Awake: Two Birds

“Let’s make this right.”

The first half of this episode was extremely disorienting. I started to doubt my faith in Britten’s mental clarity, and began to wonder if his therapists were correct: not only had he fabricated at least one of his universes, but he had begun to fabricate a complicated story of persecution that would allow him to wallow in a frustrated, dead-end investigation that couldn’t end, because the investigation allowed him to prolong his own complicated refusal to accept his loss.

I enjoyed that doubt, because it reminded me of what is at stake: unless this show exists in a bizarre sci-fi world, at least one of Britten’s realities is not real. Jason Isaacs has done such a phenomenal job making this stoic man sympathetic that I often forget that I should be rooting for him to accept one of his losses. I want him to have his cake and eat it in both realities.

But Britten’s actions, especially when I had those niggling doubts, did seem like those a man who is inhabiting his delusions too fully. Like Bird, I wanted to know if I had something to worry about. Even Hannah was worried enough to hide Britten’s back-up gun. It’s a testament to Steve Harris’s and Laura Allen’s acting that I temporarily shifted my faith in Britten to my faith in their ability to evaluate him.

In the Green Universe, Britten shot Hawkins in the knee without provocation, and in the chest in self-defense. He kidnapped his former partner, who knocked Britten out and sent him to the Red Universe, where he discovered the password that would let him break into Hawkins’s computer. Before he could use it, he was shot by Hawkins and passed out in an alley, hunted by his own police department and having lost his only ally.

If we continue to assume that the Green Universe is the dream, the conclusion of this episode makes sense. Britten was able to “solve” the conspiracy with the help of his old partner, to put his knowledge to work in the dream world in order to deny his failure in the real world. Sure, he’s locked a holding cell (more on that in a sec), but Bird is on his side and the evidence has exists. That could mean a happy ending, right? (She says in a desperate pleading voice.)

But! But! That Green resolution included information that Britten could not know: Captain Harper made a slip in referring to the heroin being taken from Narcotics before Bird and Britten mentioned it to her. If we’re debating which world is real, this raises an important question: was it Britten’s subconscious telling him to notice her mistake? Or is the Green Universe real, and he just received information he didn’t have before?

Either way, I desperately hope that Bird realizes what Harper said sooner rather than later, as she has the laptop with the proof on it and Britten trapped in a very convenient cell. Get rid of the computer, get rid of Bird and Britten, crazy heroin conspiracy solved.

Hopefully it won’t end that way, but something big will certainly happen in our last remaining episode. Captain Harper’s silent, tearful goodbye on the rooftop parking lot was beautiful (and beautifully acted by Laura Innes), but it is clear that Harper has come to terms with what has to be done. Evil Captain Carl clearly knows what he’s willing to do. The only wildcard in the Red Universe if Vega. Hopefully he will create a small miracle.

Bits and Bits:

• Part of me was proud of Marshall Flinkman for almost holding his own against Britten. Sydney would be proud.

• If Britten, Hannah, and Rex live in El Segundo, what were they doing on Mulholland to come home from a dinner? That’s a huge trip for just a dinner, and Mulholland doesn’t take you anywhere near El Segundo from anywhere else.

• The crazy Google guy was wonderful, and I’m so happy he gave Britten the watch back. Awake isn’t just good at the main character and secondary characters. It’s good at all the characters.

• If Harper knew Bird so well, why did she call him by his first name that no one uses?

• Speaking of birds: Nice pun in the title. Two birds, one stone, and two Birds.

It is difficult to review a penultimate episode, and I’m a little freaked out by the preview for next week. (If you can avoid watching it, I recommend skipping it.) (Although, if you’re reading this, it’s probably too late.) (Nonetheless, let’s keep any mention of the previews out of the comments.) But I can’t imagine changing my mind about the strength of this episode, no matter what happens next. Awake is always strongest when it focuses as little as possible on the procedural elements, so an episode entirely without them is definitely worth:

Four out of four split-second glances in a mirror, in the dark.

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

2 comments:

PhantomZodak said...

What a great review! I always avoid previews so I have no idea what's going to happen next but I was also hoping that Bird noticed that she mentioned narcotics. As a Sci-fi fan I hoped it would turn out to be a Fringe-like two universe explanation but I frankly don't care what the explanation is because it's written so well & my favorite parts are watching him in therapy. I was shocked when he shot Hawkins & shocked again when Bird from the darkest timeline was killed. It saddens me that the next episode is the last.

ChrisB said...

Wow! My head is spinning. What an amazing ride that hour of television was. Normally, I have at least an idea of how things are going to end up; I don't have a clue and I like it that way.

The acting on this show is simply amazing. Like you say, Josie, even the minor characters are simply wonderful.

I actually feel a bit breathless. Guess that comes from holding my breath for nearly forty minutes!