Murray Close/Netflix
Kyle Fowle
June 05, 2015 AT 11:46 AM EDT

While Sense8 presented a scattered narrative in its first two episodes, the third, “Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch,” is a much more cohesive effort. By this point it’s clear that the show is willing to let its plot threads unravel at a slower pace than perhaps many other shows of this nature—meaning genre shows that lean on action-packed episodes and big cliffhangers.

The cohesion comes from the fact that “Smart Money’s on the Skinny Bitch” focuses in on just a few of the sensates. It’s a strategy similar to the one on Game of Thrones; there’s no way every episode can catch up with each and every character, so splitting up the episodes into character-specific story lines allows for more depth to the storytelling.

The third episode is the series’ best because it feels like the first episode to really build narrative momentum. Nomi is still in the hospital and her circumstances are growing direr by the minute. Sun is clearly in trouble, but with whom and what for? Lito is feeling pressure not only in regards to keeping his sexuality a secret, but also a potentially dangerous situation with Daniela, who’s ex-boyfriend is now in the picture and, judging by his neck tattoo and propensity for talking about slitting a man’s throat, isn’t exactly the type of guy who seems understanding.

The stakes for each of these characters are starting to take shape. For many, the stakes are life and death. While not a lot happens with Nomi in this episode, that actually works in the story line’s favor because it allows for a palpable sense of dread to set in. We see a dream sequence, courtesy of Will, where someone is lobotomizing a patient while a young Will looks on alongside another child (who turns out to be Sara Patrell, a missing girl from years ago). It’s Will sensing what will happen to Nomi if he doesn’t help her, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

That dread extends to the hospital scenes with Nomi, where she’s locked in her room due to the (apparently) legal control her mother and the doctor have over her. She’s force-fed pills and treated like an animal; Jamie Clayton does masterful work in these scenes as someone who’s not quite sure whether she’s losing her mind or not, but knows deep down that something wrong is being done to her.

Before long Nomi is carted into surgery, but just as she’s about to be put under, a fire alarm goes off. Someone lit a fire in part of the hospital and the fire department is evacuating just to be on the safe side. There’s a callback here to Nomi’s partner, Amanita, who told her that she’d burn the hospital down before she let the doctor’s operate on her. Still, we never see Amanita set the fire, so there’s the possibility that there’s some sensate tampering going on here. Either way, it’s a relief to see Nomi get another day and that sets up what’s sure to be some sort of escape plan in the next episode or two.

NEXT: Van Damn gets a little help from the Skinny Bitch

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