Awake: Chasing a Ghost

Awake S01E05: "Oregon"

Tonight's episode of Awake helped me empathize with Michael Britten's confusion. As we know, he can't tell if he's awake or asleep. After watching "Oregon," I can't tell if my mind exploded or if it's just fine.

"Oregon" was probably the most case-heavy episode of the series that wears so many hats so far in its young life. During a jog through the hills of L.A., Michael discovered a dead body (approximately half of all L.A.-based runs result in the discovery of a dead body). The murder method matched the M.O. an old nationwide serial-killer case that was closed after the suspect, dubbed the Gemini Killer, was killed. OR SO WE THOUGHT.

The old FBI profiler who worked on (and later closed) the case, Agent Santoro, was brought in, and she and Michael immediately clashed over whether or not they were dealing with a copycat killer. But their head-butting didn't get in the way of Santoro revealing classified information about the old case, and soon those details showed up in the evidence for the current case. Along with some odd circumstances that stemmed from Michael's reality hopping, all of a sudden it became really damn easy to point fingers in Michael's direction, and he was accused of being the killer while contesting that the real Gemini was never caught.

We've seen this "the detective has become the detected" story before, and I'm not sure how the bare bones of the case or the way Michael became the prime suspect showed us anything new. Nor do I really see how it related to Michael's unique ability to wander between his realities, other than the fact that he first saw Mr. Gemini after randomly (or was it randomly?) connecting his hideout to a moving company Hannah was using in his other reality.

But the very end of the episode is what threw me for a triple-loop so hard that my lunch nearly came up. In an interesting wrinkle in the case, Gemini got away after a close call with Michael... during which Michael caught him carving up Santoro. And at the end of the episode, Gemini made a call to Michael to tell Michael how impressed he was that Michael was able to get so close in such a short amount of time. But Gemini also said that he'd visited Dr. Evans and learned a little something about Michael's deluxe dual insomnia.

It was Gemini's choice of words that interested me. "See that's the thing about guys like you and me..." And then we saw Gemini sitting in an airport on his way to Portland, where Hannah said she wanted to move to. There was also the phone call earlier in the episode, and Gemini, in disguised voice, said he knew about Santoro's book. How did Gemini know about the book if Santoro claimed no one else in Los Angeles knew about it? Add to that Gemini's name, a callback to the astrology sign that's all about duality. Gemini is up in Britten's business, but why? I looked up the IMDB resume of Salvator Xuereb, who plays Gemini, and it lists all his guest roles as "guest star," but his Awake role as "Gemini." Could that indicate that we'll see him again? Could that mean he shares Michael's condition? COULD IT?!?

I'm probably over-analyzing this, but I'm having a hard time tying everything together. I'll let you guys figure it out for me.

Awake still excels the most in its familial (not family) drama bits, and Michael and Hannah had two great moments tonight. The first was a depressing take on how they might be drifting apart, complete with metaphorical elevators (I love elevators!). The second was an honest, authentic chat at the end of the episode confronting Michael's potential fear of Hannah leaving him. Five episodes in, and these moments never get old. They're executed so well and have so much weight behind them.

And that leads to the other part of Awake that's absolutely perfect. Every time Michael sits on the couch with his two therapists, we learn all sorts of things about him and his situation. And this week, Michael got a warning about how a potential move could erode one of his realities, which Dr Evans called progress. But Michael's finding his groove in this new life he leads, and he's cocksure in his ability to control it. As we're given more details about how easily his world can fall apart, Michael is getting more confident that he can keep it together. If you ask me, that spells interesting things down the line.



Dream Log

– I love how Michael fights back against Dr. Evans, even it turns out he's wrong. His conviction to hold onto both his wife and his son is what drives the show, and Jason Isaacs is fantastic at conveying that strength while occasionally showing chips in the foundation.

– I don't know if I'll ever say this again, but Wilmer Valderrama is actually more than tolerable on this show.

– Detective Bird is really showing a lot of similarities to one of my all-time favorite TV detectives, Detective Bunk Moreland from The Wire. He not only cracks the occasional joke and has an easy relationship with Michael, but he also checks out female joggers as they run past.

– This can't be stressed enough, and I'll say it every week until I get sick of it, but Awake's score is outstanding. It really pushes the show's best moments over the edge.

– This show continues to have an eerie personal link to my own life, and this week I found myself understanding everything Hannah said about moving from L.A. to Portland. Not only did I share her sentiments about starting over, but I too have steadily moved up the West Coast, starting in L.A. and ending up in Portland, where I currently live. Stay out of my head, Awake!


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Apr 05, 2012
The ending also got me thinking! How did Gemini know about Santoro? Why is he flying to Portland? I also picked up on the Gemini meaning of duality. Could he possibly be an alter of Michael? Either way, I hope we see him again.
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Staff
Apr 05, 2012
Best episode of the season. Needs to be renewed for 2 more seasons. Give the writers the space to explore. The score alone is worth the price of admission.
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Apr 03, 2012
I think it's really interesting that Dr. Lee talks to Michael about hearing what he wants to hear instead of what his wife is really saying in this episode. Because after hearing his wife gush about how great and beautiful Portland is in the opening scene, in the Green reality, he asks the FBI lady about Portland (where she came from) and she tells him that it's rainy and gross all the time (i.e. what he wants/expects to hear).



Also, it seems like a lot of people have assumed that Gemini's trip to Portland at the end of the episode is related to Hannah in some way, but to me it makes much more sense that he is following the FBI agent back to Portland because that is where she lives and he obviously has a fixation with her.
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Apr 02, 2012
Great Dialog in this one:

Bird: Do you think we could take out a billboard that says "Please stop killing each other until we catch up" signed the Police

Britten: PS Leave more Evidence
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Apr 02, 2012
Amazing episode! Loved your analysis and I agree with the whole Gemini-story. It gave me goosebumps all the way, just the entire episode was fantastic, can't wait to see it progress! Becoming one of my favorite shows of the moment
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Apr 01, 2012
Totally makes sense! Or perhaps he was just making fun of Britten when he said those words. Because he read his file and he knows why he is seeing the doc. I too think we'll be seeing him in more episodes.
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Apr 01, 2012
I think you missed out on something really important, Tim. You're doing great analyses each week, but let me share my opinion on the Gemini character.



In fact, in my opinion things are simpler than this. Gemini is in a dream world, therefore he's a dream character. And who's the dreamer ? Detective Britten.



Gemini is a dream character of Britten's dream world and therefore is able to share all of Britten's thoughts. That's why he knows abour Santoro's book.



And that's why Gemini said at the end (something along those lines) : "If you wake up, that would be a problem for me."



Gemini couldn't exist without Britten. Because Gemeni is part of Britten's subconscious.



So, mad-pac wasn't far from the truth when he said Gemini's Britten's nemesis.



Just my two cents.
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Apr 01, 2012
Not to be the one pretending to know what's going on the show runners' mind, but the escape of the serial killer to Portland would give Britten an excuse to visit there if his wife in the other reality makes him move to Oregon. With him being in the same place in both the realities, it would be easier for him to reconstruct the realities around him. What i still don't understand is if the whole department thinks he is a nutcase then why is he on active duty? Does it mean that they know there's a time bomb in his head, they just think that as long as it doesn't explode, its all hunky-dory??
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Mar 31, 2012
Before The Event, Laura Innes would always be Dr. Weaver for me. After The Event, whenever I see her face I get conspiracy-rage. And what do you know? She's once again part of it. Seriously, someone stop casting her as part of the conspiracy plot twists before I start hating her forever.
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Mar 31, 2012
I won't say Wilmer is /more/ than tolerable but he is tolerable, and that's more than I expected. Even so, his body of work most certainly has not earned him the coveted "And" credit on this or any other show.

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Mar 31, 2012
It was in this episode that I too compared Bird to Bunk Moreland. Stay out of my head, Tim!
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Mar 31, 2012
Oregon was mentioned twice in the show though, so I don't know what kind of information we can really glean from that. That's where the "profiler" was writing her book right? So wouldn't that mean he's just going back to his old perch where he watched her write her book that he was probably just giggling at? I dunno, but last night's episode was the first one I really enjoyed. So good, I think it sold me on the show for a long time.
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Mar 31, 2012
Gemini was only interacting with Michael in the Rex universe and therefore couldn't have threatened Hannah. Of course this is just based on this episode, as Gemini is so new we really have no idea. And obviously him boarding a plane to Portland was no coincidence.
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Apr 01, 2012
Sorry, my brother thought it was funny to try and make me look like an idiot here. New password applied!!
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Mar 31, 2012
I reeaaally liked this episode. One of the main things I appreciated about it was that the two realities weren't as parallel as they've previously been, where they've either had similar victims or similar suspects. This time around, it was just two small signs: the logo of the cafe and the name of the moving company.



Gemini deciding to go to Portland was great. The "big picture" part of me thinks it has something to do with the alternate realities, but maybe he just read about Portland in Dr. Evan's notes and just decided to go there. Or I'm missing something.
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Apr 03, 2012
The FBI woman had come to LA from Portland. I'm pretty sure he was going to Portland to spy on her some more.
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Mar 31, 2012
This felt like a stupid episode to me, not only was Michael's discovery of EVERYTHING based on 2 alternate-dimension clues, but the idea that the FBI lady would immediately believe that Michael was the killer after pounding the idea into everybody's heads that she shot and killed the guy made little sense. The show didn't do anything clever with that, it just gave us a boring procedural and a painfully pat ending along with an equally hackneyed "twist" of magically learning everything about Michael and going to the same place Michael's wife is going.



Good call about the book, there's no reason he should know about this unless he's actively tracking the FBI lady, but if he's doing that, where does he get the time to stalk and kill people and all the magical serial killer stuff he does? He FELL into using Michael as bait thanks ONLY to a poorly-written gag (like the police aren't going to lock down and search a building where a serial killer disappeared from, suuuure), but now he knows as much as everybody. I hate shows that do that.



As for Hannah, I still can't get past her role in Dirt, it colors every acting moment she has on this show because she did phony, emotionally-rended jerk so well there.
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Mar 31, 2012
"...but the idea that the FBI lady would immediately believe that Michael was the killer after pounding the idea into everybody's heads that she shot and killed the guy made little sense."



She suggested Michael was the killer of this one guy, making him a copy-cat. She still firmly believed that she had previously killed the real Gemini.
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Mar 31, 2012
This was another great episode and the Gemini link is very interesting. We've seen Michael make links between things that no-one else would because of experiences he's had in the other universe, and perhaps this is what Gemini has as well and that is how he has kept up so well, and why Michael is the only one who can seemingly get near him, because he can do the same things as Gemini.

I really hope this gets renewed because it truly is a great show. If it isn't, though, I hope that NBC leaves enough time for a proper ending, because this could be another Firefly or Freaks and Geeks scenario, a prematurely cancelled spectacular show.
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Mar 31, 2012
Great episode, the end was a brilliant moment and shows that the show is not going to rest on its laurels and stick procedural but progress the overall story at a good pace too. I think Gemini is definitely sticking around for a while, and awesome news it is too.



Dr Evans: "I don't want to give the wrong impression, but I think this represents progress"

Michael: "Imagine that"



I loved this simple line as it implies that Dr Lee said the same thing from the other perspective, yet it does this subtly so that you as the viewer make this connection. For me this is the sign of a great TV show; rather than jamming obvious ideas down our throats the show nudges us into thinking about the characters' dilemma whilst not drawing you out of the shows' world.
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Mar 30, 2012
Is it too early to think about an Emmy because it is a great show and it looks like this will be the last season after a 1.0 rating last night. There is just no way NBC will renew this.
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Mar 30, 2012
I think they needed to introduce a Nemesis to Michael in his world(s), someone who could understand his unique condition and perhaps even navigate from universe to universe, to challenge him in all ways. So, yes, I'm quite sure Gemini will be back.



I wish they had shown a final conversation between Michael and Special Agent Santoro. She was arrogant enough to accuse an innocent officer so she wouldn't have to admit her mistakes, and I love it when arrogant people fall from grace like that. However, their final look when she was receiving her family in the hospital was quite meaningful.



I hope moving to Portland, which would create the need for new sceneries, doesn't increase. much the cost of the show, since it's not doing well in the ratings and ev erything counts when it's time to renew it.



One more thing. Let's just pretend the whole conspiracy angle between Captain "Sofia" and the other guy never happened, since it was never picked up again, OK?
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Mar 31, 2012
Haha, I too love it when arrogant or ego-filled people get their mistakes shoved in their face. It probably wouldn't have worked well with this show, but I'd have loved it if she told him she was sorry, and he told her to screw herself.
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Mar 30, 2012
Great episode, only i heard its not doing that good in the ratings, anyone can confirm that? And chop chop Tim, we need a Person of Interest review now. Mr Finch on drugs how awesome was that!
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Staff
Mar 31, 2012
It's coming! On it right now... but keep cracking that whip!
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Mar 30, 2012
Portland IS awesome! I wouldn't mind if Michael and his wife moved to Portland because then we'd see some beautiful scenery!
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Mar 30, 2012
If you want beautiful scenery, move to Canada!
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Mar 30, 2012
Although I've never been to Canada, I just think it would be too cold for me. Even if Portland gets a lot of rain, at least it doesn't get very cold. But I've heard Canada is beautiful
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Mar 30, 2012
You are definitely NOT over-analyzing, Tim. I'm pretty sure we all thought the same thing.



For me this was the best episode of the series so far. How some people say Awake is boring and doesn't "grab" them is beyond my comprehension. The familial thematic threads of this show are beautifully woven throughout the story's progression. And I couldn't agree more about the score. It's powerfully delivered and has a profound sense of emotional evocation. It is truly Michael Giacchino-esque.



I'm also beginning to think the supposedly coincidental harmonization of the two realities isn't a coincidence at all. We wondered how the writers would organically introduce plot-points to have the two realities intersect with one another, and I believe these "coincidences" will keep happening because it is part of the nature of the phenomenon Michael is experiencing. The overlapping of cases and leads Michael gets from one reality that he uses in the other isn't just serendipity. There's a reason for it.



I've said it before, but I can't stress enough how much I love Michael's dual therapy sessions. The way they test him and force him to question the validity and sustainability of this unbelievable thing that has happened is wonderfully written.

It's such a shame the ratings are poor. Things are just starting to get really interesting with the possibility of more people having these dual-realities. Awake is easily the best new show of 2012.



WAKE UP, PEOPLE! WATCH AWAKE!
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Mar 30, 2012
"There is no such thing as coincidence, only inevitability"
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Mar 31, 2012
"You see there is only one constant. One universal. It is the only real truth. Causality. Action, reaction. Cause and effect."



I love quoting The Matrix.
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Mar 30, 2012
I loved how this episode went from heartbreaking/heartwarming bits to really intense bits so flawlessly, it really seems like this show can do anything. And now I really want to visit Portland!
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Staff
Mar 31, 2012
You can stay with me!
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Mar 30, 2012
I really loved this episode. I assumed the same thing as you about that phone call scene with Gemini.
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Apr 01, 2012
I think we all did....

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