Awake Review: How To Care For Your Penguin Hallucination

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Wait, what?

I’m not sure exactly what I watched and how everything pieces together in "That's Not My Penguin," but I haven’t been this thoroughly entertained or confused since Lost. That won’t deter us, though! So let’s break the episode down and see what we can extract from it...

BD Wong on Awake

“Penguin” really used Awake’s concept to its advantage, perhaps even more so than “Guilty.” So far, we’ve only gotten to witness Britten and the positives of his dual realities, and tonight we saw the negatives. The writing has been on the wall since the beginning; Dr. Lee warned Britten that the stress of holding up both worlds isn’t healthy.

And we saw a little bit of that stress coming through with Britten’s hallucinations.

However, Britten’s fear that he, perhaps, is losing his mind provided us with some progress. Especially when Gabe plunged his body full of drugs in the red reality. Britten is literally forced against his will to go back to the Green reality, and in doing so the clues Gabe gave him to try to find his sister, ended up working towards Britten getting closer to Rex.

For most of the series, the clues Britten finds are usually to push a case forward in one, or both, realities, and Britten actually goes along with that assumption in trying to find the Wild Ring to find Gabe’s sister. However, the Wild Ring didn’t have that same effect. Instead, it served as a catalyst to get Britten and Rex to work on their relationship and trying to communicate with each other again.

Britten finally had a chance to use his detective skills on Rex, catching him right in the middle of a lie. Rex stole the ring and gave it to his girlfriend Emma. The strain in their relationship allowed Britten to finally admit to Rex that Hannah isn’t coming back, and they don’t have an interpreter for their relationship. Either they’re both in or it’s not going to work.

This is huge for Britten. I can’t imagine the things that were going through his mind in that moment, especially since he probably thought his time was coming to a close in the red reality, but he’s never truly acknowledged Hannah has died to Rex. In that moment it seemed that he had begun to actually acknowledge it, that if it came down to choosing he would choose his son.

And it paid off for him. Britten was able to really make a positive impression on Rex and Emma.

There are many points during Awake that shows Britten doesn’t have the best relationships with his family, and I think that is why I’ve connected so well with the show. Family makes for great storytelling, and watching Britten attempt to reforge, get to know, and rebuild his life with each of them individually makes for incredibly engrossing storytelling.

And then Britten wakes up back in the red reality.

And minds are blown.

What we think is Dr. Lee and Britten working together to get Gabe under control is only half right. As it turns out, Britten hallucinated both Dr. Lee and the penguin during the hostage situation. Which brings me to…

Real Reality Check

This week is very tough, because there are multiple scenarios that pull me both ways. With that said I’m going with Green, again. It’s hard not to think Britten used the red universe as a dream to really bring his relationship (or lack thereof) with Rex to the front burner. All of the clues Britten mulled over seemed to point back to Green: the penguin hallucinations were Rex’s favorite book as a child, Dr. Lee’s “visit” to the hostage situation made up a scenario for him that gives him an out to stay intertwined in both realities, and the ring.

Two More Thoughts:

  • Alderman. I wonder if that is a clue for us and/or Britten. Alderman means a higher up, a high serving member. We know Harper, his chief, is part of the conspiracy, and we know about the ominous suit people, but does this travel further up the food chain? I think it might.
  • As Britten was talking to Gabe and lying to him about his sister we saw a few flashbacks to the accident, as well as Britten looking over the crash site. I believe that’s the first time we’ve seen him go back to that spot. I hope he begins to put the pieces together or gets suspicious.

What did you think of tonight’s Awake? What are your theories? Let us know in the comments!


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (57 Votes)

Is there a chance that Britten is in a coma from the car crash and both worlds are one REALLY ELABORATED dream? What if he doesn't know what happened to his family and the dream is a way to consider how it would be like to lose them?

Sarah silva

This is a great show!! I still think he is in a coma and Rex and Hannah are at the hospital waiting for him to wake up. However I also think that they whole Gabe story line(schizophrenia) will be of importance down the line.


Did anyone else draw this conclusion from the penguin episode:
At the end where Britten is discussing the siege outcome with the Dr (BD Wong) and it becomes clear that the Dr was not really in the ward to help him after coming out of the ketamine, that Britten then realized Wong was a hallucination, which ultimately he was then realizing that the Dr(Wong) was overall and through out really only in his imagination/dream. This conclusion then brought to bear in the words of the Dr (Wong) stating "that all he really left to do now was to get some sleep" - in my mind indicating that this red world is the dream and the blue world his reality. Did anyone else pick this or have a different view?


Excellent. The penguin was great especially communicating to Britten that his son was lying. I like Emma. I guess once we know which is real, Britten will be investigating the conspiracy against him.


The photo of Gabe and his sister is also interesting - did anyone else see the scene resemblance to the shore line of the series " Lost" .
The scene between Michael and Rex discussing Hannah not being there anymore to be the interpreter - Michael never says she is dead - just that she is not there ( in the green reality ) .
Michael has kept his hallucinations from both Dr Lee and Dr Evans - obviously the penguin is a hallucination - maybe from sleep deprivation, but the scene with Dr Lee and Michael in the psych hospital - in which Gabe comes out when the two of them are talking on the bench and says " Hey, what are you talking about" it really seems as if Gabe was addressing two people, but Dr Lee later denies being there. If the red reality is really Micheal's lucid dream then this is plausible.
When Michael decides not to tell Gabe his sister is dead - he is also allowing the red reality of Hannah being alive to also continue.
Michael is not ready to give up either - yet.
Best series I have seen since " Lost"


a word about Ketamine, which I am very familiar with, having worked many yrs in recovery rooms and ERs as an RN - Ketamine is an anesthetic developed around the Vietnam war time to put soldiers down quickly when other anesthesia methods were not available. It is also used in Veterinary medicine and more recently in clinicals trials for depression - However - although not yet classified as a scheduled II drug - it would be very difficult for a patient to get a hold of the drug in a psych facility and would quite possibly not even be on list of meds that they would have on hand unless this psych facility was participating in one of these depression trials. Also, Gabe would have to have navigated the locked access to not only the drug, but the syringe and needle storage. Ketamine is a type of dissociative drug - it acts - simply put - by detaching you from your body's pain -when given alone with no other sedatives - it can also cause hallucinations - any external stimuli can be internalized and cause a hallucination - when we first started using it - the patients had to be placed in "Ketamine Rooms" for recovery - these rooms were dark and shut off from any noise to avoid causing the patient to experience any hallucinations. It takes about 2 hrs for the drug to wear off fully. It is never given anymore as an anesthetic without some other type of sedative added to combat the chance hallucination - and in the past some patients have had horrible flashbacks from their hallucinations after recovery from this drug. So again - very interesting choice of drug to be mentioned in the story line.


More and more I am leaning toward the Green world as being the true reality.
The writers are so good that I can not imagine they would not have done their homework regarding the plausibility of the Red scenario involving the Code 3 at the psych hospital - it just seems more likely that this was some sort of Lucid dream that Michael was directing - reason - highly unlikely that a patient would be able to take over the command room in such a facility - not to mention being able to get a hold of the materials to manufacture such an elaborate bomb - although the "dead man " control did appear to be a patient call bell - nice touch there. The name of the drug that was injected into Michael in the scene is not alluded to until he wakes up in the green reality and is talking with Dr Evans and she suggest the name Ketamine as a drug that could cause hallucinations - which Michael only started experiencing after he got the injection - again nice touch there to confuse us -


I enjoy this show immensely and hope it stays on the air. I watch on Hulu the next morning. Following the clues from each reality to solve the cases each week is enough for me to keep watching this show. However, I do like trying to decide which reality is real. This week though was the first week I had a WTF moment and had to stop and re-watch the part with Dr.Lee and the photos. If they keep up like that, I'm Totally in. That was great!


@Daniel: No, he said "What are you talking about?", no 'two'.


The strange thing is that when he is in the RED reality and he is talking to Dr. Lee inside the hospital, Gabe approach to them and tell them what are you TWO talking about?!! and Dr. Lee leaves.... so why???

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Awake Season 1 Episode 6 Quotes

Look, your mother's not here, and we don't have an interpreter anymore. It's just you and me, and if we want to make this work we're gonna have to put some effort in.


But what you are really afraid of is what it all might point to. You're having a nightmare about madness Detective Britten because somewhere inside you fear that if you continue to deny the reality of your situation this is where all that could end.