Sun showcases her strength in “Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch.”
Now this is what we’ve been waiting for. “Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch” finally showcases the experience of having one Sensate take over another’s actions.
Most of the Sensates are dealing with serious personal issues. Riley (Tuppence Middleton) wanders around London in a daze, shaken by last episode’s shooting. After finding the money and drugs that her friends stole in her bag, she gives them away to a homeless man. Riley comes across as one of the most innocent yet damaged characters amongst the Sensates. She also seems to spend time with people she should be avoiding, like her friend Jacks (Matt Stokoe). He encourages the idea that suicide is a reasonable choice, which is the opposite of what Riley needs. We don’t learn why she has attempted suicide in the past, but it was enough to make her the character she is today.
Sun (Doona Bae) also has her own struggles to deal with in “Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch” — in fact, the title is referring to her. Something’s going on with her bank and she doesn’t want anything to do with it, avoiding calls and even leaving her phone behind in a taxi. To make it worse, her father won’t answer her calls or speak to her about the situation. She takes out her frustration by going to some sort of underground fight club and getting in the ring with a guy twice her size.
Elsewhere, we learn that Capheus (Aml Ameen) has been taking care of his sick mother because the AIDS medicine she takes is watered down. Capheus and his friend bargain to get the real medicine, but just as everything seems hopeful, their bus gets robbed. Well, Capheus isn’t going down without a fight. Even without knowing that other Sensates could help him, he still decided to risk his life to get his mother’s medicine back. His warmth and heroic attitude make him a delight to watch. He brightens up the show as soon as he appears.
Of course, Capheus isn’t an actual superhero. When he tries to get the medicine back, he proceeds to get beaten up by the gang that robbed the bus. But Sun, seeing Capheus’ distress as she stands inside that boxing ring in Korea, takes them all down. It’s as awesome as you’d expect.
However. I did find Capheus and Sun’s stories a little too stereotypical. An Asian martial artist? An African woman with AIDS? And then there was that Bollywood number in the previous episode. This show definitely falls back on some lazy stereotypes.
Over in borderline sitcom land, Daniela (Eréndira Ibarra) continues to worm her way into Lito’s (Miguel Ángel Silvestre) life. Lito isn’t comfortable with the idea of having a “living beard,” but Hernando (Alfonso Herrera) doesn’t seem to mind. Daniela is somehow adorable when mentioning that she wants to stay with Lito because she slept with her ex-boyfriend’s best friend. Her ex, Joaquin (Raúl Méndez), isn’t exactly a great guy, so Hernando persuades Lito to let Daniela lay low at their place. Despite being Lito’s costar, Daniela and Hernando get along great after only knowing each other for a short time. Their banter is one of the best parts of the show.
In fact, “Sense8” does a very good job at portraying relationships in general. Many television shows and movies with ensemble casts seem to ignore the idea that characters might already have friends outside the main cast. But each of the Sensates already has their own set of friends and lovers in addition to finding themselves linked to these new people. It’s much more realistic than the usual situation in which protagonists meet each other and then never spend time with anyone else. Though I can understand why that happens — it’s pretty hard to keep track of a huge cast of characters, not to mention the difficulty in remembering names.
Lito gets a chance to meet Joaquin, who already suspects that Lito is sleeping with Daniela. He not-so-subtly threatens Lito with a knife, but pretends to accept that he has lost. I say “pretends” because there’s no way that guy isn’t coming back with more craziness later.
And last but certainly not least, Nomi (Jamie Clayton) gets a temporary reprieve from getting lobotomized. Amanita (Freema Agyeman) literally sets one of the rooms on fire, causing the operation to be delayed. If she’s meant to be the perfect girlfriend, the writers are nailing it.
“Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch” succeeds at both humor and emotion. The characters only grow more interesting as the story goes on, even without the sci-fi conspiracy aspect taking center stage. There’s little focus on that in this episode — all we learn is that Will (Brian J. Smith) wakes up after the car crash and that Jonas (Naveen Andrews) has been taken away for questioning. But “Sense8,” so far, is a show focused more on the humanity of its characters rather than the sci-fi phenomenon that brought them together. And it’s working beautifully.