Awake: The Little Guy

Right at the top: If anyone else, like me, is having the occasional spot of trouble differentiating between the Green and Red realities, here’s a handy guide. If you see Hannah, Detective Vega, or Dr. Lee, it’s the Red reality; if you see Rex, Detective Freeman, or Dr. Evans, it’s the Green reality. Got it?

Good. Let’s dive into this week’s pool of agreeable nonsense.

Here’s the mystery in the Green reality: Britten and Freeman investigate the murder of a fertility doctor, Bernard Mackenzie, who died from an injection of potassium chloride. Back in the Red reality, Britten sees Mackenzie’s name on a list of unsolved homicides and, sensing another connection between the two realities, decides to pursue the case. In this reality, Mackenzie was a homeless junkie who was gunned down on the sidewalk. Vega, who is developing quite the bad attitude, objects loudly to Britten dragging him into this dead-end investigation. Britten doesn’t have much tolerance for his new partner’s sass.

In the Red reality, Hannah opens a mysterious package addressed to Rex, which, prior to his death, he’d arranged to have delivered next door. The package contains auto parts; when Hannah confronts the neighbor kid, Cole, about it, he confesses that he and Rex had been secretly restoring a motorcycle. Meanwhile in Green, Rex and Cole work on their cycle and plot a secret weekend expedition to Coachella. It’s worth pointing out that Britten doesn’t appear in some of the scenes between Hannah and Cole, or in some of the scenes between Rex and Cole. Ergo, it seems unlikely -- though not impossible -- that either of the twin realities only exists in Britten’s subconscious brain.

Red: Britten and Vega canvas the neighborhood where the homeless version of Mackenzie was murdered. Britten manages to find a witness, who claims he saw Mackenzie gunned down by a “mean little guy.”

Green: The main suspect in Dr. Mackenzie’s murder is his disgruntled former partner. Even though he’s far and away their best lead -- his alibi is shaky, and he threatened to kill Mackenzie in public a couple days before the murder -- Britten doesn’t think he’s guilty. As with the last episode, Britten bases his hunch on the clues from the other reality: At almost seven feet tall, the disgruntled partner can’t possibly be described as a “little guy.” Freeman, naturally enough, is suspicious of Britten’s unsupported hunch.

(I’m cool with Freeman, but I have to say, the acrimonious dynamic between Britten and Vega in the Red reality is more interesting to watch than the Britten-Freeman partnership in Green. On the flip side, I think the Britten-Rex scenes in Green tend to be more compelling than the Britten-Hannah scenes in Red, so it all balances out. And both Dr. Lee and Dr. Evans are equally strong, so… let’s call it a wash.)

Prior to Dr. Mackenzie’s murder, his computer had been hacked and his medical records stolen. Britten and Freeman trace the ISP of the hacker to Sam Harvinson, the teenaged son of one of Mackenzie’s patients. When they question Sam, he insists his intentions were benign -- his father died shortly after he was born, so he stole his mom’s medical records to find out more about him. Sam’s story seems plausible enough (okay, honestly, Sam’s story sounds like a bunch of hooey, but we’re supposed to find it plausible). However, as Sam happens to be a little guy, Britten decides to make him his number-one suspect.

Red: Vega continues to pitch a hissyfit about Britten dragging him into the Mackenzie investigation. Vega comes across a high-maintenance snot in this episode, but he’s also pretty realistic and even somewhat sympathetic, so it works. Their boss, Captain Harper (ER’s terrific Laura Innes) calls Britten into her office and drops not-terribly-subtle hints that maybe he should seriously consider an early retirement.

Green: An examination of the medical records Sam Harvinson stole reveals that all of the patients who underwent fertility treatment at Mackenzie’s clinic, Sam’s mother included, received sperm from the same donor: Mackenzie. When Britten and Freeman haul Sam in for an interrogation, he breaks down and confesses to murdering Mackenzie for secretly impregnating his mother. When Britten asks Sam how he discovered Mackenzie was his real father, a distraught Sam replies thusly: "AP Anatomy. We were doing these advanced genetic panels as a project and I didn't understand all the complicated stuff at first, but I understood one simple thing: My blood type was wrong. Incompatible with my parents."

Oh, dear. There’s a whole lot of wrongness in that snippet of dialogue. Let’s set aside for the moment that there’s no such thing as an AP Anatomy class; I’m just wondering why a senior in high school -- an AP student, no less -- would be so baffled by “complicated stuff” like figuring out his blood type. Then again Awake is set in Los Angeles, so maybe we just should interpret this as a cutting indictment of the state of the public school system in California (this is my default explanation whenever smart kids on television are depicted as idiots) and move right along.

So the episode ends with the case solved in the Green reality, but with the murderer of the homeless version of Mackenzie still at large in the Red reality. Captain Harper snoops around Britten’s desk and sees he’s been looking through mug shots of very short men in hopes of finding the murderer. Later, Harper meets in private with an unidentified man in a suit. She informs him she’s been keeping a close eye on Britten, and reassures him the situation is under control. It becomes clear through their exchange that the unidentified man was responsible for the car crash that killed Rex in this reality. In response to Harper’s queries, he confirms that the person he hired to cause the accident was a short guy.

Okay! Cool twist at the end there. Some slow parts, and I’m still not sure this format can be sustained for very long, but Awake, I’m still with you thus far. Keep it up.


Patrick said…
An interesting episode, but I'm not sure the show needed the addition of a layer of mythology about how the accident happened.

So far we've been thinking about whether both realities exist, or if one is real and the other isn't. Until now I've thought both were real, but after this episode I wonder if there is a Tony Blair style 'third way' where both his wife and son are dead and he's existing in a third reality that has bits of the red and green world in them. Maybe this reality has it's own colour as well - maybe blue, or amber as it is between the redd and green. So the world where he wears an amber wristband is the one where he is struggling to come to terms with the deaths of both his loved ones, and so has constructed two fractured realities. It would also explain why there was a reference at the end to his family being killed.
Patrick said…
It's interesting that the red and green worlds are different - the murdered men had the same name but were very different people.

The psychiatrist in the green world is the positive one about the fractured realities (green for 'go') while the red one warns of the danger of it (red for 'stop') Not sure if this might prove significant.
Morgan Richter said…
Patrick -- I'm interested to see how the storyline about the cause of the accident plays out. If it turns out it's directly tied into why Britten is living in two realities (at this point, I'm not at all sure how it could be), it could be a cool development. (Like you, I was curious about the reference to his family, not just Rex, being killed...)

And yeah, it's intriguing that the two realities are inherently different, and that it's not just two separate timelines springing from the moment of the car crash. I don't know what to make of any of this yet, really, and it's entirely possible/probable that the solution will be unsatisfying, but for the moment, I'm interested enough to follow it through and see where it goes from here.
vallikat said…
The ending was an interesting twist. However, if both Rex and Hannah are dead, then I am curious about their interaction with other people. Both Hannah and Rex interacted with Cole on their own, without Britten to witness it. I think I'm going to keep a close eye out for any further such scenes. Especially those that include someone other than Cole. There's something sorta' Six Sense happening in the back of my mind. So I think it's worth looking for clues.

I was also a bit surprised that the twist was brought up so early. Maybe we're getting set-up for an even bigger twist with the true reveal.
Morgan Richter said…
Vallikat, yeah, that struck me too with Rex and Hannah both independently interacting with Cole. It makes me think the situation might be a little more complex than "one of these realities is just a dream" or "both realities are dreams." It's intriguing. I have no idea if any of this will ultimately pay off (the various disappointments of FlashForward are still fresh in my brain), but it's enough to keep me watching for a while.

Speaking of FlashForward, though, as far as interesting and sympathetic protagonists go, thus far Jason Isaacs > Joseph Fiennes. By a huge margin.

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