NBC’s Aquarius
Season 1, Episode 1: “Everybody’s Been Burned”
Directed by Jonas Pate
Written by John McNamara

* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” – click here
IMG_02281967, in Los Angeles. Emma Karn (Emma Dumont) is sick of her parents Grace (Michaela McManus) and Ken (Brian F. O’Byrne) fighting. She heads off in the night with Rick Zondervan (Beau Mirchoff) to escape to a party, a place of free love, fun, weed, drinks, music. What any young person the late ’60s hoped to enjoy. Except at that party, taking a shine to Emma, is a man named Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony). The manipulation he employs in order to meet her immediately shows his character, how eerie and possessive he is as a person. He speaks of the city, its lights as a “snake” which they’ll eat before it eats them. His hypnotism already at work.
Charlie: “I know how much it hurts, like a body, soul screaming to be heard.”
We meet Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny), a local cop. He’s friends with Grace Karn, she calls about her daughter going missing. They need help. So, Sam is the man to get shit done. There’s a quick introduction to his character that serves him well, seeing him miss his keys, forced to hotwire his own car to leave. At the Karn place, he meets the parents and gets more information on their daughter. It’s revealed Ken is in politics, wanting to keep his wayward daughter out of the papers, unofficially. A point of contention in the marriage. Turns out Grace and Sam, they’ve got a romantic past, too.
IMG_0230Sam starts by talking to Rick, who threatens him with daddy going to court. Quickly, we see more of Hodiak, that he isn’t one to worry about such things. He’s a renegade cop, the type that still exist but ran absolutely rampant back in the ’60s, strong arming and doing whatever necessary during an investigation.
Up at the camp with Charlie, Emma is falling in with their little roving family. He’s charismatic, interesting, he plays guitar and sings, write songs. She seems to be enjoying this new adventure in life. She hears about Charlie’s “vision” of being “bigger than the Beatles.” Thus starts the psychosis of it all.
The streets are on fire with protests. At a diner, Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) is buying drugs from Mike Vickery (Jason Ralph). In fact he’s a cop, undercover. We also see that he’s not your typical officer of the law, even gets taken down by one of his own while trying to calm down a forceful cop agitating protesters. And this fighting spirit when he’s taken to the precinct impresses Hodiak, who wants a less clean, rugged type helping him on his latest case.
Shafe (re: other cops): “If its somethinyou dont understand you wanna hit it, fuck it, or shoot it.”
Fun to see Hodiak adjusting to the new rules for cops, concerning Miranda rights. They’ve actually got cards to remember them. Just a glimpse into the times changing, and whether he likes it or not the detective has to change. Or else be left behind, or worse. The detectives do wind up finding out a bit of info on Charlie, his biker friend Roy Kovic (David Meunier), so it’s something to go on.
IMG_0231Sadie (Ambyr Childers) is one of Manson’s ladies, she reels Emma in with romantic talk about their cult-like leader. She paints him as a new age philosopher, a psychic magician. All of which makes the girl feel that this is a place where she belongs, even if she’s being cruelly indoctrinated into a place of worship.
The rest of the work is done by the silken tongue of the devilish Charlie, hauling Emma further in by speaking what she wants to hear, playing on her broken spirit. Because he’s broken, too. He talks of her mother, what she did to him as a child, a brief glimpse into his wretched soul. Then they have ritualistic sex, as the other women come in to join the pleasure.
Charlie: “I dont look at you. I see you.”
Shafe enlists Sam to help with his recent drug deal and upcoming bust involving Mike. The two partners are getting closer. They also ask a young officer named Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) in order to infiltrate a party. There, Brian finds out more about Manson, and then meets Kovic, a member of the Straight Satans biker gang. Only it gets tense when Charmain thinks she might have to fuck Kovic. More than she expected out of this little mission. So Shafe topples the biker down the stairs, beating up his leg to get them out of there fast. Further than that we see that our young detective isn’t afraid to dip into the buzz while undercover. Might this come back to haunt him?
They start digging through Manson’s history, everything from assault to robbery to anything else under the sun. They visit his parole officer, finding out the guy likes to pimp women. He’s also connected to politicians – possibly why he knows so much about Emma, connected to her dad – and movie stars, so on. Yes, Ken knows Charlie because he’s a big time lawyer, one with political weight. Should be interesting to watch the Karn family’s story play out.
IMG_0232Manson soon confronts his old pal Ken, about what he remembers; and he’s got a looong memory, good one, too. Now he needs to be put in touch with some musicians, some big names. He’s trying to move on up in the world. Then he explains about Emma being with him, taunting with nastiness. Before starting to rape Ken at the end of a blade, nearly getting the job done before a car interrupts. This is the most vicious we’ve seen in the opening episode. Not the most vicious we’ll see later on.
IMG_0235Such a good start to this series. Always liked reading about Charles Manson, a truly despicable character in the history of modern America. “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” is next, starting to unfold more about Charlie and more of Dt. Hodiak’s personal story.

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