Tagged Nixon

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 8: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

NBC’s Aquarius
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
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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 dont 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.
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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 somethinbut 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 dont 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.

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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. “Im 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.
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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.
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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.

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 6: “Revolution 9”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 6: “Revolution 9”
Directed by Jonas Pate
Written by Rafael Yglesias

* For a review of the previous episode, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me & My Monkey” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Piggies” – click here
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At 10050 Cielo Drive on August 9th of 1969, a maid makes her way up to the house. First, she finds the wires on the gate speaker cut. On the door is scrawled PIG in red. Further inside waits unimaginable horror.
We jump back 16 months previous. The same maid finds herself the subject of nasty racism at the hands of none other than Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony). No surprise there. Meanwhile, Charlie’s not happy with much that’s going on at the home of Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau). He orders his girls around, mostly pimping them out.
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In other news, Detectives Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) and Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) are finding out what they can about the missing girl they’ve found, now dead and rotted away in a makeshift grave. At the same time, Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) is getting information on Bobby Kennedy, likely up to no good behind the scenes. He’s glued to the television and obviously worried about the threat of this Kennedy for his man Richard Nixon. Ah, political intrigue! I’ve always dug this Karn plot. Not only is O’Byrne a great actor, the character itself is well written and full of good threads to follow.
Back with Hodiak and Shafe, they’re trying to interrogate Ben Healy (Morgan McClellan) a bit. What we see here, above all else, is the fact Shafe is already starting to become that guy he never wanted to become, the one his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) fears he’ll be with that detective shield on.


Producer Terry Melcher (Chase Coleman) is getting pulled further into the world of Manson, as the latter works his devious ways to get what he wants, and to con others into thinking they’re getting what they desire. Greasy, slick bastard.
In jail, Healy’s talking a bit. But there’s more going on with Shafe than his job. He’s still sweating, his whole demeanour is shaky. He is not himself. And we’ve already seen the foreshadowing of his nasty addiction. We’re going to have to watch his downward spiral, which sort of pains me. I like this guy. I’d like to see him kick the demons, though clearly there’s only more trouble in his future. Even worse, if Hodiak figures everything out he won’t be happy.
Speaking of Sam, he’s over chatting with some union cats. They’re big fans of Kennedy, by the way. Well one of Hodiak’s buddies is being blackmailed by a prostitute. He worries, obviously, for his children, his wife, the integrity of the union and all kinds of things. Reluctantly, Sam agrees to do the job. Only thing is I’m not sure his morality is so free as it was before. He doesn’t look too pleased with having to track down a woman and… do who knows what to keep her silent.
Shafe is still grilling Healy trying to get more out of him. He’s following more rules of the non-official police handbook from Dt. Hodiak, too. Maybe, just maybe, it works.

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Manson gets a little of what he wants from Melcher with the promise of more. But you can be sure that either he’ll sabotage things unwillingly himself, or it won’t pan out how he envisions it.
Back to the politics, Grace Karn (Michaela McManus) is starting to dip her feet in. She’s asked to introduce Mrs. Nixon before a luncheon for the National Federation of Republican Women due to her husband Ken “working” for Nixon. When she’s courted afterwards to possibly take a more active role, Grace is presented with either lying or telling the truth about where her daughter Emma (Emma Dumont) is currently. She’s over being slapped around by Charlie Manson, told what to do, where to go, all that sort of thing; even her name Grace is no more, she’s Cherry.
Finally, Hodiak looks like he’s cluing in to what is going on with Shafe when the younger of the two mumbles: “This aint the flu.” In the meantime, Sam keeps at Healy, and starts trying to work more out of the guy. Nothing comes, except his lawyer. Now there’s more complaints headed Hodiak’s way, but he’s still convinced there is some guilt kicking around. And instead of going home, Shafe simply goes for another shot of horse, getting high as a kite in a dirty little room by himself.

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Ken meets an Agent Bill Copley (Joe Williamson) at a hotel bar. Lots of undercover talk about Nixon, Hoover, dirt of Bobby Kennedy, and all that. Very clandestine, Deep Throat-type stuff. But there’s more than that at hand. Is there some type of relationship between these two? Ken says he looks “fit” and laments not getting a call after Copley came to town. Yowzahs. No wonder he thought Kennedy was a handsome fella.
At home, Brian and Kristin are at odds. She continually finds the change in him disruptive, disappointing above anything. Hodiak calls to let Shafe know the story on Healy. Mostly, we see how Brian is alienating his wife, he’s beginning to slip up slightly in his job. Everything is crumbling. He’s the only one that doesn’t seem to notice. Because not long after Kristin discovers her husband’s secret junkie kit.
Out on his moonlighting gig, Hodiak brings an old buddy a lunch, Detective Blumenthal (Matthew Arkin). He gets a bit of low down on the prostitutes which he seeks out: they’ve got the same pimp, a guy named Martin O’Reilly (Ryan Caldwell). During the whole debacle Sam meets Bobby Kennedy (Scott Bailey), who asks about race relations involving the African-American community: “Its my job to keep the bad away from the good. Thats all I can do,” Hodiak tells him.
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Eventually Hodiak tracks down O’Reilly. For his part the pimp denies any blackmail. Because why would he ruin a good client? Either way, Hodiak cracks his nose open on the steering wheel: “Youre still a pimp,” he says before getting out and letting a couple other detectives take the guy in – or are they someone else? So Hodiak goes back to his buddy, asking for more info. He ends up sitting for a hot beverage with the wife. She seems to let on that there’s more to her husband than appears at first, and she is the one that’s putting the screws to her husband. Good woman. Fuck that cheating slime.
Awhile later Sam discovers O’Reilly is now a missing person. Uh oh. Hodiak doesn’t like that his old buddy he tried helping basically used him to find the pimp, then did something… intense. Being an army pal from long ago doesn’t ensure Hodiak’s undying loyalty.
At the Wilson mansion, Charlie plays a new song for the Beach Boy. Over this we watch a montage of various scenes, including Brian and his destroyed living room along with Kristin’s disapproving look, Grace quietly worrying for her daughter, and Hodiak receives another envelope with RFK’S #1 DETECTIVE written across it, a new picture inside. And after Charlie finishes playing there’s a look behind Dennis’ eyes that speaks wonders. He finds it amazing, which pleases Manson plenty.
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Hodiak winds up doing his part to help get Bobby Kennedy out of the hotel where he made an appearance. Out through the doors they go and you know what’s coming, don’t you?
A man walks from out of the crowd, pulls a gun, then….
Cut to August 9th of ’69 again. The maid comes barrelling out of the house on Cielo Drive, trying to scream “murder” but barely with a voice.
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What a CRAZY, amazing episode! I love this show. I don’t care what the ratings say, or what other internet sites are saying: it’s awesome. While it takes liberties with Manson and other events, there’s a really fun, exciting, and fresh feel to Aquarius coupled with great performances from the cast. Excited for the next episode titled “Piggies” and I can’t wait to see what comes from the fallout of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, particularly see as how Hodiak was right there at the scene. Stay tuned, fellow fans.

Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 2: “Happiness is a Warm Gun”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 2: “Happiness is a Warm Gun”
Directed by Jonas Pate
Written by John McNamara

* For a review of the Season 2 premiere, “I’m So Tired” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” – click here
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There’s a lot going on these days.
At the family ranch, the women have got their hands on a load of guns. We get a cut over to the murders 18 months later, edited together with Ralph Church (Omar J. Dorsey) showing up at the ranch once more. “Helter Skelter,” Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony) tells Emma Karn (Emma Dumont), explaining his idea of a coming race war. We see the night of the murders. The dead, bloody, pregnant woman on the floor in the near future.
All at once there’s the women confronting Ralph with their guns. A really great sequence; tense, exciting, wild.
In ’69 flashing forward again, we see the night of the murders, as Sharon Tate (Amanda Brooks) and Jay Sebring (Mark Famiglietti) discover Sadie in the bedroom doorway, waiting with a knife. Cut back to 18 months before, Ralph is confronting the women, asking for Charlie. And Sadie (Ambyr Childers) leads the charge with her gun drawn, pointed for the kill. The two old jail pals try striking up a deal. But can there be one? This is headed for something more dangerous.
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And ol Hal (Spencer Garrett) wakes up, calling for the police. This is going to get tricky for Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne).
Former-and-still-Mrs. Karn (Michaela McMaus) is across town with Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny). She gets a call from her father – he’s trying to sweep things up, getting Ken and his daughter together for a bit of triage. Big election coming up, so they’ve got to keep things together; no divorce, no slipping. There’s all kinds of things floating around the situation. A complex shitstorm.
Ken later goes to the hospital to see his onetime friend. He lets him know about the police not coming. Nobody’s coming. Hal is all alone, especially with the knowledge that he’s already somehow made a statement. Yikes. It’s all used to help Nixon claim the “radical left” are dangerous maniacs.
Sadie isn’t happy up at the ranch. She wants Charlie to stop praying and do something real. “Our plan is to open our hearts and feed those in need,” he assures. He does nothing but talk, and some of those around him, Sadie most of all, are starting to find themselves disillusioned with Charlie’s rhetoric and lack of action.
At home, Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) and his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) watch tv. He says he doesn’t want a child growing up in a country that loses wars. Kristin remarks it wasn’t so great growing up in a country that won them, either. An excellent, poignant moment of writing. Over at Roy’s place things are more dangerous and clandestine for Charmain; she’s still trying to get one over on the biker. I keep hoping this situation will have a proper end. Although I worry more and more for Charmain’s safety. She’s playing a dangerous game that she isn’t quite yet prepared for, but more power to her. She does have a good head on her shoulders and an eye(/heart) for justice.
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And at the ranch Charlie is trying to keep Ralph happy, while also bringing a new girl into the fold, Patty (Madisen Beaty) – she’s trying to help the girls get away from the toxic environment Ralph has brought in after seeing the influence, the sexism, how they’re not even slightly in control anymore.
How? Well, she knows Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau), and he’s always willing to have more people over to stay.
Sam and Grace receive ex-wife Opal (Jodi Harris). She isn’t too pleased to see them at the house together. Taking the time to verbally tear the both of them down before she and her ex-husband have to head out and see their son Walt (Chris Sheffield). No more treason charges, though he’s still on the hook for a deal of trouble. Salazar quit the New York Times after the paper refused to run the story; lots of Pentagon pressure. You can be sure Sam’s not impressed with the results. He’s ready to help his son. He loves Walt, and is going to do anything necessary.
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More developments with Manson. The food he had cooked for Ralph and his boys? Poisoned. No wonder Charlie was adamant not to have the white and black food mixed. That, and he’s a racist. Still, the jailhouse deviousness in Manson pays off. Ralph and his crew are all fading fast, as Charlie relishes in their collective death. In the meantime, Patty’s been conned into the family, convinced to murder and convinced it’s all fine. Right at the same time we cut back and forth between Charlie with Patty, and the Manson family at Cielo Drive, committing the murders. See, this is Patty – one of the Manson Girls – who infamously aided in the Tate killing. A powerhouse ending to Episode 2.
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Stick around for “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” and we’ll see where Hodiak and the rest of the characters wind up. Is there more danger to come? You betcha.