Poor Fat Neil. Even when he ventures out into other realities, such as the Green World on Awake, Community's poor schlub still gets messed with. In last night's Awake, Fat Neil had to watch the popular girl in high school commit suicide right in front of him — and then he wound up getting accused of rape. He probably wished he was just getting screwed with by Pierce, as usual.
Sadly, the Fat Neil cameo was just one of a few great things about an otherwise meh episode of Awake. I liked the dead guy turning up in concrete, and how ridiculously proud the medical examiner was of getting the body out. I liked Michael nailing the abusive dad to the wall. And Michael's speech about "Oh, yeah, Vega is obsessed with social inequality and all that stuff. Me, my thing is code violations," was priceless. Oh, and the fast food speaker talking to Michael reminded me of the burger mascot talking to Wesley on Angel — so that's a plus. There were some severely fun moments in this episode, to be sure.
But it felt like a lurch in the wrong direction, generally. Both because we once again had two forgettable mysteries with an obvious culprit, instead of one interesting mystery — did anybody not peg the dad and the brother respectively as the wrong-doers in the two cases, the moment we saw them? I feel like a broken record, but I just don't think this show is ever going to be able to pull off the "two cases in two worlds" thing with any degree of success — the culprits are always going to be obvious, the cases are always going to have one twist, tops. Neither of these was as bad as the fertility doctor who was obviously inseminating his own patients a few weeks ago, but still.
And then there was the move back to "conspiracy theory" land. Like a lot of people, I'm really leery of this show's decision to layer an eeeevil conspiracy on top of all the other stuff that's going on. And the attempt to create a secret mystery element, in the vein of Lost or whatever, just feels like the wrong track. On the other hand, if you are going to spend a lot of time on the mystery elements, then you ought at least to move forward — this episode featured several repetitive scenes of Michael visiting the same warehouse, and learning absolutely nothing each time.
(Although one thing about the evil conspiracy — it would be kind of cool if the Captain was in on it in one world, but not in the other. Especially given that the Captain in Green World seems kind of cool and altruistic, what with her insane speech to the little abused girl. That would be a neat twist indeed.)
All in all, this was a slight letdown after two excellent episodes in a row. For a show that's ostensibly about a guy who's torn between his wife and his son, this episode gave us almost no time with either of them — which is a sure sign of a show that's trying to do too much and not quite reaching any of its goals. That said, I still have insane amounts of faith in this show, and there's no question that I'm in it for the long haul, after the last few weeks.