Credit where it’s due, NBC’s ‘Awake’ keeps adding interesting new wrinkles to its premise in just about every new episode. In Thursday’s entry, detective Britten’s subconscious seems to be actively thwarting his attempts to make changes in his life. This causes him to lose even more perspective on which of his two waking realities, if either, is actually real.
The previous episode ended with Britten deciding to move to Portland with his wife. Episode ‘Ricky’s Tacos’ picks up from that point, as he prepares to sell his house. Yet Britten still hasn’t told his captain (Laura Innes) about his plans, and his realtor informs him that the house will need a lot of upkeep maintenance before it can be sold. Putting the work into the house just makes him question whether he really wants to leave at all.
On top of that, Britten hears the mascot at a taco chain’s drive-thru window talk to him and leave him clues about one of his old cases. This is the sort of thing that makes a man question his sanity. Regardless, he follows through and investigates an abandoned office building, but doesn’t find anything useful there. His captain insists that he drop it. Later, we learn that the building had something to do with the conspiracy that led to Britten’s accident (of which we already know the captain is a part).
Meanwhile, two new cases come up, one for each of his realities. In one, a 17-year-old girl mysteriously jumps to her death from a building. Evidence points to her nerdy friend (Charley Koontz, a.k.a. Fat Neil from ‘Community’) having raped her and driven her to suicide. However, it turns out that the girl’s father was the real molester.
In the other case, a construction crew finds the remains of a body preserved in the foundation of a building being demolished. The Medical Examiner takes great glee in the opportunity to melt a three-year-old corpse out of concrete. This ties back to an illegal immigrant who’d murdered his own brother and taken over his identity for his green card.
Britten resolves both cases by finding evidence hidden beneath other evidence. The signs of sexual activity the girl had with her friend drew attention away from her older rape injuries, and a tiger tattoo on the immigrant’s shoulder covers up an older devil tattoo that confirms his true identity. Figuring both of these out acts as an obvious sign that Britten should dig deeper into that abandoned office building. Nonetheless, he convinces himself that he’s just making excuses not to move. Britten eventually announces to the captain that he’s leaving.
This episode offers confirmation that Britten has the same captain in both realities (we’d previously only seen her in one), and that she’s part of the conspiracy against him in both. It also makes Britten continue to doubt his sanity. The more odd events (like mysterious talking drive-thru mascots) that happen to him, the more reason he has to believe that he’s just dreaming the whole thing.
Is he just dreaming the whole thing? That seems doubtful. As reader Bob pointed out after a previous recap, both of Britten’s realities have side stories in which he doesn’t participate and can’t know what’s happening. For example: the scene in this one where his captain calls one of her co-conspirators. Britten never sees or learns about the conversation, so he can’t have imagined it.
In that case, what’s really going on here? I have no idea, but I guess I’m hooked enough now to want to find out.