Aquarius: A Change Is Gonna Come Review

Hodiak takes out a half century’s worth of anger on Charles Manson’s face. Here is our review of Aquarius season 1 episode 5.

The walrus wasn’t Paul at all, Cherry Pop (Emma Dumont) is the walrus and if anyone would know, it’s the future Sexy Sadie. Everyone misses the former Emma, who was taken back to the big, bad world by her mom and that big bad cop with the funny haircut, Sam Hodiak. Charlie Manson (Gethin Anthony) has to comfort his family of young hippies with a kiss in the round. The ritualized kiss is a pretty good insight into the love generation’s darkest embraces. The former Game of Thrones swordsman may have more up his sheathe. Cherry Pop didn’t like Alice when she was a kid. Does that mean she doesn’t groove on Jefferson Airplane?

Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) is having more fun than any cop on TV outside True Detective. If Scarface taught us nothing, it’s not to get high off your own supply. The narc is getting too comfortable with the product he’s trying to get off the street. This is network so we know that if Aquarius is picked up, he’ll become a strung out junkie or something. There are always consequences on network TV.

Ed Cutler (Chance Kelly) becomes acting head cop in the absence of the liver damaged rummy who usually runs the place. He was found face up last week in a puddle of his own bourbon. Cutler as much as tells Hodiak not to work up too much of a sweat solving murder cases in Watts. That’s the Black Panthers’ territory and he doesn’t split fees.

David Duchovny grins, bears arms and throws fists as Samson Hodiak, detective third grade. Duchovny will not let this man have an evil center. Hodiak is always reasonable, even while trampling dirtbags, which he won’t call dirtbags. He appears to listen to the more-than-justified complaints of the Black Power Party street reps even as he’s staring them down. Everything is a pissing match with Hodiak, and they all get some sprinkle on their pant legs.

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Hodiak keeps going back to his old beat, the black section of town. A store owner named Cassius got offed because he straightens his nappy hair. The cops would love to pin it on the Black Panthers, who own the city. But the Panthers want justice. Not white, LAPD justice, and not for the hardworking Uncle Tom Negro who tried to pass. They want to find the murderer of the young Michael Younger, who was a bag man for the beat cops. Though they weren’t named, I think I see the future Angela Davis and Huey P. Newton waiting to step up. All power to the people.

For those who didn’t catch it, The Black Panthers’ ten point program, based on Marxist principles, were:

1.We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.

2.We want full employment for our people.

3.We want an end to the robbery by the white men of our Black Community. 

4.We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.

5.We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.

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6.We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.

7.We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.

8.We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.

9.We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black Communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.

10.We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. – Written by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966.

Bad boys care about the rules. They care so much they can’t stop thinking of ways to break them. So declares Cherry Pop’s mom Grace (Michaela McManus), who serves the coldest soup in Los Angeles. She is pretty much the very person who the cops are there to protect. Hodiak takes that job so seriously he takes it to bed. He also baldly shoves that in the face of Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne), Cherry Pop’s old man and his wife’s favorite gelded cuckold.

I suspected it as the series was going, but as of episode five I can declare all the women characters on Aquarius are horribly written. It doesn’t matter if they are housewives, hippies, uniformed officers or the sexiest of Sadies, every single woman on Aquarius is a ballbuster, in the sixties sense of the word. They are shrill harpies, even little Emma, so sweet and fair. The lawyer’s castrating wife, Hodiak’s neutering ex-wife. Every one of them. The writers change from week to week, so this misogyny is a systemic issue.

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Hodiak really kicks the shit out of Manson tonight. Usually he’s content to stomp on the rights of citizens and maybe break an arm or two, usually to get a message out. Charlie’s an almost special case. I suppose the Hodiak character is venting a collective frustration that has been building up for almost half a century. But he is making Charlie a more sympathetic character every time the boot comes down, even if most people wish they were wearing that boot.

I think I get it. This show is kind of an apologensia for Charlie Manson. Sure, we know he’s a bad guy. But if only Hodiak hadn’t kicked in his teeth in the yard that day, maybe he would have sold a record and had a good life as a rock star. It’s kind of like speculating where the world would be if only someone had bought one of young Adolf Hitler’s paintings. Someone besides Kenneth Branagh. There were no Charlie Manson originals in tonight’s episode, but it was probably the best one of the series so far.

 “A Change Is Gonna Come” was written by Rafael Yglesias and directed by Michael Zinberg.


4 out of 5