Awake: Chasing a Ghost

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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 writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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