There is a current of hope that runs through Awake week after week: Although Det. Britten (Jason Isaacs) has ostensibly lost his family, he has somehow crafted two worlds that allows those he loves to live on, which makes the amount of effort Britten puts forth incredibly important. So when Awake introduces the kind of shoulder-shrugging, damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t mentality on display in ‘Game Day,’ it tends to through a wrench into the essence of the show.
After last week’s touching episode ‘Nightswimming,’ which invested a great deal of time in the relationship between Britten and his wife Hannah (Laura Allen), ‘Game Day’ once more takes the focus away from the dynamic of Britten’s family – although Rex (Dylan Minnette) plays a key role near the end – so that the episode winds up in the procedural category again. This seems to be the case whenever executive producer Howard Gordon takes the writing lead, and given his television history (Homeland, 24), this is certainly understandable. But while some of the procedural-based episodes – like ‘Kate is Enough‘ – have managed to weave some meaningful revelations regarding Britten’s condition throughout the course of the episode, ‘Game Day’ goes more along the lines of ‘Guilty‘ by saving the more pertinent aspects until the end – which really serves to cheapen the reveal and make the episode, up to that point, somewhat inconsequential.
The episode begins with a huge Pacific Coast Bowl between Los Angeles and Seattle. While everyone seems particularly worked up about this, Britten takes a decidedly indifferent stance on the whole thing, citing the fact that he sees so many things play out to both possible outcomes, such frivolities no longer hold much interest for him. So when the game comes down to a single field goal, which wins the game for L.A. in one reality and not the other, it acts as the catalyst for that particular reality’s game day related homicide.
In one reality, Britten and Freeman (Steve Harris) attempt to solve the murder of an annoying alpha male, Robert Jones, by what seems to be another group of alpha males after the ball game. In the Hannah-verse, Britten and Vega (Wilmer Valderrama) investigate the arson-related death of an employee at a dry cleaner. Although the detectives initially go down the wrong path, neither investigation is a particularly difficult case to crack.
On one hand Britten has the gambling addicted John Kho (played by François Chau of Lost) who is in debt to local bookie and Fast and the Furious fan, Solomon Kang (Ron Yuan), for nearly half a million dollars, but conveniently has an insurance policy on his business for twice that amount. While in the other reality, a deployed airbag resembling the Shroud of Turin, but with green face paint, leads Britten to the most likely suspect in the beating death of Robert Jones.
The investigation into Kang guides the detectives to Jinsung Do (Jerry Chu) who wrecks the same one-of-a-kind car he drove to commit the arson while trying to flee Britten and Vega. After yanking the kid’s keys from the ignition, Britten notices the key chain is modeled after the kind of hat that was found next to Robert’s body. This leads him to the pretty thin realization that Robert was murdered by his brother Kenneth (Christopher Marquette), after being bullied and demoralized for what appears to have been a very long time. Meanwhile, the questioning of Jinsung Do leads back to Kho’s wife, Sumi. After being arrested, Sumi makes a short confession in which she laments the fact that all of this was spun from the result of one field goal.
Tenuous or not, it ties directly to Rex, who had earlier been dumped by his girlfriend Emma (Daniela Bobadilla), for supposedly looking at another girl. After a brief interrogation, however, Rex learns that he had gotten Emma pregnant, but she lost the baby – apparently keeping it from Rex because she didn’t think he could handle it. Britten discovers that the pregnancy occurred before the accident, so he approaches Emma in the Hannah-verse to discover she is still carrying Rex’s child.
With the fact that he’s already resigned balanced against Emma’s pregnancy, obviously this serves as a potential means to (temporarily) disrupt Britten and, possibly, Hannah moving to Portland. Since we’ve only four more episodes to go, it will be interesting to see where the prospect of grandparenthood takes a couple working to start over.
Awake continues next Thursday with ‘Slack Water’ @10pm on NBC. You can have a sneak peek at the episode below: