No, I’m not talking about the movie starring Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba (which I haven’t seen). I’m talking about the new TV series that aired this week starring Jason Isaacs. This show starts off with a car crash. What a great way to start off a new series, right?
The premise of Awake is that detective Michael Britten deals with two alternate realities after the car crash. In one, his son is dead. In the other, his wife is dead. The catch, he doesn’t know which one is real and which one is a dream. Every time he falls asleep, he wakes up in the other reality, and each one feels equally real to him.
Upon hearing this premise, I laughed and thought really? And I thought of the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. Except in that movie, each parallel reality is based on whether or not she gets on the train. In Awake, there is nothing different that he does. And instead of just being alternate realities that could have happened, he is actually experiencing both of them.
This show has the potential to be very confusing. He is a cop, and in each reality, is working on a different case. It’s going to be difficult to keep track of which case is in which reality. There are a few differences to help us differentiate. In one reality, Efrem Vega, played by Wilmer Valderrama (yes, he’s getting work, doesn’t this make you excited?), has been promoted to be Michael’s partner. In the other, he is just a detective. I’ve already forgotten which reality is which.
Also in each reality, he has a different therapist. This makes sense, because if he were to have the same therapist in each reality, this would get confusing and annoying for him. He would probably be like “I already told you that!” and get frustrated having to repeat himself twice to the same person. At least with things different in each reality, there’s less of a deja vu feeling for him. Each therapist assures him that this is reality and that the other one is a dream. In order to help himself remember, he wears a different coloured rubber band on his wrist in each reality, a red one for when his wife is alive, and a green one for when is son is alive.
One therapist remarks that this “dream” he has is a fascinating coping mechanism in order to deal with his son’s death, and allow him to live as though he is still alive. But really, it’s not a great coping mechanism. Because in the other reality, his wife is dead. He just can’t win. Except this way of living would allow him to cheat on his wife if he wanted to, but not really. Because he can do it in the reality where she’s dead and it wouldn’t count. I only say this because there seems to be a potential love interest for him in the reality in which his wife is dead.
This is all rather confusing and it’s going to be really hard to keep track of everything. It’s hard enough to keep track of what’s happening in one case in these shows, let alone two cases that are occurring simultaneously. Something from one reality helped him think of something that pertained to the case in the other reality. In this first episode, he successfully solves both cases. There’s not really any indication yet that his life is better or worse in either of them.
At one point, he wakes up and is not wearing any rubber band on his wrist. This causes him to freak out and yell his wife’s name, call his wife, then yell his son’s name. And then he gets so crazy and desperate that his takes a knife and cuts his own hand. At which point his wife walks in and wonders what the hell he’s doing. He then notices the red rubber band on the bed, that must have fallen off his wrist. At least now he can differentiate between the two in that his hand is injured in one and not in the other. I think he should get a tattoo in one reality, that way he wouldn’t have to worry about losing it like with the rubber bands.
So which reality is real? Is his wife dead? Or is his son dead? Is one reality just a dream? Maybe it’s all a dream? Maybe there’s a third reality in which both of them are dead. Or maybe it turns out he’s really dead and they’re both alive? And they’re both having dreams that he’s still alive? The possibilities are endless. I kind of just really want to know how it’s going to end. He tells his therapist that he’s not willing to make progress and face just one reality, and would rather be able to spend time with both his wife and his son, even if that means a risk to his own sanity. This should be interesting and I’d like to see how it develops, but I know I’m going to get confused along the way.