Awake: Say Hello to My Little Friend

“I see a little silhouette-o of a man.”

May I, just for a moment, abdicate any pretense of reviewer maturity, detachment, and general grown-upness and say exactly what I’m thinking? Thank you, I will: this episode was totally awesome. And this show totally deserved a renewal, even though none of us thought it would get what it deserved. Why isn’t life fair?

I tend to dislike dream episodes. They’re nothing like real dreams—or at least nothing like my dreams—and they never manage to fully capture the overwhelming feeling of dread that (for me, at least) makes bad dreams so very bad. That Awake manages to make an entire show that may or may not be a dream somehow work, and work well, continues to mystify me. Quality of acting, elegance of execution, complexity of theme? Somehow, Kyle Killen and this week’s writer Leonard Chang have found the magic mixture that makes a dreamy procedural cop show into high art.

The Little Guy” has haunted Britten since the second episode, even if he didn’t realize it. A sign of impending insanity? A manifestation of his own guilt? A bizarre product of his own subconscious, designed by Queen? But whose subconscious is really Marshall J. Flinkman? Surely not a straight-laced, slightly repressed cop who lives in two realities.

Little Guy was horribly disturbing: mimicking Britten’s posture, watching him sleep, staring at him in mirrors. As Petrowski said, not being able to control what’s in your own head is horrifying. Like Britten, I started to feel more certain that he was just a projection, a remnant of the song that was meant to help Britten eventually come to terms with the unreality of the Green World.

The repetition of the car accident drove me a little crazy, but that was the point: it was supposed to be just as unnerving and unfulfilling for us as it was for Britten, right up until the final realization that the Little Guy wasn’t a figment, a projection that happened to take the form of policeman Hawkins. Now Britten know what we’ve suspected: his accident was no accident. Hopefully soon he’ll connect it with the Westfield case, defeat the villains who want him dead, and somehow gain whatever closure he’s going to get in the two remaining episodes.

Perversely, I hope that closure does not involve Britten realizing that one (or, worse, both) of his worlds are not real. I was so happy that he was able to return to Rex, especially since his breakdown was so touching that it was difficult to watch. He told Emma’s father that he would give anything for one more second with Rex—and I want Britten to sacrifice his sanity (if that’s what he’s doing by living in both worlds) in order to achieve the peace that sacrifice brings him.

Bits and Bits:

• Britten: “I don’t like trusting my life to a rubber band.”

• Britten: “Nice move.”
Vega: “Thanks. It’s Muay Thai. You should come.”

• Hannah and Rex: “No escape from reality.”

• Interesting that Britten chooses to trust his psychiatrist with his realization about Hawkins.

• I hope Bird isn’t involved in the conspiracy.

• The title of this episode wins the Best Use of a Scarface Quote Award.

• Laura Innes directed this episode.

Awake won’t air next week, but there will be a two-episode conclusion on Thursday, May 24th. Until then:

Four out of four Bohemian rhapsodies.

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

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am really really sad that it got canceled. I hope they'll tie up the loose ends as neatly as they could in the remaining episodes.

Paul Kelly said...

After an episode this strong, it's all the more galling that the powers that be have seen fit to cancel Awake. According to Leonard Chang..."I think these last few episodes will be go down as the craziest ending since Twin Peaks". Looks like we're in for a mind melting climax. Goodie!

garyb said...

Just a note about the schedule, it appears to be in flux. I checked titantv.com and tvguide.com a few minutes ago, and both report that the penultimate episode is Thursday 5/17 at 10PM with the finale 5/24 at 10PM. Keep an eye on the schedules folks.

Thanks for your reviews on this and the other programs. I really enjoyed AWAKE and thought it was some of the best TV this season. Bummer that it was on NBC at 10P.

Jess Lynde said...

This was a very strong episode, but ironically, it made me less sad that the series is coming to an end.

I found this hour to be an incredibly strong look at Michael's struggle to face the truth about what happened to him. Despite his overwhelming grief, it was somehow cathartic to see him accepting Rex was gone and using that grief to help Emma. As a result, his choice to rebury himself in the fantasy, when he realized that he wasn't responsible for the accident, was very hard to take.

Josie, you want Michael to sacrifice his sanity to hold on to a connection with his lost son, whereas I would rather see him find a way to make his peace and move on with Hannah. Otherwise, he's leaving her in a position where she's lost her son *and* her husband. The journey I'd rather see is the one where the "hero" finds a way to heal and build a new life. Not the one where he loses himself completely because he can't process his grief. I was certainly moved by his assertion in the pilot that he never wants to get better, but that's not what I want to watch over the long haul. And if they have to keep taking us to a place where he sabotages his opportunities to get better in order to string out the show, then I'd rather see it end sooner.

The performances have been great, and I've enjoyed a lot of the places they've taken us, but I don't think I'd find it as satisfying over a longer stretch. I'm at peace with letting this one go. I'm just hoping for some feeling of closure when its done.

P.S. I do love that this is the kind of show that invites such diverging views!

Josie Kafka said...

garyb,

Yes, the scheduling is confusing the heck out of me. Different sites seem to say different things, and at this point I'm just waiting for my DVR's scheduling to fill in for Thursday. Once I get that, I'll update this post as needed.

Jess, what a lovely post! I feel more empathy for Britten than for his wife (I'm not sure why), so my emotional focus is definitely on him. If he can hold his sanity together, I like to think he can juggle both realities.

Billie Doux said...

This episode was awesome.

Kevin Weisman was incredibly creepy and Jason Isaacs gave an exceptional performance when he was sitting on the floor talking about Rex's death. I knew that it had to end with him waking up after the bungee accident in the green world, but that didn't make it less strong. If the final two episodes are as strong as the rest of the series, I'm going to have to buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Did you notice that during the accident scene -- the post accident part with the paramedics -- the color kept shifting from reds to blues and greens?

Wonderful review, Josie.

Leonard Chang said...

Very much appreciated! You've been a great supporter from the beginning, and I'm grateful. Thanks again!

a.m. said...

I know it won't come as a surprise but I LOVE THIS SHOW! I've been struggling since Friday's news to come up with something to say so I am just going to keep it simple:

This episode was so powerful. Every time Michael opened his eyes I wanted Rex to be there. I found that I was holding my breath along with him. Even though I had seen the commercials which clearly showed him talking to his Green World psychiatrist, I was still worried that things weren't going to go back to the way they were. I know that Jess would say that that makes me just as crazy as Britten, but I'm okay with that:) The hug between him when he woke up after the fall was amazing. Except for the episode with the Ketamine shot, is this the only other time that he has gone back and forth without actually falling asleep? Even the accident flashbacks seemed to occur because of flashing lights and dripping water...

I also really loved getting to see the 3 of them all together right before the accident. Is this the first time we have seen the complete family interacting? It was so sweet and made the loss even more poignant.

Did anyone else notice that they never showed anyone else being pulled from the car? Hawkins just looked inside and shook is head. I thought that was interesting because I wonder if Michael remembers the resolution of the accident in 2 different ways or not at all.

Finally, I agree with Jess (in Doux News) that this show couldn't have gone on forever but I just don't think we are going to get the resolution we need in the next 2 hours (whenever they air).

Okay, so my comment wasn't very simple...thanks for continuing the reviews. I'm watching to the end, resolution or not!

Josie Kafka said...

Update! Awake is airing this Thursday (the 17th). Hooray!

ChrisB said...

I found this episode to be incredibly moving and cried through a lot of it. The scene where Britten is sitting on the floor, finally realizing that his son is dead and the scene with Emma's father were both so well done. All gold stars to Jason Isaac. Brilliant.

I, actually, was a bit disappointed when he ended up back with Rex. I was hoping that he was moving towards some type of closure. Like the shrink in the red world said, his life there is very full. I understand wanting to see someone one's lost very, very badly, but eventually, we all have to move on.