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Awake: Slack Water

“Maybe we’re where we’re meant to be, too.”

In both worlds, this episode emphasized the difficulty of leaving home. In the Red World, the prospect of a grandbaby and an ersatz replacement child for Britten and Hannah will keep them away from Portland, that menacing land of caffeinated stoners and serial killers. As Billie said last week, voila! Fate, coincidence... whatever we call it, it is working overtime to keep Britten’s dual realities in sync.

In the Green World, a woman unwilling to leave her longtime home is forced out in the cruelest way possible: death. Honestly, I found this plot rather improbable. Not the murder (whatever, it’s a crime show!) but that the landlord would pay for nursing-home care for all the old folks who were luxuriating in rent control and keeping the asking price of the building down. Nursing homes cost thousands of dollars per month: the cost/benefit analysis just doesn’t make the landlord’s actions sensible.

Nonetheless, assuming the Green World is the dream world, the significance is interesting: Britten did whatever he needed to take down the driving force that kicked people out of their homes. He won that battle in his dream, just as he won the less violent battle in the Red World. He and Hannah will stay in LA.

And I am glad they will. Dylan Minnette has been great as Britten’s son. He’s not even a little bit annoying, and is genuinely sympathetic. Daniela Bobadilla (coolest last name ever!) is just as cool. She’s forthright, interesting, and vulnerable while still showing what a strong adult she’ll grow into: she’s the only major character in this episode with the guts to leave home and make a change. And she likes The X-Files! If she and the Brittens can create a non-traditional family (my favorite kind) that allows them all to find peace and fulfillment, I’m all for it.

All that is well and good, but this episode is most notable for showing me the error of my ways. I think. I had assumed that the conspiracy caused not just Britten’s accident, but also the dual worlds. Apparently I was wrong: the car accident was the sum total of the conspiracy, meant to draw Britten’s attention away from his investigation into the Westfield distribution center and its heroin trade. I could be wrong, though: the previews seem to indicate we’ll get more answers next week.

Speaking of that conspiracy: Laura Innes used to work narcotics. Maybe that’s how she met conspiracy guy? And: are they dating? Also: Is he Trujillo? No, that would be too weirdly obvious, right?

Anyway, this episode was good but not great. The procedural elements, as always, were interesting because of the interpersonal elements. I like the grandbaby plot, but at this point it is an obvious non-starter: Awake will almost certainly be canceled, so we will never get to meet the newest littlest Britten. Oh, well.

Bits and Bits:

• Vega: “I look good on TV, don’t you think, Michael?”
Britten: “I don’t gauge the attractiveness of other men.”
Vega: “Okay, but you can appreciate a good cheekbone.”
Twice now, a pretty strong implication that Britten is out of his comfort area with gayness. I only mention this because most shows don’t add that sort of character nuance.

• Miss Pearl: “She loved cooking. And she loved cats. And the music of Mr. Sammy Davis, Jr.”

• I loved the whole “Myron” conversation and how it made Bird so obviously uncomfortable.

Three out of four video games.

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


  1. I liked how Hannah connected with Emma, because I like Emma. Her parents, "progressive" as they were, had decided on a course of action for Emma that she didn't want, which wasn't very progressive of them. I loved the three of them watching The X-Files at the end. It was a perfect little bonding moment.

    The murder plot thingy did sort of make sense because the landlord owned a lot of buildings on the same block and was trying to make a multi-zillion dollar deal. Yes, it would cost him a lot more to pay for a nursing home for some of his tenants, but not as much as it would if the huge deal fell through just because of one elderly lady.

    The reveal that Britten's boss was involved in something as non-science-fiction as a drug deal was somewhat disappointing, although I've pretty much accepted that what's going on is inside Britten, not a multi-universe reality. We shall see, though. Maybe they'll surprise it.

    Great review, Josie.

  2. I was also a little disappointed that the Westfield matter just had to do with drugs, but I thought Laura Innes (Capt. Harper) did an amazing job this week. When she first appeared on the show, she seemed to hate Britten, but I think her character has gotten a lot deeper and tender recently. The look on her face as Britten was explaining why they weren't leaving, was amazing. She seemed shocked and pleased and scared all at once.

    I really like Emma and look forward to more scenes between her and Hannah but it was so strange to have a whole episode centered around Rex without him appearing in the episode at all--it made me connect a little more to how the Brittens must be feeling in the red world with a new grandchild on the way.

    I was totally confused about the title of this episode until I finally looked it up online...apparently "slack water" is the term for water precisely in between low and high tide when it is neither ebbing or flowing. It can also mean a period of equilibrium. That's exactly what this episode felt like--no need to meet with a psychiatrist, no forgetting things, no difficulties explaining the reasons he knew things that he probably shouldn't know (like Emma's pregnancy or the video game's importance). But it makes me feel like the last few episodes of the season (series?) are going to be fast paced...

    At this point I am just hoping that NBC decides to order 13 more episodes to air next spring so they can have a complete season and we can get some resolution. That's not too much to ask is it?

    Another great review--you all keep me excited to watch this (and many other shows).

  3. a.m, another great comment! I was puzzling over what the title meant, but it hadn't occurred to me to look it up. Your explanation makes this episode make sense.

    It also makes this episode better, in an odd way: that sense of neither ebbing nor flowing was definitely there--but it wasn't a mistake. This is the calm before the storm.

  4. Josie, thanks! Understanding the title helped me to appreciate the episode a little more, too. And if this is the calm--I can't wait for the storm:)

  5. I agree with a.m. that Laura Innes was absolutely amazing in the scene when Britten revealed he'd be staying. I wasn't super keen on the hour as a whole --- even though it had some good interpersonal elements with the Brittens and Rex's baby --- but that moment really stayed with me. She was fantastic.

    I can't see NBC renewing this show. The ratings started iffy, moved into bad, and have gotten steadily worse every week. I'm pretty sure it is currently one of (if not *the*) lowest rated show on their schedule. It's renewal would be stunning.

  6. Interesting comment about the title of this piece and it did make the episode make more sense.

    I found this one to drag a bit and the crime to be a bit of a stretch, but like the rest of you, I loved the character beats.

    Laura Innes at the end was brilliant. The expression on her face said so, so much. Very interested to see where this is going to go.

  7. Thank y'all so much for reviewing this series. I was looking for some new series to catch my fancy and only gave Awake a shot because it was recommended so highly here. I've liked every single episode but this one made me sad because I know there's only three left and I want to see what happens with the baby, etc.

    For the past few episodes, Bird's been great but I loved him in this one, especially when he looked back at the perp while standing in the dumpster and says, "If nothing turns up in here, I'm gonna lock you away forever." It's not even the quote that's so great but the looks he gives. I hope Steve Harris (and the rest of the cast) end up in more genre shows in the future.

    Again, thanks a lot for pointing me to this show and for such wonderful reviews!


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