Monday, March 26, 2012

Green World: "Kate Is Enough"

This is a spoiler review of "Kate Is Enough", episode four of Awake, a TV series about a police detective, Michael Britten, who loses a family member in a car crash. Britten responds by creating a dream world in which a different family member died in the crash, a dream world so real that he can't tell it from the real world, and is in fact determined to act as though both worlds are real. As I've noted before, while in reality (the Green World) Detective Britten's wife Hannah died in the crash, Britten has created a dream world (the Red World) where Hannah survived and it was his son Rex who died in the crash.

In the real world, Rex gets into a fight with his best friend Cole while they're playing tennis. While Tara is breaking the fight up, Rex accidentally smacks her in the face. She asks him what's going on, and Rex explains that Cole was using his racquet without his permission and broke it, so Rex started beating the crap out of him. Cole points out that Rex uses his racquets all the time, and that he offered to pay for it. Rex walks away. Tara asks where he's going, and he says he's going to the principal's office.

Later, Britten asks Rex what the hell happened, and Rex stonewalls him, then tells Tara not to bother suspending him, because he's quitting the tennis program. When Britten discusses the matter with Dr. Evans, she points out that anger is a typical reaction to the sort of loss Rex has suffered. Britten's attempts to help Rex have come to nothing, and he feels helpless. Dr. Evans suggests that the reason Britten can't get through to Rex is because Britten doesn't really believe Rex's mother is dead.

In the dream world, Britten and his partner Vega investigate the death of a woman, Annie Ng, during a party on a yacht. The yacht is owned by two men who own a tech firm, and Ng was the personal assistant of one of the men, Cameron Fuller. Ng fell, or was pushed, overboard, but nobody saw it happen, so nobody can say which it was. Britten interviews Fuller and his partner, Darren Knox. Fuller admits that he had been having an affair with Ng, despite being engaged to a famous lingerie model, and that he had broken off the affair that morning. He was with a group of people when Ng went over the side.

After the inteview, Britten runs into Kate Porter, Rex's old babysitter. Porter is now with an investment bank in New York, and the tech firm is one of her clients. There's a stain on her dress, and she explains that Knox ran into her shortly after Ng's fall, and spilled a drink on her.

In the real world, Britten and his partner Freeman are investigating the execution-style murder of Charlie Simmons, a local wastrel living off the inheritance of his recently-deceased father. Simmons had a hidden safe under the bathroom sink, which has been opened and emptied. Back in the station, Freeman says that Simmons' house was alarmed, but his killer used a guest code to deactivate it. They start interviewing people who knew the guest code, starting with the cleaning lady.

The cleaning lady was playing bingo with her niece when Simmons was murdered, but she tells Britten and Freeman that two other people who knew the guest code were Simmons' step-brother Mark Hudson and his girlfriend Amber Blue. Britten and Freeman find Amber, and it turns out that Amber is actually Kate Porter. Simmons had dumped Porter a month earlier, and when Freeman asks her where she was the night of the murder, she says she was in the emergency room sleeping off a drug high. She gives Britten her discharge paper after fumbling around looking for it. Britten offers to help Porter enter a rehab program, but she brushes him off.

In the dream world, Dr. Lee says that Britten has created different versions of everything to avoid admitting that Dr. Lee's "reality" is real. He points out if his world is a dream, then that means that Britten dreamed of Porter, whom he hadn't seen in ten years, before meeting her for real. It would be far more reasonable, Dr. Lee suggests, to think that Britten met Porter in the real world, then added her to his dream world.

In the real world, Dr. Evans suggests that Britten subconsciously saw a picture of Porter in Simmons', and that prompted him to add her to his dream world before meeting her in reality.

In the dream world, Dr. Lee says that Britten added the picture of Porter after the fact, so he could keep believing that the real world was, in fact, real.

In the real world, Dr. Evans says the more important question is not which Porter is real, but why Britten imagines the dream version of her as so different from the real one (whichever the real one is). She thinks the duplicate Porters are not important to the cases, but to Britten's relationship with Rex.

In the dream world, Britten tells Hannah about meeting Porter, and Hannah tells him that she saved one of Porter's paper airplanes in a scrapbook. Hannah also tells Britten that Porter went through a rough patch after her sister died, and she's glad to hear that she pulled herself together and has a successful career. This is actually Britten's subconscious reminding him of the paper airplane, and of the death of Porter's sister (which Hannah told him about at the time, though consciously Britten had forgotten). When he checks the scrapbook in reality, there it is.

Britten tries to use the paper airplane to get through to Rex, but Rex insists he barely remembers Porter. When Britten reminds Rex that he hasn't apologized to Cole, Rex becomes huffy and leaves.

Britten and Freeman see Hudson, who tells them that Charlie Simmons' father Ben Simmons had been bankrolling his boxing training. However, when Simmons pere died, Charlie cut Hudson off. Hudson tried to sue Charlie for a share of Ben Simmons' inheritance, but couldn't keep it up. Hudson has no alibi for the night of Charlie's murder -- he was training alone. Back at the station, they look up the terms of Ben Simmons' will, and it turns out that with Charlie dead, Hudson stands to inherit the Simmons fortune. They now have motive and opportunity. If Hudson did kill Simmons, though, then the robbery of the safe must be a red herring.

Britten and Freeman go out to interview Simmons' neighbors to see if any of them can identify Hudson's pickup truck. It turns out that one neighbor has a surveillence camera pointed more-or-less in the direction of Simmons' house. They now have a video record of who was at Simmons' house when he was murdered.

In the dream world, Vega calls Britten to tell him they've recovered Ng's cell phone. However, Britten is made uneasy when he can find no evidence on it that Ng and Fuller were having an affair. Why would Fuller make up an affair? Vega asks. Because, Britten says, an affair would make everyone think that Ng jumped rather than was pushed.

Britten and Vega investigate Ng's house. Remembering the safe in Simmons' bathroom in the real world, Britten searches Ng's bathroom. He finds a can of the same shaving cream he saw in Simmons' bathroom, picks it up, and hears it rattle. He unscrews a false bottom, and inside is the key to a safety deposit box.

Looking in the box, Britten and Vega find a research report. It turns out that the report showed that the company's research into silicon chip manufacturing had gone down a blind alley. Fuller and Knox were keeping the information from the company's investors, and Ng was threatening to go public. Fuller had an alibi for the time fo Ng's death, but Knox did not. Britten has the stain on Kate Porter's dress analyzed, and it held the same mix of wine and Ng's prescription drug that was found in Ng's body. It was Knox who drugged Ng and pushed her overboard, while Fuller made up the story that they were having an affair to create a motive for Ng's supposed suicide.

In the real world, Britten and Freeman play back the video for the night of Simmons' murder. They do not find Hudson's truck on the scene; instead, they find Porter's car. Britten and Freeman interrogate Porter, and she admits that she was broke and jonesing for a hit, and gave her dealer, Leon, the code for Simmons' house. She says that Leon told her he would just scare Simmons into opening the safe for him.

In the dream world, Dr. Lee points out that Britten has created two lives for Porter after her sister's death, one where she successfully dealt with the loss, and one where she didn't. Britten says the two lives are different, but equally plausible.

In the real world, Dr. Evans asks Britten what he thinks caused Porter's life to go in one direction or the other. Talking to Porter, Britten learns that she blames herself for her sister's death, and was determined to punish herself. Her mother tried to talk her out of it, but finally gave up. In the dream world, Porter says that her mother didn't give up, and eventually was able to help her out of her depression.

In the real world, Britten finds Rex staring at the broken tennis racquet. He refuses to accept Rex's silence, and eventually Rex admits that he got angry because it was Hannah's racquet that Cole broke. He never used it, he just kept it in his bag as a way of keeping his mother's memory alive. Whenever he thinks about Cole breaking the racquet, he gets angry again. Britten tells it's all right, he still gets angry himself. The next day, Rex apologizes to Cole, and they make up.

In Awake, the Red World has always served as a cautionary tale for Detective Britten. In the most obvious sense, the Red World shows Britten how much worse his life could be: he could have an unsympathetic therapist, an untrustworthy partner, cases that he can't solve. With the alternate Kate Porter, as Dr. Evans pointed out, the Red World was showing Britten how high the stakes were with his son's depression. The dream Kate Porter was Britten's subconscious telling him that he couldn't afford to give up on Rex, with, ironically, the real Kate Porter as the worst-case scenario for what might happen if he did. Britten heeds the warning from his subconscious, and is able to help Rex out of his downward spiral.

On the other hand . . .

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