Right at the top: If anyone else, like me, is having the occasional spot of trouble differentiating between the Green and Red realities, here’s a handy guide. If you see Hannah, Detective Vega, or Dr. Lee, it’s the Red reality; if you see Rex, Detective Freeman, or Dr. Evans, it’s the Green reality. Got it?
Good. Let’s dive into this week’s pool of agreeable nonsense.
Here’s the mystery in the Green reality: Britten and Freeman investigate the murder of a fertility doctor, Bernard Mackenzie, who died from an injection of potassium chloride. Back in the Red reality, Britten sees Mackenzie’s name on a list of unsolved homicides and, sensing another connection between the two realities, decides to pursue the case. In this reality, Mackenzie was a homeless junkie who was gunned down on the sidewalk. Vega, who is developing quite the bad attitude, objects loudly to Britten dragging him into this dead-end investigation. Britten doesn’t have much tolerance for his new partner’s sass.
In the Red reality, Hannah opens a mysterious package addressed to Rex, which, prior to his death, he’d arranged to have delivered next door. The package contains auto parts; when Hannah confronts the neighbor kid, Cole, about it, he confesses that he and Rex had been secretly restoring a motorcycle. Meanwhile in Green, Rex and Cole work on their cycle and plot a secret weekend expedition to Coachella. It’s worth pointing out that Britten doesn’t appear in some of the scenes between Hannah and Cole, or in some of the scenes between Rex and Cole. Ergo, it seems unlikely -- though not impossible -- that either of the twin realities only exists in Britten’s subconscious brain.
Red: Britten and Vega canvas the neighborhood where the homeless version of Mackenzie was murdered. Britten manages to find a witness, who claims he saw Mackenzie gunned down by a “mean little guy.”
Green: The main suspect in Dr. Mackenzie’s murder is his disgruntled former partner. Even though he’s far and away their best lead -- his alibi is shaky, and he threatened to kill Mackenzie in public a couple days before the murder -- Britten doesn’t think he’s guilty. As with the last episode, Britten bases his hunch on the clues from the other reality: At almost seven feet tall, the disgruntled partner can’t possibly be described as a “little guy.” Freeman, naturally enough, is suspicious of Britten’s unsupported hunch.
(I’m cool with Freeman, but I have to say, the acrimonious dynamic between Britten and Vega in the Red reality is more interesting to watch than the Britten-Freeman partnership in Green. On the flip side, I think the Britten-Rex scenes in Green tend to be more compelling than the Britten-Hannah scenes in Red, so it all balances out. And both Dr. Lee and Dr. Evans are equally strong, so… let’s call it a wash.)
Prior to Dr. Mackenzie’s murder, his computer had been hacked and his medical records stolen. Britten and Freeman trace the ISP of the hacker to Sam Harvinson, the teenaged son of one of Mackenzie’s patients. When they question Sam, he insists his intentions were benign -- his father died shortly after he was born, so he stole his mom’s medical records to find out more about him. Sam’s story seems plausible enough (okay, honestly, Sam’s story sounds like a bunch of hooey, but we’re supposed to find it plausible). However, as Sam happens to be a little guy, Britten decides to make him his number-one suspect.
Red: Vega continues to pitch a hissyfit about Britten dragging him into the Mackenzie investigation. Vega comes across a high-maintenance snot in this episode, but he’s also pretty realistic and even somewhat sympathetic, so it works. Their boss, Captain Harper (ER’s terrific Laura Innes) calls Britten into her office and drops not-terribly-subtle hints that maybe he should seriously consider an early retirement.
Green: An examination of the medical records Sam Harvinson stole reveals that all of the patients who underwent fertility treatment at Mackenzie’s clinic, Sam’s mother included, received sperm from the same donor: Mackenzie. When Britten and Freeman haul Sam in for an interrogation, he breaks down and confesses to murdering Mackenzie for secretly impregnating his mother. When Britten asks Sam how he discovered Mackenzie was his real father, a distraught Sam replies thusly: "AP Anatomy. We were doing these advanced genetic panels as a project and I didn't understand all the complicated stuff at first, but I understood one simple thing: My blood type was wrong. Incompatible with my parents."
Oh, dear. There’s a whole lot of wrongness in that snippet of dialogue. Let’s set aside for the moment that there’s no such thing as an AP Anatomy class; I’m just wondering why a senior in high school -- an AP student, no less -- would be so baffled by “complicated stuff” like figuring out his blood type. Then again Awake is set in Los Angeles, so maybe we just should interpret this as a cutting indictment of the state of the public school system in California (this is my default explanation whenever smart kids on television are depicted as idiots) and move right along.
So the episode ends with the case solved in the Green reality, but with the murderer of the homeless version of Mackenzie still at large in the Red reality. Captain Harper snoops around Britten’s desk and sees he’s been looking through mug shots of very short men in hopes of finding the murderer. Later, Harper meets in private with an unidentified man in a suit. She informs him she’s been keeping a close eye on Britten, and reassures him the situation is under control. It becomes clear through their exchange that the unidentified man was responsible for the car crash that killed Rex in this reality. In response to Harper’s queries, he confirms that the person he hired to cause the accident was a short guy.
Okay! Cool twist at the end there. Some slow parts, and I’m still not sure this format can be sustained for very long, but Awake, I’m still with you thus far. Keep it up.