Following the events of a tragic car accident, Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) finds himself living in two separate realities. One where his wife is still alive while their son died in the crash, and the other where his wife has perished and their son survived. Michael differentiates between both realities by a rubber band around his wrist, green for his son and red for his wife, when he wakes up he looks at his wrist to tell which reality he has woken up in. In both he maintains his job as a cop, though in each one he's working on two different cases, and where he is being monitored by his superiors so they deem him capable of handling these cases. This is why he has been sent to a psychiatrist. Two different psychiatrists in both realities, both of whom tell him the other reality is just a dream.
But when both realities start bleeding into each other, Michael begins to lose track over which is which. An interesting factor is how both crime cases he's working on seem to have connections with each other, details that help him solve the other in each reality. The other incident leads him to question his own sanity when he doesn't know which reality he is in, and he almost goes into a breakdown.
In the end, after he resolves both cases, he calmly explains to both psychiatrists that he is not willing to let the other reality go, and it's clear that there is much more happening that what meets the eye.....
My first impressions
My overall impression is just focusing on how Jason Isaacs gave a solid and spectacular performance worthy of all the awards. For many, hearing him in an American accent can be quite different, but he pulls it off effortlessly. I think what captivated me was how he portrays Michael, and him trying to maintain his sanity of going between these two different realities, keeping them in order, in check, from his personal life and his work, and seeing him trying to piece everything together. It's fascinating watching him figuring things out, particularly when he almost starts to lose control of his surroundings. The scene when he wakes up and discovers the rubber band has gone from his wrist, neither his wife nor his son are anywhere to be seen, it really puts him (and the audience as well) through a moment of questioning and worry. Where is he? Which reality is he in? He is really losing his mind? It puts us through a loop, because the show depends on color schemes to differentiate between both realities (warm colors for his wife, cool colors for his son), however in that scene it was nearly blended, not clear on where he was. Scenes like that one are something I am looking forward on seeing on this show, and judging by what was said during their Comic Con panel Michael will be experiencing moments where he becomes sleep deprived. It will be fascinating watching, and Jason will just knock everything out of the park.
In my personal opinion, Awake appears to be something that cannot be contained for mere television. It just has such amazing quality and potential in the concept alone, never mind the gorgeous cinematography and the phenomenal performance led by Jason Isaacs, that I keep fearing that the networks will overlook it and just only focus on the quantity of ratings. Again, this is a common fear I have for many shows, and Awake is no different because there is something more happening that I really want to know more about. Of course I'm jumping the gun here, anticipating the worst case scenario because I know better than to get my hopes up, but I am still hoping that NBC knows they have a gem on their hands, particularly since they've noted that this season hasn't been good for them. Perhaps it's a blessing that Awake has waited for a mid-season premiere, eh?
Regardless, I am loving what I am seeing.
Questions, speculations and other thoughts:
++ The big question is which reality is the real one? Or are they both dreams and Michael is in a comatose state, caught between life and death because he's the one that got seriously injured in the accident is just clinging onto his subconscious of the life he had, piecing the clues together? There are only so many possibilities, the only difference will be how the show handles the reveal and outcome of it all.
++ Who, exactly, is monitoring him? In both realities he has been referred to a psychiatrist to monitor his well-being, of course with any psychiatrist any patient of theirs believing they are living in two different worlds, and even start injuring themselves the way Michael did, they would have him off the force and into a hospital/on medication by now. So who referred him? His superiors? Someone else? I have a feeling this is going to be an important factor for the remainder of the season.....
++ I have a feeling that his new partner will be a major player in all of this.
++ Perhaps all the people, from his psychiatrists (both which seem to pull out good points of logic in explaining why the other is the dream, something very mind-tripping in and of itself) to those at the workplace are going to be major players in what is happening and why, maybe paralleling to something else, something much bigger that is to be revealed.
++ This reminds me of the Doctor Who episode "Amy's Choice", trying to figure out which dream was simply a dream and which one was reality.
++ I think it's really interesting seeing Michael living in both realities still able to see both his wife and son, while in each reality they are struggling and coping in their own way from the absence of the other. His wife, Hannah, copes by attempting to move on with life, probably too fast since she started repainting the house wanting to sell it and talking about wanting to get pregnant again. In the other reality Michael's son, Rex, appears to be slightly distant, not exactly talkative to his father about his feelings on everything and Michael is just trying to pick up the pieces of both realities. It makes me wonder how this is going to pan out -- will he lose control like he almost did in the pilot? Will things become more complicated, difficult to maintain, will be become more confused and flustered and frustrated on keeping it together? How will his son or wife react to his meltdowns? Again, something I am looking forward in seeing, because the way Jason portrays this character? The emotions, the desperation on clinging to both loved ones? Want more of that and seeing how far they are willing to take it, and how far Michael will be pushed.
Overall: Simply fantastic pilot, pure quality and introduces something new and different to the current line-up of programs on television right now. Jason Isaacs proves once again he is an outstanding actor who picks fascinating roles, and I can't wait to see his face on my screen every week, and I am intrigued by this show and where it will take us.
Furthermore, I hope NBC doesn't overlook this show because goddamn it's intelligent, innovative, deep, and filled with complexities that we need on television these days. If they are smart they will keep this show and promote the hell out of it because it deserves to be seen, deserves a full season at least. I highly recommend everyone at least watch the pilot.
If you missed it, you can watch the pilot on Hulu. It's worth it, trust me.