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Awake: Night Swimming

“A chance to walk away from this mess and start afresh.”

I know I sound like a broken record, but each week Awake astonishes me with the simple beauty of its characters, including those that—on other shows—might be dismissed as nothing more than corpses waiting to happen. “Night Swimming,” once again, didn’t disappoint. And while we’re still not getting anywhere with the mystery of what’s going on, I continue not to really care.

The three plots this week each dealt with the question of how much you can know someone, how memories shape the current state of our relationships, and, most of all, how it’s easy to lose sight of the little things that are simultaneously the most important.

Marcus and Alina, faced with the prospect of losing everything except for what they could fit in one large suitcase each, nearly imploded. (Car bomb joke!) In less able hands, their story could have been reduced to caricature, shorthand, or straight-up symbolism. But Marcus and Alina both felt real to me, and I soon found myself rooting for their reunion even as I agonized through Alina’s anger and Marcus’s grief.

If that world—the Green World—is a dream, then Britten is obviously struggling with the feeling of distance created by his wife’s willingness to leave their life and their home in LA. Does Marcus’s secret life of accountancy crime and cahooting with the Russian mafia stand for Britten not telling his wife the full story about his “dreams” of Rex? Or do Marcus and Alina represent what Britten is worried will happen: a gradual slipping away of the connections that keep a marriage healthy and honest?

Britten’s decision to take Hannah to the high dive where they met was a cute reminder that these two have a complicated and generally happy life together, and it paired nicely with his willingness to give up the stuff in order to move beyond the past—both the happy parts and the sad—in order to live more fully in the present and future with his wife. Britten’s realization about the ersatz mix tape was perfect: it’s not the tape, it’s the song. It’s not the object, it’s the love, the memories, and the experiences that matter.

Britten’s CI Jake was a nice counterpoint to Britten’s willingness to move on. Assuming the Red World is the real one (which I don’t want to do, but can’t seem to avoid), we can’t see CI Jake as just a symbolic stand-in for Britten himself. But he was a nice reminder of the importance of engaging in those rituals that keep our relationships solid and elevate them beyond “just business” or the exchange of information.

As always, though, this show is more than just symbolism and encounters between characters that make Britten re-think his worldview (and his world). It’s not just the acting that’s top-notch, or that the dialogue has gotten looser (in a good way) as characters are more willing to be witty. It’s not just the great face Britten made when faced with the prospect of training for a Schutzhund certification. It’s everything together, all of it done well. If Awake is canceled, as the cancelation bear suspects it will be, I hope Kyle Killen and Jason Isaacs—and everyone else—comes back to my TV screen soon.

Bits and Bits:

• Britten: “Maybe in Oregon, we’ll be china kind of people.”

• Jake: “Who the hell lives in Oregon?”

• Vega: “That’s what I keep telling him.”

• Vega: “That was exciting.”

• Vega: “I guess you know everything about everything, so I’m just going to sit here and wait for more trucks, you know, not to appear.”

• Laguna is nowhere near Palm Springs.

• No shrinks this episode.

• My DVR didn’t record this episode. (Or Fringe. Grr!) If you watch Awake On Demand, you can’t fast-forward through commercials. Double Grr!

Three out of four high dives.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. I thought this was a really strong episode. It might be the first one to fully connect with me emotionally the way the pilot did. When it became clear what had been happening at the beginning, and Hannah and Michael were standing on that high board, prepared to jump into something new all over again, I got rather choked up. So sweet, simple, and beautiful. I loved it.

  2. It was lovely. The end was so unexpectedly sweet. I like this series more every week. Lovely review, Josie.

    I'm weirded out about them moving to Oregon, like if Britten leaves Los Angeles, the center won't hold. It does feel like they are moving toward something, though it probably isn't Oregon.

  3. I really enjoyed this episode. It was just simple and lovely.

    The final scene could have been such a cliche, yet somehow it worked. All credit to the actors for pulling that off.

    I agree with Billie that the move to Oregon feels weird to me, but I am becoming more and more convinced that the Red World is "real" which would mean the move is real. Tricky stuff.


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