Awake 1.10 Review: "Slack Water"

By John Keegan and Henry Tran

awakereviewiconIt must be intentional on the writers' part to de-emphasize Rex and the world where he lives on instead of Hannah. He's absent yet again in this episode, and that means Michael focuses on a routine double homicide investigation. I mean, the case has a nice initial fake-out with who the intended target of the shooter was supposed to be, but it proves inconsequential to the show's overall arc.

That said, there is more developing in Hannah's world now that she knows Emma is carrying Rex's unborn child. That makes her have second thoughts about moving to Portland, a decision that affects Michael and his career plans. That also complicates things for Captain Harper and her unknown associate. There are suggestions in this episode that indicate the conspiracy to create Michael's condition or current situation is not as complicated as it first seemed. If that proves true in the end, I wouldn't know how to react to it. Disappointment would perhaps reign more than anything else, but there isn't enough information to make a more informed judgment at this point.

If I'm going by the viewpoint that Rex's world is all in Michael's head, then the only connection I can find between what happens there and what happens in Hannah's world is the drugs involved. The case may have different drugs between each world, but otherwise there isn't much of a connection between the two worlds here. Marijuana in Rex's world, and there's heroin being moved somehow in Hannah's world. Perhaps it's Michael's mind subtly reminding him to look into any drug investigations from his past. I admit that isn't much to go on, but it's something.

Awake-NBC-Black-Water-Episode-10-2-550x366The case's outcome is very predictable once again, as the landlord just wants to get rid of the long-time tenants so that he can sell off the properties for profit. The switch between who the primary victim is in the crime is hidden well at first, but Michael and Detective Bird are smart detectives. When the evidence and the bodies are laid out in front of them so they can easily get from point A to point B with some minor tweaks to the story of what happened, the case becomes too easy to solve.

The events in Rex's world become procedural fodder that doesn't matter in the long run. It definitely calls into question the long-term sustainability of a series like this. It's a smart show, but it becomes hampered by its increased reliance on the more ordinary police procedural elements. Rex doesn't appear (and what ever happened to his comely tennis instructor?) yet again, which indicates that Michael may be letting him go altogether with each passing episode. Or it may be that the writers can't come up with any good stories that involve him. Whatever the case ends up being, Rex's world has become less important to the overall narrative.

The episode isn't a complete failure, though. Hannah and Michael deal with the news that Emma will carry his child to term. Only, her parents have ordered for her to give up the baby for adoption. It's the most sensible solution according to them. It was immediately apparent to me that Emma didn't make that decision all by herself. Her parents practically forced her to go with the adoption. Hannah is the only one who can see this, and her hesitant appeal for Emma to re-think the decision is a good scene. Hannah really wants this, as it's now the only way to keep Rex's memory alive in some manner.

A seasoned detective like Michael couldn't see that it was Emma's parents making all of the decisions for her. He had an interesting theory about projecting what Hannah wants to hear because she wants so much for it to happen that it blinds her to other possibilities. That's essentially what he is going through with the split realities. In the end, Emma comes to her senses, her parents effectively kick her out of the house, and it looks like she's going to be staying with the Brittens for a while now. At least until the baby is born. Maybe the writers can play around with the dynamics of the Brittens temporarily replacing their son with his pregnant girlfriend. This is going to change things for the both of them.

That complicates matters with Michael's job and how Captain Harper is going to handle him going forward. She discusses it with her partner and he insidiously implies that things will go sour if Michael doesn't leave Los Angeles soon. The conspiracy angle has been so vague since the show started that unless the writers pull some kind of magic trick out of their pockets, this is only going to end in disappointment. The substantial hint given here (that Harper's partner has a shipment of heroin rotting away in a warehouse) doesn't really explain much. Did they hatch some plan that involved the car accident because Michael found out about the heroin and the involvement of Westfield? Why is the Captain attached to all of this?

Harper does sell the relief that Michael will soon be gone early in the episode and it's clear she is fond of the detective. When he tells her that he'll be staying longer in Los Angeles, you can see the conflicting emotions that wash over her face. It seems she may genuinely fear what might happen to her favorite detective and that she regrets getting in with the conspiracy in the first place. The show has failed to depict any of this onscreen with some depth so there's a sense that viewers are engaged in a waiting game for the truth to come out. That should come eventually as the series pushes towards the end of the season. I would be surprised if it goes beyond that. This episode has clearly proven the limits of telling this complex story. It can only go so long before things get stale.

John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision. Henry Tran is Critical Myth's reviewer for Awake.

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