Dr. Lee is at the Vista Psychiatric Hospital giving interns a tour. He shows them one of his patients, Gabriel Wyath, and explains that he's a 26-year-old engineering student who suffers from schizophrenia and tried to blow up a government building because of his delusions. One of the interns, Steph, comments that schizophrenics adhere to strict patterns and tend to suffer from sleep loss, outbursts of anger, and confusion over their surroundings.
Realities 1 and 2
Michael goes about his daily routine but suffers from sleep loss, outbursts of anger, and confusion over which reality that he's in.
Lee tells the group that their job as doctors is to try to help those who don't want their help.
As Rex leaves for school, he complains that Michael hasn't filled out his school permission slip for a museum trip that day so he'll be stuck in study hall. Michael is busy trying to deal with the phone company and finally realizes that he sent them the permission slip instead of the check. He tells Rex that he'll take him to the museum later and offers to get him to school, but Rex says that he's riding with Cole and his father and he'll call later. Michael warns him that they're going to be without phone service for the next three days and his son leaves in disgust.
At the station, Michael is bringing in a box of evidence from home and confuses Patrolman Vega for Detective Vega in the other reality. He spills the box and tries to pick up the evidence as Bird comes in and snickers at his clumsiness. As the partners go to work, Len the technician comes in and complains that there's a two-finger ring with the word "Wild" on it missing from the box. Michael insists that he put everything back and asks Len to reluctantly cover for him, saying that the ring isn't a crucial piece of evidence, and the technician reluctantly agrees.
When Michael wakes up, Hannah lightly complains that he was too tired to do anything with her the previous night. She suggests that they meet for lunch and he agrees. Later, Michael is out on the streets with Vega when they get a report of a hostage situation at Vista Psychiatric Hospital. When they arrive, a uniform tells them that a patient has taken fifteen doctors, patients, and nurses hostage and has wired up the hospital with acetylene tanks rigged to explode. They talk to the staff nurse, who informs them that Gabriel is responsible and has secured the high-risk wing.
Gabriel calls the officers and complains to Michael about the sirens, and Michael gets everyone to turn them down. Once the situation is calmer, Gabriel checks the security monitors and has Michael identify himself, and then tells the detective to bring his sister Christy to the hospital so he can talk to her. Once he hangs up, the staff nurse tells Michael that they can't bring Christy in... because Christy was murdered four years ago.
SWAT Commander Hamilton goes over the attack plan and Lee comes over to advise them. He and Michael are both momentarily surprised to see each other, and then the psychiatrist explains that Gabriel was an engineering scientist who lived with his sister Christy and worked at a research lab. Her ex-boyfriend murdered her in 2008, but Michael has developed the delusion that she's still alive and that the lab had their agents abduct her. Lee warns Michael and the others that they're not going to be able to reason with Gabriel as long as he bases his reality on things he can't see or here. Hamilton checks the building plans and tells them that they can't break in physically in less than twelve hours. He suggests that they lure Gabriel to a narrow window in the patient ward so that a sniper can take him out. Gabriel calls and asks for one negotiator: Michael, the only one he trusts since he stopped the sirens. Hamilton is reluctant to give the patient another hostage but Michael warns that they don't have an alternative.
As Michael prepares to go in, Hannah reminds him about their lunch date. He avoids telling her he's in danger and just says that he had something come up at work and he loves her. However, Hannah soon sees a news broadcast from the hospital and realizes that something is going on. When she can't get hold of Michael, she calls Vega and he admits that his partner is going in and that Michael didn't want her to worry.
Gabriel lets Michael into the patient ward where he has the acetylene tanks wandered, and where the patients are wandering around while the doctors are locked up in an adjoining room. Once he makes sure the Michael isn't carrying a gun, Gabriel tells him to sit down and insists that his sister is alive and he's not imagining thing. He explains that Christy was the only one who understood him and helped him out of psych hospitals. Gabriel shows Michael of himself and Christy on a beach with the words "Trip 07" on the back, and explains that he wasn't able to stop "them" from abducting her. He admits that he failed to protect her and that he'd be crazy not to try and save her.
As one of the patients goes to the window and starts screaming, Gabriel shows Michael a dead man's switch. If he's killed or otherwise releases the button, the bombs will explode. As he gets impatient with the noise and goes to the window to stop the patient, Michael realizes that he has to protect him from the sniper. He asks Gabriel about the maps that he's gathered and the patient tells him that Dr. Wilde is the one holding Christy at an underground location. Michael recognizes the name from the ring in his other reality, and is forced to shove Gabriel away from the window as the sniper fires and misses. Gabriel figures that it's a trap and knocks Michael unconscious. When he wakes up, Gabriel stabs him in the chest with a syringe...
Michael wakes up at home in bed. He calls the station to see if they've found the missing ring. As he goes down to the kitchen, he brushes past Rex and doesn't notice that he has two bowls of cereal. Rex takes them to his room where his girlfriend Emma stayed the night. As they eat, she admits that her parents trust her and that they already know she's sleeping with Rex. She asks him about Michael and Rex admits that he hasn't talked much with his father, including why he's acting so weird.
In the kitchen, Michael calls Bird and asks him about the ring. Bird doesn't see the point since the perp was convicted, but Michael tells him to keep looking for it. He then looks at the kitchen floor and sees a penguin standing there, watching him. Surprised, Michael tells Bird that he has to go see someone before he gets to the station.
Michael meets with Dr. Evans and confirms that he was injected with ketamine, a tranquilizer. She's more interested in Gabriel and wonders if Michael is hallucinating. The penguin is in the room but only Michael can see it. He explains about the ring and admits that he's frightened that he's dealing with a schizophrenic, and Evans says that it's a positive step. Michael is linking himself to Gabriel, a man unable to distinguish fantasy from reality, and he has to neutralize and defeat him. She believes it represents Michael's subconscious is acknowledging the danger of him not accepting reality, and he is having a nightmare about a madman because he thinks he could end up the same way.
When Michael goes to the station, he finds the penguin waiting for him. He continues searching for the ring and then goes home to find it. Rex wonders what he's doing and Michael asks if he's seen the ring. Rex says he hasn't and starts to leave, but Michael sees the penguin looking at him and calls Rex back. He asks him again and Rex admits that he took the ring and gave it to Emma. Michael has no idea that Rex has a new girlfriend and Rex says that he didn't tell Michael about it because he's not comfortable talking to his father about such things, and Hannah was the one he always confided in. Michael tells him that with Hannah gone, they're going to have to learn to talk to each other directly, and Rex says that he's meeting Emma that night and Michael can meet her then.
That night, Michael goes to a diner with Emma and Rex. She gives the ring back and Michael chats and jokes with her. Emma wonders why Rex didn't introduce them before and he admits that he doesn't know. Michael bids them good night, getting a hug from Emma, and then goes home and dozes off.
Michael wakes up at the hospital and finds Lee inside, examining him. The psychiatrist explains that the authorities convinced Gabriel to let him in. The lights go out and Michael warns Lee that the SWAT teams are preparing to break in, but shooting Gabriel will set off the bombs. The detective goes to Gabriel and asks him to let him make a phone call so he can stop them, so that they'll live to get answers about Christy. Gabriel agrees and Michael calls Vega just in time for him to stop Hamilton and his men from breaking in. Michael then asks Vega to find out everything he can about Dr. Wilde and the trip to the beach that Gabriel and Christy took in '07.
Gabriel calms down and explains that he knows that Christy isn't really there, but he still sees her. He insists that he wants Christy to be real, while Lee and the penguin watch the entire conversation. Vega calls to tell Michael that the only reference to Wilde that he can find is that Christy is buried at Wild Rose Cemetery. Michael connects the cemetery to Gabriel's comment that Christy is being held at an underground location. As for the '07 trip, the records show that Gabriel was locked up at the time and afraid to travel.
Michael convinces Gabriel to give him a little more time and sits down with Lee next to the penguin. Lee suggests that "Trip 07" may refer to something else, and says that if Gabriel is merging reality with his delusions and then there's a chance they can get through to him. However, they have to help him reach his own conclusions rather than tell him what is going on.
Gabriel comes over and Michael starts to tell him that Christy is dead. However, he remembers everything that has happened to him starting with the accident, and notices on Gabriel's files that his full name is "Gabriel David Wyath III." Michael then tells Gabriel that Christy managed to escape, defeating her captors. She can't come to see Gabriel without endangering both of them, but she gave Michael a secret message to pass on. The detective tells Gabriel that his sister said she loved him, and signed the message to "Trip." Gabriel accepts that Michael is telling the truth because of the pet name and breaks into tears.
After Gabriel surrenders, Lee wonders how Michael knew about the nickname.
Michael defends his choice to Evans, saying that Gabriel was happier with his delusion and knowing the truth could only hurt him. Evans points out that in his dream, Michael refused to let Gabriel accept reality, and as a result kept his wife's love, played the hero, and won Lee's approval. The psychiatrist warns that Michael has the keys that he can use to set himself free of his own delusions, but that he refuses to use them.
At home, Michael finds Rex's old children's book, That's Not My Penguin. Rex comes in and the two of them look at it and remember.
Michael defends supporting Gabriel's lie and asks why Evans is so eager to argue that Gabriel should have had the truth, no matter how painful. The psychiatrist points out that Michael is comparing himself to an institutionalized schizophrenic, and she'd rather not have to see Michael institutionalized as well.
Michael meets with Lee, who wonders if he was frightened. The psychiatrist admits that he was frightened as well, but it wasn't the same for him because he wasn't there. He explains that after he briefed Michael outside, the police kept him in a secure van. As Michael tries to reconcile the new information with what he experienced in the hospital, Lee tells him that he's making progress and should get some sleep.