Tuesday, 23 June 2015

TV Review | Aquarius | A Change is Gonna Come

Manson has finally met his match; a drunken Sam Hodiak with a vengeance.

Other than the impressive brawl that unfolds at the end of 'A Change Is Gonna Come', nothing else of note really happens. Especially in terms of the main pull of the show, The Manson Family. Emma's back at home under house arrest by an old cop buddy of Sam's, and Sam's preoccupied with igniting an old flame with Emma's mother and trying to communicate with his son. Only Manson can be the one to screw this somewhat perpetual bliss up. 

However, Aquarius finally gives us a huge political point of the era - The Black Panther Party. Even the inclusion of a real-life character, Bunchy Carter (Gaius Charles). Carter headed the Southern California chapter in the 60s; he and the party aren't so happy with Sam or the LAPD in general after the unlawful killing of a black kid from the white cop that Sam is working on this case. Sam needs their help in identifying who set a fire killing one of Sam's friends, a black business owner named Cass. But they won't cooperate as the racist cop hasn't seen any ramifications for killing an innocent kid. Through this determination to find who killed Cass, Sam tries to get Cutler to charge the cop of murder to get the Panther party to cooperate. But, Sam learns the hard way how corrupt the police force is and there is no way in hell they'll be able to get a cop to go down for killing a black man. 

Even though Sam has this on his plate and his son still being out of reach, at least he has Grace. Sam and Grace's rekindled relationship has resulted in the sleeping together multiple times up until now, with Ken none the wiser. Both still seem regretful for their wasted relationship, with Grace apologizing for what happened to them both and addressing Sam as her 'beautiful man', and Sam later professing how he's always loved Grace whilst at the Nixon fundraiser. And this is where Ken finds out about this relationship, and Grace could not give a care in the world.

Grace has been giving Ken mixed messages ever since they got Emma back, and her deciding to be with Hodiak, even more, solidifies her prowess and her beginning to be her own boss, especially over Ken and the agreeance to keep Emma's whereabouts a secret.

But even though the commune is all but forgotten in the Karn household; that doesn't mean to say that Emma hasn't picked up on a few manipulation skills from her stay there. Emma leads her mother on in the car whilst they're reminiscing about their tea parties when she was a little girl, then proceeds to try and run back to Manson, but to no avail. Sam has entrusted babysitting duties to an old colleague of his, which turns out doesn't do a good job at keeping Emma in the house and she gets what she wants - her real family back

Whilst this is happening, Sam finally has contact with Walt, this time at his apartment; face to face. Walt decides to explain to his father why he's out of Vietnam and what's really going on in Cambodia. But Sam is having none of it: "If you wanna win a war, you've gotta fight ugly sometimes". Walt wants to call the country's lies out with documents that he's attained proving that an illegal war is taking place, but if he does he'll be called a traitor. Even though he knows what that'll do to his father, and Sam knows this too, Sam still wants to help Walt so he can't lose him. But Walt doesn't think that he can help at all. 

The deeper Walt and Sam's relationship is explored, the more it's revealed that this gap between father and son is the real conflict within the show. Sam is so brought down by what the 60s have done to his country and to his own son, he doesn't know how to deal with it. 

Add on top of that the bitter rejection Grace now has towards Sam for letting her daughter disappear again, Sam goes straight to the bottle. Which by now from all the talk flying around from various people, we should know isn't a good idea. We all know what's going to happen. The scene in which he's contemplating drinking is particularly powerful, as it's so suspenseful and foreboding that we know as soon as he downs that drink, he's going to do something that he will regret. 

Lo and behold, we are given the brutal beat-down of Manson. The result of being a mixture of being drunk and angry that Grace doesn't trust him anymore after he told her that he'd always loved her. All this back to Manson; the personification of everything wrong with the 60s. There's great use of cinematography and lighting in this scene too, the dust building up between Manson and Hodiak the headlights given a penetrating glare to the scene. Brian swoops in and saves the day, preventing Sam from killing Manson and blowing their case in the process.

But as I said previously, it's only when Hodiak is on screen that the show is at its most captivating. Duchovny brings so much acting experience to this role, it helps in being able to believe that Hodiak could be a real person. Whereas the people that are real people, i.e. Manson and the girls, don't bring this at all. It's like they're all trying too hard. Too hard to such an extent that it gets to the point of wanting to eye roll and sigh and everything that comes out of their mouths. Especially the Manson girls. No one in that commune is poignant to the show at this point, even Manson.
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