“Of course I’m awake. I’m awake with my wife, I close my eyes, and I’m awake with my son.”
The above quote is spoken by Detective Mike Britten (Jason Isaacs) to one of his psychiatrists but is also a sly elevator pitch to the audience about what to expect when watching Awake. Sometimes the most interesting concepts are the ones that at their core are the easiest to explain. With Awake, NBC attempts to avoid the pitfalls of so many other high-concept series by avoiding the weight of a dense mystery that so frequently alienates new viewers and at the cost of quality storytelling and acting. Needless to say, they achieved that quite admirably.
Awake wisely plummets right into the reality (or realities) of the show, eschewing the stereotypical origin story. Britten, wife Hannah (Laura Allen) and son Rex (Dylan Minnette) are in a car accident. In one reality Hannah dies from the accident, in the other Rex has perished. The show picks up some time after this accident, with the survivors of each reality already past the initial grief of their loss and trying to move on with their lives. Except for Britten, who awakens each day to the different reality.