By John Keegan and Henry Tran
The second episode of this show establishes how the concept will work on a weekly basis. Detective Britten is going to solve a pair of cases with at least one tie-in between them. There are apparently going to be ongoing revelations about the Britten family that show how they are coping with the loss of one of its members.
All of it would have worked well on its own if the final minutes of the episode were not included. Those minutes were devoted to pursuing an ongoing mystery that arguably wasn't really necessary. The clues that come from these scenes may provide a concrete explanation for the truth behind the car accident, but will only serve to distract from enjoying the events that are occurring in both realities.
I liked how the show is continuing with the unique way of how Detective Britten deals with the death in his family. He essentially cheats by paying attention to a small detail in one reality and applies it to the other reality. Rex complains about how his clothes smell? Well, Michael finds out in the other reality that Hannah added fabric softener to the laundry loads. Hannah finds that Rex was fixing a motorcycle with a friend of his and it becomes a memento of her lost son. She can't find common ground with Michael in mourning the loss of Rex because he has the privilege of seeing him within hours by switching realities. She is constantly searching for ways to cope and needs more time than he does to process everything. So the motorcycle fills the void that is slowly forming in their relationship.
In the other reality, Rex is still working on the motorcycle but it's still being used as a way to lie to his dad. Michael's condition allows him to see through his son's lie, and that conversation between the two of them is nicely under-played by both parties. That Rex apparently has a girlfriend and is using the motorcycle to impress her indicates that this is another way for him to mourn his mother's passing. It's these kinds of emotional beats and finer details that ring true, and form the heart of the show.
The police procedural cases end one case in a predictable way seen many times before, although the small interlude with the really tall doctor colleague was amusing. While the case with the doctor is solved by Britten's insistence that a "little guy" actually did the poisoning, the case in the other world doesn't catch quite the same break. Britten and Detective Vega are investigating the homicide of a homeless person who happens to share the same name as the poisoned doctor from the other reality. They wander aimlessly for clues, but outside of the "little guy" description from an admittedly unreliable witness, there aren't any to go on.
The show is willing to admit that this might be an outcome that crops up from time to time. It could be that Detective Britten's mind doesn't know the solution or the solution is kept from him. That could tie neatly into the overall conspiracy angle that is espoused at the end of the episode. Britten's captain is the one keeping tabs on him and may be keeping him away from the "little guy" clue that puts him too close to the truth.
This whole conspiracy angle just mucks up the story, I think. It's the creator of the show having to put an explanation on what is happening around Britten in case the show was too high-concept for viewers. As if there wasn't enough on the writers' plates in developing the police cases and servicing the familial relationships in just one episode. It could tie everything together in the end or blow up in their faces. I wish the scene wasn't in the episode -- still a solid one, in my opinion -- but it is, and does drag down the quality of it. If the writers want to go forward with the conspiracy plot, they would be wise to devote a good portion of an episode to it instead of this vague, piecemeal approach.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Henry Tran is one of Critical Myth's reviewers for Awake.