Awake recap – 1×12: ‘Two Birds’

Courtesy of NBC

It’s quite bittersweet to review a show knowing that it’ll be one of the last episodes EVER. Part of me wishes Awake goes completely out of the box and deliver something really memorable in this two-part finale, perhaps inspiring a letter-writing campaign or a NetFlix revival. The other part of me just hopes that I’ll get closure by the end of it all. “Two Birds” does feel rushed at times, but despite that, I do have a feeling I’ll be satisfied by series’ end.

Let’s bitch it out…

It doesn’t appear that we’re ever going to get closure as to why Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) is living two simultaneous lives, nor are we going to discover which one of the worlds is “real” (or fake or both?). What we will get, I’m certain, is closure to the dirty-cop conspiracy that was the cause of Michael’s accident in the first place. ‘Two Birds’ sets up some serious consequences for our hero, which tells me this storyline simply has to be resolved or else Britten is going to spending some time in jail (which doesn’t make for very compelling drama).

We spend equal time in both the red and green worlds as Britten tries to unravel the conspiracy after remembering that it was Hawkins (Kevin Wiseman) running his family off the road last week.

Starting off in the green world, Michael relegates his secret investigation of Hawkins to his garage after unsuccessfully trying to explain his theory of the accident being an intentional hit to green world therapist Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones). Intercut with red world shrink, Dr. Lee (BD Wong), both doctors think Michael is becoming increasingly paranoid. This “memory” of Hawkins on the scene of the accident is merely a further fabrication of his unstable mind.

This adequately sets up the tone for the rest of the episode: Britten on his own and having to convince everyone in his life that he’s not cray cray. This means we’re going to a lot of “You’re scaring me” and “You haven’t been yourself” as everyone starts looking at him with one eyebrow raised. We get a nice dose of this when he tells Rex (Dylan Minnette) and Hannah (Laura Allen) in their respective worlds, to leave the house so he doesn’t have to worry about their safety while he investigates.

Michael has a slightly more credibility in the green world because he hasn’t yet been suspended from the force. But it doesn’t take long for him to even up the odds against him when he goes over to Hawkins’ place to threaten him. Turning badass at the turn of a dime, Britten wastes no time by shooting Hawkins in the leg and then threatening to take out his kneecaps if he doesn’t start talking. And surprisingly, he does! Hawkins admits that he was told to run Britten & Co. off the road by the ominous “them”, and that he’s got evidence in a locked file on his laptop to prove it. Before Britten can get to it, Bird (Steve Harris) comes screeching in the driveway after having suspicions that Britten has slowly become a danger to society. This gives Hawkins just enough time to clock Britten in the head, which in turn, causes Britten to fire back, killing Hawkins instantly. So now we have a dead cop in the green world, no tangible evidence that there was any conspiracy theory, and everyone thinking Michael is slowly going off the deep end. The odds clearly aren’t in his favour. I kept hoping that Michael had enough foresight to bring a concealed tape recorder to capture Hawkins’ confession, but no dice. Britten pulls a gun a Bird and eventually handcuffs him with the hopes they can recover some evidence form Hawkins’ laptop without Bird going all mistrust-y on him. Understandably Bird gets more suspicious of Britten’s sanity when he arrives to find a dead Hawkins and a conspiracy-touting Michael, so he ends up clocking Britton when he has the chance. This sends Michael back into the red world, where he has to try and convince the red-version of Bird of the same conspiracy.

Although I can appreciate that we need to go through these motions, it gets a bit tiresome to see Britten constantly trying to find some one that trusts him. This of course, is nothing new when a conspiracy that goes “all the way up” is involved, but I think it would have been more interesting if we, the audience, never got confirmation that the conspiracy actually existed. I think it would have been more challenging to let the viewers decide if Michael was indeed uncovering the truth, or if he was taking a ride on the crazy train. Instead, I’m left sighing and impatiently waiting, hoping that some one will just go with Britten until proven otherwise.

Courtesy of NBC

But back to the red world: Bird takes a bit more convincing because Britten is no longer his partner, and Hawkins (still alive in this world) is his new partner. Eventually, Britten is able to unlock the encrypted file in the red world, which allows him to take the password, “Tulip” back into the green world. But not without tragedy. After Bird reluctantly decides to help Britten in the red world, they uncover a lease agreement that ties precinct head, Carl (Mark Harelik) to Hawkins in a covert heroin smuggling operation. Red Bird finally starts believing Britten is onto something, but ends up paying the price for Britten’s curiosity. He’s shot to death by Hawkins, whose been instructed by Carl and Captain Harper (Laura Innes) to kill Bird and pin it on the suspended Britten. It’s the old, ‘two birds with one stone’ – a titular pun that is clearly being used to its maximum this week.

Michael enters Bird’s apartment to find him dead, while Hawkins is still there. Hawkins’ then proceeds to make the world’s biggest mistake by stupidly telling Britten about the plan to frame Bird’s murder on him. First rule of villian-dom: Shoot first and explain later. This of course, gives Michael time to escape, but not without getting shot in the stomach first. We leave the red world as Captain Harper launches a full-blown manhunt for Britten telling the entire police force that he’s murdered Bird in cold blood. Britten is on the run, drifting into unconsciousness from his bullet wound, sending him back into the green world.

He awakes in the back of Bird’s car (Yay! At least Bird is alive in one world) and they successfully open the encrypted file in the green world by using the “Tulip” password. Unfortunately, the two go straight to Captain Harper with the evidence, presumably not making any additional copies. She tells them that she will indulge this circumstantial evidence and allow Bird to go looking for the missing drugs, but Britten is to stay in a holding cell for killing Hawkins in case the lead turns up nothing. She’s left alone with the laptop and the information that Bird and Britten are onto the conspiracy.

The first installment of the finale ends with Britten’s innocence depending solely on Bird finding the incriminating drugs in the green world. Harper either has to sell out her co-conspirators, or frantically arrange for a hit on Bird so that he doesn’t discover anything. In the red world, with Bird already murdered, Britten is royally screwed. Let’s hope he can get some intel from the green world to help him out.

Other observations:

  • I particularly enjoyed Innes’ performance in the red world this week. The moment we get with her weeping a top of a building is a nice touch when she realizes that she’s got to sacrifice two decorated police detectives to save her own greedy ass. Later, her smack down on Vega (Wilmer Valderrama) is equally effective, but showing a completely contrasting emotion. Vega simply doesn’t believe that Britten, as unstable and off as he’s been, would ever be capable of killing Bird. Harper scolds him for sympathizing for what she clearly believes is a cold-blooded killer. Innes certainly knows when to turn it on when she has to.
  • Best line of the night: “ I know how to spell ‘Tulip’.”

So with only one more episode left of the entire series, how do you think things will end? I must say I have no idea how Britten is going to be able to take down Harper & Co. in both worlds while still coming out of it with any kind of credibility and a living Bird. What do you think could be a possible explanation of the existence of the green and red worlds? Could this perhaps be two simultaneous timelines that Michael has some how been able to access? Think we’ll get any more insight into this in the final episode, or is there simply not enough time to explain it all? Sound off in our comments section!

Awake airs its final episode next Thursday, May 24 at 10pm EST on NBC.

About tvangie

Angie is a TV addict currently pursuing a PhD in media studies. A freelance researcher and writer on the side – she really misses talking about her favourite shows because none of her friends watch them. Help her out.

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