This review contains spoilers.
1.7 Ricky’s Tacos
After two very solid and interesting weeks of Awake, Ricky’s Tacos unfortunately pulls the show back a few paces. Like the first few weeks, things are exactly the same for Britten at the end of the episode as they were at its start, and we’re left wondering, what was the point of spending the hour in his dual worlds? The truth is, however intriguing Awake‘s central conceit is, there’s no excuse for treading water. It’s early days, so forgiveness is easy, but superior shows (Lost for example) lost their fanbase for less.
A more pleasing aspect of the episode is his and Hanna’s continuing intent of moving to Portland. It’s been teased that this is moment when things will change. Will the realities crumble? Will he discover which is a dream? It doesn’t really matter, as the mystery has countless promising ways to go. The dynamic and structure of the show will alter in some significant way, and I, for one, can’t wait to see how.
We see much less of Rex and Hanna this week, with the two cases taking precedent over family life. This is another example of going backwards in my opinion, with focusing on the procedural aspect probably the least interesting thing we could be doing. For Den of Geek readers, especially, I can’t be alone in favouring the science fiction-inflected mystery framing the crime format. The reason Gemini was so pleasantly surprising was that the case was tied in directly to Michael’s predicament, so two straight cases fail to excite in the same way.
Both feature family members betraying those closest to them, one a father whose repeated molestation of his daughter caused her pregnancy and suicide, the other a brother who took his sibling’s identity after accidently murdering him. Both are pretty grim, but the latter at least introduces the notion of Pentimento. We can assume that this concept, where artists paint over old work to create something new, has a deeper meaning than the suspect’s tiger/devil tattoo. It’s a neat revelation, and asks whether revisiting an old case is simply Michael’s attempt at changing his present.
But the highlight of Ricky’s Tacos lies in its title. At the beginning of the episode, Britten visits a fast food joint and hears a warning through the speaker. It warns him not to move to Portland, as he hasn’t yet solved the Westfield case. Though suggested to be a hallucination, like last week’s rogue penguin, Michael takes notice and revisits the old Westfield warehouse. We know it’s connected to the crash, and we know he’s being watched by Carl (seen previously on the park bench) and Captain Harper. They’re just dropping crumbs, with the real story naturally being saved for the season one finale.
Will Michael actually move to Oregon, or will the writers chicken out? Let’s hope for the former, as Awake can’t afford to stay in the same place for much longer. We now know how good the show can be when twisting and turning with some energy, but the procedural format played straight easily sucks the life out of things. I’ll say I’m genuinely invested in Michael, his family, and the central mystery, and that’s rare for a series after only seven episodes.