'Awake' Review: "Oregon"

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'Awake’ dreams up its fifth episode in “toregon” where Jason Isaacs finds himself chasing a duality-themed serial killer from the past while debating with his therapists the prospect of moving to Oregon with his wife.  Adding a few new mysteries and challenges to Britten’s dual realities this week, "Oregon" is another strong example of why 'Awake' far exceeds your average procedural.

Now, you’ve seen the episode and want to know how the show fares a fifth time around, whether the show can hold up under its continually convoluted premise!  We’ve seen the latest, so what does "Oregon” bring, a bunch of weird Portlandians, or enough bizarre twists to jolt you out of your sleep?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about the third episode “Oregon”!

In the red world, Britten observes some of the more troubling aspects of LA life, while Hannah tries to sell him on the idea of moving to Portland, Oregon for her schooling.  While in the blue reality, Britten takes advantage of a slow week to go for a run and observe some of the more positive aspects of LA, when a stray dog leads him to a body in Griffith Park.

The case seems to match an old serial killer called "The Gemini," who had a habit of leaving two victims in similar locations, and marking his kills with the number 2.  However, as the Gemini killer was supposedly caught and killed, the detectives decide to bring in an FBI expert to assist with the investigation.  Britten meets with the profiler, Satoro, who seems adamant that the killer must be a copycat, given the unreleased detail the the Gemini always left $2 bills in his victims’ hand.  Bird doesn’t seem to trust her judgement, but Britten brings the dog who led him to the body in to have the contents of his stomach pumped, some of which is a partially digested $2 bill.  Huh, so that's where my money keeps going...

In spite of the bill, Santoro remains unconvinced that the actual Gemini killer has indeed returned, and requests that the team gather files of officers under suspicion, as only someone with access to classified information could have known about the $2 bills enough to copycat.  Bird theorizes that Santoro might not actually have killed him, and in a moment alone, Britten attempts to comfort her having known what it’s like to make a mistake, though she rebuffs his sympathies.

In the red reality, Britten finds himself unable to get Hannah on the phone, but in his search for a charger uncovers an already-completed moving estimate from California to Portland that Hannah must have requested.  His therapist encourages him to try to see things from Hannahs’ perspective, and realize that his fears about moving might have more to do with his fears of Hannah leaving him, as drifting apart tends to be the way most marriages actually end.  Britten continues researching Portland as Vega drags him to what turns out to be a  dead end lead, and later finds himself again unable to get in touch with Hannah.  Answer your phone, girl!

In the blue reality, Britten and Bird canvas motels near the area of the murder, turning up very little, though a warehouse belonging to the moving company that Hannah used in the other world catches his eye.  He jimmies his way into the abandoned facility, and eventually encounters the Gemini killer, who manages to get away.  When the police arrive, they indeed find the evidence and $2 bills at the scene, along with a napkin that Britten recognizes bears the same exclamation point symbol as the boarded-up lead Vega took him to in the other reality.  Santoro questions Britten why he thought to look in this particular warehouse, later confirming to Captain Harper (Laura Innes) that Britten is among the detective files pulled for being under suspicion, as an unseen figure watches.

Britten travels to the storefront that bore the exclamation point logo, though finds in this reality the facility even more dilapidated.  Arriving back into the precinct, Bird, Santoro and Harper call Britten in to play a phone message from the Gemini killer taunting Santoro for Britten having come closer to catching him.  Not only that , but the call appears to have come from Britten’s own home, which leads the three to question Britten’s behavior of late, from alibis that don’t exonerate him from the crime, to all the mysterious hunches he’s had, and circumstantial evidence that places him at every crime scene before other police.  However outraged, Britten surrenders his gun to Harper.

Bird questions Britten over the mysterious hunches, pointing out how different he’s been since the accident, though he acknowledges that Britten likely isn’t guilty of anything.  He allows Britten to seek exoneration in the various crime scene photos, when Britten notices the exclamation point logo napkin, which research reveals to belong to a Bay Street Coffee, exactly the brand Santoro has been seen to drink this entire time.   As the coffee place nearest to Santoro’s hotel, the pair realize that Gemini has been stalking his nemesis Santoro, and indeed Gemini manages to kidnap the book-writing profile before anyone can stop him.

Gemini manages to con his way into the park with a fake badge and Santoro in his trunk, with Britten and Bird in hot pursuit shortly after.  Gemini slices into Santoro and taunts her for failing to kill the real man, assigning blame to Britten as a desperate act of ending her 12-year case.  Just then, Bird and Britten appear, managing to save Santoro from certain death, though Bird fails to catch Gemini.

As Santoro’s husband and daughter arrive, Britten flashes back to the red reality, where Hannah reveals that she only called the movers for the quote because she was too embarrassed to admit that she needs to move, lacking Britten’s “strength” to continue living in their Los Angeles home after the accident.  She assures her husband that she doesn’t want to forget Rex, as everything she needs to remember of him is right there in Michael.

Britten confers with his therapists about the possibility of moving to Portland in his wife’s reality, and while both see it as a healthy sing of progress, they worry that separating the two realities geographically might be catastrophic, as dreams require the everyday life to draw base from, meaning its possible one of the realities might collapse.  Britten however insists that these two realities work because he makes them work, and that he won’t let anything change that.

The next day, Britten receives a call in the blue reality, from none other than Gemini himself, about to board a plane to Portland.  Gemini broke into Dr. Evans’ office and learned of Britten’s unique condition, admitting he finds the man who almost caught him very curious.  He suggests a kinship between the two, that men like them have no other way to be but split, and the world “needs a few of us to see it sideways.”  Uncertain of how he fits into Britten’s world as real or fictional, Gemini closes the conversation with “I’d be very disappointed if you woke up.”  Spooky!

While it's still not any follow-up on the conspiracy theory twisting that closed out the second episode of 'Awake,' it's nice that the series bothers to set up recurring elements and cases rather than a simple standalone  procedural formula.  The show isn't always the easiest to follow, so creating some world-specific threats might do well to separate this show from other gimmick-based properties.

What did you think of "Oregon?"  Does ‘Awake’s’ still seem too slow and involved for you to get into?  You’ve heard our take, now let us know in the comments below if you’ve “awoken” to continuing this series as well!

Filed Under: Awake, NBC
Categories: TV News, TV Reviews
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