Awake recap – 1×08: ‘Nightswimming’

Courtesy of NBC via SpoilerTV

Awake hits the skids in a less than stellar episode that highlights the persistent issues I have with the show.

Let’s bitch it out…

The case in the green life concerns Marcus Ananyev (Elijah Alexander), an account for a mob boss. After a failed attempt on his life, Michael (Jason Isaacs) and Bird (Steve Harris) take Marcus and his wife, Alina (Ayelet Zurer) into protective custody. Alina is upset because her entire life is being uprooted, which has obvious parallels to Michael’s move to Oregon with Hannah (Laura Allen) in the red life. The problem, as Alan Sepinwall notes, is that it is so obvious (and once again the case is so familiar) that it fails to make any kind of impact. Over the last few weeks I’ve made my case for more family life / less case of the week. ‘Nightswimming’ is a clear demonstration of the dangers of the show’s current approach: the case isn’t interesting enough to merit spending 42 minutes on, and it’s at the expense of the deeper emotional beats involved in the upcoming move to Oregon.

As much as I appreciate that the show needs to sustain itself and the case of the week format is never just a case (since it always concerns Michael’s life), but I simply don’t feel connected to these one-off guest stars. There’s so much potential to develop fuller, richer worlds and the show simply seems interested in using these case of the week proxies instead of addressing Michael’s relationship with Hannah and Rex (an unseen Dylan Minette) head-on. It’s frustrating…

Think of how nice the final scene with Michael and Hannah at the pool is. I’m not suggesting the entire series can play out this way, because I don’t think that that’s what audiences necessarily want, but it’s a nice emotional, romantic scene with an amusing little coda to end the episode on. For me, this is why I’m watching…

Other Considerations:

  • No Rex again this week. Has the show forgotten he exists? Or is Hannah’s story and the move to Oregon the ‘X’ factor that the show is primarily interested in exploring?
  • In red world, Michael’s CI feeds him misinformation when Michael dumps him on Vega (Wilmer Valderrama). I have a love/hate relationship with how cold Michael sometimes is; you’d think that after so many years of marriage, and working with this CI, or being partners with Bird in the green life, he’d have a better read on people. On the other hand he is a cop and we know that before the crash he was emotionally distanced
  • After Alina runs away, Marcus tries to remember his wife’s friends: Mariana, Svetlana. Soooo…Alina’s friends are all import brides and strippers?

What did you think of ‘Nightswimming’: was it just a blah episode, or do you feel that it illustrates the problems of the show? Did you care at all for Marcus and Alina, or would you prefer more Hannah and Rex? Sound off!

Awake airs on Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC.

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

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