I'm going to keep this short today because I'm not sure there's a whole lot to the overall story that we can extract from last night's episode of Awake, "Ricky's Tacos." It seems the main purpose of the episode was to remind us that there's a larger force working against Michael in the form of his police captain, Tricia Harper, and a mystery man, Carl. Had we not seen the bumper at the end of Episode 2 with Harper and Carl chatting on a bench, "Ricky's Tacos" might have offered more of a pay-off, but instead it felt like a purposeful momentum shift to prepare us for a return to the "What's the deal with the accident?" question.
I'm not sure we needed an entire episode to establish this. And I still think the Harper-Carl confab on the bench in Episode 2 was the result of NBC wanting to tell early audiences where the show was headed. But correct me if I'm wrong: Did we really learn anything new on that front in "Ricky's Tacos?" I didn't see anything, and we may even see less if Michael actually goes through with this move (he can't, can he?).
What "Ricky's Tacos" did show off was Awake's ability to spend time with its case-of-the-week characters, which helps build the impact of a case and make it more than just about good guys catching bad guys. There was a lot of humanizing of not-rapist Tim (Community's Fat Neil!), the rape-y dad's younger daughter, and especially El Diablo when the spotlight was on them, and that kind of development goes a long way toward making the procedural aspect of Awake more competent than that of other cops-and-robbers shows.
However, as I've said before, Awake's strength is in Michael's relationships with Rex and Hannah and his little victories as he's able to hang on to both of them by using his gift and adapting to his unique state. The emotional impact the show is now known for was glaringly absent in "Ricky's Tacos," and frankly made the episode skippable if you're in a hurry. No, I do not consider staring at a plumber's butt crack with your wife to be an emotional moment.
– I did like the comparison between Michael's constructed realities, artists leaving remnants of their ideas on works, and tattoos. I'm sure we all assumed that the tiger tattoo had some connection, but I didn't think of it as being an altered version of the prime suspect's devil.
– The case in the blue reality was fairly predictable, yet it still held my attention. And yes, that was Ted Beneke from Breaking Bad as the father. A Community AND a Breaking Bad connection in the same episode? Score!