Awake: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges

Awake S01E12: "Two Birds"

The opening sequence of "Two Birds," the penultimate episode of Awake's first and only season *sniff*, set a tone for the rest of the episode that seemed impossible to sustain. There was Michael Britten, who for so many episodes has played a man concerned only with keeping his family together—rather than with figuring out what pulled them apart—baring his teeth, ready to hunt down those responsible for his accident. The intensity of Jason Isaacs' performance, the gorgeous editing, and the swelling score all come together in an hour of the kind of television that rarely happens on major networks.

Indeed, "Two Birds" broke all the network rules, refusing to play it safe and really supporting the argument that Awake belongs on cable, where 90 percent of quality television resides. And it doesn't belong on just any cable network. It belongs on one of those cablest-of-cable channels that loves risky, daring shows with emotional cores that leave audiences breathless. I'm thinking FX or AMC with the latter preferred, as tonight's episode of Awake was every bit as intense as TV's current king of intensity, Breaking Bad.

This was Michael putting on his Heisenberg (HeisenBritten) face to hunt down Ed Hawkins, an apparition that appeared last week both in his mind, via hallucinations, and in foggy memories. And the reason Michael's transformation from kooky, unhinged dad to vigilante badge-less supercop worked so well is that we WANTED him to kick ass so badly because we've seen how much he's lost and how much his current condition has taken a toll on him. So when we saw Michael sneak up to Hawkins' house in the early going, we shuddered when he flashed the eyes of a cold-blooded killer. But dammit if I wasn't rooting for him to cave Hawkins' face in with a lead pipe.

Instead, Michael had a gun. And when he took a page out of John Reese's book and shot Hawkins in the leg, we all jumped. This was an action there was no turning back from for Michael. One struggle later and Hawkins lay dead on the ground, killed before he could give Michael the password to a file that contained incriminating evidence about a storage locker the conspirators were using to stash heroin. Shit just got so real that I had to check the bottoms of my shoes.

And if a murder in self-defense, a disintegrating conspiracy, and revenge-fueled rage weren't enough, Awake added a little reminder that it's also a show about two realities when Bird knocked out Michael and sent him over to Hannah's reality. But this time Michael didn't panic. Instead he used his gift/curse to his advantage and picked up right where he left off. We got to see how this dual-reality thing can really be used, and it's brilliant. Using knowledge from one side to skip a step in his investigation in the other side, Michael almost achieved superhero status. In that way it set a path that Michael (and the audience) followed, but it presented so many obstacles from the outside world living in its single, boring reality.

So there was Michael, dodging bullets and jumping back and forth between realities in the most thrilling password-cracking sequence I've ever seen on television, and he eventually landed in the office of Captain Harper. Bird was sent to check out the storage locker the drugs had been moved to in order to blow the lid off the conspiracy, and I wasn't feeling too good about Bird's chances given that Harper was right there to set a trap. As for Michael, well, he had to sit this one out and watch from a holding cell, unaware that he was trapped in the clutches of the very same people he was trying to destroy.

What stood out to me about this episode was its pacing. From the moment "Two Birds" began to the final shot of Michael peeping out the window of a holding skill, blinking was not an option. This was a masterfully written and produced episode of television that was engaging enough on its own but also left plenty to anticipate going into next week's finale.

Throughout the course of the season we've seen Michael's condition treated in myriad ways. Sometimes it's a blessing that allows him to see both his wife and his son and hang on to a sense of normalcy. At others, it threatens to take them away and turn whatever's left of his life into a crumbling mess. The real trick to Awake this season was showing the weight of both sides of Michael's condition, yet turning Michael into a hero by having him take advantage of it. When Awake was first announced (back when it was called REM), that word "potential" instantly joined the discussion. But Awake has done what too few new shows ever have: It's seen a concept all the way through potential and then some.



Dream Log

– R.I.P. Bird-stache! Poor guy got caught in the middle of a conspiracy and killed by his current partner because of his former partner. He's going to have trust issues in heaven.

– If Michael solves the conspiracy in one reality, does he still have to solve it in the other reality?

– And to think, we have yet to learn WHY this is happening to Michael. Next week's episode should be jam-packed.


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

Comments (50)
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OMG- finally got a chance to watch last 2 episodes on my DVR......NBC is absolutely missing the boat on this show----its simply amazing! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE some other network needs to pick it up!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is just brilliant TV and it sooooooooo unfair to the fans to just let it drop so soon!
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Best new show on any network this season....

With the way networks keep starting up new shows only to cancel them in, sometimes, less than a complete season, I am not going to watch anymore new shows. I have decided to wait until a show has been on long enough to go into syndication then watch it on A&E, USA, FX or any other channel than the big 4 (CBS, ABC, NBC and FOX)! I can't take getting into a show and then hearing that it's cancelled in only a few episodes!
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Totally agree this show needs to continue, Awake really is one of the best new shows on tv... What do you think About USA or syfy? The are NBC subsidiaries... I am so tired of getting invested in a show then it gets canceled by the network....
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I would love to see the show come back again as there are so many unanswered questions that we NEED answers to. I hope cable bosses are watching this one closely.
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:( Any chance cable might pick it up for a 2nd season? It can't just end like this!
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If garbage like Unforgettable is getting a resurrection it's heart breaking that an incredible show like Awake doesn't get a chance.
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I think "at the end" Britten will "awake" at hospital table just after the accident with both of his family alive or both of them dead. All those cases he solved last few months actually happened "Before" the accident.



And while he's in COMA, his past memories are getting together like pieces of a big puzzle solving the final mystery.



Gonna miss this show....
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fuck off nbc u r stupid someone else plz pick it.................
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This episode was a BIG jump for a first -- but sadly, only -- season to take, considering most of this season was very procedural-based. Loved it. Fantastic episode.
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This show is so great and the last two episodes have added a visceral level to the heartfelt emotional drama. I wonder whether the finale was written as a season finale or a series finale.
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Yep, that's what I'm most concerned about. If they hoped that it would be renewed, then probably they have left many questions for the audiences in the finale hoping to solve them in future. In that scenario, its bad for us!!



There are tons of unsolved mysteries in LOST; I don't want to take them any more!!
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Still one more left at least. this one wasnt as good as last weeks, but what could be. last weeks was so amazing. Oh well. its weird, when they first introduced the conspiracy element I was like "NO! NO! NO! It doesn't need that" but they just didn't bring it up for a w hile. and then when they did it didn't seem to get in the way. and now I'm actually enjoying that aspect of it. Figures it got cancelled. This show didn't have any sex or sexual tension storyline. Frankly I'm tired of that kind of crap in shows anyway. Seen it a million times, don't really care about it. anyway, I though they might kill off bird cause at least hes still alive in the other reality, but then I thought "nah they're not going to do that" but then they did. I'm glad they were willing to cause its interesting how it played throughout the rest of this episode, probably will affect next week, and might have affected season 2 maybe. so I'm glad they were willing to, but I'm sad for bird. he did not deserve that. Hawkins neds to take a beating next week. oh well awake. this is the best show on right now besides breaking bad. Oh well. this is one of the best shows ever. up there with breaking bad, boomtown, the wire, dexter, malcolm in the middle, trailer park boys, king of the hill, and some more I cant think of right now.



This episode was so good!
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Awake is one the most amazing series I've seen in along time. Its HQ tv for thinking people.
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Awake is streets ahead of most of the stuff on TV.
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There are so many more brilliant ideas to explore with this show. They only just started scratching the surface. They can't pull the plug, I've never seen anything like this on TV or in the movies. Isaacs is amazing too, last weeks show was such a tear-jerker and then this week it had me on the edge of my seat. Is there any hope of cable picking up this show and letting it spread it's wings?
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I will be angry when Awake ceases to air. But If we think of it as a really long (and amazing) movie, we can sleep a little easier at night. I'm definitely going to be jealous of those who catch it on Netflix and burn through all episodes in one awesome (and sleepless) marathon.
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Common on TNT or AMC pick this show up.
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I'm sure when Kyle Killen created Awake that he hadn't planned it to be a single season so assume that either not everything will be resolved in the final episode or there's way more that would've been. An hour left to answer every question?, I think not.

After the finale I'm confident everyone would be able to come up with broad outline for a season 2 because the charaterisation is so spot on.
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Wow, Michael has really driven himself into a dead end this time, or so it seems. In one reality he ends imprisoned, in the other one, he has just passed out because of blood loss resulting from a gun shot, and also wanted by the police.



Michael seems to have burned all bridges and gave up his idyllic reality (ies) in which he still has his family, though in a strange way. Apparently all is lost already. Or is it? I don't know how he'll turn things around for the next episode, but I hope he does. I'd hate it if the series ended in such a desperate cliffhanger.
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Is there anything that we, the watchers of this show, can do to help compel someone to pick up this show and continue it? Or is it too late...or useless?
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YES! Follow @SaveAwake there is a website with all the information for the campaign.
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My one big problem with this episode was that, in both timelines, Michael doesn't bother recording any of these important conversations he has with Hawkins, he reveals things he shouldn't and doesn't trap the guy like he should, he just doesn't think like a cop in those scenes. Ultimately, I care less about the conspiracy, and more about why it's happening to the main character, and I fear they're going to get so wrapped up in the conspiracy that they'll lose focus on the actual "Awake" part - I hope that I'm wrong.
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Watching Michael in Richard-Kimble-Mode was unbelievable. I was really unsure about the conspiracy plot until this point but this episode was so well crafted, that now I could take a whole season of him just chasing around dirty cops trying to find the truth and "make them pay".



NBC should have never picked up this show. I hope there is an alternative reality out there where AMC picked this one up and there are other lucky people enjoying Awake for enough seasons that do it justice.
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A wonderful show, masterfully created, excellent actors.........and it is being cancelled. Why ?? Please reconsider.
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great episode but becouse of NBC it all seem a little rush

If they didnt cancel the show I bet it whoule have been better

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You do know this was filmed long before they had any idea it was cancelled, right?
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This episode was great. The last one bugged me with them singing 'Rhapsody in the car over and over, but this one actually got into the conspiracy without the disappointment I was expecting. It's also no coincidence that my enjoyment and Valderrama's screen time are inversely related.



It's hard for me to get invested in a dead show walking, but I'm looking forward to the next episode. With everything still on my DVR, it's impressive that I always watch this show so quickly.
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The lyrics of the song are relevant to the show hence the repetition. "Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy?" "No escape from reality." "Open your eyes" "I see the little silhouette of a man" - The little man which has been referenced since the second show of the season.



I actually think the previous episode of Awake was just as strong as this finale, but on a completely different level. The emotional impact of Britten finally dealing with his son's possible death and thinking he caused it was off the charts.
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I understood the purpose, I just found it annoying to hear them singing it. If someone doesn't like beans, it's not because they don't know they're full of protein. Also, I watch the show in surround sound, and hearing the same suddenly-loud car crash over and over didn't help.



As for Michael accepting his son's loss, it was fine, and a healthy dose of healing for him, but it didn't do much for me, as it was obviously temporary. Not like they were going to shut down the entire premise of the show before the series finale. Even losing Bird only partially happened, as he still has the Bird closest to him.
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Well it was supposed to be annoying hence Britten saying over and over again "You're killing me" (also potentially a double meaning). Sad fact despite all the repetitions some people like my brother did not get the references. Annoying or not it was clever. And it doesn't matter if you believed Britten would never see his son again, it was getting to finally see the harsh painful reality Britten is working so hard to avoid. Dealing with the false belief that he had killed his son also nicely sets up the extreme anger and vengeance he seeks when finding out his family was murdered. Bird dying is not nearly as important to the storyline as that Bird was not even a major character in the series. Just a cool event to show the butterfly effect of how the two realities split based upon small differences and influences from the other reality (like turning in his gun).
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It wasn't Michael dealing with reality, as we don't know what reality is. So far, it was simply him dealing with a possibility as he saw it. More painful for him, obviously, and good for television, but of no more actual consequence other than learning what caused the accident.



That part set things in motion. Intensifying the pain of losing his son was good for an episode, but not even necessary to make Michael angry over losing his family. Michael had gotten the green universe back. It's not like he needed a reminder that his life is half-wrecked, and it's not like having his temporary closure would make him angrier after getting his son back.



If anything, it would've been more powerful if Michael had finished his rampage against Hawkins in the red reality, when he truly believed his son was completely gone.



So sure, that repetitive scene in the car was clever, but 'too clever by half' is an expression for a reason. There's a difference between making an audience say "masterfully done," and "we get it, are you done?"
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Loved this episode just like all the others. Damn you NBC for replacing Awake with Late talk with Mr. Boring! Damn you average TV viewers who prefer reality shows and cheap comedies over Awake!

Where is AMC? Why on earth they haven't picked this up yet?
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C'mon TNT, pick this up!
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I don't worry that if in the finale they gonna resolve WTF situation with Michael there will be no material for another (cable preferably) network to air. It could go in many ways even if we gonna know that Michael stuck in two realities for real. In second season he could go deeper in his situation may be finding somebody else with same messed up situation. It will be fun either way.

That was a tense hour of TV. Almost Like Breaking Bad. Michael peeping through prison cell scene reminded me Heisenberg/Walter White hysterically laughing scene in BB)) It was classic tense) Please TNT or FX or AMC pick this show for another round!
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Another fantastic episode for what has tragically become one of my favorite shows. I still can't believe this will be the only season.



There is no reality, universe, or timeline in which NBC isn't the worst network ever.
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OK, the best two new shows without a doubt this season have to be "Awake" and "Person of Interest". Person of Interest has been more accessible, edgier, and, overall, slicker if slightly less cerebral. All of this has changed with one episode of Awake. "Two Birds" has propelled Awake to the pinacle of being the absolute best show of 2012. Irony can be both humorous and a hard pill to swallow as we have recently learned NBC will not renew a second season. For those of us who have stayed the course we have been rewarded with one of the most tension filled summations of all that has went before ever witnessed on the small screen. "Two Birds" is flat out brilliant. Here's hoping the writers do not let us down in the home stretch. I get the feeling they will not and Awake has finally hit it's stride, that the remaining episodes will nail it. Since they have now proved the concept can work so well surely some other network, such as the oft mentioned AMC, will pick up the show..
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Stupid networks. It's not like other shows have much better ratings. Why don't NBC stop making new shows and just stick with re-runs of Days of our lives?
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Other series I've enjoyed have been cancelled far to early in their lifespan, I know many won't agree with the likes of Alcatraz and FlashForward but none have felt like such a massive loss as Awake, I'm mourning it before I've even seen the last two episodes.

Potential is the word, yes it has shown potential but I and I'm sure others have considered many directions Awake could have developed.

Awake can't be one of the most expensive shows in production, has sold to many countries and is so much more deserving of a reprieve that any show in TV history.
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May the fleas of a thousand reindeers nest upon the genitals of NBC network executives, and may their network die a slow and painful death. Oh, wait.....



The big problem I see with AWAKE getting a second chance somewhere else is if the "mystery" is resolved in the finale. The big reason I keep tuning in is because of the major elephant in the room, the "WTF is really going on here?" element of the show. The individual shows are riveting and at times powerful, but the big draw of the series is the unanswered questions. Answer them, and there's no story left for another network to tell. My biggest regret outside of the premature termination of AWAKE is I'm not sure the show ever got to hit its stride well enough for me to completely comprehend what kind of show it wanted to be. Did it want to be a murder/conspiracy mystery show set against the background of alternating realities, or did it want to be a sci-fi/fantasy/mind-bending show that just happened to include a murder mystery? Or could it pull off the unthinkable, and successfully be both? It was all of the above in its short run, but I never felt like I really understood where the creators were wanting to settle us in. But whatever the case, it delivered some of the best moments on TV this season. I hate to sound elitist, but I guess AWAKE is just too clever for the average TV viewer. The public seems to love mind-numbing reality shows and "talent" shows rather than a good story that requires some thinking and some emotional range. I'm glad we got the half a season, but this really could have been a spectacular show for several seasons, I think.
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holy. f***. nuf said.
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Supernatural review. I want it! :-P
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Awake! Person of Interest! Community! There are priorities :P
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This is actually the first time I'm hearing that it's been cancelled. This is terrible news seeing as how I was actually gaining interest in the show. The premise was already enough to get me to watch the first time, but the show seemed to pick up with each episode. Here's hoping you find new life on a cable network, Awake...even though I don't have cable.
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i hope this show gets picked up by some cable network...its so great. sad to c it go.
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the best episode yet!! god dammit why did they cancel this??? I wanna slap any NBC exec in the face for letting it happen.
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Totally agreed. SO frustrating.
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I'm right there with ya. In fact, we can take turns holding them down and kicking the crap outta ' em. ;)
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Any way that I can help? =)
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