Awake Review: "Pilot"
NBC has been in a rut as of late with their new shows. They hoped that "The Event" would be their next big hit, but fell off rather quickly. Truthfully, NBC hasn't had anything significant in the drama department since "Heroes". This new year they have their hopes set on "Grimm", "Smash" and now "Awake". Awake follows Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) as he deals with living two alternate realities following a tragic car accident. In one reality, his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) is still alive and the other his son Rex (Dylan Minnette) is. Neither reality has both alive. Michael is a police detective, so after the accident he is ordered to go see a psychiatrist in both realities. The psychiatrist's both tell him that his alternate reality is simply a dream, a way for him to cope with losing his son or wife depending on whichever reality he is in. The more disturbing factor of living two realties is that some clues to figuring out the cases he is working are leaking into each other, and more frequently the cases he is working on in both realities are related. In begins to make him question his sanity, but at the same token, he would gladly sacrifice his sanity to continue being able to open his eyes and see his wife and son.
In the pilot, Michael is on a case in the reality where his wife lived through the crash that has similarities to another case in the separate reality. In one, a killer is mocking the police force by posing in front of cameras after killing cab drivers in various costumes. In the other reality, someone has kidnapped a little girl. Some clues that he receives in one reality helps him put together the pieces in the other reality as he successfully is able to find the killer and save the kidnapped girl. However, in both realities the perpetrator was the same man. His partners in both realities question how he gets these hunches, as hunches are a rare thing. His younger partner, Efrem Vega, in one reality explains to him that the station has been asking questions about how he has been progressing, to which Vega says nothing. The other reality, his older partner, Isiah "Bird" Freeman, presses a little harder.
Complications arise from Michael's ability to be able to see his wife or son after waking up. For one, when he tells his wife, she snaps on him as she thinks it is simply his way of coping with the loss. Her way of coping with the loss is by painting the entire house, and suggesting to Michael that they should have another child. She stresses that it isn't to replace Rex, but still wants a child to raise. Michael doesn't tell Rex that he is able to wake up the next day and she his wife, as he is afraid of the results. The psychiatrists explain to Michael that this form of coping mechanism is indeed unique, but incredibly dangerous. The tip of the iceberg came from one day Michael waking up and no one was home with him. It scared him to the point where he took a knife and cut into the palm of his hand, hoping that if he were to do harm to himself like in a dream, he would wake up. However, he explains to one psychiatrist that if making progress means losing one of his loved ones, he hopes to never make progress as he has no desire to lose either one of them even it means losing his sanity.
There is no doubting how much potential Awake has. Especially when you consider the talent surrounding it, with actor Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter) writers Howard Gordon (24, Homeland, The X-Files) and Kyle Killian (The Beaver). It benefits from having a solid director in David Slade (Twilight, 30 Days of Night) as well. One question that may arise from people about this show is, where could it go? It could honestly go a lot of ways. For one, the details around the car crash that started everything is a bit mysterious. One psychiatrist explains that his blood alcohol levels were elevated the night of the crash, to which Michael denies. Who knows, maybe the police station he works for had something to do with his crash. That may be a bit out there, but who knows. To me it is fairly clear that someone wanted that car to crash, but didn't expect anyone to sruvive much less his ability to have to separate realities. Even more so, it is completely plausible that Michael will have more moments where his sanity begins to break. His sanity will constantly be tested throughout the series, and will be the driving force of the series as he will be forced to maintain it.