The series was built around the idea of playing one reality off another, illustrating the differences and using case A to progress in case B, where both cases are standard police procedural. The strongest episodes of the series were those which ignored that concept but kept with duality. Instead of Green vs Red, it was Sci Fi Super Powers versus Insane Man. (In that vein, I thought the hostage standoff was the best, and the football episode the worst - though the big revelation at the end was excellently set up.) The finale went back and forth between Insane/Sci Fi before merging them them into one David Lynch-ese quarter hour. The symbolism was tough to keep up with at times, and I really wish they hadn't given away the jailhouse phone call conversation in last week's trailer, but they ultimately earned all the craziness.
If you didn't make it all 13 and want to be spoiled, the show appeared to me to settle on the Green reality (where his son lived) as the 'true' one. Britten was able to prove his innocence, and turned over his crooked captain despite really wanting to kill her. Britten still believed he might yet see the Red reality when he went to sleep that night, and was explaining this to the psychiatrist when time just stopped. There had been a paranormal trans-reality experience early in the episode, but this went ended with Britten back in his house, in a non-color coded world, finding that both his wife and his son were still alive. No explanation, just a happy ending (one conversation away with Kyle Killen from being straight out of Animal Man.)
However, Killen explains the first season ended exactly how it was pitched, nothing to do with the season ending. The weirdness of the Red reality would be attributed to a post-taser dream, he'd wake back in the jail in the Red reality, and they'd balance it so it was unclear which one was correct. Britten theorizes that was all a dream in the last psychiatrist visit, and so *actively dreams* a reality where both his wife and his son alive. Which would be massively confusing if they went back and forth thru all three in a season 2.
The non-insane reason why Britten was living in two different realities was never even hinted at thru the show (except by the title), so I wasn't really expecting an island moving wheel or whatever. They did seem to be laying the ground work for an unseen big boss in the shadow (always a must for a conspiracy on TV), so I'd guess they would keep moving that direction in a mythical season 2.
For all the reality stuff, the acting is what made the show and why I'm glad I caught it. Jason Issacs was really good as Britten, and the rest of the cast really did well with their material. The concept really didn't work as a broadcast show; NBC surely was hoping for a police show with sci fi elements (the Profiler?), but it was a quirky sci fi show about a detective and that's a cable show right now. I think Awake will gain some cult popularity on Netflix and the like, but it went as far as it could've on network TV. As it turned out, they had about 8 good episodes, so I'm fine with it ending after 13.
When Britten said "What if there are no rules" (or words to that effect) to the psychiatrist, I assume that was the "epiphany" necessary for him to create a third reality in his mind where his family remains intact ...
In any event, I'll remember "Awake" as a great mini-series (maxi-series?) rather than a cancelled TV show.
My new inappropriate catchphrase: Vinegar, please!
Did I just watch Inception where Leonardo DeCaprio chooses the fake dream of his wife and kids over the real world? lol I liked the finale. Makes me want to re-watch the previous episodes to see if this was the final plan all along. It seems like weirder things did happen during the "red" reality... like the Taco drive tru guy giving him clues, him hallucinating the asian shrink at the mental institute, and him hallucinating the cop that ran him off the road...
I fully expected the content of this episode (the callback to the premiere, the Faraday flashbacks explaining everything) to be the season finale. Faraday can't be dead, or how else do they explain the Comiccon video?