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Awake: Sliding Doors, Tragic Edition


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#1021

fauntleroy

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Posted May 30, 2012 @ 6:37 AM

It's not an alternate reality though, it's only a dream, that he cannot distinguish from reality. (That is, if we rule out a sci-fi explanation.) Then in the last episode he appears to have created a second dream, or "dream within dream" or whatever, that he similarly cannot distinguish from reality.

The fact that he does not want to distinguish seems moot to me. The question is whether he can distinguish or not. Not wanting to know is the reason, but actually not knowing is the pertinent condition.

If he can't distinguish reality from dream he is, as was pointed out by commenter clack months ago, by definition psychotic. And at the end the fact that there were three such states instead of two meant he was getting worse. His therapists would never allow him to continue working, especially carrying a gun. He'd be sent home at least, or confined to a psych ward. If a second season was going to happen they could not have ended it this way, because the story is unsustainable, since Britten was shown to be more deeply lost in these imaginary states than before.
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#1022

pl86

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Posted May 30, 2012 @ 11:57 AM

If he can't distinguish reality from dream he is, as was pointed out by commenter clack months ago, by definition psychotic.


Except that he doesn't have that problem, not in the typical sense of psychosis. When he's in the red world, he knows he's in the red world; when he's in the green, he operates as though he's in the green. The finale introduced the idea that he would begin to have trouble keeping things apart and I think season 2 would have been about that but by and large during the episodes, it wasn't a problem for him. More importantly, he doesn't behave like he can't distinguish fantasy from reality or in a manner that poses a danger to himself or others. From the perspective of Dr. Lee or Evans, they have a client who tells them that when he sleeps, he flips over to another world where he leads a parallel life but when he wakes up, he's perfectly functional and doesn't exhibit or operate under any belief that he's still in the other life. Obviously, not everything is copacetic with him but at the end of the day, all that he's having is intense, vivid dreams. He can't be stripped of his badge, let alone forcibly hospitalized, for dreaming. Now, we're talking TV here so it's probably not a plausible portrayal of mental illness but I think within the setup of the show, it made sense that he was still on the job.

Edited by pl86, May 30, 2012 @ 1:51 PM.

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#1023

Money Magnet

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Posted May 30, 2012 @ 1:17 PM

And at the end the fact that there were three such states instead of two meant he was getting worse.


Were there three, though?

I interpreted the ending as being that he had synthesized the two dream states (the red/green) into one - one where his wife and son were alive. My hunch about a Season 2, is that it would have taken place wholly in this synthesized world. Which Michael would have insisted to his shrink(s) was a dream world of his own making, while the shrink(s) would have said, "No, you're not dreaming - this is real, this is your life."

In a sense, it would have turned Season 1 on its head - a reversal, where this time, the shrinks would be insisting his dream was reality.

Except we the audience would not be sure (and neither would Michael). More criminal mysteries and Michaeological twistedness (Michael Britten psychology) would have ensued.

Edited by Money Magnet, May 30, 2012 @ 1:18 PM.

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#1024

katje

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Posted May 30, 2012 @ 1:52 PM

Which Michael would have insisted to his shrink(s) was a dream world of his own making, while the shrink(s) would have said, "No, you're not dreaming - this is real, this is your life."

But would he have even been in therapy? In "red" world and "green" world, he was going to employer-mandated therapy to help him process the grief of having lost Hannah or Rex. What reason has he got for therapy in a world where both are perfectly fine?
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#1025

Princess Aldrea

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Posted May 30, 2012 @ 2:40 PM

In a sense, it would have turned Season 1 on its head - a reversal, where this time, the shrinks would be insisting his dream was reality.

Well, in at least one of the worlds his dream-therapist was insisting that a dream was reality.
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#1026

grimm2

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Posted May 30, 2012 @ 7:13 PM

But would he have even been in therapy? In "red" world and "green" world, he was going to employer-mandated therapy to help him process the grief of having lost Hannah or Rex. What reason has he got for therapy in a world where both are perfectly fine?

I think my issue with the shrinks was they couldn't process Britten's reality because each one believed their own existance to be real and that wouldn't change in a world that was a mix of both.
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#1027

bros402

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 1:15 AM

When he's in the red world, he knows he's in the red world; when he's in the green, he operates as though he's in the green


Except when he wakes up in a moment of confusion and cuts his hand open because he doesn't know what world he is in.
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#1028

fauntleroy

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 11:57 AM

Except that he doesn't have that problem, not in the typical sense of psychosis. When he's in the red world, he knows he's in the red world; when he's in the green, he operates as though he's in the green.

He may have known which world he was in, but one was real and one was not, and he could not distinguish between the two. Both seemed equally real to him and he even said so to his psychiatrists. He not only admitted to being delusional, but resisted any effort towards a cure. For all I know I may be dreaming right now, he admitted. This is akin to the guy in the rubber room who thinks he's Napolean and who takes offense at efforts by medical professionals to convince him otherwise. Sincerity of belief doesn't make a person less crazy or dangerous to himself or others.

Interesting to think if the story had continued, it would have come down to an effort just to take down the captain. She is only one person after all, and a quest to prove her guilt seems plainly procedural, hardly worthy of the split-world premise. Some day maybe we'll know what they were really going for, but I have a feeling they didn't really have some clever structure, worthy of the premise, in mind.
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#1029

pl86

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 1:47 PM

Sincerely has nothing to do with it. It's not even accurate - he doesn't sincerely believe both worlds are real. It's not even clear that he's delusional, i.e. has a belief in the face of strong or overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He KNOWS one is imaginary and one real. The guy who thinks he's Napoleon is delusional is because he actually thinks he's Napoleon. But Britten doesn't believe that both his wife and son are alive or that the car crash never happened or that he's imagining everything. As a character, he never questioned the fact of the accident or the resulting death. He knows one of them is dead but when he sleep - and only when he sleeps - he dreams of a world where one of them is alive. That's a problem but it's not a delusion or psychosis.

And I'll reiterate that I don't see the case for how he's a danger to himself or others. He admits to dreams that are so intense that they are indistinguishable to him from reality when he's sleeping. So what? He has really vivid, realistic dreams but he doesn't behave or express thoughts that the dreams continue when he wakes up. Things started to change with the latter episodes when his imaginary state started to bleed into his waking consciousness and began to affect his behavior. I'm thinking of the episode where his subconscious took the shape of the dirty cop and started to appear to him and Britten reacted to it to the bewilderment of people around him. But for the most part, he was a normal, functioning guy when he awake. He didn't tell his son that they were moving to Portland so his dead mom could go back to school. From the therapists' perspective, everything was basically confined to when he was slept. Britten isn't a threat to himself or others because of what goes on in his sleep.

Edited by pl86, May 31, 2012 @ 1:59 PM.

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#1030

fauntleroy

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 2:04 PM

He KNOWS one is imaginary and one real.

But the problem is, he doesn't know which is which. Whichever one he is currently in "feels real" to him. So he only thinks he's Napolean 50% of the time, and he doesn't know which 50%.
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#1031

pl86

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Posted May 31, 2012 @ 3:07 PM

But the problem is, he doesn't know which is which. Whichever one he is currently in "feels real" to him. So he only thinks he's Napolean 50% of the time, and he doesn't know which 50%.


But he never thinks he's Napoleon. When he's in green world with his son, he thinks he's green Britten. When he's in red world with his wife, he thinks he's red Britten. There's no confusion or delusion on his part. Napoleon guy is deluded because he believes he's Napoleon in a world where he isn't. Napoleon guy is wrong 100% but Britten is right 100%. He and his therapists explore the idea that his dreams are such that they feel completely real to him and that included debating whether this or that event proved this world was real and the other world was not (like the U.S. Constitution episode). But when Britten is awake in a world, he doesn't think he's in the other world. That he dreams of another world where his wife/son is still alive is a coping mechanism to deal with trauma. His therapists believe his attachment to it isn't good for his long-term health so they are trying to ween him off it. But until he starts to think his wife or son is alive in the world where they died, he's not deluded like Napoleon guy. I agree that it's the direction they were headed but they weren't there yet.

Edited by pl86, May 31, 2012 @ 3:37 PM.

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#1032

jenniferes

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Posted Jun 7, 2012 @ 10:24 AM

But until he starts to think his wife or son is alive in the world where they died, he's not deluded like Napoleon guy.

I don't think he should be institutionalized, but I do think he is deluded because 50% of the time he does believe someone who is actually dead is alive. In reality one of them died, so when he's in the world where that person is alive, he is delusional. He may know one reality is a dream, but he doesn't know which one. So he doesn't really know which person died. That seems like a pretty big delusion to me.
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#1033

Hanahope

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Posted Jun 7, 2012 @ 1:00 PM

In a sense, it would have turned Season 1 on its head - a reversal, where this time, the shrinks would be insisting his dream was reality.

Except we the audience would not be sure (and neither would Michael). More criminal mysteries and Michaeological twistedness (Michael Britten psychology) would have ensued.


Essentially, its Inception, where he never knows what is a dream.
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#1034

fauntleroy

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Posted Jun 8, 2012 @ 7:48 AM

The current issue of the New Yorker (June 4 & 11, 2012, the science fiction issue) has a brief reminiscence by Ursula K. Le Guin, that reminded me of Awake. Referring to the "particularly knowledgeable appreciation and criticism" of her work among science fictions readers:

Given that acute audience I thought, and still think, it ungrateful in a writer to write science fiction and deny that it's science fiction.

But since so many judges of what is important in the literary world refuse to read science fiction, denial happens:

So if you're in the great writer business you play the denial game. "Pay no attention to the spaceships, the post-holocaust scenery, or the mutants," you say. "My novel is not sci-fi; it is literature."

Interesting to see that this prejudice against sci-fi is not new. Come to think of it it's not surprising, but it's a pity it still seems active.

"Pay no attention to the guy who can live in two completely realistic and compelling realities, our show is not sci-fi; it is psychological."

Le Guin's article is behind the paywall, but the New Yorker is always worth a look if you happen to be near a library. Or even I suppose, you could buy it from the newsstand. Do people still do that?
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#1035

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Posted Jun 18, 2012 @ 2:14 AM

Whether or not relatively short, self-contained shows would be creatively attractive, it's not economical, at least not if you want to maintain the same production values and cost structure typical of U.S. shows. Ad-supported US tv isn't built to support 13-episodes series.

I don't think that's true anymore. USA Network does it all the time with their "Characters welcome" shows (not sure of the exact number of episodes for each season, but it's certainly not the 22 episodes network TV used to be [come to think of it, even seasons of network shows are shorter -- I think "Body of Proof" on ABC will have a 13-episode season next year]).

I liked "Awake," even if I couldn't keep the worlds straight -- I had to keep telling myself that if it was the male psychiatrist, it meant dead wife, while the female psychiatrist meant dead son, because the genders were opposite. I had a harder time with the partners. (And I was confused -- was the black partner's name "Isiah" in one reality and "Bird" in another?)

I don't think this show could have gone on forever, because it seemed so self-contained in one season. While I realize that the overarching mystery of "who killed my family" was paramount to Michael, I liked it when it was a procedural, with him and his partner(s) trying to solve crimes, and he used input from both worlds to solve them.

I loved the performances in this show -- from Jason Isaacs on down. I hope to see him soon in something else on my TV.
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#1036

Princess Aldrea

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Posted Jun 18, 2012 @ 5:56 PM

(And I was confused -- was the black partner's name "Isiah" in one reality and "Bird" in another?)

Apparently he's Detective Isaiah "Bird" Freeman.
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#1037

mledawn

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Posted Aug 26, 2012 @ 1:58 PM

For fans of Jason Isaacs' work in Case Histories, his co-star Amanda Abbington just tweeted:

Case Histories series 2. Filming starts tomorrow. En route to airport.


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#1038

BeenHere

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Posted Sep 26, 2013 @ 4:30 PM

I miss this show and the potential it had. I wish NBC had given it a second season like it did with Hannibal.


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