Several weeks back, I asked a mostly-rhetorical question about whether detective Mike Britten in ‘Awake’ relives each day of the week twice when he bounces between his two waking realities, or whether he skips days from one to the other. I didn’t actually expect this to be answered, but, surprisingly, last Thursday’s episode provided us some insight in that regard. Poor Britten suffers a really long work week.
In ‘Game Day’, an important football game is happening in Los Angeles. (The details are unimportant; it’s a made-up bowl tournament between two made-up teams.) The captain wants extra police presence in the area. Most of the other cops get caught up in the excitement of the game, but Britten doesn’t care a whit. He knows that the difference between winning and losing is arbitrary at best. A successful field goal changes a team’s fortunes in one of his timelines, whereas the team misses that field goal and loses the game in his other timeline. (You see, he had to watch the same game twice, which means that he’s living the same day of the week twice.)
These two outcomes for the football game lead directly to two different crimes. In one reality, a drunken fan is beaten to death outside the stadium, presumably for his abusive behavior toward fans of the opposing team. In the other reality, a dry cleaning shop burns down with one of the employees inside. Britten suspects that the owner (Francois Chau from ‘Lost’), who has a gambling problem and bet everything he had on the losing team, torched it for the insurance payout. However, his investigations determine that the drunkard’s brother did him in, and the shop owner’s wife set the blaze without the owner’s knowledge.
As usual for the show, the specifics of the cases are less important than the insights they provide Britten into his own situation. On the homefront, his son Rex takes a breakup with his girlfriend Emma really badly. He doesn’t accept the girl’s answer for why she doesn’t want to see him anymore. Eventually, he badgers her into revealing that he’d gotten her pregnant. She lost the baby soon after, but didn’t want to tell him. When Britten learns about this, he contemplates the ramifications of that missed field goal. The slightest difference from one reality to the other can trigger an entirely different fate. This causes him to confront Emma in the other reality, where he learns (as he suspected) that she’s pregnant with his son’s baby, and has not had a miscarriage. This will greatly complicate Britten’s plans to move to Portland with his wife.
If these lives he’s living are just constructs in his head, it would seem that Britten’s subconscious is deliberately placing obstacles in his path to keep him where he is. If both timelines are real, however, the universe(s) may be actively conspiring against him.
As far as I can tell, there are four episodes left this season. The show’s ratings have been pretty poor, even by NBC standards. I doubt it will be renewed. I hope that the producers have some sort of closure with answers planned for the finale.