NBC’s new show, Awake, aired its pilot episode on Thursday, March 1. The series’ main character, Michael Britten, is a veteran Los Angeles homicide detective. After he and his family are in a horrible car accident, Michael struggles to differentiate reality from dreams.
In one “reality”, his wife, Hannah, survived the crash, but his son, Rex, died. In the other, Hannah was the one who died in the crash and Rex survived.
The show switches back and forth from one reality to the other when Michael goes to sleep and wakes up–he falls asleep in one world and wakes up in the other.
The pilot helped introduce the main organization of the series. At first, I was unsure as to whether or not the constant switching would confuse me. However, the writers threw in several “hints” to indicate which “world” he is in. These small clues are subtle, yet helpful in maintaining full understanding of what is happening in the show.
In Hannah’s “world”, Michael wears a red rubber-band around his wrist, and the scenes are shot in a warm lighting. In Rex’s, he wears a green one, and the scenes are shot in a cold lighting. These two hints help the viewers to know which world Michael is in at any given time.
Michael has the same job in both realities, but his partners are not the same. The cases he manages also change from world to world. At the beginning of the episode, the cases have no apparent connection. But as the show progressed, it became more clear that the advances he made in one reality helped him to solve the case in the other.
In each world, Michael is forced to see a therapist by the LAPD after a behavioral incident at work. Dr. John Lee is his therapist in the world where his wife is still alive, but his son is not. In the other, his therapist is Dr. Judith Evans. The therapists bring a sense of humor into the show, as they are both trying to convince Michael that the reality he is in with them is real. It seems as though the therapists have an unexplained importance that will be established later on in the series.
The creators of this show did a great job at establishing an interesting plot that challenges viewers to think beyond the typical understanding of the human mind.