Awake episode 6 review: That’s Not My Penguin

Awake turns in another strong episode, and best of all, it features actual penguins. Read Caroline's review here...

 

This review contains spoilers.

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1.6 That’s Not My Penguin

Last week’s episode of Awake pushed things forward at last, and I’m happy to say that That’s Not My Penguin keeps up the forward momentum. There are also actual penguins in the episode, which always makes for a good time. Last time we spent almost all of our time in the green world, and now Michael has a hostage situation in the red. We’re introduced to the antagonist of the hour, a schizophrenic, as a direct parallel to Britten, and the episode brings up as many new questions as it ponders.

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After so many weeks treading water and wondering if the writers had any intention of ever pushing the series past the procedural-of-the-week format, the opening montage of Michael’s daily routine is more thrilling than it has any right to be. It’s a simple statement, and tells the audience that Britten is, in fact, losing his mind, however slowly. They’re little touches, like getting his wife/son’s coffee order the wrong way around and asking his red partner about the case in the green world (where he has no idea who he is), but it’s perfectly poised, and sets us up for a very entertaining hour.

Michael’s therapist is seen outside of his chair for the first time, as he points out how dangerous someone losing his grip on reality could really be. It’s clear that, if left unchecked for too long, he believes that Michael will become so deluded that he’ll end up just like Gabriel, a man convinced that his dead sister is being held captive by the government. That’s if the red reality is actually the real one, of course, and this episode provides even more evidence of it just being a very detailed delusion.

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We’re obviously supposed to put Britten and Gabriel together as two parts of the same whole, and the way Michael deals with his delusions is certainly a little telling. Instead of telling him the truth and forcing him to face reality, he lies to him, reasoning that believing in a fantasy is sometimes better. Why accept reality if it’s only going to make you unhappy? This provides us with a solid reason for Michael’s continued denial, something we hadn’t really been given before.

Another interesting development this week is seeing Michael forced into the other reality against his will. Losing control of the hostage situation inside the hospital, Gabriel injects him with some unnamed drug, effectively putting him to sleep. He wakes up in the green world, and quickly starts hallucinating. This is where the penguin comes in, as a childhood book he used to read to Rex manifests itself as a live penguin in his living room. Could the drugs from the red reality be working while he sleeps? We’re never quite sure, but it’s certainly something to think about.

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All of this is leading Awake down a very entertaining road, and things are picking up at a nice pace. The writers seem to have heard my plea to spend more time in one reality every week, and it means we’re more able to see the consequences in both. There’s been a mystery-shaped hole in the television schedules since Lost departed, and I’m starting to think that Awake might fill it someday. Questions about the initial accident, and the Police captain’s involvement, are still unanswered, so I hope we spend more time on that next week.

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