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Though The Wire does appeal to that part of me that reviewed a few movies in the John Singleton canon a few years back and generally enjoys that odd subgenre of crime dramas, that of the ‘hood film,’ which isn’t as popular as Mafia movies or as prolific as yakuza/triads-thank-you-no-thank-you-Mr. Miike, it’s also important in this trying time where Dreck Fiction attempts to gratefully slide toward mostly science-fiction discussion, because it has what a lot of science-fiction in film and television lacks: great storytelling. I haven’t lived for very long, but The Wire is by this point the best told story I’ve ever experienced. Maybe it isn’t my favorite story, but its storytelling is so complex, so satisfying, that it warrants analysis on this sci-fi site.

There isn’t much to connect The Wire to the genre of science-fiction, but it could have been anything, so long as it was “the best told story I’ve ever experienced.” Again, I was inclined to like it from the start and feel a compulsion to blabla about it on this blog, but figuring what makes The Wire tick and how it comes together to say something real could benefit the critical eye toward any genre.

Christ, if we had anything close to The Wire in science-fiction… I’d be a pretty happy guy.

Check out this awesome video if you need a quick recap of the series’s events…

This episode carefully balances a stand-alone premise, ongoing character and plot issues, and newly developing threads that tie into the themes of sanity and the mind. A hostage situation strikes a little too close to home for Detective Britten, as its being run by a schizophrenic who sees things and has, perhaps like Britten, created an elaborate narrative delusion. What we do know about our hero is that he’s having hallucinations and is beginning to lose track of his worlds, mixing up a phone bill and a permission slip in the same where his son hides a girlfriend in plain sight. It becomes up to him to diffuse this situation, all the while learning more about himself and these new problems.

What’s interesting about this episode is the concentrated focus, and BD Wong’s character interacting with Britten outside of therapy. We start to get more out of their relationship, and it was an interesting twist, though not nearly as shocking as the one at the very end of the episode.

Awake manages to maximize its medium, that of network drama and episodic narrative. It’s limited because dramatic beats must be measured to line up with commercial breaks, and you’ll never hear an organic ‘fuck’ or two in a tense situation, but by building on the situation and character, does well with the long running-time, the episode to episode structure. There is mystery and revelation, and the promise of more mystery and revelation next week.

The next episode airs 10pm Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, NBC

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