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!

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Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (57 Votes)

Nick McHatton is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I like this show a lot. It's got a great concept, excellent writing, and some truly gifted actors making us forget that it's a show at all. That said - I'm struggling to figure out how they would make this work on a long term basis for more than one season. The moment he's cured, the premise is moot and "Awake"'s title no longer makes sense. So..does that mean they'll drag this on and on? Will we ever get to know who the conspirators are, and what they want? Or will the term "Awake" take on a different meaning? Whatever the case - it's compelling enough to continue watching....


This was my favorite Awake episode yet....and I liked the penguin especially when it told him Rex was lying....yes it was goofy but brought a little comic relief to an otherwise tense episode. I would give it a 10/10 personally and this show really is getting better and better! Also, the creator of the show has stated that one world is real and the other is a dream


I wouldnt be surprised if he's dreaming up both realities. and he's really hallucinating in a coma. hes definitely hallucinating, to what extent remains to be seen.


Britten was hallucinating all over the place, I don't lend credence to putting his therapist into a real life situation more so than he already was more than that. When has his green doc ever been anywhere but in that room? Never. Who lives in a green world. What is WRONG with you, man?! hehe


He was alone when he looked over the crash site, was he not? I admit that I would love for at least one family member to be alive when he figugres this all out. Whatever this is. Great show.


I really wish people wouldn't say that a show is being cancelled until the official release by NBC. Yes, its prime time ratings plummeted, but it's a mid-season replacement. Those are always on the line. Not to mention, a lot of people watch it the morning after on Hulu or through NBC. There are fans who are trying to make certain that NBC gives it a greater than mid-season shot. If you like the show, sign a petition or contact NBC and stop saying "it's getting cancelled" when there hasn't been an official release yet.


Such a great show. I'm disappointed it's getting cancelled. We'll never know what was actually going on.


A really good hour of television. Its hard to be surprised by TV these days but this episode did surprise me. Hope they keep up the great work.

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.