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This episode carefully balances a stand-alone premise, ongoing character and plot issues, and newly developing threads that tie into the themes of sanity and the mind. A hostage situation strikes a little too close to home for Detective Britten, as its being run by a schizophrenic who sees things and has, perhaps like Britten, created an elaborate narrative delusion. What we do know about our hero is that he’s having hallucinations and is beginning to lose track of his worlds, mixing up a phone bill and a permission slip in the same where his son hides a girlfriend in plain sight. It becomes up to him to diffuse this situation, all the while learning more about himself and these new problems.

What’s interesting about this episode is the concentrated focus, and BD Wong’s character interacting with Britten outside of therapy. We start to get more out of their relationship, and it was an interesting twist, though not nearly as shocking as the one at the very end of the episode.

Awake manages to maximize its medium, that of network drama and episodic narrative. It’s limited because dramatic beats must be measured to line up with commercial breaks, and you’ll never hear an organic ‘fuck’ or two in a tense situation, but by building on the situation and character, does well with the long running-time, the episode to episode structure. There is mystery and revelation, and the promise of more mystery and revelation next week.

The next episode airs 10pm Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, NBC

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Death Threats

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