The club continues business with the cartel, but it gets tricky when morality comes into play.
Smurf is off taking care of business while the family's falling apart back at home
J and Nicky go through more troubles. Deran and Craig find their own trouble with some new guys in town.
A trip into TRAINSPOTTING is like diving into the landscape of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, one rung of hell at a time.
Sarah discovers more about Meyerism through Steve's old notebooks. Cal and Mary get a visit from Harold.
Dt. Ambrose uncovers something much more disturbing, much more far reaching than either he or Cora expected.
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.
HBO’s The Night Of
Season 1, Episode 6: “Samson and Delilah”
Directed by Steven Zaillian
Teleplay by Richard Price & Zaillian
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Season of the Witch” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Ordinary Death” – click here
Mr. Stone (John Turturro) is doing his best to take care of the cat, still. Despite his terrible allergies. He keeps the cat locked in the room, cleans out its litter and feeds it through opening the door quick, tossing everything in. But why does he do it? Because it’s the right thing to do. Similar with how he’s starting to feel about Nasir ‘Naz’ Khan (Riz Ahmed), whose own concerns mount by the day, sitting at Rikers Island with Freddy Knight (Michael K. Williams) and watching the top dog prisoner prepare then smoke some drugs. At least now, after the favour he did for Freddy, Naz can call his parents; he has a cellphone, courtesy of Knight.
What more is to come from their relationship?
Safar Khan (Poorna Jagannathan) and her husband Salim (Peyman Moaadi) are in dire straits financially. Without her husband, Safar is out trying to find work. She’s a tough woman, I hope we get to see more of her character. At the same time, Detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp) is digging into the Facebook account of Naz. He starts to see maybe a side of the young Muslim which may not be good for the prosecution. Or, are there deeper secrets to Nasir we’ll soon find out?
Well, D.A. Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin), she’s busy trying to make the drug intake of Naz look proper for their version of the story. As her unlikely competition, Jackie Stone, is busy juggling his life and that of Naz alongside the horror story of his feet. I love that we get a ton of Stone’s character amongst everything else, but further than just that his feet are representative of the mindset in which he’s lived so long, to the detriment of his health while pursuing case after case trying to chase the all-American glorious dollar.
All this time, Naz is in prison falling farther into the lifestyle. Even has himself some knuckle tattoos.
We can’t forget Chandra Kapoor (Amara Karan); another of my favourite characters. She watches video footage of Naz at a gas station the night of the murder. A man in a hearse stops, though doesn’t get any gas, and then leaves when Naz does, too. Hmm. Now that is suspicious right there. Leave it to Chandra. I have a feeling she’s the most underestimated of the entire crew of lawyers in the series. Once she tracks down the hearse driver he’s full of eeriness, lots of misogyny and the like. When he mentions some biblical verse, this is where I imagine Samson and Delilah comes in, giving us our title.
John drinks a bit of strange powder the Asian doctor gave him. Another supposed cure. It’s amazing he can even keep his head on straight. A terrified Chandra shows up at his door, though. She has a Bible with her. She talks about Samson and Delilah, reading verse for John. “That‘s what he thinks of women,” she tells John re: the hearse driving mortician. Could this man have anything to do with the case, or merely a red herring?
Back to Rikers, Naz is constantly doing push-ups, always honing his image. First, push-ups. Then, tattoos. What comes next is anybody’s guess. Paralleled with Naz figuratively and literally pumping up his image is Box flicking through his past. What the detective begins unravelling is there’s a rage underlying the identity of Nasir Khan; he was involved in an altercation at school where he nearly paralysed another student, luckily only breaking an arm. But there’s a temper in Naz we’re not exactly seeing outwardly just yet, only in glimpses.
But what I wonder now is: could Naz actually have killed Andrea? Is there a chance? Because we never actually saw what happened. We assume Trevor Williams (J.D. Williams) and his buddy may have done something. However, at this point the doubt is creeping in. Perhaps that’s what Richard Price is aiming for. To plant the seed, let it grow. Except never sure, until the end, where it’s headed. Love, love, love it.
Also, the jury is being sorted out. Yet we’re privy to a real view of the selection, as a group of people up for the “honour” of doing their citizen duty fall asleep watching a video introducing them to the process.
John and Chandra are beginning to see that Naz has a problem with the truth. Afterwards, the young Muslim explains himself to Chandra. He talks about post-9/11, the hate to which he was subjected because of his skin and his religion, the fights and the beatings. This is what led to his fight with the boy at school. He challenges Chandra’s view of him, wondering if she believes he’s capable of having killed Andrea. Little flashes of the night come back in pieces to Naz. I can’t imagine what else he might remember down the line.
One thing’s for sure – the state has piles of evidence against Nasir at their disposal. They’re fitting to bury him under anything and everything they can.
I love how suspenseful and tense much of this series has been. This episode in particular is so well edited, scored, shot, paced, that all of the suspense is at the forefront reeling us in tight. When Salim arrives at Chandra’s door, delivering food, we’re almost as surprised as she. I half expected it to be the unsettling mortician hearse driver. A wonderfully put together sequence.
We’re on the verge of the trial, which is poised to be possibly the most intense and interesting portion of Season 1. What I dig most in this episode is that John has finally beaten the foot pain. His feet, at least right now, are cured. He’s able to actually wear a pair of shoes for the first time in so long. He looks professional, for once, and this will hopefully give him a bit of an edge, finally without pain and not worrying about the zombified flesh at his toes.
Moreover, Freddy proves to be looking out consistently for his friend Naz. He offers a white shirt and black tie, although the young man refuses. In court, Stone then has to switch his own shirt over for Naz to wear; another stroke of honesty for Mr. Knight. Interesting.
But on we go, into the opening statements and ready to see the court proceedings at the trial of Nasir Khan. “This case isn‘t about Andrea‘s life, it‘s about her death,” Weiss explains to the jury. Afterwards, Chandra gives a poignant, brief opening statement that makes her look pretty strong. A good start. Things will get rough, as the trial wears on and the ugly truths and dark corners are brought into the light.
When Naz is back home, in prison, Freddy bonds with him some more. About himself. He talks about why he’s in Rikers instead of another place, leading to the discovery that Freddy has a couple “bodies on” him. Worse, he leads Naz into smoking some drugs – what I imagine is heroin – and this is the beginning of further trouble in Khan’s life. So, whereas Freddy seems to have his best interests in mind when it comes to Naz’s court appearances, he’s not always looking out for him like he should.
In court, Naz watches the video of him getting pulled over by the police on that fateful night. One of the officers is on the stand giving her statement, if not a bit hyperbolic. The knife is discussed, as well as the fact Naz tried to run. Doesn’t look good when the video of the station is shown where Naz attempts breaking free from the cops surrounding him.
Naz, a.k.a Sinbad – which is what he has tattooed across his knuckles now – discovers more about the prison life than he had hoped. He sees one of Freddy’s crew getting a blowjob from another young inmate who recently came in, the one whose mother helped smuggle the drugs in last episode. Following this event, Naz calls Chandra. Far as he falls into the mitt of Freddy, there’s still shock when he sees what’s happening around him. So he talks to her for comfort, if only for a minute. Even the cell is more of him becoming further criminal, as he gets money for letting others use it; more criminality, all the time.
Next day in the shower, Freddy’s boy puts a blade to Naz, right at the neck, and threatens him over the blowjob he witnessed. Great, more and more issues each passing day.
On the outside, Johnny’s mind is constantly working. He wonders how Andrea afforded to live in such an expensive brownstone apartment. He starts to dig into the records, finding an Evelyn Cornish – deceased – linked to the place. Finally, Stone has tracked down the guy he snapped a picture of arguing with Andrea’s stepfather Don Taylor (Paul Sparks) at the funeral, a chartered personal accountant named Ray Halle. This gives us a better idea of Don.
And it muddies the waters. Seems like Naz really ended up in the middle of a life that was burning all around Andrea. No telling anymore exactly what the story is, as Naz, Don, everybody has a secret they’re keeping, just as it is in real life.
What a powerful episode, all around. This series is just fascinating, from writing up to the visual aesthetic and overall execution. Next episode is “Ordinary Death” and I’m looking forward to another big heap of revelation.
AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 12: “Phoenix”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by John Shiban
* For a review of the previous episode, “Mandala” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “ABQ” – click here
With Skyler (Anna Gunn) in labour, Walt (Bryan Cranston) found himself saddled with making a big deal with the new prospective distributor, the low key Mr. Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Only problem was Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Jane (Krysten Ritter) shot up heroin, so Walt was left holding the bag for getting everything together.
Now, he’s missed the birth of his daughter. Too busy dropping of 38 pounds of meth at a drop spot. But then off he rushes to be with his wife and newborn daughter. Luckily, Skyler is fine, so is the baby. So she isn’t worried. Of course Walt is a little surprised, and unhappy, that Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) got to be there while he did not. The only thing is that while Skyler isn’t mad at Walt, there’s just the fact Walt is pissed at Jesse for having facilitated his missing the birth via the irresponsibility of shooting up heroin.
However, can we really blame Jesse?
While it’s a bonehead thing, to get on heroin, I don’t think it’s a fair thing for Walt to hold that against him. Not as if he knew there was a big deal going down. Walt went out and did all that himself, never once consulting Jesse afterwards. No way he could’ve imagined they’d need to make a massive drop like that for Fring. Still, there’s no stopping Walt. Even if he’s got a massive satchel of cash, a healthy baby girl and a wife that for once is not raging with him (for good reason), he can never pass up an opportunity to lecture Jesse.
And then there’s Jane whose own problems are big enough. She and her father Donald (John de Lancie) attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings together. While she’s high on heroin, he calls up to go to one. She lies and then prepares to leave. Before freaking Jesse out about a break-in. This sends him into a spin, not knowing Walt collected their meth. So now he believes they’ve lost every last bit of their product.
When Jane and her father hit their meeting, he can clearly tell there’s something off about her. She looks sickly, fumbling her 18 Month chip nervously. It’s so obvious, and Donald isn’t stupid either. I have to mention – John de Lancie is a fantastic actor and I’m thrilled he was given this part, I fondly know him from his brief yet thoroughly memorable part as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, so to see him here is a lot of fun in a beefier, highly emotional role that only gets more important in the coming episodes.
At home, Walt gets a call from Jesse about the missing meth. He only hangs up on his partner. Later, a remarkable moment during dinner – Hank brings over some Los Pollos Hermanos, and Walt is struck by the whole dirty irony of it all. But further we see the emptying manhood Walt perceives in himself, as Skyler wants to jet back to work so they have money when he gets his surgery, even Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) is thinking of getting a job to pitch in. The look on Walt Sr’s face says it all.
So later, he takes the only person in his life that won’t say a word about his business in to see all the money he’s made: little baby Holly. This is such a perfect writing moment. I absolutely adore this, even if it’s sort of twisted. Yet Walt beams when he tells Holly: “That‘s right. Daddy did that. Daddy did that for you.”
Jesse goes to Walt in his classroom, confronting him after figuring out he took the meth. Either way, Walt is pissed, but I can’t help there’s also disappointment in there. He sometimes treats his partner like he’s still a student in his class, often like a son whom he’s way too hard on. Now it gets worse: Walt refuses to give Jesse his money, assuming he’ll shoot it up his arm with his new found predilections. Except Jesse says he’s not into heroin, he didn’t like it. But Mr. White is not so keen. He wants a drug test. Well, this is beginning to drive a huge wedge between the two partners. One that’s going to have far reaching repercussions.
Now that emptying manhood over which Walt is obsessing starts to empty quicker. In his wonderful goodness, Walt Jr set up what essentially now would be a GoFundMe page: SaveWalterWhite.com, all in order to help solicit donations to help with Walt’s cancer treatments. That’s a beautiful thing for his son to do. The pride of the father is bursting through. At the same time, I kind of understand. Though I despise Walt on a certain level for his behaviour, he’s putting himself on the line cooking and selling meth while not getting any credit. As if credit is deserved. But it’s just the fact he’s risking his life, his freedom, and getting no reward whatsoever. So he goes to Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), the man who always has the plan. And he doesn’t disappoint – they’ll have Walt’s money shovelled into Junior’s website via “zombies” that are essentially fake donors giving real cash from all over the world.
And as it turns out, Jesse ain’t done with the skag. He and Jane are shooting up once more. She figures out how much money her new boyfriend is worth, then it’s clear she’s very interested in this new situation. Meanwhile, at the next NA meeting, Donald finds his little girl nowhere to be found. He discovers that Jesse is a bad influence in her life, he goes on inside to find needles on the bedside table and so on. Jane’s father wants her back in rehab, so she spins a great big story about her and Jesse discussing rehab every single night, yadda yadda yadda. The loving dad in Donald breaks down and agrees to let her go for rehab in the morning. Perhaps a bad move to skimp on the tough love here. In reality, Jane is only concerned with the $480K Jesse is owed. Again, Jesse is being manipulated. Just by someone new this time.
Then comes the blackmail. Jane calls Walt, with Jesse nervous in the background, and starts demanding the cash. Or else. “Do right by Jesse – tonight – or I will burn you to the ground,” Jane tells him. We can see Jesse isn’t happy about this, or at least he isn’t comfortable. They’re still partners. Despite being angry at one another, Jesse doesn’t want to cause all this trouble. But Jane is planting herself firmly in his life, however she sees fit. To get whatever she can.
When Walt needs to go on a diaper run he takes the cash with him for Jesse. He takes the cash over there. Then things turn dark, as Jane basically wants to start spending that cash immediately. They talk of travel, of going places and doing all types of things. But first, before getting clean, they’ve got to get themselves nice and fucking high.
At a nearby bar, Walt ends up sitting next to none other than Donald Margolis. They have a chat about children, so on. Vaguely, Walt talks about Jesse, as Donald relates his own troubles with his daughter’s troubles. Love this because we’re seeing another side of things, as we’re already privy to the other. Just another example of wonderful writing.
One of the most devastating moments in Breaking Bad comes after Walt goes back to Jesse’s place. Inside, he finds him and Jane in bed together, strung out on heroin. Then Jane begins to overdose. And standing there over them Walt simply watches on while she chokes on her own vomit. This is one of the second (or third) moments in the series where I truly felt Walt has lost his humanity. Despite not wanting to get on the cops’ radar or have Jesse end up in custody, Walt has let a human being die terribly and did nothing in the way of helping. Stone cold heart. He feels the guilt and horror of his decision, but it’s contained. In a vacuum. Walt will go on, and it isn’t until the very last season he ever reveals any of this to anybody.
The next episode, “ABQ”, is the Season 2 finale.
It has much to give us.
Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 9: “Do You Remember Moon Flower?”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler
* For a review of the previous episode, “Not Well At All” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “This Is All We Are” – click here
Rounding out to a close on Season 2, the penultimate chapter “Do You Remember Moon Flower?” begins in 1894, Nicaragua. There, we see Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) a few years younger, walking along a dirt road with a donkey in tow. He comes to a tent where a breakout of small pox is happening, not yellow fever, as Thack supposedly thought: “I‘m equipped for the wrong disease.” Unpacking his things, Thack discovers Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines) handcuffed to a post. Apparently, he’s had some trouble while navigating South America, all due to his having been responsible, possibly, for the latest outbreak. John is threatened a little, yet doesn’t back down. He wants August let go, or nobody will be treated. An ultimatum. Without the appropriate vaccine, Thack goes to work looking for the appropriate plants, roots and such.
Overall, this is one of my favourite sequences out of the entire second season. Just watching Thackery go to work with all the raw elements is amazing. He does his best to help the people of the village with cobbled together bits of makeshift medicine.
Cut back to present Knick timeline – Thack is mixing and doing similar things to the opening scenes, but in his office at the hospital. He concocts some liquid then drinks it, before puking most of it into a bowl.
In other news, the formerly conjoined sisters Zoya and Nika are walking separately, on their own for the first time in their entire lives. Surely an amazing and gorgeous feeling for them. Watching on, Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) and Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) are all smiles, alongside Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) and more staff.
When Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) arrives at work for the day, Dt. Moorhouse (Tom Brangle) is there. He tells him the news: Cotton was poisoned by his own sons. Cotton actually pulled out his own sons teeth, much like Eleanor (Maya Kazan). Before the boys were arrested, they committed suicide. So, did Eleanor lie? What is happening? Regardless, Everett nearly collapses after leaving the detective.
Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) meets with her husband Phillip (Tom Lipinski). He’s off, again, on business. As usual. He wants her to go, too. More of his father’s business, all that. She isn’t interested in going obviously, wanting to hold onto everything in New York, from Algernon to her investigation into Speight’s death and all the involved elements.
Thack is wasting away in his office. Algernon arrives for a talk, asking how John is doing. To no reply. Edwards offers condolences about Abby, and also gives the good news about the twins; they’re healthy, no more pneumonia, and things are looking up more each day. A family from Missouri is in the city hoping to adopt both girls and give them a new, loving home. A great accomplishment overall for Thackery and The Knickerbocker Hospital. Though, as evidenced by the heroin vials in his wastebasket, John is taking things hard, and Algie knows it. Not like John’s hiding things, anyways.
More condoms are made. Harriet (Cara Seymour) is packaging them, as Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) tries to apologize for the kiss last episode; “A kiss I didn‘t even get,” he says. He isn’t some pig, though. He has genuine feelings. All the same, Harriet is unimpressed and makes him feel pretty low, which isn’t exactly fair.
Meanwhile, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is giving his $2,000 to the Metropolitan Club treasurer. His entrance fee into the world of high society, one his fishmonger father could’ve never achieved. Up in the smokey lounge, Barrow chats up a man named Corky (Brian Kerwin) and talks of donations.
With the twins leaving The Knick, a nurse wakes the sleeping Dr. Thackery. Down on the street, Drs. Chickering and Edwards put the girls into a cab and excuse the absence of John, who is otherwise indisposed. Then from the front door comes Everett, angered at Edwards for bringing him up on charges concerning the sterilization of those boys. Strolling from the hospital, Thack comes to see the girls who are already gone. Instead, he falls to the ground with stomach pains.
Cue a quick surgery. With Dr. Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson) working on him, Thackery has his abdomen explored. Algie and Bertie get to have a look inside. There are some necrotic bowel troubles due to the cocaine use. The others want to resection his intestines. Thack wants nothing to do with it, hoping to explore “other options“.
Bertie: “My lord…”
Thackery: “You do realize the patient is conscious – don‘t you, Dr. Chickering?”
With Herman’s situation, we’re seeing how laws in the early 20th certainly weren’t in favour of women. Effie is left out in the cold by her husband. Though, she has a record of steel deliveries concerning the new Knick renovations. Mistakenly she was given keys to another box Herman owns at the bank. She’s pulling blackmail on her disgusting little pathetic husband. Effie wants to “live the life I was accustomed to living” and wants everything back the way it was, the best of everything for her and their children. She intends to half everything between herself and Herman, to get all she deserves. Herman tries to emotionally abuse her once more before Effie leaves, but it’s a desperate attempt to gain some footing. If only for a second in time.
Eating a slice of watermelon, Jimmy (Happy Anderson) talks with Herman who is worried about his financials. “This is it for me,” Barrow whisper screams to him. He is watching everything slip between his fingers. Constantly scheming, I’m sure we’re about to watch Herman run down the drain figuratively. He’s up to see Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken), trying to weasel the new contractor out of operations because he obviously isn’t a snake; he is above board and all legal. Try and try and try – Herman won’t stop until he can find a new cow to milk.
Simultaneously, Henry and Cornelia are trying to decide how best to handle their father August. They need to know for sure, to find out more information in order to proceed. Is Henry on her side? Or is he playing Cornelia into the hands of their father?
Edwards is presenting his evidence about the “unauthorized vasectomies” performed on supposed idiot children by Dr. Gallinger. Yet Everett stands by his belief in eugenics. He wants to “spare the world” from addicts and degenerates. Algernon wants Everett’s license revoked, though, the latter claims everything was consensual. He even has Dr. Reid (Thomas Kopache) with him, who is the legal guardian of all those boys. “So this quackery is now sanctioned by the state,” Edwards sadly speaks aloud, half to himself. Everett and Reid try to make it seem as if eugenics is modern medicine. Again, I say it: they’re a few decades too early to join up with the Third Reich. The very heart of eugenics denies Algernon his own personhood – the board says it can help mankind, while Edwards knows the sting of vicious racism. And that’s what eugenics is all about, at the core of its being. Tragic, as the board of review sides with Everett. Out in the courtyard, Algernon rolls his sleeves, which Everett believes “proves my entire thesis“. A fight that’s been brewing finally comes, with racist vitriol spewing from Gallinger. He pretends not to be going for a fight, then blindsides Edwards: “Stupid nigger,” he spits before walking away like a piece of shit coward.
Everett: “I tamed the god damn beast”
Spreading the word about safe sex, Cleary pimps out Harriet’s condoms to a bunch of men drinking and smoking together at a table. And over at another table, Harriet is cleaning up, getting all sorts of women to take the condoms. One prostitute takes a condom over to Thackery, wallowing in drink on a dusty couch. But he only waves her away, unimpressed with something that’ll reduce the feeling on his knob, I’m sure. Love Thack. Deviant, though, that one.
Back to A.D. Elkins (Stephen Spinella). Lucy asks about Moon Flower, the mule at their old farm who everyone used to beat. This whole story parallels the story of Lucy – similarly beaten, working all the time. She talks at her paralysed father who can only look on and take it all in. “This world offers too much,” Lucy says. “And contrary to what you think, I‘m too smart to let myself turn out that way. And if that means sinnin‘ to get what I want – well then, so be it. I won‘t be shamed by the likes of you or anyone else anymore. What I‘ve done, what I will do is nowhere near the deceitful life you‘ve obviously led.” Even more, she reveals all her nasty sins, including much of her former life with Thack, which goes into great detail. She continually reels off more sin for her father to digest on his way out of life. Best is when she comes to the story of the toe sucking. Then, A.D. goes out like a light into the darkness of damnation: “Enjoy your trip,” Lucy says quietly on her way out. Vicious. Dig it.
Cornelia finds herself at the construction site for the hospital. She looks for her father, who’s surprised by her visit. He talks of all the grand things that will be installed at the new Knick. “This is it,” says August, “this is my legacy“. Beaming, he is soon interrupted by Cornelia’s accusations. Not unjustified accusations. She reveals all her knowledge, at which he balks initially. He denies everything, getting angry with his daughter. Their conversation turns into panic quickly. August notices smoke and down at the bottom of the stairwell, a fire is beginning to rage. He sends his daughter down a ladder through a small space between floors, staying behind until she can send help.
As flames consume the building, Henry and Cornelia watch their father jump from up high, crashing through scaffolding to the ground.
Then, we cut back to August in 1894 being released from his cuffs and leg shackles, Thackery watching on. It’s no wonder John got involved with The Knickerbocker Hospital, after getting August out of such a jam. A great ending to an intense penultimate season finish.
Looking forward to watching and reviewing the Season 2 finale, “This Is All We Are”. Been a great season and I hear the last episode has got some teeth. Stay tuned with me for another one, fellow Soderbergh lovers.