David Duchovny's Aquarius is really hitting its stride. Week 4 brings us episode 5, "A Change Is Gonna Come." And changes are definitely happening for Sam Hodiak.
Last week the detective and Grace Karn rescued a very high Emma from the Manson house. Emma was not exactly thrilled to be headed back to her parents' home. Are the Karns going to change into one big happy family now that Emma is home? Last week Hodiak was riding high, having solved a murder and kept his promise to Grace to rescue Emma. Will his hot streak continue? Find out after the jump.
We open at the Manson house, it’s night and the usual gang of partiers is assembled. Sadie and a group of women are upstairs. One asks Sadie why Charlie isn’t doing anything to help “Cherry Pop” as they call Emma Karn. Sadie says Charlie will help when the time is right. Manson says “the man wants him to react” so he’s watching and waiting. And by waiting he means getting into an orgy with the assembled group of women.
At the Karn house, Emma and Ken are still sleeping. Grace wakes up Ken where he was sleeping on the couch. Grace tells him he did a good thing. She then tells him that while she hopes he’s traveling for business a lot, when he is home he will sleep in their bed and she will do her best to put on a good show when they’re in public. She tells him to clean up and be sure to tell Maria, their housekeeper, that’s he’s so glad Emma is back from visiting Grandma. Ken says they won’t fool Maria but Grace says they’re going to fool everyone.
Grace moves right from telling her husband what to do to getting into bed with Sam Hodiak. She’s telling Sam she can’t leave Ken yet, but in the same breath is convincing him to come to their Republican fundraiser. “So who buys the corsage me or your husband?” Hodiak smirks. Grace asks what to do about Emma, she can’t watch her all the time. Hodiak volunteers a cop, Joe Wilson, to watch her and makes a crack that for the right amount of money the guy would put on a tutu and chasse. When Grace asks if he even knows what a chasse is Hodiak cracks “oh I know my ballet” and proceeds to demonstrate his fancy footwork. This is the first time I choke on my beverage laughing this episode.
Hodiak pulls up to the scene of a fire in South Central where Officer Tolson tells him a man named Casius Thomas died at the scene. Thomas died not from the fire but from two bullet wounds to the chest. Hodiak knew the man from his work in the neighborhood as a rookie. Tolson also spews a lot of racist garbage about the area which makes Hodiak look uncomfortable.
The Black Panthers have a presence across the street and Hodiak moves to speak with them. A young man yells "Michael Younger" at Hodiak as he approaches. Hodiak doesn’t know what he’s talking about so Bunchy explains. Younger was murdered 3 days ago but the cops don’t seem to care. Bunchy and Hodiak get into a conversation over Bunchy’s changed appearance and presence with the Black Panthers. Bunchy says “You may not be interested in the dialectic but the dialectic is interested in you.” Hodiak fires back that it’s too early in the morning to be quoting Trotsky. When the men look surprised Hodiak smirks and says “Oh look it reads!” The officer calls Hodiak back across the street. In front of the burned out building someone had painted “Slave hair burns” on the sidewalk. The officer offers his version of events but Hodiak mostly ignores him and goes inside to look for himself. He bends down over the burned body of Casius Thomas, making the sign of the cross as he does. He asks the officer about Michael Younger. Younger was a 15-year-old boy who apparently mentioned the Black Panthers were trying to recruit him and was found strangled in an alley the next day. The officer says his money is on Bunchy. As Hodiak moves around the room he finds the evidence of what started the fire, lye, and it was clear the arsonist was not trying to hide the fact that the fire was set.
It’s family dinner night at the Karn’s and no one seems too happy to be there. Ken claims to hear his phone and gets up and leaves. If looks could kill Grace would be six feet under. Emma is throwing daggers at her mom. Grace tries to give her some advice about “bad boys” but Emma just stalks away.
Hodiak approaches Bunchy again to ask him a few more questions about Casius Thomas. But Bunchy and the other Black Panthers are not interested in helping Hodiak find what they call “his kind” of justice. Instead they ask him what he’s planning on doing about the murder of Michael Younger. Bunchy recites the points that the Black Panthers are looking for, including an end to police brutality. Hodiak says he will look into the case even though it’s not his. Hodiak walks away with the speech still going on behind him.
Grace drops Emma off at school. As they stop at the building Emma is surprised that her mother is letting her go, like nothing ever happened. Grace says nothing did happen, and that she loves her more than the girl could possibly know. They reminisce briefly about Emma’s childhood. The girl kisses her mother’s cheek and enters the building. The bell rings and we see Emma dashing out, thinking she’s off scot free. That’s when Joe Wilson steps out and advises Emma there will be no playing hooky while he’s on duty. He introduces himself as Emma’s “new babysitter.”
Hodiak stops by the diner we saw him at earlier in the series. He asks Nate if he can give him any information about who killed Casius Thomas. Nate isn’t forthcoming and Hodiak berates him, saying he didn’t want to believe that no black man would help him figure out who killed Thomas. He asks Nate to help him as a friend. Nate isn’t moved, saying he likes the detective but they’ll never be friends “for real.” Nate does advise Hodiak to ask Hannah Weinrob, an older white woman who lives in the neighborhood and “still knows everything.” Hodiak then calls Officer Tolson back to the scene to tell him he has a lead. Hodiak says Casius’ son Billy Ray was seen leaving the scene 15 minutes before the fire and that he was the one who did the spray painting. Officer Tolson laughs and says there’s no way, because Billy Ray was killed in Vietnam 6 months before. Tolson claims Hannah is senile. Hodiak then questions him about why no one is investigating Michael Younger’s death and why Bunchy thinks the officer had something to do with it. Tolson says the bottom line is that Younger was a good kid who liked cops and that’s probably why he was killed. He drives away as Hodiak stares after him.
Shafe wanders into the Peach Pussycat where Lucille Gladner is very glad to see him, treating him as one of the regulars. A guy named Jimmy Too walks in and is greeted just as fondly. The action moves quickly back to the Hollywood Police Station locker room where Shafe is telling Hodiak about seeing the guy. Apparently Jimmy Too’s father was once cellmates with Manson. Shafe figures he might see if Jimmy Too knows anything about the guy. Hodiak makes a few suggestions to which Shafe says “You’re not as dumb as your haircut.” Ah yes, our cop boys are bonding. Detective Cutler approaches with news on the Lieutenant’s condition. The man will be in surgery so Cutler will be acting Lieutenant until he recovers. Hodiak wonders if Cutler knows who is working the Michael Younger case since he’s in charge now. Cutler says he’s never heard of him and walks away. Shafe asks who Younger is. Hodiak explains that he’s hoping that “turning the corner” on the Younger case would earn him some goodwill and help him solve his friend Casius’ murder case as well. Shafe offers to look into things for him.
The coroner pulls back a sheet to reveal Michael Younger’s badly beaten face to Shafe. As he looks closer Shafe realizes the boy had been held in a chokehold. At the station he reveals what he found to Hodiak. Younger died when his carotid artery didn’t reopen after the chokehold was released and he suffocated. Shafe asks Hodiak if he knows what they call a chokehold in South Central. Hodiak nods, “cop hold.” Hodiak ponders why Tolson may have killed Younger who was so helpful to him. Shafe says the detective on the case, Len Burns, has no witnesses and no leads. Hodiak is frustrated, calling the guy “Lead Butt Burns” who hasn’t solved a case since “Tricky Dick was Vice President”. Shafe says he’ll keep working on it.
Manson once again is stalking someone in a parking garage. Hal Banyin, Karn’s business partner, is dressed up for an event and has no patience for Manson. Manson is trying to blackmail him but Banyin isn’t having it. He shoves Manson to the ground and explains there’s no use trying to blackmail because Banyin will simply get F. Lee Bailey and put him away. Manson pulls out his straight razor and says he only wants to talk about Emma. Banyin still doesn’t flinch and tells Manson to do his worst. He shoves him away with the car door and drives away. Manson looks stuns and starts screaming I WILL DO MY BEST to the empty parking garage.
At a fundraiser Grace leaves to make a check-in phone call to Joe Wilson who is keeping an eye on Emma. As Joe is speaking Emma pops out onto the landing and leaves again. As she hangs up the phone Hodiak kisses her neck. The two dance in the hall and exchange a few more kisses. They make plans to meet later and before Grace heads back into the event she tells Hodiak she loves him and pressures him to say it in return. He says softly “I have always loved you”. She turns to go back only to find her husband standing there. Nothing is said but Hodiak looks upset as they walk away.
Shafe is hanging back at the Peach Pussycat where Lucille and a group enjoy some of her late husband’s “product”. In his stupor, Shafe mentions that Manson’s is the place for all kind of drugs. The group seems interested but nothing much comes of it. A friend stops by Shafe’s place to talk about Walt Hodiak. He believes that Walt is part of the anti-war movement. Shafe meets up with Hodiak to let him know this friend may be able to put him in touch with Walt. Hodiak is clearly agitated by this so Shafe tells him he has to be cool. Hodiak says “All I care about is Walt. I just want to talk to my son” so intensely it may just break you a little.
Hodiak is back in South Central asking Officer Tolson if he recognizes Jefferson Culpepper, Casius’ nephew. Turns out that’s who Hannah saw leaving the scene of the fire. Culpepper is a junkie and Hodiak theorizes that maybe he hit up the store for money for a quick fix. He asks Tolson to flush the guy out.
Grace opens the door to find “Susan Atkins” on her front step, who is asking if Emma can help her with her homework. Susan is really Sadie from the Manson house.
Lou Burns is asleep on a couch when Shafe nudges him awake with his foot. He’s come to ask about the Michael Younger case. Burns is clearly drunk and in no mood to talk. Shafe loses his temper and threatens to report him for not filing a report on the case.
Tolson and Hodiak find Culpepper trying to sleep but they don’t catch him fast enough. He runs right into the Black Panther headquarters. A crowd forms and starts chanting “Justice for Michael Younger, arrest Tolson”. Hodiak tries to convince Bunchy to let him question Culpepper in the murder of Casius but Bunchy doesn’t budge. Tolson slinks away for now.
Back at the morgue Hodiak calls Cutler again to look at the bodies of Michael Younger and Casius Thomas. He explains that the Black Panthers are protecting the suspect in Casius Thomas’ murder because the police have done nothing about the murder of Michael Younger. Tolson apparently all but confessed to Lou Burns that he did it, as Shafe found out. Hodiak wants Cutler to let him put the squeeze on Tolson. Cutler explodes saying he’s going to bury Shafe for threatening Burns with Internal Affairs. Hodiak then threatens Cutler with the same thing. Cutler scoffs and warns that someone higher up than him is protecting Tolson. He says “You think after Watts this department is going to admit that a white officer killed a black teenager?” Hodiak argues that Cutler should at least help him get to Culpepper, because if not the Panthers will be in charge down there. Cutler shakes his head and says the Panthers already are. Hodiak storms down the hallway and Shafe catches up with him. He tells Shafe they have to drop the case, but doesn’t explain why. When Shafe gets angry he tells him to grow up.
At home, Hodiak gets out of the shower to find Walt in his living room. Walt explains that 6 months ago he was assigned to covert ops in Cambodia, and after witnessing the saturation bombing and the killing of citizens, he couldn’t bring himself to fight in the war anymore. And that’s why he asked his mom to bring him home. Hodiak tries to tell him that to win a war sometimes you have to fight dirty, but Walt doesn’t want to hear it. Walt says he has photos and orders that can prove the president is lying to the public. Hodiak tries to keep him from leaving but Walt says if he doesn’t let him go he won’t see him again. Hodiak asks to help Walt one more time. The boy says “You can’t” and leaves.
Grace knocks on her door to bring her daughter dinner. Surprising no one, Emma and “Susan” are not in the room. Hodiak shows up and Grace proceeds to scream at him, blaming him for not warning her about Sadie. She accuses him of being a failure for not keeping Grace safe. When Hodiak says he will find her, Grace throws him out of the house. As she storms off, Ken Karn looks at Hodiak and says “welcome to the club”.
After the browbeating from Grace, Hodiak is at home and pours himself a drink. He considers it for a moment and downs it. We see him driving towards the Manson house while drinking from the bottle. He walks into the living room and drags Manson outside where he proceeds to beat him severely. Shafe is there and tackles Hodiak. Tells him to go back in his car and go home of he’s finished. Shafe helps a badly hurt Manson back into the living room. Manson struggles to talk but says “I’m alive.” Another man in the room says “yeah, because of this guy” and points to Shafe. And that is where we end.
Five episodes in and we’re finally starting to get a look into how dark Sam Hodiak can be. We’ve seen his violent streak before with his tendency to rough up suspects but his assault on Manson was pretty intense. Throughout this entire episode Hodiak is on a roller coaster from one extreme to the next.
Over the course of the hour he starts with the high of being with Grace, to hearing a friend from his rookie days was murdered. He finds one possible suspect in that murder, learns he’s wrong, finds ANOTHER suspect only to lose him into the Black Panthers' protection. He solves the murder of a young boy, by a fellow officer no less, only to be told there’s nothing to be done. He makes contact with his son only to learn his son plans to do something very dangerous.
At one point Grace tells Hodiak she loves him, only to turn around and blame him for her shortcomings as a parent and call him a failure at everything he's ever done. He must feel like a failure at the end of this episode. He wasn’t able to protect his son, he wasn’t able to close the murder cases, and he wasn’t able to keep Emma safe. Whether any of this is actually his fault is debatable. But you can see the weight of it building into the violent explosion at the end. My heart broke for Hodiak when he was sitting with Walt. It’s another example of him trying to do what he thinks is right, even if the answers may not be as black and white as he would like. When he poured himself a drink at the end of the episode I was actually yelling at the tv telling him not to do it.
Can we talk about Grace for a minute? I admit this character has bugged me a bit from the beginning but this episode was really the last straw. I understand that she’s angry that Emma left again, but blaming everyone else isn’t going to bring her daughter back. I’d like to see some soul searching on her part about the real reasons why Emma doesn’t want to stay home. It’s my opinion that happy kids don’t usually run away. Emma is her own person who is making her own decisions, and Grace isn’t entirely to blame for her daughter’s disappearance. But she could have taken the time to talk with her daughter about why instead of sweeping everything under the rug. Blaming Hodiak for not keeping Emma safe was ridiculous. Clearly there are a lot of things in that house that need to be worked out.
Shafe continues to be awesome. I find it interesting that for as much as he berates Hodiak for his policing methods, some of his are a little unsavory as well. I admit I don't know the first thing about being an undercover cop so this could be necessary, but watching him get stoned with the people he's supposed to be investigating is pretty funny. And luckily for Hodiak, Shafe seems to never be at home, he keeps popping up to save the detective when he least expects it.
On a more serious note, the issue of a white police officer suspected of murdering a black boy feels painfully current. The issues of race and police brutality that are touched on in the episode, set in 1967, are still being dealt with today. Hodiak being at a dead end over prosecuting Tolson is frustrating but in ways not surprising for the era. Hodiak seems resigned to it but Shafe doesn't want to let the issue drop. If changes are ever going to be made the world needs more Brian Shafe's who push the envelope for what they feel is right.
"A Change Is Gonna Come" definitely was a change for Sam Hodiak. It was another strong episode and I really felt for him as he wrestled with all his challenges. Watching his demons get the better of him hurt. He can be a jerk but I'm really rooting for him. I think that speaks to the strength of the writing and of David Duchovny's portrayal of him. I'm excited for what the next few episodes bring, and if Hodiak will be able to pull himself back from the brink.
Can't get enough Sam Hodiak? You can catch him every Thursday nights on Aquarius on NBC at 9 p.m. EST, or on iTunes, On Demand, or on NBC.com