Tagged Black Panthers

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 10: “Blackbird”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 10: “Blackbird”
Directed by Michael Zinberg
Written by Rafael Yglesias

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sexy Sadie” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Can You Take Me Back?” – click here
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On August 8th, 1969, Tex Watson (Cameron Deane Stewart) gets his marching orders from Papa Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony). Tex and Sadie (Ambyr Childers) are to go to the designated home in the hills, tie people up, knife them to death and “paint the walls with their blood.”
But 7 months earlier, Ken Karns (Brian F. O’Byrne) has hauled his daughter Emma (Emma Dumont) out of that snake pit of a psychiatric ward. Only problem is the ECT has her scrambled for a while. Now Ken is trying to make amends. Or is he? Blaming his wife Grace (Michaela McManus) for most of it, he asks Emma for forgiveness. When she mentions his homosexuality, though, Ken is a bit taken aback. He isn’t ready to be true to himself. He’s on the Nixon team.
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In another part of town, poor Kristin Shafe (Milauna Jackson) has seen Bunchy Carter (Gaius Charles) shot up. Her husband Dt. Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) and Dt. Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) are there to offer comfort. And because of all his personal connections to the case, Sam insists he’s the one to take charge.
Mr. Manson is not at all happy with Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau) for changing his song to fit the Beach Boys mould. He threatens one of Wilson’s housekeepers, frightening her badly. What else is he willing to do?
Kristin’s sure the shooting was done by United Africa (UA). She believes the FBI are working through the police and other groups outside of the Black Panther Party to tear them apart. She wants the UA all taken in, so she can identify them. However, Hodiak can’t just bring them all to jail. Then he assures her there will be justice. Maybe not from the department; from him. Meanwhile, Brian is still doing work over at the clinic with Sam’s friend Billie Gunderson (Olivia Taylor Dudley) to get himself, and keep himself, clean. He’s pretty conflicted over the death of Bunchy. The jury on Brian is still out. Not sure if he’s a good guy, or a shitty man.
The FBI are swooping in on the Carter case. That’s not about to stop Hodiak, though. He doesn’t care what Ed Cutler (Chance Kelly) tells him. Then there’s Officer Charmain Tully (Claire Holt), she’s heard information about UA trying to get at the Black Panthers. The upper-ups do not care: “Thats what we wanted to happen,” her commanding officer explains. But Hodiak, he’s the one she can go to with these situations. Let’s see what ole Sam gets up to.
In a bar where Charlie searches for Wilson, he winds up running into a still kickin’ Ralph Church (Omar J. Dorsey). They almost kill each other before the police arrive.

Emma is still attached to Charlie, or the idea of him. She longs to be with him and the family. For now, she and her father smoke a joint together and relax. Across the city, Hal Banyin (Spencer Garrett) is tripping out and needs something to calm him. Apparently the solution is mescaline. So his hippy friends are tracking some down.
Stuck in a cell together, Charlie rambles about “when Helter Skelter starts” to Ralph. The bigger of the two doesn’t care. He has a “slow and ugly” plan for Charlie’s death. But Manson only cares about the big race war he believes is happening. Finally, Ralph understands how crazy the man across from him is truly. A frightening scene.
Brian has to bail his wife out of jail when the Black Panthers get arrested. At home, Sam is waiting for them. He wants to jump in before the FBI gets swinging. Moreover, he surprises Kristin, and Brian, after wanting to borrow a book called The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois. Here, we see how Sam is more in tune with the black experience than ever Kristin’s own husband. Sort of a jarring moment for her, as the man she’d never have expected to understand actually seems to start doing exactly that.
Oh, and we find out Hodiak had the Panthers rounded up after Charmain alerted him to UA’s plan. Smart move. Except Charmain has guilt about what happened to Bunchy, and things slightly fall apart between her and Sam when he grills her on it.
A face we haven’t seen in awhile, Roy Kovic (David Meunier), has figured out that Dt. Shafe is in fact a cop, after one of Brian’s old buddies runs into him at the clinic Billie runs. Uh oh. There’s some nasty trouble ahead for the Shafes.

Brian: “Doesnt everyone feel that way sometimes?”
Sam: “Well sometimes aint all the time
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Spahn Ranch is now on the Manson Family radar. Hal babbles about it while getting fingered in the ass by Sadie. She seems intent on it being their new destination, just by the look in her eyes. For those of us who know Manson history, we know that is indeed where they’ll go soon enough. Where things will get darker, dirtier than ever before.
Back to Ken, whose life is in shambles even if he won’t fully admit it to himself. He’s losing friends, losing business acquaintances, so on. He discovers “no one” in all of California will be hiring him. Likely ever again. Seems his father-in-law has shut him down all over the place.
Hodiak follows Charmain to her meet with the CI from United Africa. He further discovers the links to the FBI. Yet Sam forges on anyway. He puts a line-up together for Kristin and she makes an identification. Cutler’s mostly concerned with credibility, although Sam has his plan in place, and he makes clear there won’t be any further help, or interference, from him. Either way, Mrs. Shafe is convinced she knows who shot Bunchy. And I believe her.
She and Brian aren’t exactly on the best terms. He still doesn’t fully support her, though he pretends. It’s so obvious he has slight problems with the Black Panthers. “Your people impoverish a generation of negroes and you dont expect that theyre gonna end up in prison or gangs,” Kristin questions her husband. There is a huge issue between them and that wedge will only drive in further.
More and more, Ken sees that his daughter isn’t made for a normal life. She wants so badly to find the family once more. Well, the family’s out taking care of business, as Charlie leaves the police station while Tex and Sadie kill Ralph waiting outside. Took them long enough to get him finished off.

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At the station, Sam finds his case being swept up by the FBI. Simultaneously, Charmain is being kicked around for helping Hodiak. Again she’s back to being treated like the little girl around the precinct, back to getting coffee refills probably. Very sad.
So with Ralph dead, Charlie fearing reprisal by the Black Panthers if they find out who killed a “blackbird” – as he calls them – Sadie suggests they all head out to Spahn Ranch. Where Papa Charlie says they’ll play “cowboys and Indians.” Jesus. What a delusional bit of madness. And more is coming.
You, Sam, are addicted to being a detective,” Billie tells the detective while they lie in bed. She makes a great point. He’s addicted to “solving mysteries” that keep him from working on himself. Perhaps the reason he and many cops find themselves lost in the work, forgetting everything else around them.
The Shafes are separating, at least for the time being. Kristin doesn’t like that he’s a part of a terrible organisation. She’s pretty right, that he works for “the enemy.” Only makes sense she can’t stick around. Especially in the late ’60s, couldn’t be an easy time for a white cop and a female Black Panther to be together.
Out at their new digs, Charlie receives Emma back in his arms, as well as her father Ken; been quite a long time. They both get taken back into the fold.
We jump to quickly to August 8th in ’69. Ken confronts Charlie telling him to stop whatever is about to happen. Tex and Sadie are ready to go, but Ken begs for his daughter not to be involved. Too late.
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Another solid episode getting deeper into the bit of Season 2. I love this god damn show. I don’t care about the liberties they take with facts concerning Manson or otherwise. They get the spirit of the 1960s, the danger of Manson, all of it, and they put it together nicely with a lot of intrigue for us to hang on. Excited to see “Can You Take Me Back?” next.

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 9: “Sexy Sadie”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 9: “Sexy Sadie”
Directed by David Boyd
Written by John McNamara

* For a review of the previous episode, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Blackbird” – click here
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Last episode, Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau) talked on the phone with Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) who was going to tell him everything about ole Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony).
So what will be the fallout?
We start once more on August 9th, 1969: Sadie (Ambyr Childers) walks back through the bloody house of their victims with things from a child’s crib. Cut back 11 months earlier, she’s with Charlie and telling him how wonderful he is for getting them into a recording studio. “Let us love you,” she tells the enigmatic family leader; her and her pregnant belly. Then Manson listens to the Beach Boys singing a tune he wrote. Although you can tell in his eyes there’s a hatred bubbling. The song’s been changed, drastically. And he is not taking it well whatsoever. The Wilson house has been cleared out, nobody home. Everything is packed up. Things are really falling apart for the Manson clan.
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Hodiak is worried for Emma Karn (Emma Dumont). Her father Ken (Brian F. O’Byrne) is a piece of shit, but Grace (Michaela McManus) is still a good person, deserving of knowing where he daughter’s gone. Except she knows where her daughter is, she’s the one who put her daughter there. Sam finds her in a psychiatric ward. “Im an embarrassment, right?” she asks him, knowing the answer – to her parents – is yes.
But duty calls, and Sam is back at the station. He gets more copycat photographs of the pictures he’s received in the past, though the original perpetrator hasn’t come calling in awhile. Hmm. Aside from that Dt. Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) continues struggling with his addiction; he’s a tad better looking than the last time we saw him. All the same, Sam knows there are problems. “Heroinyou were a better cop when you were shootinit into your veins,” he scolds a worn out Shafe. The only thing the older detective of the two wants is his partner to be doing good work. Regardless of how it gets done. He’s got a way, though. Sam takes his partner over to a place he’s been before, where CIs go to clean up and go straight. Basically the 1960s equivalent of a methadone clinic. Well, the nice thing is that Sam cares about Brian. Enough to take him there and see him into a better way of life, hopefully.
That altruistic side of Sam comes out further, as he goes back to see Emma more. All the while we’re only four days away from the 9th of August when all that horror begins at the hands of the Manson Family. Sam goes to see Grace after visiting Emma, wondering if after the election is over they’ll let their daughter out of that hospital. But those Karns, they’re a terribly egotistical, selfish couple. I guess Grace isn’t so awesome a person after all.

Sam: “I think thats what beina parent is, Grace. You love them, and eat a lifetime of pain in return.”
Grace: “Tell me how to be a parentyou raised a traitor and put his mother in the ground.”
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When Kristin Shafe (Milauna Jackson) shows up to the station looking for her husband, she gets talking to Sam. Turns out Bunchy Carter (Gaius Charles) assaulted a cop. She doesn’t think it’s true. At the same time, Brian is going through the motions of his treatment, getting better all the time. Only the woman helping him has to give hard news: “Relapse happens more often than not.” He can’t just go out and pretend things will be fine. You have to accept addiction is not always a straight, finite line. It can go on and on forever.
Hodiak goes over to see Bunchy in his cell. He claims his security personnel were illegally searched, et cetera. Problem is the Black Panther Party has a strict code of ethics. Bunchy’s sure there were no drugs because of that, and so the police must have planted what they found. “We got history, Hodiak. Im callinit in. You want riots? Just leave me here,” Bunchy tells him plainly.
We get see more Charmain Tully (Claire Holt)! Went too long. She’s an awesome character. Now, her undercover skills are getting put back to work. Meanwhile, Kristin isn’t happy being gawked at, that nobody at the office knew she was black. Certainly it has nothing to do with her husband not being proud of her, he loves her to death. Anyway, Hodiak has some awesomely Hodiak-ish wisdom: “Yknow, Im not positive, but I dont think Id get married again if it cured cancer.”
Who has bigger problems? Ken Karn. His homosexuality’s been discovered by the Nixon team. They’re not happy. Grace’s father delivers the news. Neither of them are safe, as she knows about what her husband likes. This later sends Ken off to find Hal Banyin (Spencer Garrett), only to find him in a similar state of sexual enjoyment. He’s the one who told people about Ken and his predilections. Worse for Ken is the fact Charlie is kicking around, needing a new place to stay and all, washing Hal’s feet (literally). Man alive.

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Charmain finds more sexism in the police department, as even asking a question about operations gets her bitched at. I suppose doing Hodiak’s bidding doesn’t exactly put her in the best position. Speaking of Hodiak, he has Shafe back working, doing his best. They dive into the LSD supposedly found on the Black Panthers and Bunchy.
Now Officer Tully is pushing her luck, peeking into envelopes she’s not meant to peek inside. Then she starts worrying about the people with whom she’s involved with undercover. You can see her good heart pushing up against the duties of a police officer; specifically, a female undercover officer. Not an easy thing to be at any time, especially not in the late ’60s.
The Karn household is tearing apart, even if Grace wants to keep it together. Ken knows things are gone to hell. However, his wife thinks her father is just pissed off, that the Republicans are only giving them a warning shot, essentially. “We make them need us,” Grace tells her husband fiercely. They decide being discrete privately, together publicly is the best way forward, as well as to let go of their daughter for good. Nasty, nasty people.
Later on, Sam gets a call from none other than Ken. He wants to find his daughter, as he originally did so long ago. Hodiak meets him at the hospital and also informs him that someone authorised Emma to have electroshock therapy; she can barely remember herself, let alone anyone else. Well, father seems determined to take his daughter back home. An interesting turn of events, to say the least.

With the help of Hodiak and Shafe, Bunchy is released. Faulty police work after all. Free at last, free at last! He gives a speech at the Black Panthers HQ: “The Man is armed, we are armed. The Man kills, we kill. This is the only relationship respected by the Man because it is the only form of relationship understood by the Man.”
Right then and there men with guns walk through the doors. They blast Bunchy several times in the chest and arm.
Charlie is out looking for Dennis Wilson. He’s latched onto the Beatles White Album already. His madness is getting much deeper now, as if it weren’t before. Then it’s like Manson can see the coming murders in his mind. A terrifying barrage of images.
They’re coming. Soon.
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Another whopper of an episode. Really loved these latest two that came on in succession tonight. They built up so much tension and excitement. Really looking forward to the next one titled “Blackbird” – stay tuned with me!

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 7: “Piggies”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 7: “Piggies”
Directed by Jon Amiel
Written by Sera Gamble & Mike Moore

* For a review of the previous episode, “Revolution 9” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – click here
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August 9th, 1969: Sadie (Ambyr Childers) cleans blood from the crime. On the 10th, Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) gets an intense phone call sending him out.
But cut back to 12 months earlier. Sam remembers Bobby Kennedy leaving The Ambassador Hotel while that fateful shot is fired. Afterwards, Sam has to figure out how he’ll deal with having been there, something that won’t too easily just go away. He goes about his business, though. In regards to those missing women, the pictures, he starts to figure out that one of the most recent victims posted a Lonely Heart ad in the paper. Hmm.
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We catch up now with undercover Charmain Tully (Claire Holt). She’s trying to get herself embedded further into the group, getting closer to the girl she met on the college campus. Only they’re planning something dangerous. The situation amplifies, terribly, when Charmain goes with the group to plant a bomb in a lab. She puts herself in harm’s way because of her guilt.
Meanwhile, Dt. Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) continues hiding his addiction to Big Sam. It’s getting tougher, and there’s no reason to think it won’t get worse still.
Ole Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony) is still kicking around at the home of Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau). And the Beach Boy is not pleased with all the medical bills getting run up by the Manson Family. The persuasive powers of Charlie come out again, even laying a kiss on Wilson to make sure he pays up on “the cost of authenticity” for his guests. Then they all get some news: Sadie’s pregnant.

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The greasy Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) is always out doing his duty. Or, what he perceives as duty. He’s got more work ahead of him for Richard Nixon and his campaign. They’ve got LBJ in their sights now.
Pulled away from his photographs of missing women, Dt. Hodiak is required at the scene of a grisly, blood soaked stabbing. He interviews the maid, a distraught African-American woman. At the very same time Charmain is over getting chewed out for soaking the bomb, stopping the explosion. She’s coming up against the line between criminality and law. Ah, that thin blue line.
Sadie and Tex Watson (Cameron Deane Stewart) talk about the baby. He wants to be the dad, but of course the baby “belongs to the family” – not creepy at all. When Tex goes to meet someone on a drug deal, it’s Ralph Church (Omar J. Dorsey). Looks like he didn’t die after all. Now Sadie worries about getting found out. When Ralph goes wild on them, they have to take off. More trouble to bring back for Charlie. They tell him about Ralph, how he’s out to kill him. But Charlie doesn’t care, as his insanity becomes more clear to everyone around him: “He cant kill me. I cant die.”
Grace Karn (Michaela McManus) is still trying to cover up the fact her daughter Emma (Emma Dumont) is lost somewhere, a runaway. She calls her father and wants to be done with the whole thing. However, what is the way out? What can Grace do? Her husband Ken is off doing his thing while she makes plans with her father to solve the Emma situation.
Dt. Shafe flies down to the Black Panther Party HQ to find his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson). There’s a shooting involving officers and Black Panthers. Although things are still not pleasant between them. Back at the station, Hodiak interviews the maid from his victim’s home, Dierdre (Liz Femi). While the detective pushes things in the box his partner rushes in, upset at Sam using racially insensitive questioning to get what he needs. All the same, Dierdre did it. There’s simply a question of whether Sam acted at all morally. The concept of law comes up so much within this series, as we’re constantly asked to evaluate what makes proper police work and what does not. For all its faults, Aquarius does pose some wonderful questions for us to try and answer.
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Bunchy: “Police chop off your hair?”
Brian: “Yeah. Kristin took care of my balls.”
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At the Black Panther Party HQ, Bunchy (Gaius Charles) has an intense conversation about where he’d prefer to get shot, if it came to that, with Kristin. He talks about how everyone in the movement is “ready to be killed.” A harsh, true reality. He makes clear that while Brian shouldn’t be coming down there, he makes a proper point. That being in the BPP is willingly admitting that death may come at any moment. Same as Brian’s duty as a detective, though he’s also a junkie now. Not helping anything. Plus, he’s always lying. He covers up the needle she found with more lies.
Back with Charlie and Sadie, they’re turning Tex into a killer. It isn’t only Manson now. The women are becoming so brainwashed that they’re beginning to start helping their master almost without blinking. With a gun in his hand, Charlie is a terrifying sort. And he wants Emma to try getting her old cop buddy involved, the one who beat Manson to a pulp. The plots, they all weave back together.
Later, Emma goes to see Hodiak. She acts all proper, clean living, all that. She talks about staying with Dennis Wilson, Charlie and his music. The Manson Family and Emma are planning on using Sam in order to get Ralph out of their life again. Will the manipulation work, or will this just serve to get Sam closer to their action? Well, Emma has other things to worry about. A car picks her up off the street, claiming to be sent by Wilson. I doubt that, as it seems like a more shady operation than guys dispatched by a Beach Boy.

The group Charmain is infiltrating believes they’re next on the police target list after the Black Panthers. They’re carrying guns, readying themselves for a tough ride. What Charmain doesn’t like is that she is being forced into letting the group do illegal things, yet she’s there to be an arm of the law. She goes to Hodiak, to try and get advice. “Youre the first of your kind,” Sam tells her. He encourages her to remember that, above all else, she is being scrutinised for her gender. He doesn’t play into that, but tries to make sure she knows that giving up is not an option.
On the phone, Sam gets a call from someone who uses his full name, calling him “#1 detective” just like those envelopes with the photographs. Better yet, the detective recognises his voice.
On August 9th of ’69, Sadie walks bloody through the carnage of the Manson Family. Blood, bodies left in her wake. Behind stroll several others, all of them soaked with crimson. A creepy congregation of brainwashed souls.
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Another solid episode. Really dig all the political elements. Lots of intrigue, mystery, excitement. Next episode is titled, I believe, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and should bring more madness. Are we going to see Dt. Hodiak get further tangled up with the Manson Family? Soon. Soon.

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 3: “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 3: “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road”
Directed by Timothy Busfield
Written by Alexandra Cunningham

* For a review of the previous episode, “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Revolution 1” – click here
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We start with Manson (Gethin Anthony) meeting Charles ‘Tex’ Watson (Cameron Deane Stewart), another one involved in the hideous deaths at Cielo. We see him in the flashes forward to the murders, as well. The family is coming together, and Manson’s terrifying power of persuasion gets clearer each episode. He’s defeated that old influence in his life, and now the triumph over Ralph Church has made him seemingly invincible. In his head, anyway. In a season filled with episodes named for Beatles songs, we can be sure that the Helter Skelter of Manson’s wild dreams is surely coming, closer, closer.
Will this season end with those savage killings? We’re on the road to finding out.
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Back 16 months earlier, slowly edging our way towards those fateful events, Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) and Officer Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) have received another picture in an envelope – a new woman, tied up. So the duo sets about making calls trying to suss out a lead or two.
Ole Charlie’s busy over at the house owned by Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau). You can see the stars in his eyes already, as Wilson shows up. “I am everyone and everyone is me,” Charlie starts with his craziness, which kind of impresses Dennis. But he makes a mistake, and tells the madman to make himself at home. Little does he know how long that will come to last.
Sam comes across a bloodied woman on a rooftop after heading to a scene where someone was heard yelling loudly. She’s in terrible shape and succumbs to her injuries. This sets fire to Hodiak. He checks with some witnesses that heard the screams and does the normal routine, though things are looking darker than ever. Later he tails Ron Kellaher (Tim Griffin), more to make a point than do anything sinister. A funny situation sees Kellaher’s wife come out to talk. Turns out she knows Sam, too. Hilarious. But Ron gets the point, no doubt. Back at the office there are more pictures, a ton, waiting for Sam. The plot keeps on thickening.
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Interesting stuff comes from Kristin Shafe (Milauna Jackson), involved with the Black Panthers, and her cop husband Brian. She wants him to quit, to do something else. He isn’t exactly willing. There’s a huge contradiction and conflict lying between them, though. Not an unbeatable one, just a wide one.
Mr. Manson is playing guitar for Wilson, handing down prophecy about the music business. He doesn’t exactly play much guitar. He holds one, then makes excuses for not playing and singing anything. In other news, Sadie (Ambyr Childers) and Tex Watson (Cameron Deane Stewart) start to get to know one another. Y’know, now that they’re in a cult together. She starts introducing him to a bit of LSD. Ah, the tool of the Manson Family. “Youre seeing the world through a dirty window,” Sadie tells Tex; Charlie’s words coming out of her mouth. This is where we begin to see further how the brainwashing of Charlie works on his followers. Tragic, how the lost and lonely come together and become hypnotised by a character like him. Then in turn it’s worse how those hypnotised go on to do the same to others. A perpetual cycle, similar to the emotional, mental abuse children suffer in families, and some of them go on to do the same when they have a family of their own. Manson’s clan was merely a large family of broken souls that worked like any other, only dark and devious.
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Out on the trail Detective Hodiak is doing more of his typical bad cop shtick. Works, though. And honestly, with some of these criminals it’s probably warranted. You can argue all you want about the moral line. Certain criminals know no line. Either way, Sam gets shit done right now in the name of young girls going missing, dying, and who knows what else. He and Shafe are checking things out. Sam interrogates Ben Healy (Morgan McClellan), estranged husband to one of the missing women in the pictures. Meanwhile, Shafe interrogates a suspect (Carlos Pratts), or does so casually without being too suspicious. He manages to get the guy to talk, seeing as how his father turned him in. Not too hard for Shafe to spin it all into working for them. At the same time in Sam’s life things are spiralling on the personal side. He and Grace (Michaela McManus) are headed in different directions.
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Wilson just wants to hear Charlie play some tunes. He thinks there’s a bit of nervousness, apprehension on Manson’s part. “Just rise above it, rise,” Dennis says. Prophetic, as that very word ends up written in blood at the LaBianca murders later on. We get flashes to the fateful night at Cielo Drive down the road. We cut from a normal Tex to one filled with Charlie Manson madness: “Im the devil and Im here to do the devils business,” he speaks while initiating the sequence of murder on the unsuspecting victims at Sharon Tate’s home. A chilling finish to this episode.
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Enjoyed the first season. Loving this one. They’ve improved greatly, as well as pumped the action and intensity. Look forward to the next episode “Revolution 1” – it ties into Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination and puts Sam Hodiak in the racial line of fire. Should be interesting!