Awake: Crashing Into the Sliding Doors

Awake S01E04: "Kate is Enough"

Did you ever see that movie Sliding Doors? You know, the one from 1998 starring a then partially tolerable Gwyneth Paltrow as a woman who lived two timelines based on whether or not she caught a train. I don't know if Awake's Detective Michael Britten ever saw the film or not, but he got the gist of it tonight in "Kate is Enough," another strong episode of the new NBC drama.

This particular installment, penned by series creator Kyle Killen, was originally scheduled to be the series' eighth episode. But it was bumped up to the Episode 4 slot just a few weeks ago because everyone behind the show thought it helped explain the series' philosophy better. And it did.

The story the writers want to tell with Awake is about more than just a cop who catches criminals by piecing together clues by jumping between two different realities (deep breath). It's about more than just a guy trying to determine which of the two realities he's created in his head after a tragic accident is real or figure out how to hold on to both realities so that he gets to scrape together a life where neither his son nor his wife died. It's about how living in both of these lives can make him a better husband, a better father, and a better person. He doesn't want to get well by stopping the madness. He just wants to improve his current situation and focus on things he may have overlooked before the accident.

Just as we watched Gwyneth's fake British accent stumble through two lives with very different results—one with a pretty decent outcome and one where she gets plowed by a car (oh, spoiler alert, sorry)—Michael bounced between realities in tonight's episode and saw Rex's old babysitter Kate (guest-star Brianna Brown) in two very different states. But instead of trying to help her out Quantum Leap- or Early Edition-style, Michael played surrogate to the audience and used the knowledge he gained in both worlds to improve his own life and those around him. This episode was all about personal choice and learning through experience, even if the experience wasn't your own.

The decision to move "Kate is Enough" up by several episodes changes the perception of what type of show Awake is. There were two interesting cases in this episode, but a few days from now I'm not going to remember them. Instead I'll remember the metaphysical implications of the lesson the episode taught. I'll remember Kate, both of her, telling the story of how her mother helped her cope with her sister's (sisters'?) death, and how one small difference can make a huge difference. And I'll remember Michael's face taking her stories in, registering what was going on without somehow having his head explode, and using that knowledge to make a difference in his own life. He knows he can't save everyone. He knows that he has to start with those close to him. And he's eerily comfortable—even thankful—about his situation. This is the Awake I really enjoy.

Last week we saw how the case-of-the-week intersected with Michael's personal life by hitting very close to home. This week, the cases were used to bring in a character who would have a personal effect on Michael. Though I still think the cases are the weakest part of Awake, the high quality of the cases in this episode showed that Awake can function with procedural elements. I still have questions regarding how they'll continue to be organically brought in, and I hope they eventually connect to Michael on a thematic level much like the cases on Fringe do. That's the only way I can realistically see serialized procedurals working in the long run. Rex can't get kidnapped again and Michael can't continue to run into old acquaintances involved in murders. But the cases can't be totally separate from each episode's bigger story, either. They have to add to it, and that's done through theme.

We're reached the four-episode test mark with Awake, and so far I'd say the series is doing a fantastic job with a difficult task. And there's still a large part of the story to tell.



Dream Log

Brianna Brown, who played Kate, did an absolutely astounding job playing both versions of the character. You might remember her as the sexy escort from Homeland's early episodes. She's currently jockeying for a role in ABC's primetime soap Devious Maids.

– Fox's Touch, which aired an hour before Awake did tonight, attempted to get the same message across... but did so in a much clumsier, gag-me-with-a-spoon, Hallmark-card kind of way.


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

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This was a fantastic episode, and I'm glad they moved it up from a later slot. I think Brianna Brown is amazing and her role on Homeland was very memorable. She also recently was the soap opera General Hospital for a good amount of time and played one insanely creepy bad guy. I appreciated seeing her play both sides of the coin in this episode.
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Agreed. I think this episode was much better than the one last week and it was a good idea to bump it up from episode 8. Excellent acting by Brianna Brown, whom I also saw play a high-class call girl in an episode of 'Criminal Minds' a couple of seasons ago.
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ha, as I was watching this I was reminded of the Fringe episode with the serial killer, and when the two alter characters met and discovered that one tiny decision (running from someone) completely changed their paths!!!!! Fringe is, as always, superior, but I like this show a lot.

The color schematics are getting bothersome, seriously, how much green can you force us to watch???????
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Another solid episode of a great series that I am loving. I certainly agree that Brown did a great job with both her roles.
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"Sister's deaths" is how I'd put it. Same person, 2 different timelines. Of course, that presents a question to the series that I had been wondering about before, these are no longer 2 divergent timelines, but entirely separate since events BEFORE the car accident no longer take the same path. That makes our hero either indeed living in at least 1 dream state, or a dimension-hopper. I liked it better when the outcome of the accident was the cause for the path's divergence, but I can accept it as 2 separate dimensions (although the question of how elements in 1 dimension's case are affecting another's makes even less sense - there's a safe involved with each despite no commonality?).



Anyway, the episode itself I felt was ok, better than the previous 2 by far, and the only issue I had was that Rex's issue felt REALLY obvious and quite repetitive to his issues in the first 2 episodes of the show (ep 3 he didn't have those issues as he was kidnapped). But really, Michael should have realized immediately that the behavior change had something to do with deadmom, he's supposed to be a detective.



Oh, and something you said reminded me about an issue I had with ep 3: why if one timeline has the criminal kidnapping Michael's family member (his son) does the other timeline not have the criminal kidnapping his other family member (his wife)? I'd like to see some thinking on why the rest of the world is so different from dimension to dimension.
More+
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Asleep
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This might be nit-picky but this was the ninth episode shown in place of the fourth episode. Which means five episodes were skipped not four. Fox numbers first season episodes as follows:

1st episode (pilot)=#79

2nd episode=#01

3rd episode=#02

8th episode=#07

9th episode=#08



This episode was numbered 08.



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The surprise, and best new show, of the spring replacements. Unfortunately it's walking a tricky cancellation line right now. I hope it makes it, but I'm not holding my breath.
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They pushed this one up, eh? Good. This was my favorite episode, and I didn't like ep. 3. Brianna Brown's coming up; already come quite a way from General Hospital.
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Brianna Brown was excellent, I agree. And Jason Isaacs continues to do an extraordinary job. Of course, he probably won't get nominated for an Emmy because of the show's low ratings. The Emmy's are all about ratings.

This show is so amazing. Please let it stay on the air, NBC.



On a side note, picturing Gwyneth Paltrow getting plowed by a car just made my day a lot better.
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Like many of you, I wondered if the showrunners could pull off episodes of the quality of the pilot. And each episodes left me blown away..



I won't question again if they can or how they do it, I'll just have be amazed at the fact that they do it



And DAT SOUNDTRACK
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Just a little bit of trivia for you all. Over here in the UK, on one of our National radio stations - BBC Radio 5 Live, on a Friday Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo host a movie review show. Jason Isaacs is a friend of the show and has been interviewed several times. There's a running theme where every week they say "Hello Jason Isaacs". Fans have recently been sending in stories around the world where they have managed to get "Hello Jason Isaacs" into credits of tv shows and the like...



Anyway, Jason promised the radio station that he would try and get the word "Ukulele" into one of the episodes of Awake as a thank you, I guess for all the publicity he gets!. (Mark Kermode plays a ukulele...)



He finally did it in this episode when responding to seeing the broken fingers on the murder victim: "Ooh, he's not gonna be playing the Ukulele in heaven".



Hello Jason Isaacs!
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"Fox's Touch, which aired an hour before Awake did tonight, attempted to get the same message across... but did so in a much clumsier, gag-me-with-a-spoon, Hallmark-card kind of way."



Ahahaha couldn't say it better myself
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Totally agree!
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(sister's is correct)



-Fabulous job by this actress. Wouldn't mind seeing her in more, though I'm not so sure I'll be watching "Devious Maids".

-Didn't watch "Touch" so, whatever.



Another great episode, and I just really want to see more of this show. The entire concept and emotion behind it is just so intense, I love it.
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All I can say is that I love Awake, everything about it is such high quality and just really great to watch!
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I cant believe no one is watching this show. Only a 1.2 rating. That's bad. Please guys watch this show.
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I think the show did quite a good job -- there was of course the obvious "two different directions after one incident" both in Kate's lives and the macrocosm that is Michael's two realities split from one incident (which the female shrink hints at in the reality where Rex is still alive) -- but it did it in a way that was less expository and more subtle than other shows take on and end up suffering from (cue 'flashback' or voice-over!). It could have been more subtle still, but hey.



And yes, Brianna did an awesome job playing both roles.
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Meant to add, the movie Sliding Doors was just a gimmick, and not a new idea, so laying down the article based on the aforementioned movie is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, given that in every episode there are different versions of at least one of the same people, and that Brianna Brown was not the main character.
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I'm some what worried this show was able to switch an episode originally slated to air 8th and move it to the 4th place without it doing anything to the narrative. Alcatraz was able to do that no too long ago and we all know how bad that show is. I'm also not digging either of the actors cast as his partners either. I half expected that when I saw Wilmer Valderrama was in it but I was hoping he might grow on me.
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PATIENCE!



Awake is the type of show that needs time to develop and grow into itself. We're talking about a very ambitious premise here. There is inevitably going to be some growing pains. And I don't view the procedural elements as a weakness. This episode actually proved they can be a strength. Michael's dual conversations with Kate were a reminder of how great this show can be. I understand the concern of how these cases will be organically introduced and thematically linked to Michael, but I think they will eventually blend together. The first season of Fringe was procedurally heavy and taxing for the viewer, but the wondrous idea of multiple universes kept us intrigued. I wasn't a huge fan of Fringe's first season (shocking I know), but by the end of season 3 it was my favorite show on television. The procedural elements became so intertwined with the story, it honestly no longer even feels like a case-of-the-week show. I sense a shadow of the same potential in Awake. We just need to have patience.



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People expecting an answer need to stop watching this show. It's the reality of the fiction. Accept it or move on.



As far as this episode was concerned, I'm worried. If this was originally slated to be the 8th episode, and it was BY FAR the heaviest "case of the week" yarn to date, what does that mean for the series? Are we going to be focusing more on the investigations down the road? While it tied it very nicely with the overall familial core of Awake, I still think the cop procedural aspect (as Tim mentioned) is the weakest aspect...again...BY FAR. It's weak story-telling, formulaic, and bland. And as a side note, 8 episodes in, we're still ignoring the implications of episode 2's ending. Further solidifying Tim's original claim, "it was tacked on." Drown the conspiracy angle for the remainder of the season, pleeeeeease. The show is so much better without it.
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To be honest, I didn't like this episode very much. The cases were blah and the theme was too softy for my taste. 20 mins in, I was like 'who cares?'. What was lacking for me was the mystery portion you mentioned in your last week review. I got bored with all the moral messages of how to deal with your son in case of tragedy. I understand this is a main part of the show but the Rex rebellion is becoming too much for me. On the other hand, if Rex starts to get cosy like how the wife is on the other side, the show loses its point. So I'm kind of confused/bored.
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Glad the show is doing well, as it has so much potential. Inevitably there's GOT to be an episode that let's us down, but glad I'm being forced to look for it rather than have it slap me in the face.



As for what is real and what not in this show, I hope we never get a solid answer -- forces us to think, and to think about the show more, making it more successful. The minute they tell us it's actually HIM that's dead or dying or in a coma or what have you is the minute we lose interest and say goodbye.
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Oh man, if they go the coma route I will stop watching this show in both of my realities . . . *cough* . . . Um, I mean, yeah, I'll just stop watching.
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There can be other more sophisticated endings with the "there's a 3rd *real* reality"-ending than just the coma-thing (e.g. watch Mr.Nobody or Sliding Doors).
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I think one of the realities is real. And they'll keep making it look like it's both as they are doing. Personally I think it will finish in him losing both his son and Wife in each reality in which they are still alive, and he will have to continue life as normal after the show concludes. Losing both in reality/ dream world will be his cure I think.
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Well that's a shitty ending . . . . but you could be right (but I hope you're not).
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Wow Brianna Brown is everywhere now. I remember when she was on General Hospital and she kept refusing to die. She should have asked to get killed off sooner cause she is blowing up! I'm so glad that means she not coming back so GH anytime soon. But good for her regardless.
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I'm with you. I couldn't stand her character on GH.



Though I liked her just fine on "Criminal Minds" and "Smallville" (and, of course, "Awake"). :)
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