By John Keegan and Henry Tran
This show delves into dreams and the notion of reality. Dreams tend to be extensions of whatever a person's reality is at that time. There is a warped sense of time passing when dreams are involved. I write this now because it hadn't occurred to me that it's been only six months since the accident that changed everything in Detective Britten's life. He had gotten used to his situation, comfortable enough to expect a pattern to his new life, and this episode was the first since the pilot episode really to throw a wrench into all of it.
It's no coincidence then that this episode is the best one since that outstanding pilot, and a little kink in the plot is the reason why. It made Detective Britten re-examine what was happening to him and got rid of the regular, stale procedural elements that dragged down the past couple of episodes. Michael is just now scratching the surface of the conspiracy that killed his family, and it's a great kickoff to the final trilogy of episodes that will mark the unfortunate (though not entirely unexpected) end of the series.
It's a neat little trick to explore the character's mindset in his new world. One minute, Michael is in the Rex world, first bumping into some random guy (who figures to be very important in the long run), then falling from a bungee jump before Rex and his girlfriend. Only, he suffers a fainting spell and wakes up in the Hannah world. He goes about his normal routine, following a case where a man out of his mind starts randomly killing people. The case does reflect some of the issues that Michael has been dealing with since the accident began. His notion of reality is out of tune with the rest of us. His only worry is wondering what happened after he fell from the bungee jump.
He expects to know when he returns to the Rex world after a night's sleep. He doesn't. He keeps waking up, day after day, in the Hannah world. Not only that, but he's being followed around by the stranger he bumped into at the carnival in the Rex world. What's great about this whole plot is that it slowly unpeels layers from the mystery as the hour progresses. It's revealed that the stranger is actually The Little Guy, which pays off what was initially dismissed as crazy talk by Michael in the "The Little Guy." The guy is a product of Michael's overactive imagination, much like the penguin from an earlier episode. He can't reveal anything crucial about the case or what his true purpose is because he only knows to the extent what Michael knows.
These two elements proceed to haunt and torture Michael. Every passing minute, his sanity starts to break down, until he finally accepts that Rex is truly gone. He can't get back to the Rex world, and it tears him up. Jason Issacs really sells that scene where he's broken and crying about Michael's responsibility and role in the accident that killed his son. It goes to the heart of what the show has been about since the start. It shows what happens when the things you love the most are suddenly and brutally taken away from you.
Michael is one who is trying his hardest to hold on to what he has left. Even if it does turn out that his son is actually dead, that the Hannah world is reality, and the only remnant he has of Rex is growing inside of Emma's womb. The episode keeps the Emma pregnancy plot going, but it makes natural complications arise from the whole situation. Michael can't initially relate to Emma's stern father (partly because the imaginary Little Guy keeps badgering him), then he reaches a point where he relates his own thoughts on the pain caused by the loss of a child. That's what eventually gets through to Emma's father. It's a small subplot, but it really has legs here.
As for the Little Guy, Michael slowly finds out who he is and how he fits into the whole fabric of the show. The man is a fellow cop named Hawkins, and in the Hannah world, he's paired with Detective Bird. There's something even larger at work here: Flashbacks to the time of the accident reveal that Hawkins was not only one of the first responders to the scene, but the guy who was driving the car that ran Michael off the road. That Hawkins appeared in the Hannah world as a figment of Michael's imagination may have been his mind telling him that there is something larger going on, and that Michael has been ignoring it all this time. Hawkins is shown nodding to someone offscreen a couple of times, and it's presumed that might be an emergency services worker. I think he was nodding to someone who was in on the conspiracy to kill Michael. Maybe Captain Harper. Hopefully, we'll get the whole picture during the next two episodes.
That's another key to this episode: Michael finally realizes that there was some conspiracy to kill him. That the accident was intentional. It's a solid start to revealing what is truly going on with everything in Michael's life. Unfortunately, the final two episodes are all we're going to get of this show. News passed down over the weekend that the network chose to cancel the low-rated series. It remains to be seen whether the writers will choose to reveal entirely what happened to Michael, and why. I would be fine if they went that way or left it ambiguous. If the last two episodes match up to the quality of this one, the writers might just stick the landing for this show.John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Henry Tran is Critical Myth's reviewer for Awake.