Awake: Bad Bets and Big Mouths

Awake S01E09: "Game Day"

NBC's struggling Awake might not be long for this world, but before it goes it would like to remind you of its philosophy. That's what it did in "Game Day," last night's fairly mediocre episode. As I've said before, Awake is at its best when it accomplishes the difficult task of incorporating all of its elements—surreal mystery, existentialism, family drama—into one hour. "Game Day" brushed each these topics, but spent most of its time in procedural mode before throwing in an interesting twist at the end.

It was the day of the big Ricky's Tacos Bowl game in Los Angeles, as the Seattle L'Jacks took on the L.A. Bulldogs, I think. (Is there anything more annoying than fictional sports teams?) The game came down to one last field goal: If the kicker made it, L.A. would wins; a miss and Seattle would emerge victorious. Well, the kicker was Adam Vinatieri in the red reality (it's good!) and Scott Norwood in the green reality (pushed it right), showing that Michael's pair of realities can contain different outcomes to similar events.

It was an interesting topic to explore, but it was also one we already had an idea of thanks to the superior "Kate is Enough," which explored the same concept in a much better way. "Game Day" might have been more successful if the small difference that affected a greater outcome, in this case a matter of inches on the field goal attempt, was a direct result of Michael's actions. I'm not saying Michael should have gone back to school and joined the football team, but if he'd been directly involved in whatever split the realities apart it would have added another layer to his ability or inability to shape his worlds. As it was, Michael seemed pretty detached and indifferent to the whole thing. Plus, things felt more heavy-handed than usual, practically spelling it out for us at times.

The two cases were remarkably similar in their outcomes. When L.A. won, a gambler (played by Dr. Marvin Candle) lost (wordplay not intended but conveniently placed) a bet for one hundred large. Dr. Edgar Halliwax's laundromat (so racist, JK) burned down after that, conveniently providing him with a million dollars in insurance money. Except oops... one of his employees was in the building at the time and got barbecued—to death! Naturally, all eyes were on him for insurance fraud. In the reality where Seattle won, the case was simpler. A total jerk Seattle fan got beaten up in the parking lot—to death!

As Michael explored both mysteries, the cases unfolded like they do on most standard procedural shows, with cops chasing suspects that the audience knows aren't the bad guys. Both ended in twists as people close to the victims turned out to be the culprits. In the red reality, it was Dr. Pierre Chang's wife who hired a kid to burn down the laundromat for the insurance money. In Greensburgh, it was the victim's bullied brother who snapped and killed his older sibling. Neither case rang emotionally for me, and when they were done they were just... done.

Elsewhere, Rex was having major emo issues because Emma had broken up with him and wasn't texting him back. It turned out that Rex had been a busy kid, and Emma was hiding the fact that she got pregnant before the car accident. But before Rex got a chance to pick out a baby name, Emma told him she lost the child (in a miscarriage sense, not in a crowded supermarket sense). Rex went to Michael with that info, and a light bulb popped up over Michael's head: If the football had moved a few inches in one reality, then maybe Rex's lovechild was still kickin'. Sure enough, Rex-less Emma was pregnant, and the possibility of being a grandparent might just be enough to prevent Michael and Hannah from moving to Oregon.

I'm much more interested in Awake the series than I am in Awake the procedural, so I didn't get much out of "Game Day" other than a potential wrench in the moving-to-Portland plans. Awake is such an intelligent show that I always hope to learn something new or at least tweak my thinking after every episode. "Game Day" didn't really have any of those moments, choosing instead to recycle ideas the series has already covered.



Dream Log

– How adorable was Vega wanting to set up a going away party for Michael? Awww, Vega. You almost make me forget that you are Wilmer Valderrama.

– When they were trying to put the red hat on the dead guy, all I could think was, "If the hat don't fit, you must acquit!"

– Aww, come on Michael. Vetiver isn't "depressing music." That was one of their livelier songs, too!

– A good sign that NBC likes what's coming up in the remainder of the season: Earlier this week, the network sent out advanced press screeners of the next three episodes. Theoretically, NBC is hoping the media will watch the rest of the season early and encourage people to tune in.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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BILLY CUNDIFF.

This show is awesome though.
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I can see how this episode was a bit too heavy on the procedural notes, but I must say that I I LOVED seeing Dr. Marvin Candle (from LOST). He is really fun to watch.

And I enjoyed Vega trying to give Michael a good send-off, it was sweet.

However, the last very minutes of the episode I thought were fantastic, and I really hope that Michael's talk with his wife about the baby will result in them staying put.
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Is Emma being pregnant another herring of the red variety? I wonder. I suppose we'll have to see which reality checks out first if any of them ever do. Rex is my least favourite character. Just about everything about him annoys me. It was indeed an unusual episode.
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My first reaction to this episode: "LOL Lost" I liked this episode even though it didn't say anything new. But even in mediocre episodes like this, this show has always something interesting in store for the audience. This time it was pregnancy. I can't wait to see what will happen next. IMO this proves the Awake writers are always doing some things right.



I'm totally crossing my fingers for the future of this show! A fangirl can dream, right?
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The end of this episode flipped me out. It really did.



-Wilmer Valderrama is doing well in this show. Good for him.

-I called that one from the beginning.

-I do not know this group, because I do not listen to contemporary music, like ever.

-I certainly hope so. This show has been awesome compared to other procedurals. And it looks like we're going to get a little more information behind the mystery of the dual realities next week, too, so yay!
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I liked the first 2 episodes, since then the show has gone downhill in terms of writing and thrill. I won't be too bummed out if they don't renew it the way it's going currently - rather have a few high budget class shows, than twice the number of mediocre ones.
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A really mediocre episode made awesome by the ending. I just didn't see it coming. I should have...but I didn't.



At first I thought it was pretty clear that neither reality could be real...Initially I felt that Michael is either in a coma or this is all happening in the time immediately following the accident (before he, himself, dies)...



Last few weeks I've felt more and more like the world with his Wife is the real world...his son's reality felt more influenced by his wife's reality than vice versa. I've got a few examples of why - in specific - I think that, but I won't bore you with those here. Ultimately it's just a hunch.



Anyway, if that's true...I just don't know what to say about tonight's episode where his interaction with his son made him realize the girlfriend he didn't know about was preggers...it was a touching scene and had a lot more emotion that I expected from the show, but it's hard for me to rationally explain how things seem to be happening.



I feel like this show is definitely going to be cancelled, and that's too bad. I really want to know where this is going.
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Pretty mediocre episode :/ I liked the Pierre Chang reference with the broken arm and the only scenes which kept me interested were those with Rex. The rest was really too procedural - couldn't care less for the cases. Every other week I find myself just sitting it through in hope to see what I come to expect from this show after the great pilot: Michael's struggle. We've had great episodes but the last ones have been so undaring that I have not much hopes left for the show. It's such a pity that they are trying to please an audience they DON'T have with the procedural cop elements (see ratings!) than the audience they DO have with the serialized elements (Mistery show fans). They are trying to please everyone but as the ratings show, they accomplish pleasing noone completely. Perfect idea, wasted on the wrong network. What a waste...
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I have never celebrated teenage pregnancy as i did after watching this episode!!



There'll be no movin now, ryt?..they gotta stay n help with the upcoming grandchild!.
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Pretty okay episode. The wife being the plotter of the fire was interesting... kind of. The brother being the killer was a bit expected, but interesting... kind of. As much as the overall mystery of the show makes it a bit serial, Awake is clearly mostly a procedural. And if that's the case, I feel like they need to make the case-of-the-week more intriguing and complex.



The end bit was easily the highlight of the episode. I previously expected that the "one is real, the other is fake" theory isn't the answer regarding the realities, and this episode proved that a bit more for me. I'm assuming that both worlds are real, and that the big conspiracy is that some folks somehow made him this way... or something.
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Thats an intriguing idea. However, why would some one want to invest into a local detective? I mean, if this was a top secret governmnet op. wouldn't they choose some one better, like a Marine or a navy SEAL?



I think these realities are touching on the supernatural realm or Sci-fi may be. As for Cral wanting to kill Michael, that has most definitely got to do something with the west field case. He was investigating, someone wasn't happy with it, they removed him from the equation. He has been given a second chance to put an end to unfinished business.
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I just don't understand what the writers are plotting. Is it just a misdirection or is it that one of the realities really just is a projection of Michael's subconscious. Why can't both the realities be real? When Cherry Jones printed the constitution of America and made Michael read it off from any where he chose. It was very clear that this reality was real and his subconscious wasn't inventing the constitution on the fly. However, BD Wong didn't do any such exercise but then this reality has Carl, a mysterious guy bent on taking care of Britten once and for a all. Does this mean this reality with BD Wong is real? I believe both the realities are real. Why? Michael's dreams are vividly lucid and consistently coherent. I mean how many of us just happen to remember a dream we have had with intricate detail? Not many I am sure. Ii takes years of training to the grasp of the concept. Further more Michaels' dreams some how impart information which the subconscious might not have been aware of. For instance, when Rex got kidnapped, Michael goes to sleep in order to get the name of the safe house in the desert. How could he have know this? How could his subconscious have known this fact? Then in our dreams we never drive miles to get to a place and then drive back again. Its almost instantaneous. Like Gislef said, why would Michael dream about a bullying brother? and further along that line a bookie and arson. The recent dream characters, don't really fit into the pilot as to why Michael would dream them.



Michael wants to believe that both realities are in fact true and stable. Yet, we are reminded over and over again that one of the realities is a faux. I believe both the realities are real. Though I am addicted to Awake and I'll surely miss it if it gets canceled, however it is turning out to be very different from what I though it would be looking at the promise that was put forward in the pilot. He sleeps. he wakes up. He switches realities. I thought it would be more like schism in the in fabric of time and space, a paradox where two possible universes would co-exist. Michael is simply allowed to traverse between the two realities. Ultimately he either dies or has a reality where all three of them will be together. Cause his character simply cannot have it any other way. I don't want the show to progress with the idea where in the end Michael is dreaming, is may be comatose and his reality is a facade that he created to comfort him self. That would simply be boring.

Moving on to "Game day" and how they managed to tether Michael to L.A. Can I just say, I saw it coming and I was waiting how they'll figure out a way to ground Michael in L.A --Nicely done. They made it crystal clear in the beginning that living in two different places would create a lot of new problems and distort Michael's reality, so they had to come up with a way to stop the move from happening. I sort of figured out the pregnancy as well but the miscarriage was a twist for me, but teen pregnancy? was there really no other way? So now Michael and Hannah will root for Emma to have Rex's have an illegitimate love child? May be it will be a boy and Michael and Hannah will find solace in raising Rex's child. Its been 26 days since the accident and Emma conceived just before the accident. So what would happen now? Would she have the baby and help Michael and Hannah to move on, sort of like starting over, Like they suggested in "Mid nightswimming" or would she abort and move on with her life?

I think they are playing it safe, if things don't workout for the show. Michael and Hannah will find solace in Rex's child. Hopefully a son. The reality with the red rubber band becomes real and the one with the green rubber band is destroyed.

On a side note, for me however, teen pregnancy and sex at such a young age is an absurd reality. That doesn't mean it is not happening. Fifteen is the new seventeen. kids are being promiscuous at such a naive age reflects how they'll live their lives later. It also explains why the divorce rates are so high. Nothing is good enough and they seem to be a chasing a fictional babe with blonde hair and a bodacious rack, with an IQ of 90, who is always willing to have sex. I believe, a TV show shouldn't endorse the idea that it is "OK" to have sex at such a tender age. At fifteen, a person is just a child. There is so much already happening in life then to be worried of becoming a father. Kids these days are so eager to grow up that they are forgetting, they are just children, that they lack the acumen, the wisdom, the strength to face the challenges of life head-on. I think may be it is time to endorse abstinence, the institution of marriage, family values and tradition.
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About the constitution, if it's in his subconcious, that scene could easily play out in his brain to convince itself it's real.

I'm sure he's skimmed the constitution at some point, and a phrase stuck in his mind. Remember if it's fantasy, it builds all the events that happen, no matter how random they seem.
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well... thats just an assumption. Apart from the consitution example, what about the part where Rex's kidnapper gives Michael about the safe house in the desert. Or how Rex (dead/dream) tells Michael about Emma's miscarraige and in the other reality Emma's still pregnant. He may have a way to access the subconscious but he is not a seer!



I hope, they come up with something challenging, otherwise it will just be another failed show. A purely pyschological scenario is bound to fail.
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maybe they have another split: son/wife/wife+grandchild
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thank you for getting me hooked on this show, Tim.



It's the one good thing you've done in your life.
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Dude, you need an editor.
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I'm pretty much in agreement that this episode wasn't the best. The pregnancy was nice though. Another thing I found interesting was that the two games showed that he's experiencing a day in yellow reality first and then repeating the day in the blue reality (because the yellow reality game came first). This was the first time I've seen on the show them addressing this. Does this piece of information strengthen or weaken either realities claims to authenticity? I'm not sure. It's seems fair to conclude that the first reality he experienced after the accident was the yellow one. Is this then more likely to be fictitious because it happened closer to the accident, or was the blue one created on that first day as a coping mechanism to deal with the loss of his son. Hmm. I'll have to think about it some more.

While the show has been frequently very good, there is one issue that's bugging me. In the pilot Michael was shown to be physically struggling with the realities, especially after the Constitution thing, but that struggle hasn't been maintained or worsened throughout the subsequent episodes. I get really annoyed by shows that set up high stakes and then ignore them. The show should deliver more of what it started out doing - showing the negative side effects that maintaining two realities has on Michael. Still aside from some of the procedural elements losing my interest this show is still terrific.
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I've been wondering about the timeline as well... When he was knocked out on drugs (the ep with the penguin :) he switched between realities too. I don't remember exactly whether he spent an entire day there, but if he did, then shouldn't the two realities be out of sync now? Or maybe the yellow and blue one just switched places? And what happens if he stays up for two days straight?
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Damn I forgot about that pesky Penguin episode. That throws everything out of whack.
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They may not move to Portland now .
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Portland = Red Herring, like any chance that Michael's life is even in any real danger.
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for me, the key thing about this episode was the fact that in the green reality Michael found out that Emma was pregnant and this fact was backed up in the red reality, which brings up the question.. which is the dream? if the green reality was the dream, how did Michael know about Emma being pregnant?
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Let's see, using the one's a dream/the other's real theory, then if green is real then the pregnancy was wish fulfilment whereas if red is real then the only possibility would be that some part of him knew but he constructed the miscarriage to trigger the memory. This is hard to accept beyond the fact that he saw her at the funeral.
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I don't think either one is a dream. Do you watch Fringe?
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Haha. I'm afraid there are too much network-pleasing procedural elements in the show for such SciFi crazyness to be true.
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So you think that Michael closing his eyes triggers him getting sucked into a bridge/vortex/wormhole between two universes, connected by the bed in his room. Interesting, but it doesn't explain the lack of sleep.
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Not just the bed in his room though... so the "bridge" must be connected to him. Maybe he took cortexafan as a kid :P
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I thought this episode was ok (PS I would've gone with Billy Cundiff as the shank-ing kicker). The twist at the end was pretty cool, and Michael's investigations intertwining is always fun, though I do agree they were pretty thin on the ground this week.
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When there's only one possible suspect, it's not really a procedural... It's like they don't even bother to give us a second suspect. And neither crime really seemed to tie in with Michael's personal issues. The guy from Joan of Arcadia was beat up on by his brother (who, ironically, played one of the God avatars in Joan of Arcadia), so he broke into tears and beat his brother's skull in. So... what? Was Michael bullied as a child? Is he bullying Hannah? Did Rex bully Emma? What?
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Marginal episode but I will keep watching as we build towards the finale, hopefully only a season finale.
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I am really excited by this new baby plotline. I just love everything as you said about the series and less so about the procedural, yet I still love this procedural more than any other one on my pvr!
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I hate this new plot line. Rex would not have a kid in either reality. Hannah would've been all over that shit. And how awkward is it for that Emma, btw? "Oh hey guys, I'm just carrying the love child of your dead son, nbd. I totally feel no pressure to utterly destroy my life by keeping it."
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I also don't understand what made the difference for the baby's life.

Did Emma's grief over Rex' death safe the baby? Doesn't make much sense.
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Good point.
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Except for the fact that I knew right away who was the killers in both realities, and that Emma was probably pregnant, I thought it was a good episode in relation to the rest of the storyline.
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I think the problem is that even with just 13 episodes, they can't seem to keep focussed. Last night's wasn't really about anything significant. Little things have big repercussions: great. We've had the "butterfly effect" of chaos theory hammered into us since Jurassic Park and Jeff Goldblum. It didn't give us any insights into Michael's relationships with Hannah or Rex. Tara is a no-show yet again: why are they paying the actress to receive a show star credit? Harper appears for maybe 30 seconds: did they give her a top-billing guest on this show to pay her off for The Event fiasco? The psychiatrists are pretty much AWOL as well, barely more than last week. The River did what it did in eight episodes: we don't need 13 here and it shows. Heck, I don't want to see it go to a second season: we're already feelings second season malaise. Hopefully they'll wrap it up and bow out on a high note.
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Agreed. It was definitely one of the weakest episodes. We already knew that different outcomes can happen in Michael's realities. Awake's field goal metaphor was pointless and arbitrary, not to mention a recycled theme. We didn't need all that set-up to be prepared for Emma miscarrying in one reality and being healthily pregnant in another.



I was almost positive something was going to prevent Michael from leaving L.A., but I still hoped that he might actually move to Oregon. It would have been an interesting twist to see if one reality started to seem less real than the other. I wondered what could keep him in a L.A., but the possibility of a grandchild never crossed my mind. Though, I think that will certainly do the trick.



I am a huge fan of Awake. The dual-reality concept is fascinating and makes for a great premise. But for a while it felt like I was only watching a cop show. That is not a good thing. I want more Hannah (I have a crush on Laura Allen). I want more mysterious thematic connections between realities (I would love if they further explored the storyline of other people being like Michael). And I want more time in therapy (those scenes are very often my favorite).



Also: L.A. Bulldogs vs. Seattle L'Jacks? Really? That's the best they could come up with? Would it have been so hard to have the UCLA Bruins play the Washington Huskies?



Sidenote: Tim, I'm surprised you didn't go with Billy Cundiff for the field goal joke. Don't tell me you're a Pats fan?
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Imagine the psychiatrist reaction on how he knew Rex girlfriend is pregnant. I hope we get that scene if Michaels case hasn't been transfered to Portland yet.
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what annoyed me the most was the last scene. "We need to talk about something" fade out... credits.

There have been hundreds of scenes like that and you always are kept hanging. Next week the wife will know, but the emotional "you got to be kidding me moment" I really wanted to see I don't get. This is a show about grief and picking up after a big loss and I think we should see Michaels wife reaction.

Still love the show and hope for many seasons to come.
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I agree with you about that. I've come to expect it from most serials, so it didn't occur to be right away. But after reading your comment, I can't help but agree... Awake emphasizes emotions more than most shows, and yet they cut away from a likely very emotional scene? Boo.
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At first, I was thinking that it didn't matter, as we pretty much know how she'd react, but you're right; it would've been nice to see. This show needs more moments, less cop...and I'm a guy. They definitely could've pulled a minute or two from the station time for that. Preferably any of the minutes with Wilmer Valderrama,
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Very good point. I also wanted to see that emotional moment. I suppose the chances of them picking up right where they left off in the next episode is slim to nil, right?
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I'm not envy you Tim - you have to write every week something about the show. I know you probably can easily not to do it but I mean you feel the need or obligation inside youself (may be) to write something or to find something to write something about each episode. It's huge task. I would probably scratch my head intensely and couldn't write a sentence thinking about this episode. coz it's a waste of screen time for me. waste of show mythology. it's becomin' heavy procedural show with little tiny twist (adorable unecessary weirdness). Let's hope next episodes will be great or my friends (whom I sang operas about the show) gonna beat me up)
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i'd love some inside baseball knowledge...why does the staff write constantly about some shows, but totally neglect others?



Are they assigned these shows? Are they paid to promote them? Do they have "beats"? Do they just choose out their favorites or least favorites?



i guess it doesn't really matter...
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I think you covered well the show's strong points and potentialities, as well as its strong parts. As for me, I left this episode quite disappointed. The show simply isn't what a thought what it would be, a weird psychological trip in different realities. It's mostly procedural. Then there's the family drama. And only then comes the fantastic mystery. It's still a good show, quite enjoyable, and I'll miss it when it's gone. But from the premise I was expecting something else. Michael is simply keeping things too neatly, undisturbed, for someone who lives a split reality. Anyone living through what he's been living would be in a path for insanity, as suggested, then dropped, by the fantastic "That's not my penguin."
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Couldn't agree more on fictional sports teams. While the cases were not that exciting, I though the best friend "The Girl Next Door" did a halfway decent job.



What made the episode worthwhile for me though was the possibility introduced by Emma's baby... at this point the show greatly needs some multiple episode story arcs. This one could be great if they don't cancel it first.
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If the series continues, the baby drama might make for some serious problems, e.g. Michael and Hannah getting too involved in their grandbaby's life, Michael being able to know his grandchild while Rex never got to know his child...
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