Last night, after yet another flawless night of NBC comedy, the new show Awake aired its pilot episode. As I may
have slightly hinted towards in an earlier post (Awake Finally Arrives), I have been waiting for a very long time for this show to air. As tends to happen when one waits for something, I built up some fairly large expectations for the premiere. Somehow that I cannot imagine, considering the expectation size, this episode managed to live up to my wildest dreams.
It was the premise of the show that originally sparked my obsession with it. The show follows the life of Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) after surviving a tragic car crash with his son, Rex Britten (Dylan Minnette), and his wife, Hannah Britten (Laura Allen). When the audience meets Michael, he is living two lives. In one life, his wife survived the crash but his son did not. In that world he goes to sleep and when he wakes up he is living a completely different life where his son survived and his wife passed away. Each time he falls asleep he wakes up in the other reality, making it so that Michael Britten does not know which world is real and which world is a dream.
Already the show has introduced a number of possible side plot lines that could evolve as the show progresses. To help keep things straight, Michael wears a green rubber band on his wrist when he is awake in the world where Rex is alive and a red rubber band in the world where Hannah is alive. To make things easier, I am going to use the same idea and called the two worlds Red World and Green World. In Red World, Michael has confessed to Hannah everything that is happening when he falls asleep. They talk about it sometimes but Michael’s insistence that both worlds are real becomes too devastating for Hannah. In each world, Michael is seeing a therapist and already, within the first episode, the therapists are battling through Michael. Each therapist attempts to convince Michael that the other one is a fake and with every new visit, each therapist needs to one up the other. More issues appear in each world as in the Green World, Rex is attempting to make his tennis coach a replacement for his mother while pulling further and further away from his father. In the Red World, Hannah wants to move to a new house and start trying to have another child. Michael is a detective in both worlds and in each world he has a different case and a different partner. Details from the cases begin to cross over and somehow hold importance in both worlds. To top it all off, though he insists he didn’t have anything to drink, Michael’s toxicology report in both worlds suggests that he had ingested some alcohol the night of the crash. The pilot integrates and slightly develops each of these plotlines all while focusing on the most interesting issue of all: the psychology of Michael Britton and his unique situation.
The depths at which you can delve into this show are so vast that they are almost overwhelming. The actors and writers have created a cast of very real characters that do a fantastic job of making such a tragic tale. The episode managed to be quite devastating without creating scenes that beat you over the head with sadness. The show managed to be subtle and powerful at the same time, striking a balance that left the audience quite satisfied. Michael Britton, for me, became quite an admirable character. At first, the fact that he basically refuses to try and fix his duel world problem made him seem like a very insane person. As we get to know Michael better, it becomes clear that he truly believes that both worlds are real and as far as he is concerned that is the way he wants to live. Michael makes it obvious “if the price of seeing them or feeling them, of having them in my life is my sanity, it’s a price I will happily pay. Trust me, when it comes to letting one of them go, I have no desire to ever make progress.” The show is worth watching for the evolution of Michael’s character, let alone all the other amazing performances and aspects they managed to pack into the first episode.
Rising to my insane expectations, this show has the potential to become something truly great. Real characters, an amazing script and great acting support a unique premise to create a brilliant show. The pilot episode has left open a number of different facets for the show to create multiple plot lines and the preview of the season as a whole that played after the show proves it will follow many of them. The preview also showed us clips of a number of mysterious characters that seem to know more about the circumstances of Michael’s crash than anybody else. Whether the show is going to stay strictly psychological or if it is going to start introducing some supernatural or religious elements I have no idea but the show is going somewhere great. I give the first episode of 9 out of 10 and strongly urge anybody reading this to watch it. The show is available on both Hulu Plus and Comcast On-Demand and is well worth making time to see.