We're hitting the home stretch of Aquarius Season 1, with just three episodes to go after this.
When we left Detective Sam Hodiak last week, his Christmas went from bad to worse. The episode started with the murder of two police officers and ended with Hodiak about to take a bad trip. Manson spiked the detective's drink with a hit of acid that was just starting to take affect as the episode ended.
In this week's episode, "It's Alright Ma" (I'm Only Bleeding) we see how Hodiak fares after Manson drugs him. Will he end up in the killer's hands? And what about the murder suspect he caught last week?
Find out what happens after the jump.
Sam Hodiak loosens his tie as he leaves the restaurant. Lights and colors bending all around him. Hodiak is clearly tripping and it makes me dizzy just watching him. Manson is behind him feeding him things to think about. In his trip, Hodiak has flashes of World War II. He's just about to get hit by Manson's car when Detective Joe Moran finds him. He waves off Manson and the girls and tries to take care of Hodiak. Moran tosses him in the back of his car, wondering how much Hodiak has had to drink in the hour he's been off duty. Hodiak isn't exactly helpful in his inebriated state so Moran says he's going to call Shafe.
Shafe and Mikey walk into the Manson house. Mikey is clearly enjoying himself and yells for Guapo, the drug dealer they've been sent to see. Bad idea. Roy Kovic introduces Shafe as the guy who tipped him off to Jimmy Too. Guapo shakes the men down and notices Shafe's military tattoo. Guapo wonders if after serving his country, Shafe now serves the city as a cop. He laughs it off and says "yeah, you got me. And I'm going to go bust this punk right here." He recognizes Rick Zondervan from the crowd and shoves him around demanding money. Just out of hearing range of Guapo, Shafe warns Rick to play along or he's going to jail. Guapo doesn't look entirely convinced as Shafe walks away.
Joe Moran checks his car to find Hodiak no longer there.
Back at the Manson house, Emma is leading Rick Donovan around when Manson spots her. She tells Charlie Rick brought her back. She introduces him but Rick doesn't seem too keen on hanging around. Charlie introduces Rick to some of the other girls who seem very happy to see him, though it looks like Rick is ready to run the other way.
Shafe is explaining his meeting with Guapo to his boss, who isn't happy with Shafe's lack of results. While they're talking a protest is going on outside. The protesters believe the cops aren't doing their job because someone is preying on Chicano women and the cops haven't caught him.
Emma is telling Manson that Rick could be useful to them because his dad is a well known car dealer in the city. He thanks her for Rick, for coming back to him and makes Emma promise to not leave him again.
A still tripping Hodiak has arrived at Grace Karn's house. In his trip, the pattern on the door is spinning. He yells for Grace to swim to him. The door opens and a large and lavish party in underway. Grace runs out and asks Hodiak what's wrong. He says he's feeling no pain and rips his shirt open. Flustered, Grace tells Hodiak he has to go because Governor Reagan is there. Shafe has arrived and grabs Hodiak and leads him away. He asks Hodiak what's going on, and suddenly the detective feels pain again.
Manson and Emma have retired to his bedroom. Sadie pokes her head in, waving Rick's credit card, and says she's off to fill up the bus. Emma starts to talk about her father, and says he never loved her. She wants to know if Manson knows her father's secret. Manson tells her there is no past, no future, only what we feel right now. He tells her to search inside herself to figure out what that secret is. Emma says her father can't love and he can't be loved. Manson hugs her tightly and says she's very wise, and that he's helped her realize that since they can love, they all are a real family.
A now sober Hodiak is putting himself back together at Shafe's place. He doesn't have any idea who spiked his drink, and really doesn't want to hear about it when Shafe mentions he rescued him from the Karn's. Shafe also explains they've got bigger problems. Rick is now at the Manson house and could blow Shafe's cover. Hodiak thinks for a second, then tells Shafe to make Rick his deputy.
At his own apartment Hodiak is playing guitar when a knock at the door disturbs him. It's Joe Moran, who wants Hodiak's help. He shows him an article about the Echo Park bus robberies of Chicano women. Moran also reveals he's Cuban, not Irish as many assume. The author of the article plans to expose Moran as the only Latino detective on the force, whether Moran cooperates or not. Salazar, the author, claims it will be a positive story but Moran believes it will destroy his life. Hodiak agrees, and pours the detective a drink.
Manson is playing a guitar when Shafe and Mikey the Snitch return to the house. While Mikey talks with Manson, Shafe wakes up Rick. Outside he swears Rick in as a deputy detective.
Hodiak is in a meeting with Salazar, which doesn't go well. Despite Hodiak's attempts to protect Moran, Salazar doesn't bite. He says he has no sympathy for Moran, and that either way, in a week everyone will know "Joe is Jose."
Beer in a garage with Guapo. Sounds fun right? The dealer is setting up a run and wants Kovic and Shafe to make the deal. The men try to ask questions bu Guapo isn't interested. He says he'll send one of his own men along as well.
Protests continue outside the Hollywood Police Station. Inside, Hodiak tells Moran about his failed conversation with Salazar. He should tell the truth. Hodiak gets a phone call from another precinct about Louise Mitchell. It turns out to be a dead end but Officer Charmain Tully overhears and offers to help. Hodiak thanks her but says he needs to take care of it himself. After he leaves, Charmain takes things into her own hands. Another call comes in, the bus attacker has struck again, and this time he murdered the woman over five dollars. As the department springs into action, Salazar calls for Moran. He tells Moran that after the news of the murder, he can't wait any longer and will run the article tomorrow.
Sadie crawls into bed with a sleeping Emma and wakes her with a kiss. Sadie is encouraging Emma to free herself, to cut off all connection with her family. She uses a story from her own childhood about mistreatment at the hands of her mother to encourage Emma to make her own path. Emma looks distressed at the thought. From the door, Manson smirks, as though another part of his twisted plan is falling into place.
Moran knocks again on Hodiak's door. Article in hand he says his wife threw him out. Hodiak tries to comfort him but Moran isn't having it. All he has in the world is his wife and two sons. Hodiak invites him in and tells him he can sleep on the couch.
Shafe is getting some pointers about how the transfer of drugs should go, and how the police will provide backup, but he doesn't seem very convinced the bust will go down safely. Shafe calls the guy's planning sloppy and the lieutenant agrees with him. They come up with a signal to stop the drug transfer if needed, though suit guy warns Shafe not to let his nerves get him.
Cutler and Whelan are making racists jokes about Moran, even singing "La Cucaracha" when Moran walks in. He's drunk, shirt unbuttoned, and carrying a revolver. In his stupor, he asks Cutler and Whelan if they were the ones who told Salazar. Moran looks out the window at the protesters then turns to look at the officers. He talks about how much he loved being a cop and says "You know why I lied? Because if you knew I was Latino, you'd never let me be one of you." Moran turns his attention back to the protesters and says that his own people "won't let me be one of you." Hodiak tries to sneak up on him but Moran is too fast. He points the gun at his own head, forcing Hodiak to step back.
A clearly rattled Shafe is with Kovic and Guapo's man to pick up the delivery. A man arrives and says he'll be right back, that he's just going to "pack the radios." Two other officers lay in wait and plan to bust the men as soon as they come out with a package. Shafe tries to light a cigarette, the signal to call off the bust. But his lighter isn't working, so the cops across the street aren't sure if he's calling it off. Finally, Shafe borrows a lighter from Kovic and lights up. Eventually, his group leaves with the delivery while the officers across the street call him a coward.
Moran is yelling with the protesters, gun still to his head. Cutler orders everyone out of the room but Hodiak stays behind. They talk about a bust where Hodiak saved Moran. Moran laments that if he'd died that day he'd be remembered as a hero. He pushes the gun harder against his temple. Hodiak chides him not to do that, that to be certain he should put the gun under his chin instead. Hodiak tells Moran his own father lost everything in the stock market crash and jumped out his office window. He finds himself often asking himself: if his dad gave up why shouldn't he? And that that's the kind of thoughts Moran's boys will have if he kills himself. Moran still isn't buying it. Hodiak also tells Moran his father is a Jew. His mother is Irish, so Hodiak says that makes him a "half breed, a mongrel". He tells him that heritage doesn't matter, that they're both American. Hodiak finally convinces Moran to hand over the gun, that they'll walk about together. Hodiak and Moran talk a slow walk past the other officers, out through the protesters. Moran looks lost and Hodiak fixes a long look at Salazar, who is outside speaking with the protesters.
Shafe and Kovic return to Guapo's garage with the package. Guapo insists Shafe open it. Shafe does, only to find a travel chess board and pieces packed in the box. Guapo nods and says now he can trust him. Shafe and Guapo shake on it. Good thing Shafe called off the bust right?
Hodiak is sitting at his desk, head in hands. Cutler admonishes him to go home but he's not interested. Whelan approaches and asks about Moran. We learn Moran has four weeks of mandatory observation ahead of him. Whelan also has surveillance photos of anti-war protesters. Hodiak takes a closer look at a photo and recognizes someone. He tells Whelan to arrest the man.
Grace Karn is fast asleep when Emma sneaks into her bedroom. Sadie, Katie and Manson follow her. The group steals a lot of jewelry while Emma looks on. The other leave but Emma is frozen in the doorway, watching her mother sleep. Manson admonishes her and she leaves, reluctantly.
The protester Hodiak wanted arrested is in an interrogation room. Hodiak sits down across from the older man and says "I thought it was high time we had a little talk, Dad." Hodiak's dad asks for the cuffs to be removed but Hodiak just nods. And there we end.
Well, after the intensity of last week's episode, this one felt like a bit of a letdown. I was expecting more from Sam Hodiak's acid trip, in that I figured it was going to be some sort of standoff between him and Manson. But that was not the case. Instead of being frightening it was more of a laugh and left at that. And what happened to the cop killer? I'm a little surprised that was left hanging and was hoping for more resolution. Hodiak was pretty adamant he'd be there to put the guy away and instead it was pretty quickly forgotten.
Why did Emma return to Manson's? For story purposes it would have been odd to not have her with the Mason clan but I found it strange there was no reason given for why she left or why she came back. There are patches of so many different story lines in this one episode. Normally, I think that juxtaposition works well but today it felt like too much. The acid trip, the drug bust, Joe Moran's issues, Louise Mitchell, the Latino protest, the bus robbery and the anti-war protesters. That's a lot of ground to cover and most of it felt pretty dissatisfying.
But let's talk about what did work. My heart hurt for Joe Moran. He has his reasons for wanting to hide his identity, and whether or not you agree with those reasons, I don't feel it's anyone else's business to throw him out of the closet, so to speak. The Hollywood Police Department has shown to be a racist and sexist place to work time and again. Moran touched on some of how hard that was to hear, knowing that the department would never have given him a chance if they knew he was Latino. I wonder if the incident will be a wakeup call for some of the officers. They make these terrible comments, not knowing they're insulting one of their co-workers who they respect as a good detective. Alex Quijano did an excellent job as Moran, he really made me feel for the character. I'd like to hope Moran will be ok but I'm not holding my breath. I would also guess this is probably the last we hear of his character.
Sam Hodiak again proves he's the guy you want on your side. When everyone else backs away from Joe Moran when he's in crisis, Hodiak walks towards him. He offers help when no one else will listen and did a damn good job of talking Moran down. I did like that Moran called his bluff on the story of the suicidal dad, but I give him points for trying. And speaking of dad, it was funny to see Hodiak's father actually appear at the end of the episode. The straight-talking cop has an anti-war protest for a father. I would wager the elder Hodiak has an idea where Walt Hodiak is. Hopefully that's a storyline that gets some resolution. Also points to whoever decided Hodiak should rip his shirt off outside the Karn house.
I have mixed feelings about Emma Karn. I was hopeful for her when she left the Manson house but to see her return with Rick in tow was frustrating. Especially when we realized she'd only brought Rick in as a cash cow. And then to watch her lead Manson in the others to her home to steal from her mother was pretty frustrating. I felt like maybe there was a sliver of hope for her when she stood watching her mother sleep but that remains to be seen.
A quick thumbs-up for Brian Shafe as well. He was smart enough to trust his instincts and call off the bust, despite pressure from his boss to perform. If they just give him room to breathe he's going to bring this whole operation to the ground.
Overall, I'd say this was a decent episode. Not as good as many others this season but still an hour of television worthy of your time. I appreciate how they don't shy away from the racial issues of the time and those problems give you a lot to think about once the credits roll. Would I prefer to see a little more resolution on some of the story threads that are left hanging? Yes. But that frustration isn't strong enough yet to take away from my enjoyment of the show as a whole. You can catch Aquarius Saturday nights at 9 p.m., on iTunes, On Demand, or on NBC.com.