The premise of NBC’s midseason drama “Awake” was an intriguing one: Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) bounces between two worlds after his family gets into an auto accident, one where his wife died and one where his son died. Only Britten doesn’t know which world is reality and which (if any) is a dream. After a rousing pilot, the show settled into a bit of a procedural-style rhythm, all the while giving Britten clues that the accident could have been anything but and there might be a reason why he’s in the state he’s in.
Before the May 24 finale, the show’s creator, Kyle Killen, answered our questions about the season and what fans should look for in the finale. What he promises is that Det. Britten is going to start finding out the truth about what’s going on in both his worlds, but is having trouble figuring out if he actually wants to know that truth (remember: if he finds out the truth, he either loses his son or loses his wife… or both).
Take us inside your approach to the finale, and what you wanted to accomplish.
We'd not only raised questions about what caused Detective Britten's accident, but had begun to explore the conflict between wanting to have the truth while somehow maintaining both of his worlds. The finale was really designed to put Britten in a bind: if he found out who really destroyed his family, would it force him to realize what really happened that night, and therefore who had lived and who had died. If nothing else, we wanted to push Britten as far as we could toward the boundary of his dreams and his reality and see how he reacted.
Anything you wish you could have done with the story, characters?
The idea of a love interest in the world where Britten’s wife had died was something we always planned to explore but early in the season it felt too soon for the character, and late in the season there were too many other balls in the air.
What were the high points of the season?
The pilot and the finale really felt like the showed what the show could be. It felt like they had both emotional and otherworldly elements that other shows didn’t have a chance to explore. As writers that was fun and the kind of thing we really enjoyed playing with. Similarly the penguin episode let us ask some very specific questions about Britten’s mental health and how sustainable his condition really is. Plus it had a penguin which isn’t something to get to do a lot of on a network TV police procedural.
Do you have a favorite episode, line, or scene from this season? If so - what?
I have a lot. There’s a line in the first episode where Detective Bird (Steve Harris) is watching a little girl being taken away in an ambulance after catching the man who murdered her parents and he says to Britten, “You remember when you thought that solved and fixed meant the same thing?” I always thought that kind of nailed the melancholy nature of being a homicide detective. Even when you get it right, something’s already gone irreversibly wrong.
Watch the Latest Episode of “Awake”:
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“Awake” airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.