The final episode of Sense8 came early due to the show’s cancellation by Netflix. Soaring costs from filming across the world resulted in a two hour finale in lieu of a third season. The altered format of this episode begs the question, how does this change affect the actual story of the episode? Further, how does the storyline of the show as a whole stack up?
From the very beginning, Sense8 has somewhat relied on it’s impressive visuals and unconventional format to support a somewhat underwhelming story. With so many main characters it was difficult for the show to maintain a good pace while giving them appropriate backstories. This becomes very apparent as the show wraps up the final episode. There seems to be a last minute scramble to give characters like Wolfgang and Amanita, whose pasts had largely been glossed over by the show until now.
The result of this is that the show gives us flashbacks to Wolfgang’s childhood, his abusive father, and his eventual death at Wolfgang’s hand. These flashbacks feature many cuts between young Wolfgang and current Wolfgang which serve to further confuse what is an already very confusing part of the episode. The clips are hard to follow and as a viewer I got little more than “Wolfgang had a hard childhood” out of them. The show also decides to take this opportunity to introduce a rape storyline involving Wolfgang’s mother that comes out of nowhere and is not resolved or brought back up. Overall the flashbacks to Wolfgang’s past felt poorly-done and confusing. Similarly, Amanita has a moment on the roof of the apartment in Paris where she shares her dreams of living in Paris with Nomi. The moment is touching but a bit out of the blue, and it only serves to remind us that we know absolutely nothing about Amanita’s past. Furthermore, the show tries to throw in a love interest for Sun at the very last second, bringing back the detective that Sun had fought almost a season ago, and stating that he “missed her like he had never missed anyone before”. The characters are simply underdeveloped.
Speaking of underdeveloped, let’s talk about BPO. The Biological Preservation Organization is the main “bad guy” organization in the show. It is ever-present in the plot, and the characters are constantly battling it, but the viewer knows next to nothing about the organization. Whispers, the most visible face of the organization has no backstory and his motivations are never explained. BPO has some drone/zombie program where they use lobotomized sensates to… well, we never really learn what the point of the program is. The entire organization feels like a really generic enemy with enormous resources and influence but ambiguous motives beyond just being evil.
Among these major issues, there are a slew of minor annoyances. Name-dropping, random characters from past episodes reappearing in the story, new characters being introduced, and the ever-present backstory-cramming. The show’s story suffered heavily from the shortened format of its conclusion.