Entertainment Magazine

Review #3412: Awake 1.5: “Oregon”

Posted on the 03 April 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Lisa Zwerling
Directed by Aaron Lipstadt

Based on the few episodes that have aired after the pilot, there seems to be more interest in the events of the Rex world more than the Hannah world. I really wouldn’t have noticed until this episode, when the police worked the serial killer case in the Rex world, while the primary conflict in the Hannah world was if she was going to move to Portland, Oregon. I don’t want to underestimate the importance of that decision, but the amount of focus on the police cases in the Rex world may suggest that it is the correct reality and that the Hannah world is Michael’s dream. His job as a police detective may also become untenable if he and Hannah move away from Los Angeles. There is just no telling what will happen to the realities when or if that big decision is made.

Review #3412: Awake 1.5: “Oregon”

Initially, there was the sense (at least from my personal standpoint) that the serial killer was a one-off kind of case. There is the discovery of the first victim, which Michael coincidentally stumbles upon while on a jog. The victim has markings on the body that might point to a serial killer thought to have been previously killed. A serial killer profiler is brought in as an expert. Detective Britten happens to find the killer’s hideout in an abandoned building through a clue from the Hannah world (she is using the moving company for the possible relocation to Portland). Things get much more complicated when the serial killer implicates Detective Britten in the crime by coming into his house and making incriminating phone calls.

It felt a little forced to connect Michael to the crime in question, but the serial killer seemed to gain more interest in the detective as the episode went along. He switches his obsession, going from the profiler who has chased him for years, to a police detective with a unique psychology. That was the sign that this might be an ongoing plot instead of a one-off case. That the killer would go to the length of visiting Dr. Evans’ office to get Britten’s psychological profile is especially unsettling (on top of the guy being in Michael’s house). If it ends up that this is the real world, the “Gemini Killer” could become a threat Detective Britten and company have to deal with on a regular basis. I like that the show is at least willing to build its world a little bit. The threats have been isolated in the Rex world for the most part, though, and that keeps the show from being as balanced as I would like it to be.

Hannah’s decision about moving to Portland puts Michael in a precarious situation, one I didn’t even expect. I thought the show would keep both characters grounded in Los Angeles and play around with the dual realities for a little while longer. Her mulling over the move is a natural and understandable action in processing her grief. It isn’t dealt with too much in the episode, but there’s that always-remaining wedge that is growing between Michael and Hannah in the wake of Rex’s death, and her moving to Portland is a good way to start over with their lives. Well, at this point, Hannah is moving forward while Michael is content to stay where he is.

Dr. Lee brings up a fascinating question: Will the move to a different city and state shatter Michael’s perceptions of each reality? Does he finally wake up in the “true” reality, and if so, which reality will survive? I have to wonder about Michael’s fragile psychological state if he loses one reality over the other. He has been living with these dual states for a while now and it looks like he’s held onto both of them as if they were a blessing from someone or something as yet unseen. That attachment will likely be put to the test in the coming days and weeks.

It feels almost as if each world is processing Michael’s mind in different ways. The Rex world has tests for his job and working the more executive functions of his brain. He’s working more and more cases in that reality than the ones in the Hannah world. He has to be a working unit in that reality because he doesn’t have Hannah and he has to protect and interact more with his son. The Hannah world sees his wife as largely detached from him. That world has tests that are more about the emotional side of things.

While the early episodes have largely spent more time in the Rex world, I get the sense that the show will even out things as the season progresses. The police procedural elements are still not up to the standard set by the exploration of loss and grief from the larger plot at hand so we should see more of a balance to come. Let’s hope this is the last of the show appearing so uneven.

Grade: 7/10

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