Awake Review: The Consequences of Crashing

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How does Awake follow up on such a stunning premiere? By following through on the characters. It’s that simple.

"The Little Guy," of course, was the first episode since the pilot, which means things are done on sets, budgets are pulled in and Awake gets to answer the unenviable question of: Where do things go from here?

Playing Detective

Part of how that question is answered is by continuing to pit both realities against each other, with Britten using them to his advantage. Which, of course, brings up an entirely new set of problems that are mostly positive for Britten’s family and can lead to a few negatives as a detective.

The small moments of Britten finding the nuances in how Hannah runs her household are often my favorite scenes. It becomes clear in this episode that Britten has missed a lot of meals and family time that Hannah and Rex have shared. The bond between the two of them is probably much stronger, and different from the bond Britten shares with them as individuals. Britten, in a sense, has to get to know his son first-hand instead of hearing most things through Hannah’s filter.

Although he did learn about the motorcycle through Hannah, so maybe some things won’t be that different.

But, by getting to know Rex in a different light, Britten is still in this stationary position while Hannah is continually walking away from him. Hannah is trying to balance moving on with finding a place where she can love Rex without curling up on the floor as anything and everything about him reminds her of his death. Britten doesn’t see the things Rex was hiding from his parents as a reminder of their dead son like Hannah does, and this is probably the biggest obstacle in his relationship with his wife.

Britten is continually learning more and more about a son that is still alive, and Hannah is continually learning more and more about a son that is in the ground.

Rex, on the other hand, is still open to shunning his father. As I said last week, it’s completely understandable, and I believe Britten understands it too. Britten doesn’t push Rex too hard in opening up; at this point it looks like he’s just trying to be a little bit more like Hannah to him. However, that doesn’t really work with Rex for long. Britten would be better off finding his own unique relationship with Rex, and through his “death” it looks like he’s beginning to forge ahead with that goal. The motorcycle is a good start.

Speaking of the motorcycle, that scene near the end with Hannah and Rex both riding it tugged on my heartstrings like no other. It gave us a sense of them sharing another family moment, and emphasized the bond that Rex and Hannah shared while Britten watched from the side. It almost felt like a small passing of the torch. Hannah can no longer be there for Rex and vice versa, and it’s up to Britten to step up emotionally for both of them.

Speaking of endings, Britten’s police chief Harper certainly set up something interesting. She’s “monitoring him." And some guy in a suit, who apparently knows some even more imposing, but currently unknown, suit people doesn’t find that reassuring. The suit people were protecting her, but she didn’t like that suit guy took out Britten’s entire family. Does she know about his dual realities? And “a little guy” caused the accident. Which brings me to this week’s...

Real Reality Check

Like I said last Thursday, this will probably change with each passing episode, and, true to my word, this week’s winner is the Red Reality! It’s hard to dismiss the suit people who know about and were the cause of Britten’s accident. Which means there is a conspiracy at large, and even more questions to be answered. Britten can’t remember the events leading up to the accident; when combined with Dr. Evans’ theory that his subconscious is placing clues and things in his “dreams,” I can only imagine that some of the clues will start to bleed together to form a bigger picture over what happened.

A Few More Thoughts

  • The disparity between Dr. Lee and Dr. Evans really came into light this week. Dr. Evans is more than happy to have Britten continue to live in dual realities as he’s coming to grips with what has happened to him. While Dr. Lee is even more headstrong in his belief that this predicament Britten is in is doing more harm than good. However, something needs to be done with them, because while they were fantastic in the premiere, their usefulness is beginning to wane. They can only attempt to persuade Britten so many times before they become monotonous. Perhaps the two of them will head out into the field or help him directly with cases?
  • Britten’s partners need to be given an expanded role as well. Britten is so much of a one-man army at this point that it’s next to impossible to really care about his partners. While Freeman gets a little bit of a pass from me since he truly has Britten’s back, Vega doesn’t want to follow Britten on any of his hunches. Quite frankly, it got old quickly with Vega tonight. There’s only so much stonewalling one can do to the hero before it gets tedious.
  • It looks like we know at least one of the reasons why Rex has a motorcycle – for a girl! There isn’t a lot to say about her yet, she’s going to Coachella and Rex wants to go as well. As Hannah tries to stay close to her son will Emma be the first to “cross over” in a sense. Nothing on Awake feels like it’s done without purpose.

What did you think of tonight’s Awake? Is the show still living up to your expectations? Have you set new expectations? Did the new inkblot transitions help ease confusion? What do you think of the ending and what it revealed about the crash?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (80 Votes)

Nick McHatton is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I had mixed feelings regarding "the little guy" episode. The ending sort of spoiled the idea that perhaps either the boy or the wife could still be alive... if not both. Remember, his superior stated..."you didn't have to take them all out"... I hope this doesn't turn into someone with memory loss who slowly starts to remember more and more about the accident. I had higher expectations of this intriguing series and hope I am proven wrong... I still thoroughly enjoy each episode I have watched so far.

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Anne - I didn't catch that, but holy cow - good point. Maybe when we saw her, we only saw a REAL reality?

Fortyseven

The cases were boring. I like the mix of philosophy, procedural, and personal lives. Vega is the worst.

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This show is awesome. Need something new and it delivers every ep. I do think they need to expand on his partners. It seems like he gets closer to his son and further from his wife. My heart broke in the pilot when he couldn't figure out which reality he was in.

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What about Inception with its various levels of consciousness? Could the red/green bands be memory devices, like we saw with the spinning top in the movie? Do we think that maybe his boss Harper and her boss (? - hassad?) are monitoring him by entering into his dream? "Taking out his entire family" may have put him into a deeper coma rather than the intended consequence: waking him up. Perhaps Britten has information they need and are trying to get. ...? Many cool possibilities and I can't wait to see what happens next!

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I don't think its a mistake that Harper mentioned that suit guy had taken out Britten's ENTIRE family. Not Wife, not Son, but entire family. I think that the cause is going to be revealed to be freaky wierd, like he is trapped in a coma and Harper and Suit Guy are beings who live in a dream world, or are somehow able to distort reality to their own ends. Maybe Britten is one of them, or maybe he just found out about them. I love the dichotomy between the hard core realism of the police procedural and the mind bending existential questions about reality that Awake throws up. I have just realised how much this reminds me of Life On Mars, except I think it is better because in that show we knew that the world wasn't real, we just didn't know what kind of delusion it was.

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Has anyone considered that perhaps there is another alternative? Maybe both Hannah and Rex survived and this situation that Britten is in is because he couldn't deal with losing his wife and his son. So although they didn't die this scenario allows him to work through what he would do if he lost one of them. This situation of working the same case in both realities makes me think of the butterfly effect whereby one small incident thousands of years ago had an effect that created the world we live in today. Just saying.

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What did you think of tonight’s Awake?
> It was good, not great.
Is the show still living up to your expectations?
> Absolutely! It's a "people" story.
Have you set new expectations?
> No. So far my old expectations are doing just fine. ;)
Did the new inkblot transitions help ease confusion?
> Yes. My wife thinks it's pretty too.
What do you think of the ending and what it revealed about the crash?
> Oooo I loved it. Can't wait 'till next week!

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I think there are 3 realities, not only two .
The red, the green, and the other where he doesnt have any family left .
I do think that the shrinks are useful . I like Dr Evans because she tries to explain him all the mythology of how the brain works ! I wasnt totally satisfied with this episode tho..

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Love this show! I've wondered since the premiere whether both Hannah and Rex had been killed... For a minute there, I thought that his mind had actually created a third reality (since watching that moment when he kind of freaks out because he can't find Hannah in the pilot) where they both had died in the accident. Either that or he was waking up to reality from a two-fold dream of sorts (maybe from a coma?) I'm not really sure if that's a possibility, but I'm looking forward to finding out more. Really interesting show.