Monday, March 26, 2012

Red 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 Red World) Detective Britten's son Rex died in the crash, Britten has created a dream world (the Green World) where Rex survived and it was his wife Hannah who died in the crash.

We open in Britten's dream world, where 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 real 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 dream world, Britten and his partner Freeman are investigating the execution-style murder of Charlie Simmons, a local wastrel living off an inheritance from 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 real world, Dr. Lee says that Britten has created different versions of everything to avoid admitting that his other world is a dream. 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 dream 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. After hearing this, Britten suddenly does remember seeing Porter's picture in Simmons' house.

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

In the dream 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 real 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. When Britten checks the scrapbook in the dream world, it is, of course, there.

In the dream world, 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, as the money in it would be Hudson's anyway with Simmons dead.

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 real 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. They can still find no evidence of Ng's affair with Fuller. Britten's subconscious prompts him with a memory of the safe in Simmons' bathroom in the dream world, and Britten searches Ng's bathroom. He finds a can of the same shaving cream he saw in his dream, 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 tested, and it held the same mix of wine and Ng's prescription drug that was found in Ng's body after her death. 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 dream 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. Leon, of course, killed Simmons, making Porter an accessory to murder.

Back in reality, 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 dream world, Dr. Evans asks Britten what he thinks caused Porter's life to go in one direction or the other. Talking to Porter in reality, Britten learns that she blames herself for her sister's death, and was determined to punish herself. Her mother refused to give up on her, and eventually was able to help her out of her depression. Talking to dream Porter in prison, Britten is told that Porter's mother did finally give up on her, and her downward spiral continued.

In the dream 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.

Kyle Killen, the creator of Awake, has stated that one of the worlds is in fact a dream, and one is real. Britten, though, insists on thinking of both worlds as real, and since the audience identifies with Britten, they also tend to think of both worlds as real. In "Kate Is Enough", though, we see proof that one of the worlds is actually a dream. If both worlds were real, diverging from each other after Britten's accident, then the only changes between them would be those resulting from the different outcomes of the accident four months earlier. The alternate Kate Porters, though, have been growing apart for years, enough time for the real Porter to become an investment banker and move to New York, while the dream Porter becomes a drug addict. After tonight's episode, Detective Britten can no longer maintain the pretense that both worlds might be real. One of his therapists is right -- one of the worlds is an elaborate construct he has created to avoid dealing with the death of a family member. Whether he comes to see that Dr. Lee is right, and the world where Hannah survived is the real one, remains to be seen.

On the other hand . . .

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