|“||Death doesn’t let you say goodbye. It just carves holes in your life... and your future... and your heart.||”|
— Riley, in Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye
Riley Blue (née Gunnarsdóttir), portrayed by Tuppence Middleton, is a main character in the Netflix series, Sense8. Riley is an Icelandic DJ who is haunted by her past; she's heavily involved in the drug trade after moving to London.
Riley believed she was "hexed" and blamed herself for her mother's death, as well as her husband and daughter. Despite this, she later visits her father, Gunnar, in Iceland, where she discovers an even worse reason she shouldn't have returned.
Riley has had two partners who've died. She was married to Magnús Þórsson who died in a car crash and also had a boyfriend, Jacks, who later died in a drug bust that went wrong. She is currently in a relationship with Will, a sensate from her cluster.
Riley was born on August 8th in Iceland, in the home of Sven, a family friend. At some point in her childhood, she met another older sensate named Yrsa, who appeared to her and convinced Riley that she was cursed. Some time after this, Riley's mother died.
As a young adult, she met Magnús Þórsson, who memorably picks her up at school by horse. They married and she became pregnant. When Riley goes into labour, Magnús attempts to drive her to a hospital through the snow. When Riley says she feels extremely cold, Magnús offers his jacket for his wife and child, removing his seat belt. Shortly afterwards, the car crashes and topples off the road as a result of the icy conditions and low visibility. Magnús is killed instantly when his head hits the windshield. Riley gives birth to her daughter Lúna before passing out holding her new baby and grieving for her husband. Upon waking, she desperately attempts to save her child by smashing the windshield and leaving the car. Trapped in the mountains in the middle of winter, her newborn daughter dies in her arms. Yrsa, feeling her pain, calls for a rescue helicopter, narrowly saving Riley's life. With her childhood belief in the hex reconfirmed and the emotional pain of losing both her child and husband, Riley leaves Iceland to become a DJ in London.
Season 1 Edit
Riley is first seen performing a set in KOKO, a London club, as her boyfriend, Jacks, and Nyx admire her musical talents. Afterwards, she regroups with Jack outside and meets Nyx. Nyx asks about her vision, which she had told Jack about earlier and Jack, in turn, had told Nyx about, but she dismisses it as merely hallucinations caused by too many drugs. However, her friend is much more open-minded, claiming that, when his sister died, his nieces could somehow sense it had happened when they were nowhere near their mother. Nyx calls it Limbic Resonance and goes on to talk about a drug called DMT, which he claims can allow users to see their births, deaths, etc.
Then we see her back at Nyx's house and all her friends are getting high except her. Nyx goes to her and asks how she is. He then goes on to talk about the fact that he also had visions and he found something that helped him cope. He found some drug. Then, he gives her the glass pipe filled with it and she takes a hit. She sees a bright light and came into the mind of Will. After that, she is a child in a cave. then she is again in the police car with will. They suddenly stop at an abandoned church and Will and Riley say: "This is where she died." She reappears when Diego, Will's partner, leaves. They ask each other questions about the woman that they saw killing herself. They go on and start asking each other where they are. All of a sudden, Riley vanishes because she has woken up. Back in London, Riley's friends are stealing from Nyx. Nyx gets knocked down but recovers. He and his allies go on and kill Riley's friends. In all the action, they all die, except for Riley. She leaves.
Riley goes home to clean up after the past events. Once there, she showers and puts on other clothes. Then, a thug appears that wants to take her but she escapes without being seen. Walking through London, she sees that she has taken all the drugs and a lot of money from Nyx.
Riley is walking through a subway tunnel when she hears a street musician play the piano. It is the same tune her father always played. She gives the musician all of the drug-money and throws away all the drugs.
Later, she meets Shugs, an old friend who sees that she needs help and suggests they go drink a pint. At the bar, they talk about break-ups. Shugs says he never liked Jack and invites her to his home. There, they talk about their fathers and Iceland. Bambie, Shugs' girlfriend, asks Riley if she tried to kill herself. Shugs intervenes by showing his tattoo. The meaning of his tattoo is that he adds another streak every time he should be dead in a hospital and goes on by saying that suicide is the only logical answer if you see the world how it is.
She appears briefly, listening to a voicemail from her father. He tells her he's got another concert and would really appreciate it if she was there. She also starts the cluster's singalong of "What's up?" By 4 Non Blondes on her iPod.
Riley meets Capheus and they talk about where they are. They get interrupted by some thugs.
This episode starts off with Riley and Will sitting in separate bars. All of a sudden, they connect because they were thinking about each other. They properly introduce themselves and talk about what they do and where they currently are. Riley asks him if they are going crazy which gives Will an idea. He thinks that she can't possibly know his number so he dials himself and lets his phone ring. He then gets up from his seat and asks Diego to pick up. He picks up and Riley asks for Will. Will indicates that it makes it safe to say they are not going crazy . He then asks about what happened after she was in the church and she answers with: Difficult friends. As he agrees on having difficult friends as well. They say goodbye and vanish from each other's minds.
She goes to Shugs' home and there she gets ambushed by Nyx, who wants his money and his drugs back. Riley admits that she gave it all away, but Nyx doesn't believe her. Nyx gets mad and suffocates her with a plastic bag, attempting to get more information out of her.. He tells her he hates violence, but loves how it can turn simple things into fears. Nyx continues to suffocate Riley, when Will violently feels the sensation of feeling suffocated in Chicago. He jumps in and defeats Nyx and his friend, saving Riley and allowing her to flee
We see her again in a park, crying. Sun and Riley connect and they introduce themselves. When Sun says her name, Riley finds it odd because where she is sitting, there is "I have conversed with the spiritual sun" carved in stone. She says she comes here after long and hard nights to smoke and think. Sun replies that she would kill for a cigarette, but Riley says she only has hash. Riley takes a hit and Sun says she can taste it but that it feels like an old memory, even though Sun never smoked it before. Riley asks why Sun is in prison. She tells her that she made the biggest mistake in her life, they realise realize that they are for someone else's crimes. Riley goes on by asking Sun if she's heard of the Hidden People. She tells Sun that she used to hear one singing a child's lullaby several times. This voice told her she was hexed. She admits that she is afraid and wants to go home. Sun replies: "You are safer there than where you are. Tomorrow, I'm going to prison." Riley asks her if she is afraid. Sun nods . She replies with: "Don't be. You're safer there than where you were."
Riley is on a plane to Iceland. Out of nowhere, Capheus leans over her to look outside, amazed by the fact that they are flying over the clouds as he has never flown in a plane before. He insists that she is so lucky. Riley replies saying "Privileged, not lucky." Capheus responds that she is lucky because she can see her father, and that he dreams he could see his father. Riley apologizes, but Capheus says it's okay, because he still has his mother, while Riley wishes she could see the world that simply, and Capheus redirects her attention to the beauty of the clouds outside. Then she goes on and wonders what if something terrible happens when she arrives in Iceland. Capheus optimistically replies, What if something wonderful happens?
When she lands, her father is waiting for her and is playing "Baba O'Riley" from The Who. As he finishes, they embrace in each other's arms as they head home.
Later, she wakes up in her old house with her father playing the piano. They go on and eat breakfast. He compliments her on her DJ sets and Riley says that it's nothing and she's just playing for drunks. Her father disagrees and tells her that she makes music and makes people forget their troubles. He says he's proud of her and that she can ask Sven to drive her everywhere. When her father leaves, she hears a voice telling her she should not have come back.
Will is getting ready for work when Riley suddenly stands in his living room. He tells her he was worried about her, and she reassures him that she's okay. Riley begins to show him her home in Iceland and her father interrupts them by asking who she is talking to. She simply tells him that she is talking to herself. Her father accepts this and leaves Riley and Will to continue their conversation. When they switch to Will's place, Riley scans through his records and soon gets distracted by the Chicago L train that runs past Will's home. They look outside the window together to observe the train passing by, and accidentally touch hands, which leads up to their first kiss. They are interrupted when a confused Diego enters the apartment and sees Will kissing air.
Later, Riley goes to see Sven. The talk about his boat, his home, and her father's concert the day after. He ends by saying that she can always count on him if she needs to get somewhere.
We see Riley walking through a cave while she is singing the child's lullaby. There, she finds a woman, named Yrsa, who used to sing the lullaby with her. Yrsa is also a sensate living in Iceland. She is the woman that told Riley she was hexed. Yrsa didn't tell the truth because she wanted Riley to believe she isn't safe in Iceland. She then continues by explaining what the BPO does, tracking down sensates and killing them. It's her job to save them before they get discovered, like with Riley. Yrsa told Riley she was hexed, what led Riley to believe she killed her mother. Yrsa is sorry about this and said she wanted to protect her. Riley goes on by asking if Yrsa has kids. Yrsa says she doesn't because didn't want them. She was afraid that they would be hunted like her. Riley continues by asking why she didn't help her. Yrsa answers that she took a serious risk protecting her. That if she hadn't intervened Riley would be dead. Riley replies that she wanted to be dead. To be with them. Yrsa then tells about death in her cluster and the pain it brings, but that life goes on and it gives you another chance. "But what if I don't want another chance?" asks Riley. Yrsa replies that she wouldn't come looking for her if that was true. Yrsa then says that she needs to go, because if they find Riley, she is going to lead them straight to her. She tells her that accidents happen and that Riley knows that. She goes on by telling they find new ways of tracking the psychic nervous system, the very thing that connects sensates. Yrsa picks up a gun and prepares to leave. Then Riley jumps into Will's mind, who is talking to Jonas. She asks who he is talking to and he in return asks if she is alone. She says she is with Yrsa. Both Jonas and Yrsa see that Riley and Will feel very connected. Yrsa tells her that love inside a cluster is pathological, the worst kind of narcissism. They also find out that they are both born on August 8 of the same year. She hopes that he can help Jonas. Upon hearing the name Jonas, Yrsa asks "Maliki?" Riley confirms and gets pulled out of visiting by Yrsa. She tells him he can't be trusted. That he and Angelica gave birth to clusters and used them to hunt down the sensesates.
Riley goes to the cemetery. Sven drops her off and says that he and her father visit them sometimes. Sven then tells Riley her father would come, not for them, but when he missed Riley.
She goes to a tombstone and says that she is sorry she hasn't come back. That she wasn't strong enough. the tombstone reads Magnús Þórsson. She sit and says that she sometimes looks in the mirror and doesn't know who she is. She still thinks of that time he came to her school and horseback. She continues that she isn't who she used to be. That the old her is buried with him. She then jumps into Capheus' mind. He asks her how it is. he then goes on by saying that if she doesn't want to, she doesn't have to tell him. Then they jump to Iceland. She tells him she never told anyone. that she loved her husband, but couldn't go to the funeral. She couldn't say goodbye. Capheus then tells her the story when his mother gave his sister up for adoption because they had not enough food. He tells her that he learnt that life and death are mixed up and some beginnings are endings, and that some endings become beginnings.
Will is walking to his father when He sees Riley by the dock . They discuss about how they will both see their fathers today and Will asks Riley to be careful as Jonas told him that it's dangerous for Her to stay in Iceland. Riley tells Will that Yrsa said Jonas worked for BPO and therefore can't be trusted. Will just states that he doesn't know who to trust anymore, but does know that they should look out for each other. That makes Riley thank Will for saving her life as there was once was a time she didn't care about that kind of stuff, but now she does. They end their visitation with a kiss.
Later, she is chatting with her father and his friends outside the venue. They are getting stoned and Riley gives all of them ecstacy, which they gladly take to get ready for the concert .
We see her sitting inside next to Sven, listening to her father play. This makes all the sensates remember the day that they were born. Riley was born in Sven's house because her father was away. He followed her birth on the phone. He was playing the piano the whole time.
At the end, we see Riley giving birth to her daughter, Lúna. After this, she gets a nose bleed, collapses, and gets taken to the hospital.
This episode starts off with her walking through the snow, cuts to her in the hospital where she sees Magnús standing next to her. He's saying that she should go with him. Then Yrsa tells her she is going to die here.
We see Gunnar singing Baba O'Riley again just outside her room and Will is holding her hand.
After Will helps out Kala, she asks if he is there. he replies that he is, but his thoughts are somewhere else. Then they both stand in her room. Kala recalls the music and asks what's wrong. Will says he doesn't know.
She has flashbacks of the night of the crash and goes into shock.
Riley is driven to one of the BPO facilities. Concurrently, we experience the car crash that killed Magnús and Lúna. When she had her pains, Magnús drove her to the hospital. The road was snowy and slippery. Riley tells him she is hexed, but Magnús tells her she is magic. All of a sudden, they slipped off the road and rolled over. Magnús is killed instantly, but Riley lives. She gives birth to Lúna in the car and then she falls asleep. When she wakes up, she gets out of the wreck and starts to wander through the snow. Once she realizes Lúna is dead, she collapses and promises her she'll never leave her.
It cuts back to the present. Riley is driven in on a bran card. Yrsa appears and tells her to protect the rest. Riley grabs a gun and points it at everyone. She wants to kill herself, but Will convinces her not to. She gets knocked down and drugged.
When Will and Riley finally meet in person for the first time, their minds keep alternating between the two and between memories with each other. Together, and with the help of the rest of their cluster, they escape the facility, but as they are going down the elevator to the parking garage, Will and Mr. Whispers make eye contact, connecting them. Capheus helps them hotwire an ambulance, and they drive away, being pursued by Mr. Whispers in a helicopter. In order to lose him, Nomi and Amanita advise them to turn left onto another road... the same road where Riley and Magnús drove 6 years ago. Riley re-experiences her trauma, and Will does as well. When Will drives over the same spot where Magnús slipped, Angelica appears and they slip too. Will stops the ambulance and Riley gets out. She runs to the top of a mountain and breaks down. This is the same place where they found her and her dead daughter. Will tells her he will gets them out of here. Jonas and Angelica appear and tell him the only way to save his cluster is by sacrificing himself. Will then goes and drugs himself so that he falls unconscious and Mr. Whispers can't track them. As Will drifts into unconsciousness, he tells Riley that she must drive them away or else they will be found. Riley refuses in tears. Will says he can feel her pain and he knows that she can feel what he feels for her. He ends with saying: "I love you," before he finally goes under.
Later, we see Riley and Will on a boat, sailing into the sunset. As the sedative wears off, she gives him another shot to keep him unconscious. Before Will goes under again, he tells her, "You did it. You saved us." She kisses Will as he falls back into unconsciousness, and she looks up to see the whole cluster gathered around them.
Outside the Cluster Edit
- Gunnar : Gunnar is Riley's father. Little is known about him, but we only know that he has a good relationship with his daughter. She often reminisces of his music. He is overjoyed when she returns to Iceland. They are very open to each other.
- Yrsa: She is a sensate who lives in Iceland. She is the voice Riley heard as a child and told her she was hexed. In Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye, Yrsa explains to Riley why she did what she did. In the last episode, I Can't Leave Her, Yrsa tries to convince her to kill herself to protect her cluster.
- Magnús Þórsson: She was married to Magnús (date unknown) and they had a daughter, Lúna. Lúna was born and died on the 12th of January 2008, shortly after her father Magnús. We see this on their tombstone in Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye.
Inside the Cluster Edit
- Will Gorski: Will is the member of the Cluster Riley is closest to. They interact for the first time at the end of Limbic Resonance. Will and his partner Diego just went for drinks and are leaving. From that moment they are attracted to each other. Later they see each other again in the church where Angelica took her own life. They meet again in I Am Also A We when Will is shaving and Riley is going to wash off the shoot out from the day before. At the beginning of Demons, Will and Riley are both at a bar thinking. All of sudden, they are sitting next to one another. They are asking themselves if they are going crazy, so Will punches his number into Riley's phone and without showing her the number, tells her to push the button. Riley calls him and Will has Diego pick up the phone. This proves that they aren't crazy. Later that episode Will helps her escape from Nyx. In the episode We Will All Be Judged by the Courage of Our Hearts, Riley and Will meet once again and talk about how life is in Iceland and in Chicago. After they stare out the window, they touch each other and start kissing. Out of the blue, Diego enters Will's apartment and sees him kissing air. In Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye, Will is talking to Jonas Maliki when Riley joins him. Yrsa pulls her away, forcing her to leave the connection when she hears Will is speaking to Jonas Maliki. In What Is Human?, they talk about their fathers and she tells him that Jonas can't be trusted. She also thanks him for intervening with Nyx. They kiss again, and after that Will says:" If it feels this good when we're not really here, what's it going to like when we are?" In Just Turn the Wheel and the Future Changes, we see Will sitting next to her hospital bed. Later that episode, after Will helps out Kala Dandekar, Kala asks him if he is really there and he says yes, but my mind is somewhere else. Then they both go to Riley. In the last episode, I Can't Leave Her they finally meet in person. After Will goes into the BPO facility and saves her, they come to the place where she lost her child. Riley breaks down, but Will drugged himself so Whispers can't find him. Riley gets herself together because she can feel how much Will loves her and saves him. The last we see of them, is on a boat, sailing off into the sunset.
The first time Riley and Will interact is in actually earlier in the first episode when Will wakes up from some edm music he hears next doors while it is Riley playing in the club.
- Capheus "Van Damme": Riley interacts with Capheus several times. The first time is in Art Is Like Religion when Riley meets Capheus and they talk about where they are. They get interrupted by some thugs and meet again in W. W. N. Double D? when she is on a plane; he is amazed by how lucky she is to be flying and seeing such things. They meet once more in Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye, where they talk about losing family.
- Sun Bak: They meet once, when they both are struggling about if and where they should run.
- Nomi Marks: Nomi, along with Will, helps Riley escape being lobotomized by hacking the security systems in the hospital where Riley was kept.
- Empathy: Riley is known as the "mother" of the cluster due to her nearness to Angelica. In the series, she is seen to be the strongest when it comes to emotional sensitivity and this is because of her tragic past.
- Music: Riley's a skilled DJ and uses music, without realizing it, to pull the cluster together.
- Multilingual: Riley can speak English, Icelandic (implied), and Dutch.
"It's not the drugs that make a drug addict, it's the need to escape reality." Demons"It's just playing records for drunks trying to get laid." W. W. N. Double D?
"That's all I wanted. To be dead." Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye
"There’s two reasons to go to Iceland: the Aurora Borealis, and Riley Blue. One is a natural phenomenon so beautiful it will blow your mind... and the other is just some pretty light in the sky." Shugs to Riley in Smart Money Is on the Skinny Bitch
“Death doesn’t let you say goodbye. It just carves holes in your life... and your future... and your heart.” Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye
"Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I don't know who I am. Death Doesn't Let You Say Goodbye