Awake's Creator And Star Discuss The Series Finale

Jason Isaacs in Awake

Last night saw the ending of one of the most creative new dramas of the last few years, as Awake aired its thirteenth and final episode "Turtles All The Way Down". Shortly before the show aired, caught up with series creator Kyle Killen, and star Jason Isaacs, to discuss the finale. The interview is pretty much spoiler free, so those that still have the show sitting on their DVRs can read without fear. Here's some excerpts from the chat.

Isaacs on what Awake was able to accomplish in a short time frame and his feelings about the finale - "I think we burned briefly but brightly. The fact that we’re not coming back for a second season doesn’t in any way diminish what we managed to do in one season. Some really smart people put their heads together and came up with something different. NBC was very brave to make it and very supportive while we were on. We left nothing off the table. It feels like a real ending. Nobody who’s watched the show is going to come up and want their money back in the street.”

Isaacs on the resolution of an emotional story - "One of those worlds is a dream. It’s not a rip in the fabric of time. It’s not string theory. It was nothing more or less extraordinary than a man who had been in a terrible car crash and could not bear to lose either his wife or his son, so he unconsciously constructed a whole universe in his head. It is a man who is teetering under the weight of this psychological denial."

Killen on whether we'll get a 100% answer to which world is real - "The episode certainly feeds one of those theories. When we wrote the episode, we didn’t know it would be the end of the series, so it would have been impossible to answer that question,” he says. “But you don’t need every question answered. I think what you need is something that feels like an emotional resolve, and I think it definitely offers that. It’s a really satisfying conclusion, and I think it will be a satisfying way to leave the show."

Killen on whether Awake might continue somewhere other than NBC - "There’s so many things aligned against you. Another network doesn’t want damaged goods from a competitor. It’s hard when you’re moving from network to cable, because the budgets and the deals are structured differently. So it’s sort of worse than starting from scratch. It’s not that I wouldn’t be open to it, but I think the limited number of fans that there is needs to be prepared to enjoy the last episode and hopefully see some of the potential of the series realized."

Closing comments about the finale - Killen: "Britten’s still fighting for his life in one world, and in the other world, he doesn’t know that he’s walked right into the heart of the conspiracy against him. He’s asked his Captain, one of the very people who was trying to get rid of him, for help. So there’s just as much explosive craziness in this episode as the last one, but it then takes itself to a whole other level when it becomes about Britten’s state of mind."

Isaacs: "When the script came in, I had to go down to the writers building and check that they weren’t all drinking because I felt they had really finally gone insane. This very tenuous hold that Britten’s had on his sanity all this time begins to fray. It’s clear that you’re watching a guy with deep psychological problems from the beginning — but he’s a pretty good cop in both worlds, and he’s a reasonable father and a reasonable husband, and he managed to hold it all together because he’s that kind of alpha male. I can promise you by the end, he’s not holding very much together at all. I hope everyone’s just sitting there in silence for 10 minutes thinking, Whew, I couldn’t have taken anymore of that. Hopefully, your brains and hearts will hurt.”

And I'll leave you with this humorous anecdote from Isaacs about shooting the naked skinny dipping scene at the campus pool from the episode "Night Swimming" - "I thought it would be very, very funny to show my butt going up and down the stairs there, and somebody somewhere thought it would break Standards & Practices. Also, there was a lady at the campus swimming pool there, god bless her, who came up and said right at the end of the night, ‘Are you naked?’ I said, ‘Well, not naked, I’ve got a small piece of material taped over my genitals,’ and she went, ‘That’s naked!’ I said, ‘It’s completely different.’ She said, ‘I can see your butt crack.’ So I taped a piece of material over my butt crack, too, and we had the last shot to do, where I ran up the stairs. It fell off, because it was just held on by a piece of Scotch tape, and she was furious. I thought they were going to have to withdraw the footage. I’m glad that some of it ended up in the episode.”

Did you watch Awake? Did you find the finale satisifying? Should Killen change his mind about shopping the show around to other channels?

- Jason Isaacs
- Kyle Killen
- Awake

Written by: msd85
May 25th, 2012, 10:10 am


Message Posted On Oct 12th, 2012, 6:19 am
Love it but why can't we have a ending which which is actually real or even mike actually is in coma or dead probably. Is there anyone just want a simple ending and dont leave the ending of the story to us? I want to read his story, not making it up mine for the ending, give me his ending...

Level 1 (5%)
Mood: miserable
Since: 24/Apr/08
Message Posted On May 30th, 2012, 8:28 pm

I love Awake. They kept Touch and ditched Awake?!!! But I understand. Touch must attract more eyeballs for advertizers. Nothing says people have to be critical. If they were critical in their thinking, we wouldn't have fascism, Would we? Awake was butchered by it's creator. The wrap up stank. Others can decide for themselves.


Level 2 (56%)
Since: 19/Jun/11
Message Posted On May 26th, 2012, 10:30 pm

Wish they'd know it was going to be a 1-season wonder from the start, the story could've been constuced accordingly.  The ending felt haphazard, rushed, an incomplete plot resolution.

British television is much better in that regard -- the tell a story in 10 episodes or less; if enough people watch, they used the same characters to tell another...


Message Posted On May 26th, 2012, 1:38 pm
My take on all of this is that they all died in the accident, but Michael couldn't be "at rest" until he solved what somehow he know to be not "Just an accident". As for everything else in the show, it was the taking of from both sides for him to place things together and that is how I see the ending. I see it that Michael finally achieved peace by putting of the pieces of the puzzle together and he was finally able to do what he as always wanted to do which was to be with both members of his family, even if that meant that he was to leave this world to be with them. That is what he was striving for, and that is what he was able to attain. I thought the ending gave us good closure. But, so looking forward to every week makes me miss future episodes which while I know that probably won't happen, would be great to see more of. Thanks for bring up this wonderful thought-provoking series.

Message Posted On May 26th, 2012, 11:13 am
I had a hard time following the last 2 episodes in which Britten becomes very violent. I felt that was out of character for him. Up to that point I enjoyed the insights about human behavior that came out. I loved that the explanations of the 2 psychs seem so plausible and, I think they could actually be applied in real life. The last scene in the last episode was good when they all reunite to the extent that they were together again. But I was afraid that it would be reduced though to saying "it was all a dream in the first place." That would have been just too much like the J.R. shooting in "Dallas". I think the series is complete and should end there, otherwise it would become trivalized like "The Fugitive."

Message Posted On May 26th, 2012, 10:38 am
Where can I buy DVDs of the one and only season of one of the best shows I've ever seen. Everything about the last episode was masterful, from the ticking clock/broken heel to melding of the 2 Brittens. I have only rarely cried over a show; I have never before sobbed like I did at the end of the finale. Oddly enough, one of the few shows I cried over also had Laura Innes: it was the episode on ER where she has to confront her mentor, played by Alan Alda, about his inability to continue being a doctor because he has Alzheimer's disease.

Message Posted On May 26th, 2012, 7:57 am
I would be more upset about Awake's cancellation if I hadn't already been through a similar experience with "Journeyman," which similarly died on NBC after 13 episodes, and also had a fascinating premise with great actors and scripts. If anything, Journeyman was better because it had deeper character interactions and more internal consistency. Awake was never going to have a resolution that made "sense." How could either of the worlds be a dream if there were scenes in each one without Britten in them? E.g., how could we see the two captains conspiring at the end of episode 2 if that world was all happening in Britten's head? So the question is whether the ending would be satisfying on an emotional level. And in that sense, it succeeded: Michael had a sense of defeating the bad guys and was reunited with his family. Although, if his family is alive, then did Britten still crack the smuggling case and were the captains still dead and/or in prison? Again, internal logic isn't the goal here. A more sensible story could be constructed on the theory that the reunion took place in the afterlife, or that the whole thing had been a dream from which he was now waking up, but neither of those answers would be satisfying because they imply that Britten hadn't achieved anything. I choose satisfying surrealism over meaningless reasonableness. The one part of the happy ending that may be missing is Bird. When Michael goes back to work, will his old partner be alive or dead? Stepping outside of the show, I'm curious about one other thing: the producers originally planned for a two-part "season 1" of 13 episodes this year and 13 episodes next year. So how would they have left things if the show had been renewed? I'm sure the last few episodes were revised to give us more closure than originally planned...

Message Posted On May 26th, 2012, 6:14 am
This Show was amazing i am the kind of person that likes all the answers so i was kind of disappointed in the ending. it is sort of a what if ending... Is he still dreaming in the jail cell has he created a 3rd world? Is this really true. Or is he dead? Those kind of things make me mad i like the cold hard truth bu honestly it was the best Tv show i have ever seen! Good Job awake.

Level 2 (59%)
Points: 0.2
Since: 08/Dec/08
Message Posted On May 26th, 2012, 3:06 am

This was a great show and one I looked forward to watching each week. I saw the ending as stunning, but not so much that it couldn't be continued. I do hope it is at least "shopped around" as there are so few quality shows like this anywhere. Kudos everyone involved with this show.


Message Posted On May 25th, 2012, 9:41 pm
We should have more f these shows than the boring reality shows. Awake should be back and run for many more seasons.
Related news

NBC To Finally Awaken In March, While The Firm Gets Put To Bed

Mitch McDeere can finally stop running. NBC seemed to have high hopes for..

Series Premiere of NBC's Awake Streams Online

The first episode of one of 2012's most anticipated new shows is now..

Awake: Jason Isaacs Knows Which of His Character's Realities is True

For those of us who might have been a little bit concerned about the..
Discuss Awake