As Aquarius rolls into its second week we take a look at Episode 3 "Never Say Never to Always". While all the episodes are now available on demand we're going old school and reviewing as they air each Thursday night on NBC. Last week's episodes ended with Emma's father Ken Karn paying a visit to Charles Manson that ended with the two kissing. We left Sam Hodiak with Grace Karn going over phone records from Ken's office. Do they get any closer to bringing Emma home? Does Episode 3 continue the strong storytelling started in the first two episodes? Find out after the jump.
We open on Hodiak picking the lock to a darkened home. His ex-wife is passed out asleep in another room, so this could be the house he once shared with his family. Hodiak looks around and spots a timetable for a bus line. He moves to leave only to have a gun pulled on him. The man turns out to be Detective Ed Cutler who is now sleeping with Hodiak's ex. Hodiak doesn't care, he just wants to find his son. As he leaves Hodiak tells Cutler he will no longer work with him because he doesn't work with liars. Hodiak's wife Opal comes out then and asks Cutler if Hodiak ever mentioned the time he hit her. He was drunk and the hit required four stitches to close. "That's your partner who's too good for you" she yells. Hodiak leaves and credits roll.
Back at the Manson house we find Ken Karn getting dressed. He tells Manson he made a mistake and that he just wants his daughter. Manson toys with him and says his daughter is there but won't leave with him. Karn leaves in a huff and as he's trying to get his car out of the driveway the partiers are blocking the drive. Karn honks the horn in frustration which is enough to draw the attention of Emma. She looks out the window to see her dad pulling away.
At the Hollywood Police Station Officer Charmain Tully is trying to question a woman who has allegedly assaulted another woman. She moves to pat down the suspect and the woman attacks her. Tully manages to break away as another officer approaches. Instead of diffusing the situation he orders Tully to make more coffee.
Back to Hodiak, we see him playing guitar at home then cleaning his gun. The phone rings and it's Bruce Tamminy, Manson's parole officer, calling to say he'd been fired. One could assume Karn had something to do with that. Hodiak heads to the station where he and Brian Shafe strategize how to find Manson. As they're debating they learn about an investigation into a diner owner who has been stabbed to death. This would be the diner owner Shafe was working to bust in the previous episode. He moves to take on the case but as Hodiak points out, Shafe's appearance there would blow his cover. Hodiak says unless Shafe wants to go in a disguise like ghost or sexy nurse he'd be in trouble. He tells Shafe to find Manson while he goes to make sure the diner case doesn't get messed up.
Hodiak arrives on scene at the stabbing and within the first 5 seconds he's already throwing jokes. One remark on how the diner was broken into and another teasing a fellow detective about the size of his backup gun. Hodiak's dry wit is refreshing and hearing the lines coming from David Duchovny with his classic delivery is one of my favorite parts of the show. Detective Ed Cutler is there which makes things a bit awkward, given his interaction with Hodiak earlier in the episode. Cutler claims to have found a suspect and has him in the cruiser. The suspect is very excited when Hodiak approaches the squad. It's Mikey, Shafe's snitch from the previous episodes. Hodiak doesn't return the enthusiasm. Mike begs Hodiak to help him but the detective simply stares at him until the officer drives the squad car away. That's a look I would not want to be on the receiving end of. Something about Stone Cold Silent Hodiak in shades is pretty intimidating.
We see the biker Roy Kovic, who is supposed to be Manson's right hand, with a group of other bikers. He's telling a story about how the cops screwed over one of his brothers. Shafe is in the group and ends up apologizing from the evening before when he pushed him down the stairs. Kovic grants him a reset and Shafe says that he has a favor to ask. He said they were on their way to Charlie Manson's before Kovic was injured and they'd like to try again. That's when Charmain gets out of the car and walks to join the crew. At Manson's house we find Emma telling Manson she thought she saw her dad leave that morning. Manson tells her that her dad wanted to know how much Charlie wanted for Emma, but he says she's not for sale. Emma seems pleased with this and wanders away. Kovic enters with Charmain and introduces her to Manson. Manson says he doesn't remember her so Charmain tells an elaborate story about a house where she met him in a group that ends with her howling. Which is hilarious until Manson and the others start howling back and then all of a sudden it's really creepy. Manson offers the group some candy. Charmain insists that Shafe go get some, which leaves her with Kovic. Shafe looks uneasy but goes along.
A brief stop at the morgue shows Cutler and Hodiak debating over the likelihood of Mikey's guilt. The coroner explains that the diner owner had been dead for at least 8 to 10 hours, long before Mikey was found at the scene. Other details like the angle of the wounds, Mikey's height, and which hand he uses all make it clear he didn't commit the crime. Hodiak points all this out but Cutler doesn't want to hear it and storms out.
Back at Manson's Shafe is wandering through the house past others who are in various states of intoxication or who are otherwise occupied with each other. Shafe is rifling through an empty room when Manson confronts him. He gives Shafe a whole spiel about how the house is owned by someone who believes in devil worship. He says the house is full of shame but he wants everyone to be happy. Shafe looks uncomfortable as Emma and other women join Manson on a bed. Kovic walks in with Charmain has says she could learn a thing or two from the devil worshipers.
At the police station Cutler and Hodiak are again arguing over Mikey's innocence. Hodiak manages to convince Cutler to give him two days to find the real killer.
Shafe and Charmain are getting ready to leave Manson's. Shafe asks how Charmain knew to talk about the house where she claimed to have first met Manson. She says she made it up based on a house she went to as a kid. Shafe looks as though he's ready to confront her about what happened with Kovic. Charmain stops him and says she chose. That she is serious about wanting to be a good cop, as serious as Shafe is.
Opal, Hodiak's wife, shows up at the station looking for him. She has a letter for him from their son Walt. Opal again defends her actions that brought Walt home and says he is not going back to the war. Hodiak agrees with her but says they agree because Walt will be going to prison when they catch him. Opal slaps him and leaves. Hodiak takes the letter into the locker room. Cutler tells Hodiak he doesn't think he should worry, that Cutler spoke to a guy at Camp Pendelton who said MP's won't bother looking for Walt. Hodiak thanks him but continues to look lost.
Emma is sitting with the other women at the Manson house. They're singing together and speaking about how they came to be with "Charlie." Emma says all her friends at home talked about were "Things. What they want, what they have, what other people have." She says she found it overwhelming and that she thought she would die if she didn't get away from them. Manson walks in playing the guitar and throws a bunch of cash at Emma saying "let's go make a demo!" When they ask where he got the money he says "the money found me." The other women squeal while Emma looks shocked, then pleased.
Hodiak and Shafe are sitting in a bar and Shafe explains where Manson is. Hodiak gets up to leave abruptly, while telling Shafe that Mikey is a suspect in the drug murder case. Hodiak then goes to Manson's compound with Grace, Emma's mom. They walk through the house but no one will say they've seen Emma. Hodiak encounters Kovic who of course won't say that he's seen her. Grace follows a young girl into the home's kitchen. She asks her how old she is. The girl is 15, and when Grace asks if anyone knows where she is, the girl shows Grace a letter from her mother and says it's ok for her to be there. She then hugs Grace who gets extremely uncomfortable. Grace runs from the kitchen, into Hodiak and then begs to leave.
Manson's creepy school bus pulls up at an outdoor space to record his demo. Music Producer Rue Fisher tries to talk him out of recording outdoors because of the ambient noise, but Manson is adamant they record there.
Back at Grace's home she's got a drink in hand while she and Hodiak talk about what's next. Hodiak shares that his son is missing too. Grace tries to comfort him and they remain close, the tension rising a little. The scene changes back and forth between Manson singing and Grace and Hodiak kissing. The two end up in bed together with the camera lingering on a scar on Hodiak's back.
Charmain is questioning someone who appears to be a prostitute. The prostitute then tells Charmain she should try working the streets herself. Cutler finds this very funny, saying to Charmain 'See something you like officer?" Charmain has clearly had enough and says to him "Those pants, do they make them for men too?" and proceeds to dress him down for being a man in a position of authority while wearing a "felonious pair of ball huggers." At this point the other men in the room are laughing, Cutler looks wounded and I wanted to give Charmain a high five. One of my favorite scenes in the episode.
Manson's crew has returned from the recording session, everyone excited and happy. Kovic tells Manson that Hodiak and Grace came by. Manson is clearly rattled by this and makes Emma and Sadie leave the house with him. When Emma starts to question him he hits her. He goes from happy to very dark in the blink of an eye.
Hodiak goes from the bliss of being with Grace to being at the police station. Military Police have arrived and want to question him about Walt. We don't see him speak with the MP's but rather we see him telling Opal what he told them. Hodiak says he told them that he didn't know anything and that he and Opal didn't speak. Opal tells him she really is sick with diabetes and they argue over whether going to Vietnam is the right thing.
Music producer Rue is sitting in front of a reel-to-reel player when he hears someone break into his house. Manson is lurking in the living room and says he's brought Rue a present. Emma and Sadie are with him. Rue is confused and Emma seems terrified.
Across town the Karns are arguing again. Grace tells Ken she wants to know things about him. Their argument is interrupted by a phone call from Manson. He plays part of the recording to Ken who can hear Emma singing. Grace takes the phone from him and Manson smirks at her distress. And there we end the episode.
Overall I really liked this episode. After all the character introductions in the first two everyone is seeming more familiar and we start to learn more about their motivation. I think the writers and producers are doing an excellent job of leaving clues along the way that give just a hint of information about the characters and leave you wanting to know more.
What I found really interesting in this episode is the difference in Sam Hodiak's policing tactics. In the first two episodes we saw a lot of him strong arming his way through situations, basically ignoring the Miranda rights, and presenting himself as more of an old school tough guy cop. But in this episode we see him being much more thorough with the evidence. Detective Cutler is ready to through the book at Mikey the Snitch but Hodiak is very careful with the evidence as the scene in the morgue shows. I feel like he could have roughed a few people up at the Manson house but he didn't. I also want to know more about what caused Hodiak to stop drinking. It came up in the first episode and I wondered if the incident where he hit Opal was the one that got him off alcohol. Clearly he has a lot of his own demons to fight while at the same time trying to fight bad guys on the street. I think David Duchovny is doing an excellent job bringing Sam Hodiak to life. He's very funny in a wry way and most of the great lines in the episode come from him. He presents as a tough guy but there's a real gentleness to him that comes out at times, especially with Grace, that I find very sweet.
But I think the character I'm really starting to love the most is Charmain Tully, played by Claire Holt. As a woman in law enforcement in the 1960's she's facing so many roadblocks. We see in the beginning of the episode how her fellow officers demean her even after she's been assaulted by a suspect. So to watch her take down Cutler later in the episode was really satisfying and I found myself cheering for her. Her undercover scenes were nerve wracking and I think Shafe's anxiousness over her safety made me anxious as well, though clearly Charmaine is more than capable of holding her own. I'm excited to see how she grows through the season.
Gethin Anthony's Charles Manson continues to be disturbing. His rapid swing from charmer to scary and back again is frightening and watching the transformation is great. Though I do wonder what Emma sees in him. Maybe it's because we know what lies ahead for Manson but I do wonder how she doesn't see all the red flags!
The only character I have a hard time with is Grace Karn. I think Michaela McManus is a fine actress and she and Mr. Duchovny have some sweet moments together. But I think the character would have been better served played by an older actress, as it just doesn't seem realistic to me that Hodiak would have a long history with someone who is 32. The character is likely older than the actress but I can't quite get past that.
We are now 3 episodes into the season with 10 more to go! You can watch Aquarius Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC, or binge watch all the episodes on Hulu, iTunes or on demand.