Saturday, May 26, 2012

Awake's Last Episode - The Ending Explained (Spoilers!)

I will begin this with a warning. If you've not yet seen the last episode of Awake then stop reading RIGHT now as I'm about to spoil all sorts of things for you. I mean it, stop. Go watch it, then come back.

Ok, still with me?

Warning number two. This is my explanation for what the ending meant. It is not one I've got from the writers or from Awake's creator, Kyle Killen. This is just an opinion on what it all means. I've seen a lot of theories floating around (the red universe was a dream and green was real; he went insane in prison and everything after that was a hallucination, etc.) but this one makes the most sense to me (based upon what we seen).

I decided to colour code the character's names so we know which Universe (red/green) we are talking about when we discuss them. So, let's go...

Michael is in prison - having just found out that Harper is also involved in the conspiracy - and finds out that he's got a visitor that turns out to be Michael himself. In a conversation between the two, Michael tells Michael that "he has to be sure" if he wants to catch Harper and Michael replies that "he'll do anything."

Things take a turn for the even stranger as Michael wanders down a corridor, accompanied by his psychiatrists from both Universes, and steps through a locked door that that seems to contain blinding light. He finds himself in the motel room, along with Vega (dressed in a penguin suit) and watching as Harper murders Kessel (and leaves behind an incriminating piece of evidence - her shoe heel). He then visits Hannah in an empty restaurant and seemingly says goodbye to her before going to sleep and waking in the green universe.

Armed with the new information, Michael brings Harper down and then visits Dr. Evans to discuss what happened. She tries to persuade him that the red universe - the world with Hannah - was just a dream and that these events prove it. However, Dr. Evans then pauses in mid-speech and Michael steps through a door into a world where both Hannah and Rex are alive...

My theory is that the red universe was indeed a dream - but it was a dream inside the dream of the green universe.

Michael visiting Michael in prison forced him to accept that the red universe was a dream - and that the only way to catch Harper was to accept that the red universe was a dream (which meant saying goodbye to Hannah). The fact that the red universe was less real was hinted at throughout the season (it was in the red universe that he imagined Dr. Lee was with him during the siege at the mental institute; it was in the red universe that he was trapped and accompanied by an imaginary Detective Hawkins).

However, the green universe was not itself reality - the penguin hallucinations were a clue, but the real giveaway was in the final episode itself when Michael watched Harper kill Kessel. Michael had not witnessed this event - could not possibly have witnessed this event - so the only way that Michael could possibly have watched the replay of it was if this event had been created by himself in his green dream.

Michael has to abandon the red universe in order to catch Harper in the green universe; but he ends the season with the realisation that he is in a dream within a dream and - with the red universe gone - that allows him to step into a third dream, one in which both Hannah and Rex are still alive.

What exists outside the dream worlds? We don't know. Maybe Michael is in a coma after the accident and this is all part of his attempt to wake up. Unless Kyle Killen decides to explain, I guess we'll never know. But this makes sense to me - green was a dream, red was a dream inside that dream. And the season (and indeed series) ends with Michael being able to step into a third dream in which he had both the people that he loved most.

Awake was an awesome series and it is a terrible shame that NBC pulled the plug. It was intelligent, it made you work to keep up with it and it was immensely enjoyable. All involved should look back on this as a great piece of TV...


Anonymous said...

This was one of the best TV shows ever. So sorry they stopped it. Of course there was more room for the story line- hell look at what they came up with so far.

Of course "Dancing with the Stars" will still be on- for the next 20 years..? Hmmmmm. Hopefully a smarter network will want to pick it up.

Jeff Z. said...

I agree that red was a dream within the dream of green, but I disagree with the conclusion. I think that, while the whole story was a big dream, he finally woke up from the dreams at the end and was in reality where both Hannah and Rex still existed. I would guess that the accident never even happened, or if it did, everyone made it.

The other idea I had is that Michael actually died in the accident, and the storyline is him in between life and death, and at the end, he finally passes, and the world in which he is with both Hannah and Rex is his "heaven."

Jeff Z. said...

This interview with the shows creator makes it sound like my original thoughts were wrong and that he is basically dreaming within a dream in that last scene:

Tomorrw's Masterpiece said...

Let's not over-think the final episode. Red, green, or purple aside, the entire season was based on a dream from which Michael awoke to a happy ending (the network's way of apologizing for axing another good show).
What they SHOULD have done after Michael woke up, would've been to have them drive away, singing the same song and reliving the same scenario as right before the accident.
Not the end after all...just the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Great show.., I wonder why NBC would cancel the show .

marc said...

ENDING IS CLEAR: GREEN IS REALITY. I thought the writers made it clear: 1. The female psychiatrist tells the male one that he doesn’t even exist. 2. Britten has a dinner with his [dead] wife where he says he finally has to say goodbye and let her go. 3. Britten from the red world crosses into the green world and ‘dissolves’ into green Britten, thereby ending the dream world of the red world. As he talks to the female psychiatrist about finally having realized that their world was the real one, he then decides it is fine to make up – or dream – his own world, if it can be ‘real’ to him. Therefore, he simply made a new and better dream to replace the red world, he now creates a new dream world where they are both alive. But, no, clearly reality is the green world with the female psychiatrist.

Originally posted:

SaveAwake said...

Please could you post a link to our 'Save 'Awake'' campaign?