Awake Finale Review: A Visitor From The Other Side

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"Turtles All the Way Down" turned the entire concept of Awake on its head, while leaving just enough there for both a satisfying series finale and season finale. It's just too bad we're stuck with it being the former.

Britten's Held Captive

We all wondered how Michael would work his way out of the perilous positions he put himself in last week, and he did it in a way I never would have guessed: changing the rules of the game.

For the entire series Michael has operated on the sole concept of red and green. One is real and one isn’t, and in order to make progress and move on as a person he needs to accept that only one is real. By closing the door on one reality he will need to say goodbye to one of his loved ones. It’s one of the biggest roadblocks he’s had for making progress: letting someone go.

But to avenge his family on one side, Michael opens himself up to the possibility that only green is real so he can finally nail Captain Harper for her role in the conspiracy. He breaks off from that part in an emotionally laden final scene with Hannah.

However, for all the acceptance Michael ultimately works towards afterwards, he wasn’t ready to give up seeing them both. So he goes back to the mantra he had in the premiere, that he’s not sure which world is real. You can literally watch as Michael begins to talk himself into ambiguity about whether Green is real.

Michael is giving himself the one thing Dr. Evans said we can never have: lost time. He’s building a new world for himself with Hannah and Rex both alive. One that he can accept without question, and one that he could easily live in without ever needing or wanting to wake up.

It’s an interesting note to rest the entire series on, but it works. The running theme of the entire show has always been not whether one or the other is real, but about time and family. To make up for those that were lost and to forge ahead with those that are still here.

So, if you’re in Michael’s shoes, and you have this unique ability to dream in a way that feels real, why not recreate what was once lost? By opening the door to that possibility he opens the door to a life he desperately wants back. So while Green may or may not be the real reality, it is the one that “won out” in the end. It is the one that provides a landing pad for Britten as he dreams how this new reality will play out.

Other thoughts:

  • I find it very fitting that the show ended with Michael closing his eyes.
  • Loose ends: The Gemini Killer, what happened to Tara, Michael telling Bird.
  • What on Earth does “turtles all the way down” mean?

What did you think of tonight's series finale of Awake? Will you miss this show?


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (162 Votes)

The title refers to the immortal Dr. Seuss's "Yertle the Turtle." Check it out. The finale was powerful - great acting. I always wondered why - besides to create the premise - he would dream of only one of his loved ones surviving in each reality. In the finale, he finally did what one would expect: dreamed they were all still together.


Omg i loved this show!! it was amazing... although i was very confused with the season finale. i ish there could be a second season and more and more! i re watched it tonight to see if i catch something that i didn't see before... and i think the talk with the therapist at the end says it all. i think that the green world was the real one and because even in the red world he felt that it was so real and when she said that if he invests him self in ONE real life that it will be a richer experience.. and he had a look on his face like ur right y not create a world with both my loved ones together... she says that then he convinces himself that this whole time he has been dreaming and the red world was a dream within a dream so when he gets to the world with his son and his wife he wants it to make sence so of course it would be fitting for both his son and wife to say he was sleeping a long time... because it will help him BELIEVE that this world is the real one thus making him satisfied... i don't think that this new world is real because they never show him WAKING up he just walks into it and its there.. So i think he walks out of reality and into his own happiness.. i think they can extend the show by making it to really be 3 separate world that do exist and he could find others with this and Learn how to move yourself into the one that makes u happiest? well helping others to find there happiness ? Idk i just know i want it to continue!!!


You guys have it all wrong! Reality: His son died in the crash and his wife lived. He incorrectly trusted Harper in the real world, and was put in a jail cell for it. He will now spend the rest of his life in an insane asylum, with a heartbroken Hannah who has no effectively lost 2 family members, while he is off in lala land dreaming that everything is fine and dandy. Its tragic! His session with Dr. Evans & him turning in Harper in his dream was just therapy for him, and him coming to the realization that this "better reality (where he is not in prison)" is just a dream, and in reality he is doomed to spend the rest of his life in prison. So only then is he able to give up his real wife and his imaginary son, for another dream-world where both of them are guaranteed to be imaginary. He's willing to do that because he knows that he has effectivley lost the real-Hannah,since he is in prison, and Rex is fake anyways.


Great finale. Good to get some closure. I'd have preferred an external explanation for the mythos. The series wasn't without its faults but I bet it would have improved.


People who think the ending means it was all a dream completely missed the meaning of the whole ending and what a dark tragic tale this actually is. Visually it looks like a super happy ending, but in reality it's the story of a man who chooses to sink very deeply into delusion when faced with having to accept a reality he can't cope with. At the end Britten deludes himself to the point of creating a fake reality that defies time (Rex is starting registration) and irrefutable facts (there was a fatal car accident). As his therapist asserts there are rules like none of us can change the flow of time, Britten pauses her stands up and violates all the rules of reality. As far as a 2nd season from this, we have Britten in red reality in prison, green reality possibly as the new Captain, and an ideal fantasy reality that can give him clues in both.


Awake episode 113 --Awake finale was awful! What a crappy ending to the series! Total cop-out to say that both red and green were all just an elaborate bad dream. Then Michael gets to go to third "reality" where both wife and son are alive. Extreme let down for the audience. It would have been a lot more powerful to say that all three "realities" were fantasies and that in the "real" world both wife and son are dead (either through accident or homicide)and that Michael is all alone and cannot deal with his grief so he creates these detailed dreams. If this happy ending/ happy family is what Killen and the writers intended all along, then I'm not surprised that the series was cancelled. Only good thing about Awake was Jason Isaacs amazing acting.


I think the whole season was amazing and the finale was a true work of art. Of course I too was wondering what the final scene meant -- and presumed it suggested the whole thing had been a bad dream.
It occurred to me, though, that it would have been a wonderful twist if, while Michael was beholding his still-intact family in the final scene, his original partner had called and asked, surreptitiously, to meet him somewhere -- saying he had some evidence about a department-run heroin ring, and that even Harper might be involved. And oh, he needed to ask Michael if his therapy had prompted him to remember anything about his accident - he'd found some information about that, too ...


The following story, or some version of it, is all around the web: A well-known scientist [some say Bertrand Russell, others William James, neither one of whom was a scientist] once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits he sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?" "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!" IO only watched Awake a couple times, and I could never remember who was dead in the red reality, and who in the green.


1) "Turtles all the way down" is inspired by a story from Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, regarding a woman who believed the world was flat and perched on the back of a turtle (and that THAT turtle stood on, well, more turtles) 2) Read this interview with Kyle Killen: 3)In my mind and reading what Killen said I think that the Green World is real, his son lived and his wife died and I think that is pretty much confirmed in the finale and it does seem that Britten is willing to say goodbye to Hannah and the Red World in order to catch Harper however once he did that he wanted so desperately to hold onto Hannah that he began questioning the rules so much so that he was able to create a new 3rd world where is wife and son are still alive....I'm not saying that he has a complete mental break or gave up on the Red World entirely but it seems like he would do anything to get his family together again not matter the personal cost to him.


by Britten that she was alive; and when questioned as to why he did that, Britten replied that why wasn't it better for him to be able to believe in something happy? I think that this is the essential theme of the whole show: the question of what is real, and how much ability we might have to create a happier world. I will really, really miss "Awake," a wonderful show which was mysterious, very well witten and literate, brilliantly acted, emotionally involving, and which left me with tears in my eyes.

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