Tuesday, 28 July 2015

TV Review | Aquarius | Why & It's Alright Ma. (I'm Only Bleeding)

Manson decides to spare Hodiak’s life and open his mind, which can only mean one thing. Hodiak is going on one hell of a trip. 

Following the extremely plot-heavy episode ‘Sick City’, ‘Why’ returns to Aquarius’ more simplistic tones. That being focusing on a ‘case-of-the-week’ with a side dish served of Manson. 

‘Why’ begins with a rather unsettling exchange of words between two cops over Charmaine. She’s not in earshot, but the two are doing more than checking her out. Luckily, Hodiak is within earshot and is thankfully as annoyed as we are at their continuous verbal harassing over Charmaine’s body. Hodiak sticks it to them in the only way he knows how through wit: “That’s my daughter. She’s somebody's daughter, and if you can’t be decent human males you can at least be funnier. Right now, you’re just being what a cop hating world expects. Look out for her.”

And look out for her they do, as Culter has granted Charmaine the ability to tag along with the two cops on a ride along. She’ll be canvasing Hodiak’s old beat, which she strides over to Hodiak beaming with pride that not only is she finally able to be a cop, but she’s also following in his footsteps. He mirrors this pride and gives her his usual pointers for the situation; to make her a better cop and to also make sure she keeps herself safe.

A day that Charmaine has been leading her career up to turns to hell, as she and the other two officers become involved in a shooting. She ends up being the only one who survives, with one cop dying at the scene and the other at the hospital. 

The department is rightfully in shock, as two of their own have been fatally wounded. Hodiak makes his way down to investigate what exactly happened at the diner and finds Charmaine in shock at the diner. He is eventually able to lead her back to the scene of the crime, but she is unable to give a reasonable account of what occurred due to the shock that has ridden her body. Hodiak needs to calm her down so that she can explain the situation to him, enabling them to investigate the crime together as a team. She’s been keeping her emotions bottled up over the incident since Hodiak got there, so he asks a simple question: “Do you trust me?”

With Charmaine’s agreement, Hodiak precedes to slap her. He slaps her out of shock so she can release all the emotions she’s garnered over the case and to enable her to get a level head. 

Hodiak doesn’t leave her side throughout this, he holds her whilst she regains composure. He cares for her but needs her to focus so they can catch whoever did this. Charmaine’s and Hodiak’s relationship is by far the strongest on the show. It’s not a romantic subplot in the slightest which is refreshing to see; the focus being rather on mentorship

The LAPD squad are all convinced that the shooting was committed by a black man, but Charmaine’s description of a white hand pointed at her colleagues begs to differ. As more cops begin to die in the same fashion – one white, one black – Hodiak and Shafe decide to take matters into their own hands in the form of a series regular, Bunchy. 

Bunchy, as we know, is part of the Black Panther Movement. After talking with Bunchy, Shafe and Hodiak eventually conclude that they are indeed right about a white shooter and eventually find clues pointing to their suspect. They even get as far as apprehending the guy. However, the suspect is adamant of getting out of it by saying the car Charmaine spotted was stolen, and the racist propaganda found in the trash outside his home wasn’t his. And that Hodiak’s and Shafe’s siege on his house wasn’t warranted.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the squad seem to be blaming Charmaine for the death of the two cops, especially since her life seemed to be spared. Hodiak decides to put Charmaine in her place within in the squad by dragging her into the men’s locker room in front of the other officers to make a point loud and clear: “Are you gonna stop trying to be one of us, or are you gonna be one of us?”

Charmaine feels betrayed by Hodiak from this confrontation, especially compared to the pride they shared earlier in the episode. Even though Hodiak leaves telling someone that she’s going to be a good cop someday, it doesn’t stop Charmaine from comparing Hodiak to her drunken Father since he’s back on the drink again. And everyone knows it, of course.

Meanwhile, at the Manson commune, Ken is becoming a regular visitor. Especially since he’s gotten rid of the evidence of the dead hooker, thinking that he’s off the hook from Manson. Which is obviously not the case, no one is ever off the hook with Manson. Manson believes that Ken is there for love, love for him. There must not be any for Grace, as it seems that this love is one of the reasons he keeps gravitating to the spiral staircase. 

Through Ken being with Manson, Manson decides that he needs to open Hodiak’s mind, and not his skull. He intends to get Hodiak high instead of killing and getting rid of him. Which in Hodiak’s case, is probably leading him to be worse off as who knows what this trip will be like. Which seems to be Manson’s intention.

‘Why’ is one of Aquarius’ stronger episodes, as the LAPD storyline is so wired and intense you just want it to keep going and going. Which is why it’s disappointing when it suddenly cuts back to Manson, as it’s much slower paced this time around than it usually tries to be

It’s a blessing that all the episodes of Aquarius were made available to binge watch to your hearts content. ‘Why’ and ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’ are the perfect episodes to watch back to back for one simple reason – David Duchovny having to act as though he’s high on LSD. 

I can safely say I have never been high, and I doubt Duchovny ever has either. I get the feeling that Hodiak’s trip isn’t far from what it is. The way this sequence was edited, the music chosen (‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ by Donovan – a song that I have not been able to stop listening to since) and Duchovny’s acting makes this act of the series the best so far. 

It’s so visceral. The frantic and kaleidoscopic editing and effects make it feel as though you’re high along with Hodiak. You truly get a sense of what it must feel like, especially since it’s Hodiak’s first time tripping and he has no idea what’s happening to him. For all he knows he’s having an extremely intense drunken experience. You get a view of both perspectives throughout the trip, even though both are looking always at Hodiak. It’s never from his actual point of view, but you see what the world looks like through his eyes and then what the world looks like from someone on the outside.

You even manage to get a quick insight into his character throughout his descent into the madness that Manson has ensued upon him. Manson is hovering around him throughout the duration of the trip. Manson is literally in Hodiak’s head, making sure that the drug messes with him as much as it can. This leads to what seems to be PSTD visions of Hodiak's involvement in World War II, which in turn forcing him into near-death experiences in the middle of traffic.  

Hodiak is thankfully saved from his crosstown traffic routine by Joe Moran, an undercover Latino in the precinct (his real name being José Morán). Moran tries to get Hodiak safely away from the situation, but he leaves him for one second and Hodiak disappears. Moran eventually finds out where he’s headed and sends Shafe to save his troubled pal, who is trying to crash a party being thrown by Grace for Ronald Reagan. Due to Hodiak’s elevated state, he deems this the best time to tell Grace that he’s ready to love her, to be there for her. That he knows leaving Grace all those years ago was a mistake. Grace just passes him off as a drunk, and Shafe takes him under his wing whilst Hodiak’s coming down from the high, proclaiming ‘it hurts’. Which could mean a number of things, but it seems to be pointing more towards his mistake of messing his relationship up with Grace or the overhanging cloud of his son Walt still being missing.

After Hodiak comes down from the high and realizes what he’s endured, he doesn’t have time to dwell on what the drugs did to him. Moran comes knocking for a favour after saving Hodiak’s ass the night before. Someone has found out that Moran is Latino, and that someone comes in the form of a Los Angeles Times journalist named Ruben Salazar. Moran sends Hodiak to try and sway Salazar’s grip on the story, but since he believes the stakes are too high and that it will be positive for the Latino community to have a Latino cop in the precinct, he threatens that if Moran doesn’t come out that he’s Latino, he’s going to break the story anyway.

This isn’t good news for Moran, as the only people that know he’s Latino are Hodiak and Salazar. His wife has no idea of his race, for all she knows he’s Irish, which is what he has been passing for since he joined the LAPD and he got married. It’s no surprise when the news brakes that Moran becomes suicidal, pulling a gun on the precinct with Hodiak having to be the only person Moran can trust. 

Moran is convinced that if he came out as Latino when he joined the precinct, the guys would have never let him be one of them. He would never be American in their eyes. Which is where Hodiak begins to emphasize with him. To show him that they’re in the same boat, Hodiak reveals to Moran that his father is a Jew and his mother is Irish. He’s - in his own words - a half-breed, a mongrel. But he doesn’t let these parts of his genetic makeup sway him from being an American. Which is what ultimately stops Moran from pulling the trigger, and walking through the protests of his own people arm in arm with Hodiak. 

Whilst all this commotion is going down at the precinct, Shafe is still hot on the trail of his drug ring investigation into Guapo – the drug ring leader. Shafe is still trying to gain the trust of Manson’s affiliation with a motorcycle gang including Roy and Guapo himself. Especially since Cutler is pressuring Shafe to get somewhere with the case. Shafe is extremely close to a successful drug bust but opts out at the last minute due to a feeling it was a hoax. Which he was right about, as Guapo was testing his trust. Thank God Shafe went with his gut instincts over his investigation.  

The Manson commune is thriving in this episode, especially since Emma has made her way back. This time, with a companion in the form of a familiar face – Rick. Her boyfriend (I assume ex) from the first episode gave her a ride back, and Emma’s intentions seem clear. Rick has a credit card, which can come into great use for the Manson clan. Charlie can sense this immediately, and already begins to get a hold on Rick. Especially since he keeps trying to find ways to leave the commune. 

Rick recognizes a friendly face within the sea of drugged up hippies, that being Brian Shafe. Shafe has to make sure that Rick doesn’t blow his cover, so he gives him the honor of becoming a deputy detective. Whether that’s official or not, it doesn’t matter. If he keeps Shafe’s cover under wraps, Shafe doesn’t care what he does or doesn’t do. 

Even though Emma is back at the commune, she gives glances now and again towards her environment that say she doesn’t want to be there. She’s been there for so long now, you’d expect her to have instigated herself within Manson’s Girls, but she still doesn’t seem all there. The other girls are noticing, and it’s time for Emma to be born.
© Wreck My Brain. All rights reserved.