having Will look at Whispers in the last episode means they'll have to address that in some fashion moving forward. It also probably means that killing Whispers so that Will can have his mind to himself again should be at the top of the Cluster's to do list. Will and Riley are together now, though we don't know for how long, so I expect to see more about how love within a cluster is narcissistic, as Riley's Iceland friend, Inga, put it. Meanwhile, Kala and Wolfie seem to have hit a snag in their own romance. Watching the two stories progress alongside one another should be fun. But mostly, all I think I want to see is more scenes like Riley's rescue. More of these people jumping in and out of one another's lives at just the right time to add their own special skill set to the mix and solve the problem before them.  The way the show figured out how to have a specific use for everyone was brilliant, and if that's more of what the next season looks like and less about each character's individual stories, then I'm all in.

Random thoughts:

--One thing I'm still not sure on is Wolfie's statement that he's a monster. On the one hand, I think he's just feeling a bit down on himself after the events at his uncle's place, but prior to the last episode, there was no evidence of him being monstrous. So should we take the statement with a grain of salt, or does the show honestly want him to be a bit more on the homicidal maniac side of the spectrum? The way Will calls him in to play chicken with the helicopter suggests that he's akin to a suicide bomber within the group. But I still don't know if I feel like that was earned or not.

--Something else I feel very split on is Riley's background. Currently, she feels like the one cluster member with the fewest skills or knowledge to offer in big action moments. But beyond that, the last episode being so focused on telling the story about her and her husband seemed like a miscalculation to me. It's not that those flashbacks weren't affecting, because they were. But in a situation where so very much of who she is in these moments has to harken back to this experience, it seems a bit odd that we're only just finding out about it now. They do a good job of dropping hints about it all throughout, esp in the episodes after she's back in Iceland. So I feel confident that they knew this backstory all along, but it's another moment where part of me thinks they should have told us about it before they did.

--For all of my dislike of Lito's story, his scenes at the bar were really nice. I liked it that they had him go back and apologize instead of allowing the scene to just kind of exist in a bubble. But also, did he actually pay for any of those drinks? I know he's famous and all, but still.

--I mentioned it earlier, but Wolfie just happening to have a bazooka in his trunk made me laugh both times. It never pulled me out of the narrative, but it was still funny and slightly unbelievable, but still fun.

--One more thing I'd like to see if the show is renewed is for the partners to be a little bit less perfect. Amanita, Hernando, and Rajan are all just way too storybook for me. I love them all as I love all the characters on the show, but a few flaws can go a long way.