Episodes: 13 (hour)
TV show dates: March 1, 2012 — May 24, 2012
Series status: Cancelled
Performers include: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Steve Harris, Dylan Minnette, B. D. Wong, Michaela McManus, Wilmer Valderrama, and Cherry Jones.
TV show description:
Police detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) returns to work after being in a car accident, along with his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) and his son Rex (Dylan Minnette). After the crash, Britten realizes that he’s living in two realities and every time he goes to sleep, he switches between them. In one reality, his wife died in the crash and in the other, it was his son that died.
To differentiate between the two realities, Britten wears different colored rubber bands. He wears a red band for the one in which his wife is alive. He wears a green band for the one in which his son survived.
In the red band reality, Britten is partnered with rookie cop Efrem Vega (Wilmer Valderrama) and is seeing a confrontational department-recommended psychiatrist Dr. Lee (B.D. Wong). His wife has redecorated their home and begins pushing him to move, an apparent effort to move past their son’s death.
In the green band reality, Britten maintains his long time work partnership with Isaiah “Bird” Freeman (Steve Harris) and sees a more nurturing psychologist, Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones). His son Rex, previously a football player, has recently returned to playing tennis. He’s coached by his mother’s former doubles partner Tara (Michaela McManus), a woman that Britten is attracted to.
Britten is unsure which of the two realities (if either) is real and begins to worry that he’s losing his sanity when details begin to cross over between the two.
Episode 13 — Turtles All the Way Down
Having sent Bird to search the storage facility and placed Britten in a holding cell, Harper calls Carl to set up a rendezvous. Carl agrees to meet her at the rundown Silver Saddle Motel where no one will complain about the noise. With reference to prior wild sex play, Harper handcuffs Carl. What starts off as foreplay grows deadly serious when Harper reveals that Britten knows everything about their heroin scheme – everything except for her involvement in it. Knowing Carl would eventually betray her, Harper shoots him in the head and places the gun in his hand to make it look like suicide.
After finding over 200 kilos of police-confiscated heroin at the storage facility, Bird releases Britten from his holding cell. Both Carl and Hawkins made large deposits in offshore accounts, so Harper puts out an APB on Carl. It’s not long before he’s found dead at the Silver Saddle Motel. The detective on scene reports that he signed in using the name Ed Munte. Bird and Britten agree it appears to be suicide; Carl must have realized he was about to be caught. When Bird asks Britten if he’s disappointed he didn’t get the chance to catch Carl, Britten shakes his head. He would have preferred to kill Carl…
Later, Harper finds Britten at his desk. She shares a few more salient details, i.e. Hawkins fixed the front right bumper of his car a week following Britten’s accident. With complete sincerity, Harper says she wishes she could go back and change everything. Britten thanks Harper for believing in him, but he is indifferent when told he will be getting a commendation for exposing Carl and Hawkins. He could care less. All he wants is something he can never have: his family back.
In Hannah’s world, Britten comes to in the alley where he passed out due to blood loss from the bullet in his gut. Although Britten thinks it’s Hannah who’s urging him to get up, it’s Hawkins who finds Britten, cuffs him and tosses him in the back of his car. Hawkins calls Carl who orders him to dispose of Britten quickly and within their jurisdiction, so they can handle the investigation and cover it up. Refusing to yield, Britten gives Hawkins a surprise kick to the head, causing him to crash the car. Still woozy, Britten snatches the keys, grab Hawkins’ gun and flees the scene as Hawkins regains consciousness.
Britten breaks into Dr. Lee’s house and asks him to treat his bullet wound. While doing the best he can for the injury, Lee remains skeptical of Britten’s conspiracy story as he confuses details from Rex’s world, which never happened in Lee’s reality. Lee wants Britten to go to a hospital, but he refuses. Instead, he takes Lee to the storage facility in order to have a witness to verify the heroin is there. Unfortunately, for Britten, the storage unit is empty. Without proof, he can’t turn himself in. Leaving Lee locked in the empty storage unit, Britten takes off in search of evidence.
From a pay phone, Britten calls Vega, who informs that the whole of the LAPD is after him for Bird’s murder. Britten wants Vega to look up some files, yet Vega insists on a sign of trust from Britten – where is he? Ultimately, Britten agrees to meet with Vega and tells him the whole story. Once again, he refuses to go to the hospital, so Vega takes him to his apartment. Shivering from his infected bullet wound, Britten orders Vega to ask Captain Harper to help. She’s the only one they can trust.
Vega goes to Harper with Michael’s story. Refusing to listen, Harper introduces Vega to Dr. Lee, who explains Britten is unable to separate reality from fantasy. Once Lee convinces Vega that Britten is delusional, Vega reveals Britten’s location. Still shivering on Vega’s couch, a confused Britten thinks he’s hallucinating when he hears the echo of uneven footsteps. Seconds later the cops burst into the room to drag him down to the precinct. Vega apologizes, but tells Britten it’s for his own good. Harper assures Vega that he did the right thing; Britten will receive the help he needs.
Hannah sobs beside Britten’s hospital bed. Has she now lost both her husband and her son? Once he’s recovered, Britten is moved to a solitary county cell. During a visit from Harper, Britten attempts to plead his case. When he catches the name on Harper’s phone after it rings – Ed Munte – Britten completely loses control. Screaming that Harper killed Rex, Britten tries to choke Harper. Guards rush to the cell to taser into him into submission, but they can’t stop his mouth, as he continues to accuse Harper of killing his son.
Britten goes stir crazy in jail, as untold days blur together. Told he has a visitor, Britten is led to an empty visitation room. A man enters and sits across from him… it’s the Britten from Rex’s world! Rex’s Britten has a message for himself: Hannah’s Britten has to “get Harper.” The clock is ticking, though the ticking sounds a lot like the uneven footsteps he heard just prior to his arrest, which Rex’s Britten says mean that Harper’s getting away. When Hannah’s Britten swears he’ll do anything to stop Harper, the door to the visitation room opens onto a long deserted hallway.
As his two therapists appear behind him to argue about his condition, Britten approaches the door at the end of the hallway and opens it. There’s a bright light on the other side. Britten walks into the light and finds himself in the motel room where Harper met Carl before killing him. Vega stands next to Britten wearing a penguin suit telling Britten to pay close attention as the murder of Carl plays out before their eyes. It’s as if Britten and Vega are unnoticed observers to this video replay. Vega draws Britten’s attention to a previously unnoticed detail: the tip of Harper’s heel breaks off in the rug as she leans over to handcuff Carl. Britten understands the heel tip must still be sitting in the carpet at the motel and can be used to link Harper to Carl.
Britten’s scenery morphs from the motel room into a deserted restaurant where Hannah sits, overjoyed to see him. Britten confesses that he’s afraid. If his Hannah’s side is breaking the fabric of reality to help him catch Harper, Britten fears he’ll never see her again once it’s all over. He has to catch Harper but he doesn’t want to leave his wife. Hannah asks for one last kiss goodbye and then urges Britten to go get Harper! The scenery shifts again to the Britten master bedroom where Hannah’s Britten stands over his own body, sleeping in Rex’s world. The Britten in bed wakes up, and immediately checks the color of his wristband: it’s green.
Britten waits for Harper in her office, as the click of her uneven heels heralds her approach. Britten locks the office door behind Harper as he explains Carl’s Ed Munte alias had been used to place reservations at other hotels in the area – rooms that were all reserved with a credit card belonging to Harper. Harper sinks into a chair, in the slow realization that her evil has finally been exposed. Britten merely wants to know how she could possibly have gone to such lengths to destroy his life. He would have taken a bullet for her! Bird desperately pounds on the door as Britten aims his service revolver at Harper’s head, then slowly lowers it and unlocks the door. Bird enters with two internal affair detectives who want to talk to Harper… now.
Britten reviews the events of the past few days with Dr. Evans, as a clock ticks in the background. Britten usually experiences a sense of closure when he wraps up a case, but he’s not feeling it this time. Only a time machine could bring peace to his situation. Noting life only moves in one direction, Evans is proud that Britten’s finally seeing Hannah’s world for the dream it’s always been. Praising Britten for the enormous step he’s taken, Evans surmises that fully investing in one life, Rex’s life, is ultimately a richer experience than dividing that attention in two. Perhaps there Britten can move toward the closure he’s seeking.
Britten begins to reconsider. What if he’s just having a normal dream? One long normal dream where neither world is real. Fearing a relapse, Evans warns against this thought. She implores Britten to stay in the one world he knows is real, and not go further down the rabbit hole by creating a third world. While Evans lectures about “turtles all the way down,” she freezes in mid-sentence, much like the video replay Vega showed Britten in the motel room. Britten sits confused as Evans’ office door creeps open to reveal Britten’s bedroom. Britten walks through the door and shuts it.
Now standing in his bedroom in his pajamas, Britten notices his wrist is naked – no wristband whatsoever. Britten wanders through the house as if he’s seeing it for the first time. As he enters the kitchen, Rex walks in, joshing his dad about sleeping late. Britten’s jaw drops when Hannah walks into the room. When Rex and Hannah notice Britten’s state of shock, they ask if he’s okay. Whether he’s elated or sedated, Britten says, “I’m perfect,” and shuts his eyes.
First aired: May 24, 2012.
Image courtesy NBC.