If all the world’s a stage, identity is nothing

Eileen McCormick / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Sun Bak, played by Doona Bae, showing off her kickboxing skills. Photo: Netflix

When I found out that the creators of the Matrix trilogy developed a new TV series I had to check it out. Matrix was a movie that challenged my core beliefs in metaphysics and science, and now what could be better than that?

Netflix series Sense8 poses the question: What if humans were connected to one another by more than just social media? What if you could physically feel the ecstasy, heartbreak and boredom of someone else? And they in turn, collectively, feel the same way about you?

The show begins with a mother, who is under great threat by some mysterious man who we are to assume is after her natural gifts.

The survival of her species has pushed her to the brink and her last act before she must pull the trigger is to give birth to exactly 8 sense8 children all of whom share the same birthday 8/8/85. Suddenly and somewhat violently, eight people become sensates.

According to definition, sensates, or Homo sensoriums, are a species of humans that are telepathically connected to each other. A group of sensates constitutes a cluster, and members of a cluster can connect and communicate with each other wherever they are in the world.

While it takes sometime to truly understand the ramification for what it means to be a sense8, the vastly different characters start to see their lives intermingle.

That being said this is not one of those shows you can play on Facebook and follow the narrative. You definitely need both eyes on the screen to take in all the shows’ subtleties.

Each of the 8 charters has a compelling narrative that plays an important role to the storyline. Respectively, those who watch the show will no doubt relate to one character more than the others. For me South Korean super hero Sun Bak comes to life.

The cast of Sense8. Photo: Netflix

Sun Bak, played by Doona Bae, is a Korean kickboxer in Seoul. She is the daughter of a powerful business magnate who never took much interest in her because Sun is a girl and he had his sights set on raising his son, to one day run the family empire.

Her mother dies of cancer at a young age and her last wish was for Sun to take care of the family. This has a profound effect on Sun, and to fulfill the promise she made to her dying mother she takes up martial arts and trains until she becomes a master fighter.

Sun’s brother on the other hand is spoilt and leads a lavish life as the scion of a successful leader of a South Korean chaebol. However, one day he’s caught embezzling money. Knowing that the scandal would ruin the family, Sun decides to take the rap for her brother and is imprisoned.

But not to worry. This is not the end of Sun. Somehow, she connects with the cluster and being a sense8 projects all of them in and out of each other’s conscious minds. I can say without doubt that seeing her conscious self somehow ending up in Kenya and fighting a bunch of gangsters, while her physical self is in prison in South Korea, is an adrenalin rush to say the least.

The show takes the viewer around the world to India, United States, Iceland, Mexico, and Kenya – capturing what it might be like to go on a world tour to these places. The series does not shy away from dealing with social issues like gay and lesbian pride, arranged marriages, social inequalities, and drugs. While all of these might attract you to the series, what gets you hooked is the fact that if one of the sense8 dies, the whole cluster will fail and evil will triumph over good.

The main antagonist in the show is Whispers, played by Terrence Mann. He is the director of a top secret laboratory and is out to eliminate all sense8s because they yield too much power. Whispers’ weapon is his ability to get in the heads of the sense8s and control their minds.

The 8 must all come together despite their own ongoing life challenges to fight to survive. The series does something not many shows can do. It trains the viewer to visualize what it is to feel and encourages the celebration of our sexual differences in the name of the common bond of humanity.

“What is human? An ability to reason? To imagine? To love or grieve? If so, we are more human than any human ever will be,” says the narrative at the start of the series.

The dialogue and cinema photography of Sense8 will make the viewer feel enthralled in any one moment of what it’s like to be someone else.

The Sense8 series is obviously designed for binge watching and four episodes in one go would not be much of a problem. If you’re like me and the weekend after New Year requires some reflection, then Sense8 is one of those shows that can help with that.

Let’s then reflect with this dialogue from Sense8:

“Who am I?

Do you mean… where I’m from?

What I one day might become?

What I do? What I’ve done?

What I dream?

Do you mean… what you see? What you see or what I’ve seen?

What I fear or what I dream?

Do you mean who I love?

Do you mean what I’ve lost?

Who am I?

I guess who I am is exactly the same as who you are.

Not better than. Not less than.

Because there is no one who has been or will ever be exactly the same as either you or me.”

So, start your first weekend of 2018 on a high vibration, join your cluster and feel out where you belong this year.

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