Ken Karn is in deep with Manson. Meanwhile, Hodiak learns more interesting facts about his new partner Shafe.
Dt. Sam Hodiak is asked by an old friend to investigate the disappearance of her daughter; who's hooked up with a man named Charles Manson.
Season 2, Episode 13: “I Will”
Directed by Jonas Pate
Written by Mike Moore
* For a review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “Mother Nature’s Son” – click here
Season 2 finale, we’re here! I hope there’ll be more. Although because of NBC not treating the show with proper respect it deserves I’m not holding my breath on Season 3.
This possible series finale begins on August 7th of ’69 in the early morning hours. Former detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) is start off retirement by trying to track the killer of women who recently rang him up at home. Sam heard a fire engine going, so he tries to track down any calls in that area to narrow things down. Alongside is Officer Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) doing her best to help. He soon comes up with where he believes the perp to be, the neighbourhood he seems to remember from some time ago. He follows the man into a diner; his name is Gerald Dunn, they shake hands. Sam begins an uneasy conversation with Dunn. Neither willing to openly say anything about why they’re there. Except Hodiak makes clear he’s eager for retirement: “Kinda looking forward to doing whatever I want. To whoever I want. I‘ll see you ‘round, Gerald.”
Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) has the money from his wife, and I assume Hal Banyin (Spencer Garrett), as well. He’s brought some for Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony). Brought a bit of lovin’, too. Yowzahs. Doesn’t help him or his daughter being involved with Mr. Manson. Especially after he starts hearing more about Charlie’s “Helter Skelter” prophecy.
Over at the precinct, Ed Cutler (Chance Kelly) isn’t happy about Charmain or Detective Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) doing their respective things. He’s funny, though, and that’s all right. Poor junkie Shafe is suffering through his addiction AND not having his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) around anymore.
For the time being, Sam enjoys a little respite from murders, dead women and such. He and Billie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) have a bit of breakfast. She isn’t too thrilled about his addiction to chasing down suspects. I guess she’s right about him, and at the same time he only wants to do good. Speaking of which, he’s got Dt. Shafe knocking on Mr. Dunn’s door, hauling him down to the station while Sam Goes for a look inside the house.
And what does he find? A secret, nasty little dark room. Photographs everywhere. At the station, Gerald prints #1 DETECTIVE and SAMSON BENEDICT HODIAK, over and over on a pad of paper. Oh, he is a creepy man.
With everything going on, Grace Karn (Michaela McManus) is trying to keep her head straight. She finally reveals to her political lady friend the truth about her daughter Emma (Emma Dumont). Where’s Emma, exactly? Heading out on a “creepy crawly” and trying to calm her father down. He’s worried for his daughter. His sad, brainwashed, pregnant daughter. Charlie’s sending Tex (Cameron Deane Stewart) off on a mission. To do some terrifying things; painting the walls with blood, using knives. It’s August 8th, after all. Soon enough, Sharon Tate, among others, will be bleeding to death tragically. Because Charlie’s reading to “make history.”
Meanwhile, Shafe has to let Gerald go. He and Hodiak know this is the killer, but alas – the law. Charmain helps the fellas figure out an important piece to Gerald’s story; he was married to a pin-up girl who wound up dead, just like the women he murders and poses.
Out on their mission, Tex, Sadie (Ambyr Childers) and the others start Helter Skelter into motion, as Tex murders a man in his car up the driveway to their destination.
Hodiak finds pictures of him in the developed rolls of Gerald. He then rushes to a crime scene where Billie lies murdered viciously. Now, we see where this is all leading.
Charlie rambles on to Ken about his race war plan and hiding beneath the Grand Canyon, as his “children” head inside the Tate house. Tex continues his murderous rampage: “I‘m the devil, and I‘m here to do the devil‘s business,” he eerily explains to one of his victims. Watching on, the pregnant Emma is horrified by what comes next. One by one, people are dispatched violently.
At home, Gerald is gathering up some things. Problem is that Sam Hodiak has come to pay him a visit, gun in hand. Seems that Billie got a vicious beating, no typical M.O. from Dunn. And so Sam starts in on the guy: “I‘m gonna hurt you, Gerald. I‘m gonna hurt you until you tell me everything.” The whole thing comes down to Dunn being put in jail by Sam, not being there to protect his wife when she was killed. But Gerald taunts, wanting to get shot. Shafe turns up to convince Sam otherwise. We discover the dead woman was in fact Billie’s sister; still awful. At least she wasn’t also brutally killed.
The Tate house is being absolutely torn apart. Tex puts a knife in Emma’s hand and commands her to go finish off anybody that’s left. She only warns a man staying in the guest house not to come outside, or make a peep. The Manson Family starts to leave, as Emma witnesses the last of the killings take place, a horrified look in her eyes. Once it’s all over they write “something witchy” on the wall for their master. Simultaneously, Ken and Charlie have an intense confrontation leading to Karn’s death.
When everyone shows up again, Manson flips because none of his little plans turned out appropriately. No witchy words other than PIG, knives left behind. He throws a tantrum, deciding he and Emma are headed back to the Tate house.
So does Sam kill Gerald?
“Man‘s a sick animal,” Hodiak explains to Billie, as she pleads for him not to shoot Dunn. It takes every ounce of will power in him not to, but Sam doesn’t shoot after all. He relinquishes the gun and hugs Billie with all his strength.
Over at the crime scene, Charlie orders Emma to get things done. They fix the place up a bit to his liking, although it’s still an absolutely horrific thing to see. For a second time, Emma leaves the house, nearly 6 in the morning on August 9th. Tex clears Ken’s body out back at Spahn Ranch. Everything’s in (dis)order.
At the station, everybody hears about the murder concerning Sharon Tate and her friends. Big time news, as Cutler takes the call. He even opts to tell Hodiak “you just unquit.” Things are about to get serious for the whole of Los Angeles. The Hollywood Divison station is gone mad.
Over at the Tate house, Shafe is covered in blood and holding the medallion Emma left behind. You know, the one Sam gave to Emma awhile back. Ah, the deeper connection for Hidoak to this case has come out.
What a fucking fantastic episode! Gruesome, intense, gritty. All sorts of aspects that makes this series excellent. Again, I can only hope they’ll renew the show. If not, we’re left with a lot of interesting things that could have and SHOULD HAVE been.
Please, NBC: do the right thing. At least give them a Season 3 to clue up on a proper note. I want to see Hodiak on the hot trail looking for the Manson Family, all the while junkie Shafe trying to piece together his life and do his job, PLUS WE NEED MORE CHARMAIN TULLY! Please and thank you.
Season 2, Episode 12: “Mother Nature’s Son”
Directed by David Duchovny
Written by Sera Gamble
* For a review of the previous episode, “Can You Take Me Back?” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “I Will” – click here
The penultimate Season 2 episode of Aquarius starts on August 9th of ’69. Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) holds his gun on the killer who’s been tormenting him these many, many months.
Cut to Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony) raving at Bobby Beausoleil (Mark L. Young) and Sadie (Ambyr Childers). He says the need to “get to the desert” where they’re headed, y’know to the City of Gold where he believes they’ll be spending time during the coming race war. Madness, Charlie. They’ve got their eyes on the guy who provided them with mescaline for weird Hal Banyin (Spencer Garrett), a fella named Gary Hinman (Jefferson White). Might be trouble.
Hodiak is in bed with Billie Gunderson (Olivia Taylor Dudley) enjoying his newfound retirement. At the station, Detective Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) is struggling to contain his heroin habit. He’s now a full blown junkie, all the way.
Finally we see a little more about Walt Hodiak (Chris Sheffield). His father goes to see him and now Walt is deciding to recant, not wanting to rot away in jail for the rest of his life. Sad that he has to go against his own personal principles, though. Sometimes that’s what American justice is: a load of shit.
Unsuspecting Gary finds Bobby and Sadie show up to see him. And things get nasty real quick. The poor guy doesn’t have much more for them to take, so naturally Sadie and Bobby get pissed off. That won’t mean anything good, for anybody.
I keep anticipating how Shafe is going to end up where we’ve seen him in the flash-forwards to those fateful August nights. For now he’s out doing detective work, generally getting things done. A bit of a close call with bossman Ed Cutler (Chance Kelly) nearly outs his drug addiction. Later, at a god damn crime scene after collaring a murderer, Brian decides to shoot up out behind the house. Like a maniac. He’s fallen awfully far.
An explosion on a university campus has Officer Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) riled up. She thinks she can find proof for her superiors. Is it back into the field for Charmain? Hope so. She’s awesome.
Sadie rambles to Gary about “the end of the world” that Charlie speaks about. All the guy can do is give up a couple cars for them to take. Along for the ride, Mary (Abby Miller) doesn’t take part in any of it, though can’t stop anything either. If any of you know who Himan was in real life, or Beausoleil, you know what’s coming. On the phone, Charlie tells Bobby what to do, by appealing to his wounded past. That was the biggest problem Manson posed to those around him, he preyed on the weak. Just like the chicken hawks he rages against during his phone call with Bobby. Eerie conversation.
Then there’s Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne), whose conflict of being a hardline Republican on the Nixon team and being gay continually butt heads. He’s trying to crawl his way back from the scandal of being exposed. Who knows what he’ll do next.
OH, and surprise, surprise: Shafe lost his murderer. Nowhere to be found. Good job, junkie.
Charmain gets back to her old friend from undercover. Except she knows that Charmain is a cop. So the girl is given the deal: help, or go down with the idiot running things.
Using an actual bit of history, Manson shows up at Hinman’s place. Brandishing a sword and claiming: “I need a thousand dollars.”
The best yet is that Shafe is almost ready to face the music when his murderer, Jeff, pops up in the seat behind him. Hilarious. Then he takes the detective on a nice chase. Imagine being high as fuck on heroin and having to run after a guy covered in blood? Crazy. Shafe shoots the guy in the ass to slow him down.
Charlie gives Gary a nice slice across the face when he doesn’t get what he wants. You can see lots of details about the actual event and case right here. And there’s plenty more to come.
Sam and Walt try to do a bit of bonding at home. Father Hodiak talks about once having to leave a man behind during his time at war: “Every morning I wake up and sometime between standing up and coffee I remember, oh, I‘m a coward.” Everything comes down hard on his son. Much as Sam tries, Walt believes he’s failed everybody; his fellow soldiers, his mother, his own cause. “You can hold a conviction and still make the decision to live,” Walt tells him.
With all sorts of leverage against people around him, Ken tries to work his way back up from nothing. His back is against the wall, so he tries to push back against both his own wife Grace (Michaela McManus) and Hal. He gets what he wants while blackmailing and fighting as dirty as it gets.
Hodiak gets a call at his place from the killer who’s been leaving him pictures of women in terrible distress. He taunts Sam, challenging him to “use that celebrated brain” and come get him.
Things are getting darker for Hinman. He tries to get Mary to help him out, but it’s no use. Manson has them all wrapped around his finger, and he shows up once again. Sinister plans ahead. When Mary tries to let Gary go she’s caught in the act. Charlie makes her play some piano while Bobby stabs Hinman to death before smearing blood on the walls. “That is shot one of the revolution,” says Charlie.
A cop ends up finding Bobby Beausoleil in his car with blood on his arms after the young man falls asleep in his car at the roadside. Uh oh.
Back to that opener, as we see Hodiak on August 9th of ’69, confronting the killer he’s been seeking out. Shafe comes down into the basement trying to stop him from pulling the trigger.
An absolutely fascinating penultimate episode for this season. Cannot wait to watch “I Will” and see what the finale will give us. I know NBC is going to dump this and they likely won’t get a Season 3, however, a guy can hope. I dig this series, for all its faults. Lots of fun. Fingers crossed on a renewal.
Season 2, Episode 11: “Can You Take Me Back?”
Directed by Timothy A. Good
Written by David Reed
* For a review of the previous episode, “Blackbird” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mother Nature’s Son” – click here
On August 9th, 1969, Emma Karn (Emma Dumont), Tex Watson (Cameron Deane Stewart), and Sadie (Ambyr Childers) take charge of their victims. Mostly, Tex and Sadie do the dirty business. They blast one away while they setup the noose from a beam on the ceiling.
Cut to awhile before. Four months since the last episode. Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) and Ken Karns (Brian F. O’Byrne) laze around at Spahn Ranch in a perpetual orgy of bodies. In other news, Detective Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) and his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) aren’t doing any better. She’s not coming back any time soon it looks like. At the same time he’s slipping back towards using drugs again.
And then there’s Dt. Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) – his car’s stolen, but the precinct holds bigger issues. The police commissioner recently resigned because of corruption and such under his watch, partly due to Hodiak and his slippery detective work, his… issues. Now, Sam is suspended for the foreseeable future. Hmm. That won’t sit right with him, you can be sure.
Up at Spahn, Ken and Emma are entering a new era of their father-daughter relationship. He’s doing his thing, leaving behind all the time he wasted in his life. Doubtful he’ll be finding any comfort there. We start hearing more about Charlie’s madness. First there’s him digging holes to hide food and anything else they have on hand. Secondly, the plan for hiding in a “hole” out in the desert. What that refers to is the fact Manson actually believed the Family would hide under the Grand Canyon in the City of Gold. Bigger problems arise when the Manson baby gets taken by the police after a couple of the women encounter some officers. All because Ken’s card wouldn’t work at the store. So, naturally, Charlie blames him. Things are tense.
Hodiak kicks around the station and tries helping his fellow officers. Yeah, that’ll go well. He hops in on an interrogation; an Asian man was attacked, then killed a man in defence. He says it was prejudice, Sam feels differently. Of course he can’t do much more, being suspended and all.
As expected, Brian – with the help of his buddy from the clinic, Mike Vickery (Jason Ralph) – falls back into the arms of heroin. While up at Spahn, Charlie is putting the pressure on Ken to start pumping money into the Family. I can see a hard, brutal fallout coming a mile away. Just depends at what point that happens.
Grace Karns (Michaela McManus) doesn’t know where her husband is, so she’s trying to move on with parts of her life. She has options, although her father is footing the bill while she and her husband are separated. I feel bad for her, yet not totally for how she treated Emma.
At home, Shafe and Vickery trip hard. Possible the heroin was cut with something because Brian takes a hard trip down the rabbit hole, hallucinating wildly. No wonder he’s headed for a bit of self-destruction, as we’ve seen glimpses of where he ends up on the nights of the Manson Family murders.
Charlie and the Family are working towards their big plan. By the minute, Ken starts to see how his old buddy is dangerous, more criminal than he ever thought. Speaking of old buddies, Vickery starts overdosing at Shafe’s place. Being a cop, he doesn’t want to call an ambulance. Instead he tries to handle things himself. In the middle of it all, Roy Kovic (David Meunier) comes through the door with a sawed-off shotgun pointed at Brian. Ah, great!
When Sam gets talking to the Japanese man whom he interrogated earlier. He talks about being at war, as the Japanese man tells him of being in an interment camp on U.S. soil. What we discover is that Hodiak found out that who this man killed used to be a guard in the same internment camp where he was locked away. Very curious.
Terry Melcher (Chase Coleman) has agreed to record Charlie, to get him off Wilson’s back. All is well, I guess. Ken sees more and more the strange brainwashing that happens with the Manson Family, as once Charlie leaves the table the women are allowed to eat. Tragic, all those young lives wrapped up in his mania.
The sexism Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) experiences is always present. She reels off a story about even her own father’s misogyny. One of the upper-ups gives her a shot to turn things around. Only if she helps him “fix” a problem of his own. Does that involve double-crossing her mentor?
Oh, things are getting worse for Shafe, and for everybody. Roy isn’t pleased with all the undercover bullshit. Will it wash out as a “drug deal gone wrong“? When Kristin comes in during the whole confrontation everything becomes scarier.
Now Charmain’s being summoned by Brian, as he and his wife sit at the end of Roy’s shotty. Kovic talks about some of the Manson ramblings, the “wheel of karma” that crushes those in its way.
That addiction of Hodiak’s, the need for mystery in his police life, it won’t stop. He figures out that the man the Japanese gentleman accidentally killed had a wife; she had an affair with the Japanese man in the camp where she taught. This produced a child, and then the man wanted revenge. Still, it’s “justifiable homicide” and lets the man go. You can tell he didn’t take any pleasure in killing the other guy, he didn’t even know he had a son. All that will weigh on him, forever.
Roy is bearing down on Charmain and the Shafes. Things are not looking good. Until the half-overdosed Vickery plants a heroin needle in Kobvic, starting a brutal fight between the biker and Charmain. All ending with a knife right in Roy’s heart. That just leaves them with a mess. At least nobody’s dead. The Shafes marriage? This did it no favours, either.
After getting the Manson baby back to the Family, Ken wonders why anybody sticks around anymore. Everything at the ranch is getting dire. Emma then reveals to her father she’s with child. Not exactly a jump for joy bit of news, but news nonetheless. Charlie’s got the recording finished, and Ken did up a contract. To please the master. Melcher doesn’t want to sign anything. Then he goes on a tirade against Manson, insulting him terribly. Yet another incident to drive Charlie crazy. Also serves to drive Ken off from the ranch.
With everything happening, Charmain tears into Sam about the way he conducts himself. “I don‘t your permission to tell the truth,” she says. “Sometimes I wonder, did I create the monster, or did I just drag it back from the swamp?” Sam replies.
Hodiak hands in his resignation to Cutler then heads out. He says he’s done. Not sure how Charmain feels in the end, though she looks surprised. Everything is falling apart, for everybody, from Sam to the Shafes to Charlie and Ken.
Cut to August 9th of ’69 again. With a baby inside her, Emma watches as Sharon Tate, with child, is murdered savagely by the Manson Family. A too late and horrific awakening.
What a wild episode. This show gets better with each passing chapter in Season 2. Up next is “Mother Nature’s Son” and it brings us to the penultimate finisher. I know NBC hasn’t really treated this series with the respect it deserves. It will likely never see Season 3. I do, however, feel it deserves one. After the decent Season 1, Aquarius stepped up its game hugely, in writing, directing, editing, all aspects. So I do hope NBC gives it a swan song third season to explore the last bits of the Manson days.
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
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.
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. “I‘m 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. “Heroin – you were a better cop when you were shootin‘ it 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 that‘s what bein‘ a parent is, Grace. You love them, and eat a lifetime of pain in return.”
Grace: “Tell me how to be a parent – you raised a traitor and put his mother in the ground.”
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. I‘m callin‘ it 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: “Y‘know, I‘m not positive, but I don‘t think I‘d 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.
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.
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!
Season 2, Episode 8: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Directed by Nelson McCormick
Written by Alexandra Cunningham
* For a review of the previous episode, “Piggies” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sexy Sadie” – click here
Last we left the characters of Aquarius, Detective Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) is a junkie, Emma Karn (Emma Dumont) was being taken away in a black car, and of course Detective Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) was caught in the middle.
We open in 1969, the night of August 10th. Shafe is full of blood. He makes a call, but it’s clear he is strung out. He paces through the scene, as his voice narrates in voice-over while he takes a look at all the bodies. He lies on the couch looking awful.
Switch back to 12 months prior. He’s going through the motions of withdrawal, sweating hard in bed and sick from the smell of coffee. “You don‘t have a fever,” his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) clearly knows there’s something other than a flu at hand.
And Hodiak, he’s got his own crutch: a little liquor in the coffee. But at least he’s not waking up sweating and crawling out of his skin. He has other things to which he must tend. He got a call last episode that’s kept him intrigued, although nothing else is turning up to help.
Out of nowhere, Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) shows up to see Hodiak outside the precinct. He’s looking for Emma, who hasn’t returned yet since being whisked away in that black car. Oh, he ain’t happy. One of his women have wandered off; not good for a misogynist like Charlie. “Ever know somethin‘ but you don’t know how you know it?” he asks Sam cryptically. There is lots of tension here. Whereas Manson is worried for Emma, he isn’t worried for the right reasons. What I’m excited to see now is more of the intersection between Charlie and Hodiak, how that will play out further in the back end of this season.
Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) is off taking care of some business. He has Nixon sneakiness to be done concerning Vietnam. He meets with a diplomat from their government (François Chau of Lost fame). A little bit of iced coffee can’t exactly smooth over Karn’s message. He wants to make a deal, one to do with the ceasefire and waiting for Tricky Dick to slip into the White House. Love the political intrigue mixed in with the other various subplots.
At the precinct, Hodiak is looking into a hit and run incident. He visits the ME. Turns out the incident was just a drunk man being run over while passed out in an alley. Two older women show up back at the station to claim the body, which leads Sam into a conversation about his last name’s Ukrainian origin, as the women are from there. He comes to believe they “might be murderers.” Can’t wait to see more of this. For now, Hodiak gets a visit from an old female friend; she’s brought him food, dressed up nicely, and isn’t there just to see him casually. It’s Ed Cutler’s (Chance Kelly) wife, upset about the affair her husband had with Sam’s now deceased ex-wife Opal. So Sam does some lying and promises the lady Ed is taking her on a trip soon. Yeah, right.
But the most trouble is when Sam gets home to find Charlie Manson digging around in his things. That does not sit well with the detective, obviously. He’s not happy to be pressed so hard by a dirty hippy. Charlie just wants to find Emma: “I don‘t like to wonder, I like to know.” They talk over the loaf Cutler’s wife made, as Charlie eats and Sam susses out more information.
Shafe continues sweating through his withdrawals. His wife Kristin tries to help him by giving him some milk of magnesia, grapefruit juice, a peanut butter sandwich. She is a loving woman, even if he is slowly becoming less likeable and harder to deal with, and I’m not sure how long they’ll last. Kristin worries, she wants her husband to get better. Brian’s secrets don’t help, either.
The loaf conversation continues between Sam and Charlie. Most of it goes the way of the latter’s persuasion. While he spouts off, it’s clear Hodiak reads his every move, his every sentence and phrasing, the way he responds, and so on. Furthermore, the psychology of Manson comes out. Sam knows that Charlie only serves to “use people” and makes the women in his clan feel as if they were the ones who chose the life, not him. We all know the truth, too. They later end up jamming together on the guitar, some “Run Around Sue” and other tunes. Except Charlie keeps spying the gun on top of the fridge. Uh oh. Hodiak gets his new sleazy pal out without any violence, but it’s the air of impending violence that hangs thick over them.
In other news, Mr. Karns heads back to the diplomat’s office later, after hours. Yes – you know why. Ken has that sexual prowess going for him.
The withdrawals are getting better for Brian, only there’s no assurance his marriage will get better. For now, Kristin talks about her brother being at war, and how people over there used drugs to take away the pain of they’d done. We find out Shafe knew her brother, they were soldiers and that’s how he got introduced to Kristin. There’s an empathetic nature about her. She knew when they met he had a darkness in him, so this has all come part and parcel with their love. “I‘m sorry, baby,” he moans to her in the throes of his terrible addiction.
Sam is trying to figure out if those two Ukrainian women are in fact killers. He’s got his buddy Joe Wilson (Brian Goodman) hoping to get back into the detective work again, doing his best to help. In league with Sam’s uncle Don Hodiak (David Proval), they have the Ukrainian women together, starting a fight, which helps Don come up with a translation. Good job, fellas! The old ladies know more than they let on.
Later, Hodiak calls father Ken looking for his daughter Emma. Of course he doesn’t know and eggs Sam on saying “ask my wife” and none of it leads anywhere. Sam also gets a call from Dennis Wilson – he spills the beans to the Beach Boy about Charlie and his truest intentions. That’s going to make for an interesting situation all around.
Finally, we cut back to Shafe at the murder scene during ’69. His mind is breaking, he sees terrifying images. Then Charlie appears next to him: “Rise,” he whispers.
That is one of the words left scrawled in blood at the same murder scene, in real life when the murders occurred. Spooky.
What a fabulous episode! A great return after the Olympics coverage. Aquarius doesn’t get enough love, but that’s fine. Those who love it, we dig it hard.
Next episode is “Sexy Sadie” and I’m excited to see where Dt. Hodiak, Dt. Shafe, Charlie, and the rest of the gang end up.