Awake Creator Nixes One Theory, Hints Dream-y Finale Was In Fact Britten's Worst Nightmare

Awake‘s few but hugely passionate viewers came away from Thursday’s series finale with many questions. Of course, we’re still wondering which reality was in fact real. But also: What did the final scene mean? Was it all but a dream? Or was that dream-come-true moment in fact Michael Britten’s biggest nightmare? And what twists were on tap for the Season 2 we sadly never shall see? (Hint: baby versus babe!) TVLine invited series creator Kyle Killen to field some burning questions.

RECAP | Awake Series Finale: Green Means Go

TVLINE | Just to confirm: The season finale played out exactly as you always intended it, even knowing that renewal was looking iffy?
It really did. I mean, our ratings weren’t great, so there was some suspicion that we might not be back, but nobody had any idea what NBC would do. And literally, that last scene was something we had talked about from before the pilot was even written. Post-Lost, [network execs] are looking to make sure that you have flagpoles that you’re heading toward, and that was always our Season 1 flagpole.

TVLINE | Obviously there has been much speculation about what the heck we watched last night. Will you go so far as to say that it was not all a dream? That there was a car accident?
I’ve seen some really interesting [theories], and I wouldn’t say that anyone is wrong — except the people who are calling it a Dallas or a Newhart, any variation on “…and then he woke up.” That is absolutely not what we intended. If you watch the last few minutes again, I’m not sure what the argument for that [interpretation] even is. I suppose there’s the überpossibility that he’s in a coma and now having a third dream in the coma, but in no way should it be interpreted as, “He woke up and his family was fine. He’d just been having two nightmares.”

TVLINE | I reckon those people are just trying make sense of the fact that both Hannah and Rex are alive in the final scene.
Right. For us, while it provided an uplifting and hopeful ending [to the season/series], it probably would have been a sign that he was getting worse. He had reached a place where he seemed to part with Hannah’s world, he seemed to sacrifice that to get the answers [to the conspiracy] that he did. Dr. Evans pointed that out to him, that he’s once again on that precipice of understanding and accepting. Instead, he does what he’s done from the beginning — and that’s where “turtles all the way down” comes from. Infinite regression. “What if I’m still in prison in the red world, and all the crazy stuff that happened after… was a dream? Even if one of these [worlds] is a dream, why can’t I have a dream within a dream?” Once he realized [he could], it’s as if he seemed to dream the thing he wanted more than anything — to be reunited with his wife and son.

TVLINE | His epiphany with Evans was that he can have both worlds and dream within them.
Right. Going forward, I don’t think he would become a lucid dreamer, but in that moment it delivered something that his psyche had desperately wanted for a long time. For me, Twin Peaks was a seminal show, and what we started to miss from the red-versus-green [story] and the procedural crossover clues and the fact that they were both completely grounded and therefore impossible to tell apart, was that despite being a show where half of it took place in his imagination, we rarely got to play with any “fun” imaginary elements. This [finale] was always intended to open up a third space, a dream space, to introduce some of the more surreal elements.

TVLINE | That was my next question, what Season 2 would have looked like. A similar weekly procedural, but now with an added avenue through which Britten could glean clues?
For us, the balance of his personal stories versus the procedural would have taken some time to work out. Toward the end of the season we become more interested in his personal coming-apart, and the dream space. And though it ended with a positive grace note, it would have potentially been a bigger problem, a sign of things worsening for him. One of the elements we were very interested in involved Michaela McManus, who did a fantastic job as Tara, Rex’s tennis coach and a potential love interest in the [“green”] world. In Season 1, the procedural — really the dual procedurals — crowded out those things….

TVLINE | Plus it was too soon.
Totally right. [The onset of the Tara romance] was slotted for the end of the season, but you needed to be planting bread crumbs all the way along, and we ultimately didn’t get to it. In the second season, we would have liked to have gotten into his personal stories and how those two worlds played off each other a little more, while dialing back the procedural element.

TVLINE | Along those lines, many viewers are siding with Dr. Adams, that the “green” reality with Rex was the real deal. Do you want to leave that open to interpretation?
It’s open. Each time someone on staff would say, “Do you realize this pushes it more towards this…?” it always turned out that someone else on staff could make a counterargument in an equally compelling way. I could make a pretty strong argument for “red” being the reality. In “red,” he’s in a place where he’s in prison and the person that ultimately destroyed his family is going to get away with it, so if anything were to cause your psyche to fracture and imagine a world where you do win, where you do catch the person…. I think it would be the horrible pressure of realizing you might be stuck in prison. That’s in some ways a just as compelling argument for “red.”

TVLINE | Was the pseudonym “Ed Munte” by chance an anagram for something — perhaps, as one of my readers suggested, “unmeted” as in “without dimension”?
I wish I could take credit for that. Your reader is more brilliant than we are.

TVLINE | Also, to be clear, that was not Hannah appearing pregnant in the final scene, but just an expectant Laura Allen?
That was just [actress] Laura Allen pregnant, yes. But Hannah’s unexpected pregnancy was going to be the counterbalance to the Season 2 arc with the tennis coach.

RELATED | 20 TV Questions: Can We Get an Awake Spinoff Starring the Two Shrinks?

TVLINE | You have a lot to be proud of here. You pulled off 13 episodes with nary a clinker in the bunch and many of them absolutely outstanding. That said, would it be a bit of added validation if Jason Isaacs scored an Emmy nomination?
I’d love that for him; he did amazing work. It actually would be the supreme validation just to get a nomination, because it would have to come from the work. He’s not going to get a [network or studio] campaign like other actors with resources. You don’t really do that with a cancelled show, so that would be an incredible commentary on the work he did. In fact, while it’s flattering to see the fan base engaged in having the show continue, that’s a little more of a long shot than pouring those resources into mounting an Emmy campaign to have Jason remembered.

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  1. Jon PhD says:

    Nice work Awake writers!**


  2. Nena says:

    SO it has cancelled . I just don’t get it . It’s an amazing show,I loved the ending, but after reading all these comments I got a bit confused. If it is sad or happy ending . I want another season.COME.ON

  3. WE WANT S2 says:

    Please I just can’t imagine that this the end. No.Awake anymore NOOOOOOOO

  4. Bernadette Hygaard says:

    I loved the show. NBC is crazy to have cancelled it. It was one of the best show on TV.

  5. Rachel says:

    I’ve JUST watched the finale (I’m in UK) and I just can’t believe that the TV programme has been cancelled! It was brilliant and I’m dying to know what would have happened.

    I hate it when they cancel shows – what do they base it on? Ratings? Do they count the world wide stats or just the U.S? We love it over here!!

  6. Anna Banana UK says:

    Just finished watching in the UK – loved it!

    Only found out there wasn’t another series by looking on here, what a shame!

    I think I’d go along the lines of thinking he’s completely lost it now and is happy to create a world where all 3 exist, either that or he’s dead, can’t decide but am loving the theories!

    RIP Awake, that’s for keeping me entertained for the last 13 weeks! At a bit of a loss now!

  7. Liz says:

    I loved awake! I am so depressed to find out it was cancelled. I love love the main character.

    • Liz says:

      I am crying as I finish watching the finale……I pvred all the episodes and will cherish the memory of them.
      ( can’t stand the female cop at all….won’t miss her)

  8. Mette Johansen says:

    No offense, but you all seem extremely arrogant. Everyone I know who watched this show, myself included, figured the multi-dimension-angle out during the pilot (and many other theories along the way). I don’t see why anyone would need excessive intelligence or creativity to follow the plot.
    Maybe I should listen more to what everyone here in Europe says about Americans, because if your countrymen are to “dumb” to follow this series there is no hope for the world (since USA is running it) and we should all stop breeding.

    I hope the statements I’m referring to where made in frustration, not reality. I really do.

    • newsfromnowhere360 says:

      Hmmm. Just finished reading all the comments on this page and it didn’t take “excessive intelligence or creativity” to figure out the only one which displays even a hint of arrogance was made by you. No offense (of course).

      • newsfromnowhere360 says:

        “I hope the statements I’m referring to where made in frustration, not reality. I really do” ….Wow, do you really not see the irony here?

  9. Erin says:

    After watching all the episodes of the show I came to the conclusion that this show not as sci-fi as one may believe but more a psychological analysis of how the human brain works. My theory of the show is that Britton’s REAL life was the one where his wife survived and his son died. It’s so hard for him to accept the reality (even his shrink tells him so) that he starts to become delusional and in his mind invent another reality (at first) where his son was still alive. As time goes bye his delusional mind starts creating complex realities and other delusions, like for example the fact that it wasn’t an accident but that they tried to kill him. Most probably he was feeling guilty for the accident, he was driving and as he admits he was driving too fast, so his mind makes up everything so that he does not feel guilty any more. In reality there was no plot to kill him, he just made up everything and in real life he ends up killing his former partner and ultimately ends up in jail. His delusional mind at first creates an idyllic reality where he uncovers the whole plot where they tried to kill him and he’s the hero of the day, but when he realises that if he accepts this reality even though he’s a winner he’s still a loser because in this reality he has lost his wife, so once again his delusional mind creates yet another reality where no one has died, where he’s happy and guilt free. At the end of the planned series finale I would have imagined a highly sedated Britton locked up in a mental institute staring blankly while living his delusional dreams.

  10. Ive just watched awake as I had it recorded, I found it very interesting and once I watched one episode I had to watch another. Please bring out season 2 coz I loved it and when will the series be on DVD coz I def will be buying it, it’s a fab series so please please please bring out season two.

  11. Natasha says:

    This show was my favorite show, I can’t believe no season two. Such a creative show.

  12. Kathy says:

    Another fabulous show cancelled before it even got started! There have been so many great shows in the last couple of years that have been the best I have seen on TV only to find out they have been cancelled! (The Chicago Code, Prime Suspect, The Nine…just to mention a few) I don’t know what needs to be done, better advertising, starting it from scratch again at a better time and day…I know if people saw this show, they would be hooked! I am sad to see it go! I can’t stand all of these stupid reality shows about stupid people…Kardashians, Jersey Shore, etc…it is sickening! Give these great shows a chance and bring them back!!!

  13. newsfromnowhere360 says:

    Killen: “I wish I could take credit for that. Your reader is more brilliant than we are”….He is so full of S**T. Why the hell do they do this? If you are going to deny, do it with style — say something vague and/or interesting — a blatant denial is simply dishonest — artists should be deceptive not deceitful….

  14. newsfromnowhere360 says:

    Next time you speak w/ him ask what “a second night series” is or what “COS + Ech” means…both prominently displayed on signs or screens in separate episodes…Will he make believe this means nothing too?

  15. Michael says:

    This is just sad we are becoming an age of the ignorant when good television is canceled like this I mean once I found this show on netflix I sat and watched the the entire season in a day and a half my mind just fed on all the psychological mystery and I can’t believe anyone gave poor reviews to the episode “game day” it really made you feel he was actually in two similar yet distinct reality and not real world vs dream world

  16. Todd says:

    Watched the first episode last weekend on Netflix and literally had to ration them over the week because I didn’t want it to end. The show was so good that it never even crossed my mind that there wouldn’t be a second season. I finished the last episode tonight and quickly looked it up on the Internet to see about the next season.. Completely blown away that this show was cancelled. I also watched House of Cards in a week and this is the only show in the same league I have seen in a while. So that’s it for me. Network tv continues down the path of irrelevancy. I’ve never posted a comment about a tv show before but this show was brilliant and deserved a long life. Netflix, here’s your chance to further change the tv landscape. There’s a few million of us pulling for someone to AWAKE up!

  17. tim jordan says:

    for. So, I went looking. I recorded a combination of episodes on a reel to reel, and was able to play them
    backward as well as change speed and pitch. Only
    after several hours of careful monitoring, was I able to
    detect a very subtle message, but when I played it again
    the next day it would be gone! I spend more and more
    time alone in my basement listening for new messages.
    The messages I’ve been able to piece together are more
    than I myself can comprehend. I need help!!

  18. Anthony Kurtis Aureia says:

    I just caught the first season on Netflix…so sad they canceled it. I loved it.

  19. Colton Simons says:

    Please make a season 2 I’m gonna die!!!!

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  22. irenechaffee says:

    I felt that the season finale was incredible. To me it showed that he had a complete psychotic break. His thoughts or dreams become more strained and surreal pointing to his eventual break with reality. Great show! Can’t believe they cancelled it. Why!!

  23. Al Hole says:

    I Just Finished Watching off of Netflix and i’m about to watch it again. I LOVED IT!!! I can’t believe it’s cancellation happened. Such a good Series. Netflix would be foolish not to pick it up and continue on. What i have read about it’s demise …that it being too smart for prime time,…I can see that. It’s sad, but i can see it. It’s worthy of a paid channel most definitely!! I watched the whole season in a day in a half and had told at least 10-15 people about it. Excellent!!!