‘Awake’ Recap (Season 1, Episode 8): One Suitcase
On this week’s Awake, detective Britten tracks down a witness’s missing wife and goes for a swim.
This week we open in the red world, with cops converging on a high dive. There’s a naked man up there–and it’s Michael! How did we get there? Well, let’s go back to the beginning.
After a bomb scare in a mob accountant’s car in the green world, Michael and Bird try to convince him to inform on his boss and go into witness protection. The accountant, Markus Ananyev, is reluctantly considering, but when his wife Alina has her Palm Springs vacation interrupted to come down to the station, she’s pissed. She never knew Markus was working for the mob–he’s like a stranger to her now. And she’s distraught that she’ll only be able to pack one suitcase. As Michael and Bird temporarily situate the Ananyevs in a motel room, Alina wails that Michael has no idea what it’s like to leave his life behind.
But he kind of does. While packing for their big move to Oregon in the red world, Hannah is planning on throwing out or donating lots of their old stuff, and Michael’s upset about it. She’s even throwing out the old mix tape he made for her, which was just the Otis Redding song “Pain in my Heart” over and over. He tells Hannah to cancel the Goodwill donation because he wants to go through the stuff first.
Later he takes Vega out to meet his CI, Jake, so that Jake can keep working with Vega. He tries to buy Jake off with a couple of Cuban cigars, but Jake is obviously upset that Michael’s leaving him behind, so he gives Michael a bad tip. When Michael and Vega sit outside Palace Electronics warehouse for no reason at all, Vega tells Michael he shouldn’t have been so cold and dickish to Jake.
In the green world, Michael wakes up to learn that Alina has flown the coop, and Markus won’t help them out unless they can guarantee her safety. Michael notices the name of her hotel in Palm Springs–Palace Hotel, just like Palace Electronics. Must be important! Sure enough, when he goes down there he finds out that she was seeing another man named Greg Hollander. And I do just mean “seeing”: after Michael rescues Greg from Russian mobsters, he learns that Greg and Alina weren’t sleeping together, because he’s gay. But she spent a lot of time talking with him and they were good friends, and Greg knows Alina was very worried about how far apart she had grown from her husband.
Michael asks Markus if there’s any place that he and Alina used to go together, where he thought she might run to. This leads to a motel by the sea in New York, where Michael finds her looking at the ocean. They had used to vacation there before they had money. Michael tells her that the mob is after her now, and her only choices are to go into witness protection with her husband or separately. Michael mentions that one suitcase isn’t a lot, but if they love each other then they don’t need any suitcases at all.
And so she goes into witness protection with her husband, and in the red world Michael realizes he and Hannah can just donate everything to Goodwill without worrying. They’ll always have Otis Redding on MP3. After Michael makes his peace with Jake, apologizing for trying to hand him off like a possession, Michael and Hannah go visit the community pool where they first met. Michael decides they should do a late night naked dive, just like they did that day all those years ago.
I’ve heard some negative reaction to this episode, but I quite enjoyed this different take on the show’s format. For once it was a lot less focused on case-of-the-week style storytelling, and more on the emotional situations of characters who are connected to police work. The bad guy in the green world’s story doesn’t even figure in the plot, and there’s no bad guy in the Red World story at all.
One of the things Awake has done well is slowing down the plot to tell big emotional character moments for the guest stars, and this episode did a great job with that. Additionally, I’m increasingly a fan of Detective Vega, who’s been given great material for the past two weeks. After not giving him much to do in the earlier part of the season, it’s been great to see the writers give him more of a voice, and I hope the show’s move to Oregon won’t push him out of the spotlight.
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