Spanning nine cities, eight countries, four continents, and eight equally important protagonists, the Netflix sci-fi series from J. Michael Straczynski and The Wachowskis is quite the brain teaser. Sometimes it feels like it takes a well-organized spreadsheet to keep up with things… which is why it's so important to recap Sense8 Season 1 before diving headfirst back into the show when Season 2 premieres on May 5.
While you may not remember the particulars of every single character and storyline, you will likely recall the basic gist of the series: when a group of people with a particular genetic mutation are born at the same time on the same day, they become a "cluster," and are psychically linked for the rest of their lives. Known as sensates, these clusters have two births; their physical one, and another psychic one when their connection is activated by an older sensate. The show's main cluster consists of eight strangers scattered around the globe — Capheus, Kala, Lito, Nomi, Riley, Sun, Will, and Wolfgang — who are "birthed" by a sensate named Angelica just before she commits suicide to avoid being captured by the sinister sensate-hunter known as Whispers.
Got all that? Good. Here's where each of the show's central sensates left off at the end of Season 1 (and the Sense8 Christmas special that aired in December of last year):
1. Capheus Onyango
Capheus is a bus driver in Nairobi with a Jean Claude Van Damme obsession, who is trying to raise money for AIDS medicine for his mother. After he uses his psychic connection with Sun to defeat a group of bandits, he's hired by a gangster named Kabaka to guard his daughter, Amondi. The bandits then kidnap Capheus' mother and demand Amondi in exchange, but once again uses his sensate abilities to defeat the bandits once and for all.
Christmas Special: The grateful townspeople throw a birthday celebration for Capheus, and he's presented with a new van (to replace the original, which was destroyed). Oh, and Capheus is now played by a new actor — Toby Onwumere, replacing Aml Ameen.
2. Kala Dandekar
Throughout Season 1, Kala — a pharmacist in Mumbai — struggles with her arranged betrothal to Rajan, a man she doesn't love. Her conflicted feelings are only intensified when she starts receiving visions of Wolfgang, with whom she shares an intimate and emotional connection. (One particular vision of a very naked Wolfgang even interrupts Kala's wedding.) When her father-in-law is attacked by religious conservatives, Kala puts her feelings for Wolfgang on hold; and after seeing the violence he commits in the Season 1 finale, she's less sure than ever of their relationship.
Christmas Special: On their honeymoon, Kala is too nervous to consummate her marriage to Rajan; she seeks sex advice from Sun, but manages to injure Rajan in the process of trying to lose her virginity. Rajan offers to divorce her, but Kala decides to stick with her husband… for now.
3. Lito Rodriguez
A successful Mexican soap opera star, Lito is hiding a big secret: he's gay, in a loving relationship with his boyfriend Hernando, and is using a beautiful movie star (Daniela) to cover up the truth — with Daniela's blessing, of course. But when she takes pictures of Lito and Hernando hooking up, her abusive ex-boyfriend Joaquin uses those pictures to blackmail Daniela into returning to him. With the help of his fellow sensates, Lito is able to defeat Joaquin, rescue Daniela, and reunite his happy, unusual thruple.
Christmas Special: Joaquin makes good on his promise to release the pictures of Lito and Hernando, wreaking havoc in Lito's life. His agent wants him to go back in the closet, his landlord evicts him for being "immoral," and the paparazzi are hounding his every footstep. Thankfully, his mother not only accepts him for who he is… she reveals she's known the truth about his sexuality all along.
4. Nomi Marks
Nomi is a transgender hacktivist living in San Francisco with her lover, Amanita. She's hospitalized by her transphobic mother and is almost given a lobotomy by her doctor before her fellow sensates help her escape. By hacking her doctor's phone, Nomi realizes that he is acting on the orders of Whispers — a sensate from a different cluster who is determined to hunt down and kill other sensates for mysterious reasons.
Christmas Special: On the run from the authorities, Nomi is researching psychic abilities throughout history while hiding out with Amanita in a women's shelter. After an agent catches up with them, they're forced to flee the shelter, and go drop in on Nomi's hacker friend Bug instead.
5. Riley Blue
After the tragic deaths of her husband and newborn child in a car crash, Riley left her native Iceland and became a DJ in London. However, after returning to Iceland to visit her father (a famous musician), she meets an older sensate named Yrsa who informs her that her cluster's birth mother Angelica — as well as Angelica's lover, ally, and fellow sensate Jonas — formerly worked for Whispers, helping him hunt down other sensates. After she's captured in Iceland by Whispers, Will and the rest of the sensates help rescue her from his clutches.
Christmas Special: After the events of the Season 1 finale, Riley is helping an incapacitated Will hide from Whispers. (More on that in a moment.) She gives Will heroin to keep him unconscious, and takes him to visit his estranged father on Thanksgiving… although that may have been a mistake, since Whispers is then able to track down Will's father.
6. Sun Bak
Sun is a Korean businesswoman, struggling to make her way in a male-dominated world while leading a secret double life as an underground kickboxing champion. After her younger brother is caught embezzling money from their family company, Sun takes the blame in order to protect him and save the business. Overcome by guilt, her father decides to tell the truth, saving Sun and condemning her brother to prison. But before he can, Sun's brother kills their father in order to save himself, and Sun remains in jail.
Christmas Special: Sun is informed that, without her father to testify on her behalf, she won't be granted a new trial. Later, she's visited by a group of goons (presumably sent by her brother to silence her), though she dispatches them with ease.
7. Will Gorski
A Chicago cop following in his father's footsteps, Will has long been haunted by a murder his dad investigated when he was a child: the killing of a young girl with whom Will shared an inexplicable psychic connection. Only after the "birthing" of his own cluster does Will realize that the girl was a sensate like him. After Riley is captured by Whispers, Will heads to Ireland to save her; but in the process of their escape, Whispers manages to make eye contact with Will — which is the only way a sensate can create a psychic connection with a sensate from another cluster. Jonas tells Will he has to kill himself to protect his cluster, but Will knocks himself out with drugs instead.
Christmas Special: On the run with Riley, Will has become addicted to heroin, using the drug to dull his senses and keep Whispers out of his mind. He manages to learn some of Whispers' backstory (the rest of his cluster is dead, he still talks to them in his sleep, he's married, he's been placed on leave since his failure in Iceland); but Whispers is also able to learn about Will's life and tracks his dad down in Chicago.
8. Wolfgang Bogdanow
Wolfgang is a thief and expert safecracker from Berlin; in the series premiere, he and his best friend Felix decide to steal a cache of diamonds that Wolfgang's cousin, Steiner, was planning on stealing. This sparks a war between Wolfgang and Steiner, the latter of whom responds by attempting to murder Felix. Steiner's father warns Wolfgang not to seek retribution, but when Steiner threatens Felix's life again, Wolfgang kills him and his entire gang. In the finale, he assassinates his uncle, and reveals to Kala that when he was a boy, he also killed his own abusive father.
Christmas Special: It turns out that the deaths of Steiner and his father have created a power vacuum in the city's criminal empire, and Wolfgang's aunt encourages him to take his uncle's place. Wolfgang refuses, and war breaks out between two rival mobs at a New Year's Eve party. Wolfgang and Felix manage to escape with their lives, but trouble is still brewing in Berlin.
What will happen to the sensates next? Find out when Sense8 Season 2 premieres in its entirety on Netflix Friday, May 5.