The “Sense8” Finale Bestows a Queer Happy Ending Upon Us All

The movie-length conclusion to Netflix’s Sense8 ends with a gorgeous and joyful lesbian wedding on the Eiffel tower, followed by a massive, sexy telepathic orgy. Yup! Sense8 is the queer, stylish, emotional sci-fi/action/romance/adventure weirdo of a show that often got lost in its own plotting but always had a strong sense of who these characters are and what makes them compelling. The final chapter basically takes everything that makes Sense8 great and dials it up to ten, making for an extremely watchable and indulgent grand finale.

It’s, admittedly, very fanservicey. But maybe this finale should be made with the fans in mind (the title card that follows the final shot — of a rainbow strap-on btw — reads simply “for our fans”). From the start, Sense8 seemed manufactured for fandom. The ships are great, the visuals are tumblr-ready, the characters are often very aware of their surroundings and of movie and action tropes and conventions — fans of the genre themselves.

But Sense8 has always, even in some of its most confusing mythological moments, just been a really fun story, too, one in which love, family, community, and joy fight — and ultimately beat — hate, division, fear, and oppression. It can go dark to be sure, and the finale definitely does, especially when it comes to Wolfgang. But it also has a ton of fun and is borderline corny (I mean, the finale is literally called “Amor Vincit Omnia” — love conquers all) in its celebration of love and human connection. The finale asserts boldly that its central characters deserve to love and be loved. And it does all this through an explicitly queer lens. The sensates’ relationships to one another defy conventional relationship categories. There’s almost no language to properly describe their connection and love (and lust) for one another. I mean, the show practically screams “EVERYONE IS GAY!” (Umm sidenote: Shoutout to the hot club owner who is definitely Riley’s ex-gf?!)

Romance and action get equal billing in the finale, just as they have throughout the series. Every fight sequence is as alluring and beautifully shot as every romantic sequence. Sense8 punches and kisses with tremendous passion and style. All these episodes later, and I’m still invigorated any time there’s a major action sequence involving the entire cluster. The camerawork suggests a fluidity and multiplicity that reflects the interconnected nature of their movements and minds.

There’s a lot of plot to get through in the finale, and sometimes that plot takes a turn for the incoherent. Jonas, as usual, remains a perplexing character with motivation and purpose that are moving targets. But in its final hours, Sense8 thankfully doesn’t skimp on the super extra fight scenes or the slower, more zoomed in emotional moments. Amid the chaos and danger, Amanita and Nomi still find time to kiss as they gaze at the Eiffel tower and share their dreams with one another. The Kala-Wolfgang-Rajan love triangle comes to a head and lands in an unexpected, complex place that suggests maybe the three can find a way to be together instead of Kala having to make some grand choice. That perfectly fits the themes of Sense8, which persistently reiterates plurality and fluidity.

I was never that sold on Sun and Mun (lol, only this show could get away with that one), but the finale makes them a very convincing romance. The finale, in all its intensity, doubles down on every love interest for the sake of a big ol’ love fest. By the time of Amanita and Nomi’s wedding, everyone’s so dang happy and in love that it’s almost easy to forget the literal war they had to fight leading up to it. The entire last half hour of the finale is reserved for celebration and joy. It’s a very queer, very emotional send-off, and three years after Sense8 rocked the world with that first telepathic orgy, it fittingly ends with another one, as beautifully shot as the first.

Under all the philosophical musings and stylization, Sense8 just has a really big heart… and is pretty horny, too. All the pieces of its mythology and long-term plotting might not line up, but that’s weirdly fine. The finale fully plays to the show’s strengths, as if everyone just sort of said let’s do what we do well and fuck the rest, resulting in an episode that comprehensively captures what made fans passionate enough to rally for this conclusion in the first place.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a Brooklyn-based writer, television critic, and comedian who spends most of her time over-analyzing queer subtext on television, singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" in public places, and assembling cheese platters. She has a cat named after Piper Halliwell from Charmed, and her go-to karaoke song is "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch. Her writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her screaming in all-caps about Kalinda Sharma, Jennifer Lopez, and oysters on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 154 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. during the celebration scene/wedding, I just kept expecting something [bad] to happen but it didn’t! It was pure joy+love! Sense8 is such a great series and definitely one of my all-time favorites.

  2. Borderline?! It’s so corny I’m still picking kernels out of my teeth this morning.

    But OMG THIS SHOW. SO QUEER. SO GOOD. It’s ridiculous and extravagant and gorgeous and I love it.

    I’m super happy with where they took the Kala love triangle. I think it makes total sense for sensates to lean poly, and although Rajan’s straightforward acceptance of the situation may have been a bit unrealistic, I mean… that’s the whole M.O. of this show.

    • Haha, I love how corny this show can be at times! I agree that Rajan accepting everything so quickly was a little out of character. If they would have had a full season, they probably would have had him process everything a little bit longer.

  3. As Sam said I was kind of waiting for something negative to occur. After all it’s not often we see a lesbian wedding where on of the characters is trans, and the other is a woc on mainstream medium. It made me cry because it was beautiful, but also has the potential to show that young lesbian that you can find your happy ending even after going through all of that.

  4. Ahhhhh I loved it. One thing I adore about this show is that it was NEVER cynical. There’s a kind of youthful, joyful optimism to it (which is why the corniness WORKS for it instead of against it) that makes it so dear to me, especially in these dark times (compare and contrast: west world, handmade’s tale).

    I LOVE that they went there with Kala Rajan an Wolfie. I started seeing it happen when she was like « eh screw conventions. Screw choices » whe. Reunited with Wolfgang.

    I wish we could have had more Hernando and Lito but they were busy filming other stuff. (dani was QUEEN tho)

    Sun/Mun was so adorable it had me grinning like an idiot.

    The one thing I’ll say is that imo this movie disproves every critic who said the first two seasons dragged on and should have been the length of a movie each. This movie definitely proved that this show is at its best when it lingers, when it takes its time. If it’s about empathy and connection, how can we learn to care about the characters if we grow from one action sequence to the next?

    In terms of storytelling as well, the actions sequences are super cool but you only truly « get » what being sense8 might be like in those slower moments when one of th is emotionally vulnerable and gets the support of another, etc.

    My favourite moments from this show till play in my head. I love the slow mo arrival of Riley in Chicago (beautifully shot, the light feels just right for that city) in s2, I love every scene of Wolfgang dancing in clubs, i love this show forever

    Also Jonas ILU.

  5. So, I love this show – unabashedly, unapologetically. And I SOBBED through the entire wedding and reception. SOBBED. Heaving, weepy sobs. I AM A CAPRICORN MOON I DO NOT DO THIS. Was very relieved that there was a massive orgy at the end, thank god, so I stopped crying and was like, HERE WE GO.

    And then the rainbow strap-on ALSO MADE ME CRY??? WHAT THE FUCK WACHOWSKIS WHO GAVE YOU THE RIGHT.

    Anyway. I have loved this show since the beginning and I love it even more now and Nomi and Amanita were always the heart of it and ending with their wedding was just. I can’t. I have feelings. So many feelings.

  6. I legit just woke up my partner with my very loud sobbing. i dont care how corny it was at times, it was like a gay life raft at times for me and im so happy they could make this last episode and im glad it was happy. too much media these days seems dark. im so glad this was beautiful <3

  7. As i always say to mine apprentices/childer, don’t ever bother asking a baseline or close-to-baseline human to tell a story for its unearthly fucking beauty. All you will get is pornographic zoom-ins on boring neurotic tension and RNG-variations of the broken evopsych record going round and round in their head.

    Otoh do watch S8.

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