In the pilot of Awake, there’s a moment that defines Michael Britten’s view of his new reality. He wakes up and can’t find his wife or son. Britten freaks out. He screams, he cries, he even gets a knife and cuts himself in a last-ditch effort to wake up from what he hopes is just another dream. Michael proves that he is willing to hurt himself to have both his wife and his son in his life still, regardless of the fact that they are in separate realities. Since then, Michael has mostly remained calm, content with the dual life that he has grown accustomed to. It’s not perfect, but at least he doesn’t have to deal with the loss. In “Say Hello to My Little Friend,” we get an entire episode that feels like Michael looking for the knife to wake himself up, and it’s one of Awake’s most compelling episodes to date.
In the son reality, Michael goes with Rex and no-longer-pregnant Emma to a police carnival. Michael agrees to bungee jump to help out Rex, but he soon loses his balance and falls off the podium as he bungees into the wife reality.
While he doesn’t think much about this at first, when he attempts to fall asleep later that night, all he gets is rest instead of seeing his son again. If that weren’t enough, he keeps hallucinating that he sees a man he ran into at the carnival, played by Alias’ Kevin Weisman. Michael still tries to go about his job and catching a killer who has created his own reality, driving him to kill strangers and friends alike. Amongst all this, he has to try to convince pregnant Emma’s father that what she is doing is the right thing.
Dr. Lee believes that maybe Michael has so much on his plate now that he has focused on the reality that needs his attention the most, but actually, Michael has too much going on in his head to focus. While having a meeting with Emma’s father, he chases after the real version of his new imaginary friend and causes an accident, and while trying to figure out during the murder case who this friend/burden is, worried his partner Vega in the process.
We find out that his imaginary friend is a fellow police officer named Ed, who just happens to be the new partner of his old partner (Detective Freeman, who is still his partner in Rex world). Michael starts to come to believe that he might never see Rex again and that he has finally lost him for good, in a moving scene between him and Hannah. While finally dealing with this, Michael realizes where he has seen Ed before, and while he knew that he was there the night of the crash that caused these two sides of him to appear, he now remembers that Ed is the reason he crashed. After coming to this realization, Michael goes to sleep, welcomed by Rex at the carnival.
“Say Hello to My Little Friend” works beautifully at showing the pent-up fear that Michael has felt throughout the first season and has only dealt with in the pilot. The further we get, the more he is starting to lose it and worry those around him. This could very well be the beginning of him losing it as he tries to not lose one of his realities. He can deal with both for only so long before he breaks like he does here. At the very least, Jason Isaacs deserves an Emmy nomination for his work in this episode and based on what Isaacs brings to this show, NBC should have renewed it for a second season.
The conspiracy aspect of the show is still shaky, even though it is handled well in this episode. Awake worked well when Michael believed that he was responsible for the accident, and taking that out of the equation seems like an odd choice at this point. Weisman is a fun addition to the cast and pulls off dark and creepy, especially for someone usually typecast as the nerdy, unassuming geek.
As Awake’s last few episodes of the season, and sadly of the series, come together, Britten’s grasp on his realities is becoming more fractured as his understanding of the conspiracy is finally coming into place. The conspiracy alone might not work well, but combined with this should make these final episodes pretty great. But even if they don’t, “Say Hello to My Little Friend” is one of Awake’s best and just a phenomenal hour of television.