In the wake of last week’s “mythology twist,” Awake delivers a mostly standalone case of the week that demonstrates how the series will likely sustain its premise moving forward.
Let’s bitch it out…In many ways, ‘Guilty’ helps to give viewers a better idea of how the show’s seemingly complicated premise will play for ten more episodes. In the pilot, many critics (and viewers) questioned how long the series would explore “which life is real?”. Then the second episode suggested that one life (the red, in which Laura Allen’s Hannah is still alive) was the more likely of the two to be real.
This week’s episode, ‘Guilty’, backs away from both of those ideas to deliver a mostly standalone episode that features Michael (Jason Isaacs) continuing to work on his relationship with Hannah, as well as son Rex (Dylan Minette). It’s not a huge departure from the last two weeks since he once again uses information from one life to aid him in the other, but in many ways this week’s episode feels stronger than last week (in which we had no real investment in the search for the ‘little guy’) but less engaging than the pilot (when the emphasis revolved more strongly around Michael’s relationships with Hannah and Rex).
All of this suggests that if you enjoyed ‘Guilty,’ then you’ll likely enjoy the remainder of the season. If you were hoping for more on the revelation at the end of ‘The Little Guy’ (aka the conspiracy to kill Michael’s family) or clues as to which life is real, then you likely found the episode slow or even disappointing.This may suggest that you’ll struggle with the show as those clues are apt to be doled out slowly, or (as in this episode) not at all. In some ways, we’ve hit the Lost barrier: are you introduced in the characters and their daily struggles, or do you want to know about the island and the polar bear. At this point, it seems that the show is headed towards the characters, and away from the polar bears.
As it stands I find myself firmly in the middle. Having Rex as the kidnapped boy makes a fairly standard “kidnapped child / race against time” plot more interesting (since this is a familiar case for both film and television crime procedurals). At the same, however, if you’ve watched even a little of these kinds of shows, it’s clear that Rex is never in any danger, even when escaped convict John Cooper (Clifton Powell) is killed. Instead, the elements that I’m drawn to are those involving the recovering family dynamic: Hannah speaking about Rex’s dedication to the kids help line at the fundraiser, and Rex’s phone message to Michael where he clarifies that he doesn’t blame him. Even the early discussion between Rex and Tara (Michaela McManus) about how Rex wishes his mother had survived the accident is engrossing. Perhaps it’s simply because I’m more inherently drawn to the drama rather than the police cases, but I would still prefer thatAwake capitalize on the strength of its actors instead of filling its airtime with standard cop tropes.
But that’s a personal preference, so I’m interested to see what everyone else thinks.
- I’m still mildly wary of a Tara/Michael relationship, but there is some genuine warmth in their hug at the hospital near the end of the episode. I’ve liked McManus as an actress from her work on The Vampire Diaries and I like the dynamic she brings to the father-son relationship. I just don’t know how the show can move forward a relationship between them without it somehow addressing the fact that he’s cheating on Hannah, with whom he’s still in love with (and having sexy showertime with) in the red life.
- Both shrinks – green life’s Evans (Cherry Jones) and red life’s Lee (B.D Wong) – make brief appearances, but at this point they’re fulfilling the same function as they have for the last two episodes. How long before their scenes become redundantly repetitive, or have they already?
- To a certain extent, I can see now what some critics were discussing with regards to the treatment of the partners. Thus far their function has been mostly ancillary as they tag along with Michael’s random hunches and actions (can we also all agree that Michael would never have been able to obtain a wire tap on William Russ’ Jim Mayhew without any evidence?). Will the show be more interesting if the partners are brought in, or at least given more to do?
What do you think, readers? Are you onboard with the more family-oriented storylines or do you prefer the cases? Are you bored of the shrinks? And do you think the show will ever get to a point when one – or both – of the partners will be in the know? Talk it out below!
Awake airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC