Sense8 finale: just what we needed

Sense 8 was a show that was cruelly cut down before its time. But, thanks to a fan campaign, came back to life for a finale recently, courtesy of Netflix. And, happily, the result was a delight. Generally, in film or TV, kowtowing to fans has rarely ever given us audiences good results but, for once, in this instance, a bit of boxticking to give the show’s characters a good send-off was exactly what was needed.

The premise (and frankly, if you need this explaining you shouldn’t be watching the finale first) is that eight people across the globe come to learn that they’re psychically connected. They can communicate with one another and think and feel feelings of the others in the group, their ‘cluster’. And whilst they’re still independent people with their own agency, they’re far beyond what you or I would experience in terms of connection (physical and mental).

Which all sounds a bit, well, superhero. And perhaps in other hands this would be the case, but Sense8 is a show that’s simultaneously more cerebral yet also more grounded.

At its core, it’s about connection, acceptance, love (in many forms) and freedom of self-expression. Which we get to experience, ultimately, through the interactions the cluster have with one another.

Because, like all good shows, it has great characters that you come to love over time, and, handily, there are eight from which to choose your favourites. There’s Riley (Tuppence Middleton) an Icelandic DJ living in London; Nomi (Jamie Clayton) a hacktivist in San Francisco; Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) a safe-cracker in Berlin; Will (Brian J. Smith) a cop in Chicago; Capheus (Toby Unwumere) a bus driver in Nairobi;), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre) an actor in Mexico City; Sun (Doona Bae) the daughter of a businessman and an underground kickboxer in Seoul; and Kala (Tina Desai) a pharmacist in Mumbai.

Naturally, though, you have to have an overall antagonist for the eight of them to face off against. In this case it comes pre-packaged in the form of an evil organisation called BPO, who are hunting them down for experiments or something.

Basically, this part of the show doesn’t hugely matter, the thing the fans come back for, and indeed protested about when the show suddenly ended, was that they wanted to see more of the eight main characters interacting together. More interesting and inventive things they could do with their powers, more love, more sex, more of Wolfgang and Sun kicking ass, more polyamorous connections, more slow-mo shots of the whole annoyingly attractive lot of them dancing to Euro trance.

Which the show’s creator, Lana Wachowski (her sister Lily was also involved, but stepped away from the show after season one) was only too happy to give us. Yet, she understood that it couldn’t all be orgies and explosions, so she balanced it out.

We had humour, some lovely character moments and scenes (a wedding at the Eiffel Tower complete with bearded fairies for example!) and a sense of finality and closure.

And to be honest, you couldn’t really ask for more for the ending of a show that you love. Now if only Serenity could do the same thing…

Toxic man

Lately, things that annoy me include: beer and lads and birds and banter.
Because whenever they’re linked to toxic man.
They just lead me to certain anger.
Like Professor Banner getting cursed by gamma.
Cos toxic man is a backstabber.
Who just grins as he turns his dagger.
And I’m fast learning I can’t hurt this gangster.
He’s untouchable, a myth.
This is me versus Santa.
So when I face this street fighter, it might be electric.
But all I’m doing is getting burnt by Blanka til I turn and scamper.
Shell-shocked, like Thor.
Knowing maybe I didn’t earn the hammer.
Cos how do I call out guys I know, when their ‘friendly’ comments are so passive aggressive?
Alpha male 101.
Classic defensive and lacking perspective.
Cos when it comes to bonding with other men, these lads are in the dark ages.
Real feelings hidden, raiding each other’s houses like masked bailiffs.
Treating their peers so poorly that they surpass shameless.
Never facing the darkest parts of themselves.
At best, they grasp basics.
And endlessly toy with people’s emotions.
Then swan off like they’ve passed blameless.
Taking their lead from the piss-take patriarchy.
People like Trump, the psychopathic statesman.
Or narcissistic assholes like Patrick Bateman.
Those that think that one good deed is a massive statement.
But, hold up.
I’m wailing on these guys like I’m better than them.
Which has me under the weather again.
As this vendetta brings its own pressure.
And really, I’d rather just settle for zen.
But I’m bull-headed.
My mind at war like a minotaur.
Cos now, it seems, I’ve gotta wrestle a friend.
With fire and brimstone, til my rebel ascends.
To then face off with the devil again.
Til one of us meets with a terrible end.
Cos how can I call myself feminist, if I’m only slightly better than the guys I accuse?
If feminism needs allies, do I have a right to refuse?
Can I live with myself if I find an excuse?
Maybe I should be less try-hard and more die-hard.
And just say yippee ki yay before lighting a fuse.
I mean, at that point, what would I lose?
It’s hardly like these toxic guys were good friends in the first place.
Those that remember my birthday.
Not that that’s enough.
Cos I need connection on a deeper level.
Vulnerability with another man because we need this peril.
Til we grow and know how we can be this special.
Cos we’re cracking open new emotions.
Which, whilst thrilling, mean our knees now tremble.
Cos it’s tough stuff.
But doesn’t leave us with a weakened temple.
Nah, this is training day and I lead the way.
This is me and Denzel.
So let’s keep it central.
Cos modern masculinity doesn’t need to be this stressful.
I mean, I could sketch out how we fix man, I just need a pencil.
And I get I’m rambling, and that this whole scheme is mental.
And maybe the impression I gave, was that I seemed all gentle.
But in actual fact, I’m ready to crack toxic heads til I get lost instead.
Cos certain men are a cancer.
And it’s high time that we stopped this spread.

The misogynist rapper

I got my money and my bitches and my guns, in the club.
Repping like a G.
Then I spark up a blunt.
But I don’t smoke.
So I choke up my lungs.
Then set off all the fire alarms.
Damn, I’m a mug.
But, I’m hella-strong never wrong baby.
Black fire you liar I’m never this lazy.
I give you a taste, we race to the finish.
I wrote this lyrics in under a minute.
Just so you know that I’m in it to win it.
Cos the highlight of my day.
Is when I wank and cry.
And praise Jesus for my penis.
And be thankful I’m high.
Cos when I act big.
And say I’m gangster, I lie.
Cos with pussy, think Virgin.
But no planes in the sky.
Because woman you see, they really do scare me.
Venomous feminists that are so hairy.
All body shapes, in sizes that vary.
So I act like the don.
Cos I’m taking their cherry.
But, what you think I’m compensatin’ for?
I only see these women as babes or whores.
Man, I’m setting back equality and closing doors.
Cos this is all a game and I’m just keeping score.
And the dumber I get.
Fans be lapping it up.
Simply as shit lyrics.
Like I take that pussy and hit it.
And they can’t get enough.
I had dreams, man.
To be a credible rapper.
Now I’m plagued every day by terrible laughter.
From others in the game who know I’m cancer to the scene.
They react with anger.
Cos I’m gangster (in my dreams).
Actually, I’m more a misogynist role model with no morals as I pander to these teens.
And if rap soon dies.
I’ll know I had a hand in its defeat.
Cos I’m a parasite watching others fight.
While there’s quicksand around my feet.
Maybe, just maybe, I’m just damned beyond belief?

Note: this piece was written half to a beat and aimed squarely at certain modern rappers who think they’re God’s gift to women and treat – and rap about – them terribly. And to the nonsensical, simplistic style of rap they use that’s truly awful and has barely any skill or nuance to it. The words above are from the point of view of the character in terms of him mostly showboating, but letting cracks of what he’s really thinking show through at times.