A Review of Sense8’s Episode “All I Want Right Now is One More Bullet”
Groupthink Through the Cinematography of Sense8’s “All I Want Right Now Is One More Bullet”
Sense8 is series by the Wachowskis (of The Matrix) about a “cluster” of eight people across the globe who are able to communicate telepathically and share each other’s skills and experiences. The cluster is hunted by a man named Whispers whose organization wants to study and weaponize their power. In Season 2, the main characters learn that they are not the only cluster. They begin to meet other “Sensates” and learn both how to interact with them, and if doing so is even a good idea.
In Episode 8 of Season 2, “All I Want Right Now Is One More Bullet,” Wolfgang, a member of the main cluster, is asked to meet with Lila, a promiscuous and mysterious Sensate whose alliances are not quite clear. They meet in a restaurant and discuss power and allegiance, while Wolfgang’s cluster uses their powers to find out if it is a trap. Finally, when Lila and Wolfgang reach an understanding that they are enemies, they break into a fight in the middle of the restaurant. The filmmaking techniques used in this scene serve to convey a dominant theme of the episode and season: you must be careful who you trust, but despite that you still must be willing to have a great deal trust in your allies.
The start of the fight employs a camerawork and editing decision that defies convention. In the closeups, Lila is on the left and Wolfgang the right, but in the wide shots, their positions are reversed. This breaking of the so-called “180-degree rule” creates a visual representation to literally question which side they are on. Additionally, this jarring and disorienting editing choice also reflects the shift in Wolfgang and Lila’s relationship and the severance of any trust that they may have shared.
The fight scene is spectacular for many reasons, the dominant being spectacle and innovative filmmaking. The fight begins with a shot of Wolfgang as his entire cluster rises behind him, followed by a mirrored shot of Lila’s cluster rising behind her. This signifies the show’s first cluster-versus-cluster fight. This is interesting because it visually conveys something which is not physically taking place within the scene, but is rather more conceptual. This is a common motif for both the scene and the show. By staging Wolfgang’s cluster behind him and mirroring it for Lila, the scene reinforces the cohesion between the protagonists. Another example of this is a staging and editing technique which briefly replaces Wolfgang with one of his Sensate siblings for a single shot, to show who is controlling and sharing skills with him. For example, a thug attacks Wolfgang, but in the next shot Sun, a martial artist, takes his place and flips onto the thug’s back. By placing a different actor where Wolfgang should logically be in the subsequent shot, the editing abuses the audience’s expectation of continuity to visually convey the show’s main concept.
Throughout this first segment of the fight, the camerawork is used to convey which character has the higher status in the scene. The camera is shaky when showing Wolfgang or his stand-ins, but very smooth when showing Lila. Additionally, most shots of Wolfgang fighting are long or medium shots, whereas Lila gets mostly closeups. The juxtaposition in imagery conveys that Lila has the power in the scene.
A shift occurs halfway through the fight, which is denoted by the sound and lighting. After Wolfgang shoots a chandelier and all of the lights go out. At the same moment, the music, which had been dramatically crescendoing, cuts out completely. Both adversaries have run out of bullets and must fight hand to hand. At this point, the camera’s stability becomes equal, showing that Wolfgang’s clan has helped him reach a level playing field. As Wolfgang and Lila face off, each member of Wolfgang’s cluster walks behind him and disappears, as if merging into him. Lila circles him, the camera panning left with her, as each member of her cluster appears behind her. Sun then steps in front of Wolfgang, and a Sensate sibling of Lila’s steps in front of her; they have each selected a fighter. It is worth noting that these roulettes don’t exactly mirror each other. While Lila’s cluster fans out, which is rather intimidating, Wolfgang’s fuses together to show unity between the group. This speaks to them being stronger as a team because of the trust they share that allows them to act as one.
At the end of the fight, police sirens can be heard which signals danger. Lila partially undresses and feigns tears, to fool the police into thinking that Wolfgang sexually attacked her. Since the audience knows that this is not true, it drives home the point that Lila is manipulative, and Wolfgang was wrong for initially trusting her.
The dichotomy between who must and must not be trusted is a prevalent theme throughout Sense8, particularly in Season 2 and its eighth episode. This scene, while action-packed, climactic, and visually spectacular, still uses subtle filmmaking techniques to convey ideas about trust.
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Groupthink Through the Cinematography of Sense8’s “All I Want Right Now Is One More Bullet” Sense8 is series by the Wachowskis (of The Matrix) about a “cluster” of eight people […]