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Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 4: “Revolution 1”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 4: “Revolution 1”
Directed by Timothy Busfield
Written by Rafael Yglesias

* For a review of the previous episode, “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me & My Monkey” – click here
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At the scene of the Cielo Drive killings in ’69, a more clean cut Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) does a stutter step by finding the little medallion we’ve seen before from under a couch, then settling in to do some heroin. Really? Mysterious, cryptic. Incredibly interesting.
16 months earlier. Detective Shafe is worried about Officer Charmain Tully (Claire Holt) still being undercover, and unofficially. Well there are troubles elsewhere: Martin Luther King Jr. has bee assassinated. Everyone is watching. Especially the Black Panthers and Bunchy Carter (Gaius Charles).
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Cutler: “He dies, Watts is gonna burn.”
Hodiak: “He dies, America is gonna burn.”


Everyone at the Wilson place hears the news, too. Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony) doesn’t have the same reaction as the others. He looks almost thrilled: “Thats far out,” he exclaims before running to the television. At the police station, Hodiak and Cutler (Chance Kelly) are receiving their marching orders for what’s about to happen. They have to try and keep “a lid” on the whole racial boiling pot out there. What’s intriguing is the link Shafe has to the Panthers, due to his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) being involved with the party. For all Hodiak’s lawlessness as a lawman, he doesn’t seem prejudiced like some of the others, which we saw lots of in Season 1.
Naturally, the streets are all but on fire. The African American community is raging. There’s a dead black woman that Hodiak is trying to look into, and there’s a riot brewing outside. Hodiak keeps the white uniforms out to try and assuage people. Not sure how long it’ll last.


Meanwhile, Charmain is still playing Roy Kovic (David Meunier). It’s only a matter of time before something slips. Spend too long being undercover, things might get crazy. There is only so long a rookie can handle themselves. Or maybe Charmain will surprise us all. She cons her way into going to a meeting with Roy, that gets her closer to whatever business he’s dealing in. Then there’s Shafe, he’s down at the Black Panther Party HQ to see his wife. Everything gets a little heated, as she’s not exactly thrilled the police commissioner knows about her involvement with the party. Still, Bunchy isn’t a reactionary; he’s a revolutionary. I like his level head, though cool heads can’t always prevail. He isn’t exactly willing to work with the police. Also, he doesn’t want rioting. Not because of the cops, because he knows it will harm the black community and their credibility. At the very same time things aren’t so hot between Kristin and Brian.
Wilson isn’t so thrilled about Manson and his raving. Nobody’s too into it and the party has a dying buzz. All except for Charlie. He is frightening, watching the television and relishing the cities all but burning to the ground.
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Opal (Jodi Harris) shows up at Sam’s place, worried to death about their son Walt (Chris Sheffield). He does his best to calm her down, though it’s understandable her worry. In the meantime, Brian has troubles, as well. Not only his wife, but with the commissioner. He’s torn in all directions. He doesn’t want to fail at his job, nor does he want to fail with his wife. Except Kristin comes home, raging about MLK, how Brian treated her at the BPP HQ, and throws him out: “You think Im your nigga to boss around? You think Im your nigga? Im not your nigga. I am your wife, the mother of your child.” He begs her not to go. She agrees – sleep on the couch and maybe tomorrow things won’t be so bad. Maybe.
Well over at the Wilson place, Charlie is ready to head for the desert. The Manson Family members are so brainwashed. Poor Dennis is caught up in the midst of it and starts seeing how strange, dangerous, devilish Manson is behind the hippy-ish exterior when one of the girls rambles on about the supposed coming race war.
Hodiak is still taking care of business with the Watts madness. He tracks down Snyder, the man they were looking for, and finds him hiding with the aunt of his dead girlfriend, the dead black girl. There are a few issues that Sam sorts out. Seems the cousin Steve has been hiding things of his own. An accidental death, but a murder nonetheless.
Trying to get things settled with the BPP, and his wife, Shafe is trying to do things “the righteous way” for it all to go smooth. Bunchy makes sure things pass right at the station and gets Sam to ensure African Americans in the city get a day off due to King’s death. All sewn up. That doesn’t bode well for Manson, whose ideas of a race war are foiled. This is great writing and helps us begin to understand how Charlie’s moving towards spurring on the race war himself.


In the undercover world of cops, Charmain introduces Brian to the man she met earlier through Kovic. Brian does a nice job playing himself up, talking about his service in the war and so on. Problem being this guy wants Brian to get high, to prove himself. Gotta try it if you wanna sell it, right? Well, the young cop shoots up, heading to the sky. Uh oh. At least they can get further into the case. But at what cost?
People march the streets in solidarity, black and white, all for Martin Luther King Jr. Even ole Charlie heads down to walk, holding his hands together praying; not for the deceased King, but for a race war. An eerie moment. Everyone sings “Amazing Grace” and it is simply chilling. Across town, Roy is about to be murdered and Charmain finally pulls out her badge. The biker gets a bullet anyway, threatening to kill Charmain. For now, it’s all over.

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Skip to August 10th, 1969 – a bloody, high Shafe calls his partner: “Were in trouble, Sam.”
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Whoa. Great finisher.
I’m really excited to see where Shafe plays into this and how his trajectory ends up taking him to that point we saw at the beginning and end of this episode. Next one is titled “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” and I want you to stick with me, and with Aquarius. This season is a big improvement on an already decent show.

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.