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Awake: Game Day

"Just that one thing. One tiny little thing, and this could all be different."

I had a feeling Michael and Hannah would experience some obstacle to their departure from Los Angeles, and voila.

I had a harder time than usual keeping the two worlds apart in my head because we usually spend more time in one than the other, but this time it was a split. We got the same game in each universe, but each with a different winner because of a few inches and a field goal. There were two completely different murders that were both unintentional and both committed unexpectedly by a family member. And there was Emma's pregnancy that ended in Green World, but Michael just found out about in the Red World. That final scene in Red World where Michael went to the high school and asked Emma if she was pregnant choked me up, mostly because of a wonderful performance by Jason Isaacs. Wow, he's good. Seriously, I am getting into this actor. At this point, I'd watch him in nearly anything.

In Red World, Los Angeles won the game, and Lost's Dr. Pierre Chang (Francois Chau), a compulsive gambler, lost a hundred thousand bucks. His wife reached a breaking point and torched their dry cleaning establishment for the insurance money, unknowingly killing their unfortunate, homeless employee in the process. In Green World, Seattle won the game, a guy got into an argument with his difficult, bullying brother, and killed him, and he would have let a fan with green paint take the blame. Having the fans wear red and green felt like the writers were having fun with us.

In both worlds, there was much talk of lying and polygraphs. Both prime suspects were not very nice people -- the drunken lout in the Green World and the compulsive gambler in the Red World -- but they were both telling the truth about their innocence. Rex lied to Michael about why he stayed home from school, but Michael knew he was lying, told him how he knew, and let him stay home anyway. Rex responded by coming to the police station and telling Michael the truth about Emma. If Michael hadn't been so good at detecting lies and if he hadn't told Rex the truth, he wouldn't have found out that Emma might be having his grandchild. So much for Portland?

As Josie said in her review of last week's, the story is terrific and the characters are so good that the answer to the core mystery just isn't that important to me any more. If all we get is thirteen episodes, I would love to get some sort of resolution, though. Why can't shows this complex and imaginative get the necessary ratings to stay alive, damn it?

A few bits and pieces:

-- It was nice that Vega has grown to like Michael enough to throw him a farewell party.

-- I know less than nothing about football, and I kept thinking the all-important red hat was for one of the teams. But the internet says NDSU stands for North Dakota State University. If I'm being ridiculously ignorant about something sports fans find obvious, please forgive me.

-- Michael: "Sometimes when it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it's the guy with the big knife."

This one made me cry. Episodes that makes me cry gets four out of four red caps,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Beautiful review, Billie. I had exactly the same reaction, including the trouble keeping the two words straight. (Although I will admit I got a little bored with the procedural element, until the ending fixed that problem entirely.)

    The teams were college teams, so NDSU stands for some university in this universe with a really devoted fan following and an intense rivalry like USC/UCLA or Stanford/Berkeley.

    The NDSU-alum's death was also an allusion to the tragic and savage beating of a Giants fan at a Dodgers game last year: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/03/bryan-stow-a-year-after-dodgers-beating-remarkable-progress.html

    Warning: the "remarkable progress" of the headline is horribly depressing.

    It's a bit Law and Orderish to do a "ripped from the headlines" plot, but Awake handled it with maturity and grace, as it always does.

  2. I love this show and I am glad that both you and Josie are still reviewing it even with its imminent death...

    Is this the first episode where we know for a fact that the chronology in both worlds is simultaneous (i.e. it's Tuesday in red and it's Tuesday in green)? I guess maybe it could have only be simultaneous for this one episode, but I feel like it probably is for most but with the dueling games we finally know for certain.

    One of the things I love about this show is the colors and the way they fill each world with its color (red or green ties/clothes on everyone, green poison in the kidnapping episode from way back, the green poster in Rex's room that says "crimson" in green, the red car for the arsonist). Because of the opposing sports teams (who I think were just made up for the colors), this episode was the first one where red and green featured prominently in both worlds. The green team lost in green world but won in the red world. The red fan died in the green world. It made it hard to keep up, but I also think it was a perfect metaphor for the ways the two worlds were intersecting in this episode. The colors overlapped just like the worlds did.

    At the beginning, I was hoping to hear what the psychiatrists were going to say about the fact that the game results differed in each world. By the end, I didn't care anymore because I care so much more about the characters and the story. I can't wait for Hannah's response to the pregnancy and I wonder if Britten is going to have to explain how he knew...I love the budding relationship between Rex and his dad in the green world so I have always been pulling for that one to ALSO be real and not imaginary, but with a baby in the red world, I have to pull for that one too, now.

    I love Jason Isaacs, too. Did you see "Case Histories" on Masterpiece Mystery this past season? It was really good--and he got to use his own accent. Check it out: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/casehistories/index.html

    As far as the ratings are concerned. I am going to blame it all on NBC. Awake is always in the top 20 on HULU (along with most of the other Thursday night shows on NBC) on Friday and for most of the weekend. I think some people are watching it, but for whatever reason not when it originally airs. I hope that if it gets canceled, the show runners will put together something on the first season DVD to tell us more of the mythology/plan!(*HINT*HINT*HINT* if they are still reading your revieiws...)

    Excellent review as always! I look forward to reading them each week.

  3. OH! and I forgot to say...

    Does poor Francois Chau get typecast now as someone without full use of his limbs because he did such a good job on LOST?

  4. a.m., what a fabulous comment. Many, many great points. I didn't even think about Francois Chau in a cast. :)

    Coincidentally, Josie just told me about "Case Histories" and I just put it on my list of must watch stuff.

    Hey, Fringe just got renewed and it was such a long shot. Maybe the critical buzz will give Awake a second season. Stranger things have happened.

  5. a.m., your comment was wonderful!

    I just ran across this fun fact idea from Borges' short story "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius": in the mythical land of Tlon, one school of psychology "believes that, while we are asleep here, we are awake somewhere else, and that thus every man is two men."

    Relevant? Probably not. But I love coincidences like that.

  6. Thanks, Billie and Josie! I really enjoy reading your reviews and felt compelled to comment today.

    I do have to make a slight correction--I think Jason Isaacs isn't using his own accent in Case Histories, but the Scottish accent always gets me:)

    And, Josie, I don't know if the quote is relevant, but it is definitely an interesting one. It's amazing how often I find myself thinking about this show when I am reading things or waking from my own dreams.

    I can't wait for the next episode and review...

  7. I didn't enjoy this one as much as last week's. Probably because I found the procedural element incredibly tedious, and wasn't as moved by the final moments (although Jason Isaacs was certainly fantastic in the scene with Emma).

    I must have watched too many of these shows over the years, but as soon as Dr. Chang started professing his innocence, I knew it was the wife. And I also pretty quickly suspected the brother of the murder in Green World. However, I did get a tremendous kick out of seeing Christopher Marquette all grown up (he played Adam on Joan of Arcadia). I sort of recognized him at first, but as the episode went on, he started looking more and more like the somewhat lost young man he used to play. Fascinating.

    The development at the end was pretty interesting, but not anywhere near as emotional for me as last week's closing moments. Probably because the intellectual exercise of making it all fit into my pet theory was more taxing this week. I'm having a hard time pinning Michael's discovery on some kind of subconscious knowledge manifesting itself in the "unreal" Green World. This one just didn't play as readily into a "one is real, one is a dream" mode. Ah, well. That's what you get for latching onto one theory! Some weeks it makes the viewing experience more rewarding, some weeks less so.

    I'm still looking forward to seeing where they go with this twist. I definitely want to see how Hannah reacts to this news.

  8. I found this one a bit much of a procedural and, because I have watched too many of them, I guessed the wife and the brother right from the start. As a result, a lot of this episode was relatively standard fare for me.

    Until the final five minutes. I was initially annoyed by the writers' having Emma lose the baby. It always irks me when bad, bad decisions are so easily solved -- it rarely happens that way in our reality.

    But the final scene in the Red World with Michael and Emma was just beautifully done. Suddenly, all the stuff about the game and the missed field goal became so important and everything clicked into place. I, too, am looking forward to seeing how Hannah reacts to this news and, I'm betting, the move to Oregon is off.


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