Monday, 6 July 2015

TV Review | Aquarius | A Whiter Shade of Pale & Cease to Resist

Hodiak picked the wrong hippie to mess with, as Manson seems to be planning to get the detective back since the penultimate beating of the last episode. 

For some reason, NBC haven't released their usual weekly update of photographs of the episode airing that week, with that episode being 'Cease to Resist'. So instead of doing these both separately, I've grouped them together to save a photo-less review of that episode. 

Hodiak nearly left Manson for dead in the last episode, until Shafe (thankfully?) got in the way and saved both Hodiak and himself a job. But he didn't leave Manson in a good way, as he spends the majority of this episode recovering from the injuries that Hodiak left upon him. 

In the meantime, someone in Shafe's neighborhood isn't so happy about his racially diverse family, and decides to make a point about it; nearly injuring his wife in the process. In turn, Hodiak sets out to figure out who is terrorizing Shafe, his wife, and their baby daughter. He also begins to mentor Charmain more in this episode, as the rest of the team think she isn't up to the job of being a detective due to her gender - but Hodiak thinks otherwise.

In my last review, I started to call Hodiak and Shafe by their first names. From now on, I'm going back to calling them by their last names. It just doesn't feel right. It's like calling Mulder and Scully 'Fox' and 'Dana'. It just doesn't fit. I think like X-Files, it's because that's all the characters refer to themselves as - making you do the same in the process. 

We start the episode out with Hodiak cleaning Manson's blood off his hands and cleaning his own wounds in the process. His knuckles are pretty torn up after his drunken confrontation with Manson, but he doesn't seem to care. Drenching Manson's blood from his gloves, he shows no remorse at what the bottle has made him do.

Shafe manages to leave the commune to come check on Hodiak, reminding him why he stopped him from killing Manson. Not only would they be without a viable connection to Hodiak's investigation into Emma and Shafe's investigation into the drug ring - they'd both be without a job. Shafe may be caring enough to help heal Hodiak's wounds by putting his hands into a bowl of ice water, but he doesn't hold back on reminding Hodiak that he could have very well killed Manson - through the use of (again) an extremely well-edited flashback.

We also get our weekly look into the dysfunctional relationship between Grace and Ken, with an extremely clever setup of Ken lying on the sofa with wine dripping off the table looking like blood. Turns out Ken is a fan of the bottle like Hodiak, which suggests that Grace isn't in luck with her second love as he's turning out to be like her first. At least Hodiak has some dignity though and actually cares more for Grace and her daughter than Ken does. Ken even goes as far as suggesting that they not find Emma, because she'd just inevitably run away again. But since Grace now knows that Manson is the reason for why the commune Emma is at exists, she begins to wonder what hold Manson has over Ken that would make him not want to look into the disappearance of their daughter further.

In true fashion, Grace heads over to Hodiak's to regret what she could have had but finds Hodiak in a familiar state. Suffering from the drink the night before. She lets herself in, and Hodiak's first reaction is to hold her hand and anchor himself to her.

Both Hodiak and Grace know that he can't give up, and he won't give up in getting Emma back. Grace knows that he got drunk, which was partly her fault as she blamed Emma going missing on him in the previous episode due to his cop buddy not noticing Emma slip out of the house. But she also knows that he makes stupid decisions when he's drunk - i.e. the beating of Manson. 

They both reminisce of the summer they shared together in between high school and college. A running motif for their relationship is the song 'Time After Time' (released in 1947), much like 'As Time Goes By' is between Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca. They both share the same wish that if they could wake up in any place and stay there forever, that's where they'd go. It comes up again later in the episode whilst Grace is having dinner with her Mother, and her Mother points out how much she used to play it. 

Grace feels that this is also the right time to bring up her fears of what Ken is up to; which Hodiak seems to be more familiar about that Grace thought. Grace fears that Ken has done something extremely illegal and Hodiak proves that she isn't far off. Hodiak has found out that before Manson was in prison, he was a pimp. One of his girls went missing and shortly after Ken began to represent him. He was never charged for the disappearance. Hodiak didn't think this was of importance when he found out about it, as he didn't see why this information would have helped Grace, other than her finally knowing what her husband was doing. But as you'd expect, Grace suddenly turns on him from being loved up to hurt and again compares Hodiak to Ken for lying. She then doesn't account for Hodiak's feelings telling him he has no idea what having a child going missing feels like when she knows that his son is missing. He makes this point clear when he loses his temper, which seems to be a place they've been before.

Since Grace has defeated Hodiak again like the end of the previous episode (and learning that Walt has now disappeared completely with a gun in tow), he heads over to Opal's to grieve the only way he knows how - alcohol and sex. Hodiak knows what he wants. He wants Grace - obviously - but then he's forever tied to Opal through their son, and as this episode suggests he uses her to share his pain with. They stayed together for Walt, and whenever their son is in danger they're equally scared for what may have happened to him.

This episode seems to showcase that Hodiak is more successful in other people's interests rather than his own, i.e. the investigation into how is terrorizing Shafe's family. An investigation that gives insight into the racial tensions of the time, as Hodiak finds a man named Jean. A man who goes to white neighborhoods uses a coloured family to drive a wedge into a neighborhood, then all the white families head for the hills and Jean steps in and buy all the houses cheap, and sells them back to a huge markup to the only people that will buy; colored families. Which Hodiak isn't at all happy with, but not as angry as Shafe and his wife - of whom he lets repeatedly slap Jean because of what harm he's caused to not only Shafe's family but to now seemingly close friends of his. Hodiak seems to have more luck with Shafe's family than he does with his own and Grace.

The same goes for Hodiak's relationship with Charmain also. Hodiak recognizes that the department doesn't treat her fairly (it is the 60s, remember) so he puts Charmain on the case of a cheerleader that is getting beaten by her football star of a boyfriend. He puts her on this as a woman victim feels more comfortable talking to a woman detective than a male, especially when a beating is involved.

Hodiak knows that she wants to be a detective like him and that she looks up to him. She wants to be something, and he acknowledges this. He never belittles her like Cutler does; he just pushes her in the right direction without her realizing it until later.

I've barely mentioned the Manson family or Manson himself in this review, which is my main issue with this episode and the series in general at the moment. The Manson family and Manson aren't as captivating as they could be. David Duchovny and Grey Damon's portrayal of Hodiak and Shafe are the main pulls of the show, the characters that make me want to watch it every week (or binge watch like I have been doing). Which is strange as Manson is supposed to be the main pull of Aquarius. He's meant to be the hook. Which at the moment, he doesn't seem to be.

We're back to precinct cases with Hodiak leading the investigation, with this case involving the death of an actor in a religiously motivated attack. Running alongside this case is a ghost of Manson's past in the form of Mary; the original Manson girl.

Since Manson has healed from his last encounter with Hodiak, he decides he wants revenge. He looks up Hodiak easily in the phonebook, but it turns out that he finds his old address, where Opal lives. Hodiak obviously hasn't changed his address to his new apartment. So instead of butting heads with Hodiak, Manson ends up with a confrontation with Cutler.

Cutler has no idea who he is, however. He thinks he's a crazed homeless person. But Manson knows straight away that Cutler isn't Hodiak, and begins to work with the situation. It doesn't matter to him anyway, as Cutler is as much of a 'pig' as Hodiak is.

Hodiak is preoccupied with finding his son rather than another confrontation with Manson. He's now stooped as low as getting his colleagues to help him with no questions asked. Luckily, another case hits the LA precinct to take Hodiak's mind off things. This time - as Hodiak (or as it seems like an ad-lib, Duchovny) puts it - the business of show has hit a wall. It's hit a wall in the form of an actor being killed in a religiously motivated attack, as he has been nailed to a wall like Christ.

Charmain is extremely interested in this case, which is where Hodiak's mentor-ship is explored further. It begins once she sees the crime scene photographs with a grimace, in which Hodiak teaches her about having a poker face whilst looking at murders. This is then tested when Cutler bluntly points out that she's 'not the next him (Hodiak), sweetheart'. Charmain seems upset about this, but she retains her previously learned poker face from Hodiak. He looks on in the background, miming the poker face behind Cutler to make Charmain laugh.

Through this, music becomes a narrative again within this relationship. Whilst Charmain is on the Paramount set trying to look for a set of rusty nails (used in the murder), 'I Wanna Be Like You' from The Jungle Book begins to play. The lyrics 'be like the other men' rings true, as she wants to be like Hodiak. It becomes her theme song in a lot of ways.

Eventually, it comes to light that the actor who was killed was actually gay, leading to this episode highlighting the attitude towards sexuality in the 60s. Hodiak heads to the gay bar in which the victim used to hang around in, but he isn't welcome after a previous police raid. Instead, he has to send Shafe in undercover much to his detest, as he doesn't have the best views on homosexuality as he doesn't understand it. Hodiak replies with a fantastic comeback, 'don't try to understand people'.

Hodiak's reestablishment towards alcohol is shone upon in this episode, as it's revealed that instead of having just chewing gum in his locker, he now has a bottle of alcohol in there too. Which is shame to see that he's had to resort back to one of his inner demons, as the reverend points out earlier in the episode that Hodiak has always been 'a little too brave and a little too caring', and that 'heart's never change' and to guard his, because 'it's a good one'.

In terms of the Manson family, the girls manage to find the original Manson girl - Mary - who has been in hiding for quite a while (it turns out she's been in hiding due to Manson beating her extremely hard in the face), and all this time she has been pregnant with what assumes to be Manson's child. Or the family's child, with the unsettling declaration in unison of 'it's ours.'

The introduction of Mary makes the Manson family more captivating. There hasn't really been a point so far in the series where I've really feared Manson or the family. Hopefully, the introduction of a new character changes this dynamic.

Also, I hope the storyline starts to become less convoluted, as it's taken me up to the episode to understand what's going on with Shafe's investigation into the drug ring with his great analogy drawing of 'Mr. Druggie'. Cutler's deceleration of 'I feel I understand crime a lot better now' really rings true in this sense, as it helped me come to grips with the whole plot line. 
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