“Sense8”, Season 2, Episode 9, “What Family Actually Means”

[Image via Netflix]

Today it’s all about family and what they can do to you. And this time, there’s little the cluster can do to help.


What Family Actually Means

Written by Lana Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Lana Wachowski



Sun and Wolfgang:
Not every sensate gets a big day. Sun (Doona Bae) is getting ready to take down her brother and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) is hiding out from… well, everyone.

Politics is starting to put a spin on his head and Capheus (Toby Onwumere) looks like a guy about to run—something he actually does when he spots two guys following him at the market. But after almost beating some answers out of a guy he meets with Silas (Peter King Nzioki), who was responsible for having people keep an eye on Capheus, as there is now a bounty on his head. Capheus asks a direct question: is Silas supporting him because it will help his business if he’s elected? While Silas has a mind on business, he comes clean: he’s watching Capheus because he’s in love with his mother and wants to marry her.

Shopping with a friend and Mom and having lunch with the later: these moments define Kala (Tina Desai). She’s still wondering about telling her husband about what she really is and her mother takes her few probing questions as a sign that Kala is still learning about her husband and what it means to be married. Later Ajay (Sid Makkar) stops by with a package that he says should be opened by both Rajan and her, and people like me are thinking, “This shit ain’t good.”

Lito (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) is now laying in bed, watching The Graduate on his computer. Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) brings him breakfast in bed, but Dany (Eréndira Ibarra) has something better: she’s found the perfect script for Lito. The only thing is, it’s being produced by Kit Kit Wrangler—an Academy Award winning producer—and they’re talking about Hollywood here, not Mexico D.F., right? Fuck all that noise: Daniela tells Hernando to get a timer and set it for 58 minutes, because that’s the longest she’d every gone when it comes to getting a sit-down for a part.

And using two mobiles, Daniela plays some flunky for Kit and someone she knows who writes about Hollywood, and in the end she secures three first class tickets to L.A. and the part, contingent on the meeting. The timer goes off and you’d think Mexico just won the World Cup—SCOOOOOOOORRRRREEEE!

Nomi (Jamie Clayton) has to deal with being the maid of honor at her sister Teagan’s wedding. Her mother is trying to get her to leave the pre-wedding reception, and her misgendering and dead naming once more makes me want to jump through the screen and throttle the bitch where she stands. But she gets up and gives a heartrending speech about how nice she is and that their relationship wasn’t always the best, that Nomi wanted her sister to feel the pain and depression she felt as well. But it was seeing seeing Teagan’s face upon waking after having GCS that she discovered what family actually means (title shoutout!).

Nomi, Neets (Amanita), and Bug (Michael Sommers) arrive just as the wedding is starting, and Bug is wearing the same tux worn by James Bond’s stunt double in From Russia With Love. Everyone’s there—including FBAsshole Special Agent Bendix (Anthony Cistaro), who is there to put the cuffs on Nomi. This allows Nomi’s mom to get up and show her transphobia once again, but it hits Amanita: Bendix probably hasn’t checked on Nomi’s arrest warrant since the E-Death. So he starts checking his phone—after Nomi assures her father, a high-priced lawyer that there isn’t a warrant—and surprise! No fucking warrant! Nomi’s father tells Bendix to leave his daughter alone and, in so many words, get the fuck out, and Nomi starts crying: it’s the first time her father has ever call her his daughter.

Riley (Tuppence Middleton) is still looking for The Assistant, with help from Diego (Ness Bautista) and Will (Brian J. Smith). They finally get a match on her appearance. They find the house empty, the food on the table swarming with maggots. In the basement they find medical equipment and the visions Riley gets add to the ones she’s already had: Angel (Daryl Hannah) and Whispers (Terrence Mann) were here, and it was also here where Raoul (Erik Hayser) was more or less lobotomized and kept in a hidden space behind the basement walls. And it doesn’t end there: they find The Assistant, the one who gave Riley Whispers’ address in England, dead in her bathtub, having taken pills and slashing her wrists after being visited by Jonas.

Will knows something’s up: he’s getting flashes of Whispers’ life and the people he’s meeting and while looking over the items they took from the house Will gets an idea and tells Riley she needs to return to London as fast as she can—

But the worst is to come. Back at the station Diego gets the word that Will’s father (Joe Pantoliano) is dying and he takes Riley to see him so Will can have a little closure. Will speaks through Riley and it seems as if his father can actually see him in the few minutes they share together before the old man slips off into death. Back in London, Will remembers the times they shared together as he cries in the darkness, still hunted, still hiding…



Personal Note: This was a difficult episode for me to watch, if only for the fact that Nomi’s mother is such a loathsome bitch who doesn’t seem to mind that her transphobia is gutting Nomi with every word spoken. It’s also the shit that Nomi has to put up with by coming out to a family function—one relative asks if she still has her penis and the best man comments while walking up the aisle at the wedding that she has a nice rack for a dude—that drove me up the wall and into a murderous state—because just this last weekend I had to deal with someone who kept saying things like, “I’m just now realizing how many transgenders there are, I have to get used to this,” and other similar bon mots, as if he was going to use that as an excuse should he slip up and say something transphobic. I’m tellin’ yeah, it can drive you nuts.

But it’s the scene here, with Teagan bringing Nomi a “birthday cupcake” and singing Happy Birthday to her once she wakes up after her surgery, that brought me out of that rage:

[Image via Netflix]

I don’t get as weepy as I once did—you can thank the antidepressants for that—but more than a few tears came to my eyes again when you see the love on Teagan’s face and the surprise on Nomi’s as they hold hand and bond as sisters (the first time I watched this scene the tears were flowing like a river). If nothing else, Nomi’s accepted by her sister and that’s all she needs: that’s her proof that family does exist and that she will always have that love.

I will likely never gain acceptance from my family, but for others it’s a possibility. I don’t hold out hope for myself, but I hope it for all those I know like me who are at times seen by family and acquaintances as “different”.  In the meantime, take those who do accept you and hold them close and bathe in their love and affection. They are who are important to you.

They are what family actually means.



As always, leave us a comment and tell us what you think!



Tuppence Middleton — Riley Gunnarsdóttir, Chicago
Brian J. Smith — Will Gorski, London
Doona Bae — Sun Bak, Seoul
Toby Onwumere — Capheus, Nairobi
Max Riemelt — Wolfgang Bogdanow, Berlin
Tina Desai — Kala Dandekar, Mumbai
Miguel Ángel Silvestre — Lito Rodriguez, Mexico DF
Jamie Clayton — Nomi Marks, San Francisco


Freema Agyeman — Amanita
Alfonso Herrera — Hernando
Eréndira Ibarra — Daniela
Ness Bautista — Diego
Peter King Nzioki — Silas
Michael Sommers — Bug
Anthony Cistaro — Agent Bendix
Joe Pantoliano — Michael Gorski
Sid Makkar — Ajay
Terrence Mann — Whispers
Daryl Hannah — Angelica Turing, aka Angel
Erik Hayser — Raoul

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