Tuesday, 23 June 2015

TV Review | Aquarius | Home is Where You're Happy

Manson may be telling Emma 'Home is Where You're Happy'; but she certainly isn't happy in her home. Especially since she inevitably gets dragged back there by her mother and Sam Hodiak.

The case-of-the-week is still going strong, this time focusing on the murder of Art Gladner; the owner of The Coffee Hut and a strip bar named The Peach Pussycat. This also ties into Brian Shafe's drug investigation, as his informant Mikey is the prime suspect in the murder as people saw him running from the scene screaming. Brian tries to get him out of this situation, as he knows and we know that Mikey didn't do it. But Mikey would rather go to prison than tell anyone where he was and what he was doing, as he's afraid that he'll be crushed by the guy above Art in the drug chain. 

Through this murder, we get our introduction to The Peach Pussycat, which becomes an integral location in uncovering more than just the murder case that Sam Hodiak is investigating.

Sam and Manson become a 60s epitome of Face/Off, finally meeting for the first time under Sam's suspicions that Emma is at the commune. Sam has no idea what Manson is capable of; and in all honesty, neither does Manson. But it doesn't stop him from ultimately pissing Sam off through being extremely shady about Emma's whereabouts and playing him, which Sam is beginning to figure out by shooting down his advances by stating to Manson that he's "not a 16-year-old girl".

Later in the episode, Grace and Sam's suspicions are right, Emma is at the commune. Although, they couldn't have come at a worse time seeing as Emma is high on LSD which begins to manipulate her emotions. One minute she wants to be with her mother, the next she's being dragged kicking and screaming by Sam after threatening them both with a loaded shotgun. All the while Manson watches on, telling the 'family' that she'll soon be back.

Emma's trip turning demonic isn't at all surprising, especially with her mother. As Grace admits to Sam that she may be one of the reasons that Emma ran away in the first place, as she called her daughter a whore the night before it happened. With the best intentions, of course, "If she's hurt by that, then she's still a girl".

Emma drama aside, Sam has an emotionally packed episode regarding his AWOL son, Walt. Turns out the day in this episode is the 15th - which is Opal's birthday - and she's wallowing her sorrows in a bar, which doesn't seem much of a surprise to Sam, "A little too early in the day, even for you considering". The over-excess in drinking and the crying is over their son, of course. Opal's had a change of heart and now suddenly Sam is the good guy, as she wants him to do everything he can to find their son.

Opal divulges information that she heard Walt called a friend on the phone, suggesting that Sam can find out where Walt is by talking to this friend. Where Sam is successful in finding his ex-lover's daughter, he's not so successful when it comes to his own son. Sam finds Walt's friend who has suddenly turned into a seminarian to dodge being drafted into the war, which seems a little too convenient for Sam as a veteran himself, and he isn't so happy about it, "I fought, so we could sit here free on plastic seat covers".

Sam tells Brian about Walt's disappearance for the first time, and Brian wants to help. It's only been four episodes but their trust and bond have really started to grow rapidly. Sam seems to treat Brian like an adopted son, not only because his son has gone missing but he can teach Brian to be a better cop and person through his experience. They're starting to bounce off each other more around the station too, quipping jokes at each other like Sam saying, "Look at you, a learner".

David Duchovny completely owns this episode - as he has done with each episode up to this point - the scene with Marvin being the pinnacle. Duchovny's ability to combine wit mixed with annoyance makes this sequence both hilarious and brutal.

Through Sam's surprisingly off the books mentality, we find out that Marvin has nine arrests and two convictions for deliveries of narcotics. Which shows Sam that Art was a drug dealer as well as a coffee shop and strip club owner, through the fact that his delivery man was Marvin who had keys to the coffee shop. He's now the prime suspect, but tries to pin the blame partially on Sam for giving Martin the idea to kill Art in the first place (he saw Sam write 'snitch' on Art's forehead in the second episode, and proceeded to see Art admit to someone on the phone that he'd "name ten guys, just like me"). Sam doesn't seem at all phased by it though, whatever gets his killer nailed, he doesn't care for. Even if it slightly involves his input.

A highlight of the series so far has definitely been the editing. Especially in this episode, as the show seems to be very innovative in making trivial things such as flashbacks be extremely interesting. Sam's investigation at the Peach Pussycat standing out the most. There's such a clever use of flashback as Sam is interrogating the girls; instead of flash-backing to previous scenes, it's slightly overlaid on top of the actual scene where Sam is talking to them. So instead of flashing back and forth, you're able to see Sam and the girl's reactions to what's being remembered.

The thing with Aquarius though, is that it seems to be that Brian and Sam are the strong points of the whole show. The show could easily just be about them traversing cases in the sun-baked Los Angeles of the 60s. Whenever it cuts back to the pretentious Manson, I always sit there wondering when Sam's going to come back on screen. Especially in that scene in which Ken is wielding a gun to Manson. It wasn't compelling nor scary at all, almost laughable at points. Sam's handling of Marvin was tenser than that exchange. 
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